Legend of the Mountain
[Recognitions and awards are fun, but what is learned and taken to heart is the real reward.]
There was once an Indian village on a wide open desert in the Southwest. A few miles across the desert is a high mountain, towering up out of the desert.
One day, the Chief gathered all the young boys that were not yet braves to him. He said; "It is time for you to all climb the great mountain. Tomorrow morning, start right after breakfast, and go each of you as far as you can. Then when you are tired, come back; but let each one bring me a twig off a tree from the place where he turned back."
The next morning, away they went full of hope each feeling that he surely could reach the top. But soon the first returned slowly back, and in his hand he held out to the Chief a leaf of cactus. The Chief smiled and said, "My boy, you did not reach the foot of the mountain, you did not even get across the desert."
Later, a second boy returned. He carried a twig of sagebrush. "Well," said the Chief, "You reached the mountain's foot but you did not climb upward."
The next had a cottonwood spray. "Good", said the Chief, "You got up as far as the clear springs."
Another came later with some buckthorn. The Chief smiled when he saw it and said: "You were climbing; you were up to the first slide rock."
Late in the afternoon, one arrived with a cedar spray, and the old man said, "Well done. You went half way up and reached the forest."
Before sunset, one came with a switch of pine. To him the Chief said, "Good, you went to the high forest; you made three quarters of the climb."
The sun was down when the last finally returned. His hand was empty as he approached the Chief, and the other Indian boys began to laugh and tease that he had not even tried the climb.
But his face was radiant, and he said: "Great Chief, there were no trees where I climbed; there were no twigs, but I saw the shining sea far away."
Now the old man's face glowed, too, as he said aloud and almost sang: "You have been to the top. It is written in your eyes, and rings in your voice. My boy, you have seen the glory of the mountain. You need no twigs for proof."