Here is the famous story of training an eagle to fly. Have you looked at it from a formative perspective? It is interesting to learn what kind of a formator are you from this story.
Before reading the story
There are three major roles in stories: hero, villain, and a victim (or according to Greek Drama–rescuer, prosecutor, and victim). We tend to see (more accurately “feel”) ourselves in one of those roles. If you can uncover which role has the greatest emotional appeal for you, you are closer to finding your life script.
“The Parable of the Eagle” by James Aggrey (1959) is helpful in sorting out those roles. As you read this story, notice your feelings. Which character do you most identify with? The eagle who is being held down and controlled but is confused about escaping (the victim)? The person who seems to care but holds someone back, perhaps by being dominant and/or over-protective (the villain)? The naturalist who helps others grow and become their true selves (the hero/heroine)? Read the parable:
“Once upon a time, while walking through the forest, a man found a young eagle. He took it home and put it in his barnyard where it soon learned to eat chicken feed and to behave as chickens behave.
One day, a naturalist, who was passing by, inquired of the owner why it was that an eagle, the king of all birds, should be confined to live in a barnyard with the chickens.
“Since I have given it chicken feed and trained it to be a chicken, it has never learned to fly,” replied the owner. “It behaves as chickens behave, so it is no longer an eagle.”
“Still,” insisted the naturalist, “it has the heart of an eagle and can surely be taught to fly.”
After talking it over, the two men agreed to find out whether this was possible. Gently the naturalist took the eagle in his arms and said, “You belong to the sky and not to the earth. Stretch forth your wings and fly.” The eagle, however, was confused; he did not know who he was, and seeing the chickens eating their food, he jumped down to be with them again.
Undismayed, the naturalist took the eagle, on the following day, up on the roof of the house, and urged him again, saying, “You are an eagle. Stretch forth your wings and fly.” But the eagle was afraid of his unknown self and the world and jumped down once more for the chicken feed.
On the third day the naturalist rose early and took the eagle out of the barnyard to a high mountain. There, he held the king of birds high above him and encouraged him again, saying, “You are an eagle. You belong to the sky as well as to the earth. Stretch forth your wings now, and fly.”
The eagle looked around, back towards the barnyard and up to the sky. Still he did not fly. Then the naturalist lifted him straight towards the sun and it happened that the eagle began to tremble, slowly he stretched his wings. At last, with a triumphant cry, he soared away into the heavens.
It may be that the eagle still remembers the chickens with nostalgia; it may even be that he occasionally revisits the barnyard. But as far as anyone knows, he has never returned to lead a life of a chicken. He was an eagle though he had been kept and tamed as a chicken.
After reading the story
It is a nice story about self-actualization–living by your true identity. But the question here is: Which role do you most identify with emotionally? The captured, restricted, dependent, afraid, victimized, self-doubting eagle? The limited care-giving but not deeply concerned, controlling, pessimistic, suppressing man who penned up the eagle thinking he knew what was best for the eagle? The empathic, supportive, optimistic, encouraging but not dominating naturalist? And, what roles do other significant people play in your life?
1. Are you able to see yourself for what you truly are in the eyes of God? Each person is true image of the Son of God, but you may behave like a chick striving for survival, pecking and collecting worms. Once you realize the possibility of flying high and stretch out your wings (of prayer and study?) to their potential, you will be able to make a difference.
2. What do you see in a formee? their potential to be like Christ, like claret, their unique way of being a child of God? or the limitations with which they struggle… condemned to be chicks all life?
3. What is the typical way do you accompany the formees in their growth process? What do you learn from this story to assume a more authentic role as a formator?