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The Journey of the Birds

Inspired by the ancient epic poem, "The Conference of the Birds," by the Persian Sufi Muslim writer Fariduddin Attar.

Once upon a time, all the birds in the land decided they needed a leader for their community. A leader, they thought, would make their community stronger. Representatives of all the bird species gathered to discuss finding a leader.

"A leader will tell us the right things to do," said the robin.

"Our leader must be wise," said the owl.

"A leader must believe we each are important, big and small," said the sparrow.

"I want the leader to be caring, like a friend," said the dove.

"Yes, the leader help us share and get along better," said the jay.

"The leader must make us feel safe," said the hawk.

"I know where you can find such a leader," said the hoopoe bird. "It is the Simorgh and it lives far from here."

The birds were very excited. They said they were willing to go anywhere to find such a leader. "It might be dangerous," said the hoopoe. A few birds looked troubled, but all the birds voted to go find the Simorgh.

The hoopoe took off and all the birds followed.

They flew at night. They flew in sunshine. Days and days passed. Some birds got tired and left the group. Other birds were filled with doubt. How did they know the Simorgh really existed? Only the hoopoe had ever heard of this bird. Some of the doubters dropped out, but others kept flying.

One valley was filled with fiery mountains. All the birds were afraid.

"I'm too small to make it over that mountain," lamented the sparrow.

"No, keep flying. We can make it together. We will help you." And they did.

The strong flyers helped the weaker flyers. The birds with good vision helped find food for the group. Along the journey, the birds learned how to better respect, share and care for each other. It seemed that every bird had something special and unique to offer that made the journey easier.

Finally, the hoopoe announced, "We are here!"

The other birds look around in anticipation. "Where is the Simorgh? We don't see it!' they cried.

"Come. It is over here," said the hoopoe.

The birds stood beside hoopoe and realized they were on the edge of a lake. They looked in... and saw their own reflections. Then, they understood.

The Simorgh was not another bird. The Simorgh was all of them, and all of them were the Simorgh. They remembered that each of them had something good and strong and special inside of them and that each bird had gifts to bring to the community. They were all that was needed to keep the community strong. They knew now that together they could do anything.

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Last updated on Tuesday, July 9, 2013.

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