Developing the courage of an eagle

by Annelise Mitchell February 18, 2016

Developing the courage of an eagle

The following is a parable that I have frequently shared with both my sons. I have always loved eagles and what they represent. The parable is my own, and something that has helped me whenever faced with challenges.



There was once a baby eagle who was born in the highest reaches of a mountain top.

For many months, his mother, a proud eagle with a wingspan that was admired from all within her kingdom, would keep him protected with her long, plume-like feathers.

When the sun raised each morning, he would watch his mother stand on the edge of the nest, surveying the world outside. He would then see her stretch her wings open as far as his eyes could gleem, and in all their foreboding size they appeared so beautiful to this little bird. His mother would then, without hesitation, leap away from the nest, leaving the sound of her wings flapping through the air. At many intervals he would watch her return, landing gentle-like in the nest, to feed him the morsels of food that she had captured on her adventure.

As he grew older, she would tell him how he would soon begin finding these treasures himself, and that he would find even better ones.

This was hard for the little bird to imagine, for, he thought, the treasures his mother bought him were so wonderful. How can anything compare to what she could bring him, after all, she had the strength and ability to fly, and he was far too young and weak.

As the spring passed, his body would grow stronger. On occasion, when we was feeling particularly brave, he would survey the horizon around him, occasionally peering over the side, only to feel dread and withdraw back to the safety of his nest.

When the leaves from the trees above his nest began to drop their leaves, his mother began gently encouraging him to open his wings. He liked the feeling of spreading his wings, they would open up, making the sound of a puff of wind as he propelled them open. He would feel a flurry of excitement enter his heart when they opened at full span, and the beam of pride emanate from his mother’s eyes.

However, when his mother would ask him to join her on her adventure to search for food, he paused, feeling a tremendous fear overwhelm his body. He couldn’t even open his wings when she would suggest that he leap from the nest, the weight of his wings would feel heavy, making them feel impossible to lift. His mother, noticing that he was terribly afraid, felt compassion. For she, not so long ago, had also been afraid. Her memory of her mother entered her mind, and she knew what she had to do. She had no choice.

With a heavy heart, she whispered. “Son, it is okay to be afraid of flying. I was once too. But remember, it is learning to fly despite your fears that will make you stronger. Without it, you can’t realise your inner strength.”

In his little heart, he could imagine what she was saying, it sounded good, but when he would peer over the crest of the nest, the sheer vastness of what he could foresee frightened him beyond his wildest dreams.

In a moment of his brief reverie as he stared out at the world, his mother pushed him out of the nest.

A shock of terror entered his soul as he fell into a gushing abyss, falling as fast as the rocks he would see fall from the edge of the cliff face. But in desperation, he began flapping his wings, wildly, with all his might to save himself. With ever-sweet momentum, his wings began capturing the wind, and as he was about to crash to the earth, he felt his wings capture the air, like a net, propelling his body up, up away from the earth, forward over the trees and he began to glide through the air. His heart filled with triumph and exhilaration, but just as he felt this joy, he would again struggle, desperately trying to stop himself from falling.

He finally realised, he had to put more strength into his wings, opening them up and capturing as much air as he could. He experimented, using large strokes to gain further distance, gliding like the leaves he had watched gently sweep through the air.

He did not know where he was, for the first time in his life, but he did not care. He was beyond caring, for he could see that he had the strength to fly wherever he wanted.

After many moments of adventure, he noticed his mother flying above him. With the wingspan of what appeared like a giant, she lowered her head to peer down at him. She winked, and encouraged him to follow her. He flew towards her, trying his best to catch her, but her powerful wings made her impossible to keep up with. Finally, seeing an embankment, she landed, waiting patiently for him to land for the first time.

Using his wings, as he saw his mother do, he held them out to slow down his descent, protruding his feet to try and land safety on the ground. But, instead of falling slowly, he began flapping his wings, causing him to fall with a thud, resulting in bursts of dirt and some of his feathers flying around him.

Feeling dazed, he looked up to see his mother’s eyes smiling. She walked away, as though she expected his fall, and urged him towards a mound of fresh earth.

He approached his mother, to watch as she nudged her beak into the soil, gathering a tasty morsel from the earth, and devouring it in front of him. Standing aside, he walked towards her. He peered at the same ground, and began scouring as well, and to his amazement, he could sense something moving, and that something felt awfully nourishing.

Pulling up the tasty treat, he felt tremendous glee at retrieving the treasure for himself.

His mother, standing alongside him, proudly surveyed the horizon ahead, a vision that would remain etched in his memory for life.

As the months passed, this young eagle grew in strength and prowess, becoming an emblem of beauty that his mother would be proud of. As he surveyed his kingdom, he remembered his mother’s words, and knew that whatever challenges he faced, these challenges, no matter how terrible, would make him stronger.

Please let me know what you think of this story, and share it with those you love, or who you believe will benefit from the themes within.

Annelise Mitchell
Annelise Mitchell


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