Sunday, February 22, 2015

Don't forget the best

American author and poet Bayard Taylor (1825-1878) once wrote a short parable called The Key Flower. In 1883, it was reprinted for the instruction of children on page 154 of a common school textbook called Swinton's Fourth Reader. Here's the parable, and the questions it asks.

One summer day a young shepherd was tending his sheep when he noticed an unusual flower. As he picked it for examination, he saw a door in the side of the hill. He'd never seen the door before, but it was open so he went inside and down a corridor to a room filled with gold coins and diamonds. He also saw an old dwarf sitting in a chair. The dwarf welcomed him, saying "Take what you want, and don't forget the best." Placing his flower on a table, the shepherd filled his pockets and his hat with gold and diamonds. As he hurried out, he heard the dwarf repeat, "Don't forget the best." Once outside, he saw the door vanish, and his hat and pockets were filled with nothing but pebbles and dry leaves. He was as poor as ever, because he had forgotten the best. The flower he left on the table was the key flower. If he kept it, the gold and diamonds would have stayed so, and the treasure room would reopen to him at any time. How do we define life's treasure? And what is the key flower we must not forget -- in order to make our treasure permanent?

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