"The Great Wing"
A Parable

"The Struggle to Surrender"

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For thousands of years, flocks of geese have been flying in unison from the Northern Lakes to their winter homes in Chesapeake Bay. No flock has ever flown more than a few miles without naturally forming flight patterns. When migration occurs, the flight patterns become very special.

Scientists have tried to explain the aerodynamics of geese flight patterns, but they still do not understand how these patterns are established. The whole flock instinctively creates a V formation, almost like one giant bird.

In order for the flock to fly, there is a lesser and a greater wing in the formation. The left side is of lesser strength and is shorter. The lesser wing is manned by the older, infirm birds and by those that are too young to work the greater wing. The stronger birds are able to sustain the phenomenal stress of flying in the greater wing. They bring the flock safely to their new home, a place prepared for them when autumn arrives.

For every animal in nature, the changing of the seasons has a different meaning. To the young, it represents the wonder of the many faces of life. To the old, it brings a sense of reassurance in the constancy of change. For a young goose named Gomer, the change of seasons, though marked by wonder, caused a stirring in his heart that left him feeling uneasy.

All summer, nature had seemed unwavering, but now the days were getting shorter and the evenings growing longer. Gomer Goose had noticed that the leaves were turning many shades of red and gold. There was unusual activity in the flock, and Grandpa Goose had been trying to get Gomer to go to flock training, to take the lessons that all geese must learn before their first migration.

To Gomer, the idea of discipline was repulsive; there just didn't seem to be any merit in it. Flying meant being free—free from life's problems, free from responsibility, just plain free!

He refused to accept the idea of learning to get the Flock Thought into his mind. He wasn't really sure that he wanted to leave the area of the Northern Lakes anyway. The summer had been so much fun. He had hung around with the other geese and had had a wonderful time frolicking in the water, fishing, and playing all day. The days were getting shorter, though, and the weather seemed to be getting colder.

The older geese kept talking of flying to another bay, but because it was so far away, he tired just thinking about the long trip. And then there was this Flock Thought that he just didn't understand. Sometimes the older ones called it Flockmindedness, and others called it the Flock Mind. Since it had so many names, how was he to understand what Grandpa called "just one big idea"? How could he fly with them if he really didn't have a grasp of what they were talking about?

For the past few days, he had seen the other geese talking. They would get together and discuss their visions of the beautiful new home that Nature was preparing for them. Every cycle she did this, yet in Gomer's mind there was no guarantee that this event was going to happen again. The older members of the flock seemed to be certain that their winter home was waiting for them. They told Gomer that they intuitively knew and were convinced of its beauty and readiness.

Gomer was skeptical. It just couldn't be. Grandpa had warned him that he must fly south with them or suffer in the cold weather and experience immeasurable hardships. The geese who stayed behind were never seen or heard from again. The shelters that the stragglers built never seemed to last through the winter; they were destroyed when the great freeze came.

Even though Gomer had his doubts about going, he could see from the activity of the flock that just about everyone believed that it was better to make the migration than to remain. A strange time it was, the changing of the seasons, and it made Gomer feel a certain pressure to do something, even though he wasn't certain what it was. No matter what he did, he never felt that he was prepared for the long flight.

For some time, Grandpa had been grooming Gomer for the migration. Gomer had heard numerous stories of how the geese would develop the Flock Thought to such intensity that the migration would become automatic, but he didn't believe them. Grandpa understood Gomer's dilemma. In a comforting voice he said, "Not to worry, little one. When the time comes for the great migration to our winter home, your natural instincts will enable you to develop the Flock Thought." He could hear his grandfather's words echoing in his mind.

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