The Frog

Once upon a time, there was a frog who wanted to cross a river.  The frog saw a beautiful yellow rose blooming on the opposite bank of the river, and wanted so much to experience the flower up close.

The frog was certain that, as in the past, something or someone would come along and help him over to the other side of the river, and to his lovely flower.  So, he waited and waited for this something or someone to come.

At first, he thought perhaps the sun would carry him across on its strong rays of sunshine.  But, when he tried to hop onto the light, he simply fell straight through.  So the sun would be no help, he determined.

Then, he considered whether raindrops might be able to help him.  He could skip from one rain drop to another until he was safely on the other side of the riverbank.  But again, the rain proved too fragile to really be of any help.

The next day was cloudy with fog, and the frog once again thought that perhaps a cloud could carry him across the river.  He hopped and hopped in the fog all afternoon, but never found a cloud that could carry him.

Frustrated and tired, the frog sat down on the edge of the river and stared across at the lovely rose.  He resigned himself to never being able to hold it in his hands, or smell its sweet fragrance.  No one could help him.

A sudden gust of wind struck up and, catching him off his guard, the frog fell into the river.  Not realizing that frogs are naturally born swimmers, the frog had never been in the water and in fact had never swum before.  He panicked, and wiggled his legs and arms to and fro in a panic.  How could he survive this?  No one was there to help him!

But his legs and arms were no longer moving randomly.  His swimmer instincts had taken over, and his body, as if moving by itself, began to swim with long and broad strokes.  By the fifth stroke, he was across the river safely and, to his amazement, sitting underneath the soft yellow petals of the rose he had admired from a distance.

Reaching up with his webbed hand to touch the flower for the first time, the frog was struck by the fact that he had accomplished his goal without the help of anyone or anything else.  From then on, the frog knew that he could always count on himself to help in times of trouble.

The Mirror Man

Once upon a time, a peddlar came to a small town.  In his cart, he told all the townspeople that he saw, he carried a magical mirror.  If a person stood before the mirror and wished for the most valuable thing in the world, the mirror would grant the person’s wish.

Of course, all of the townspeople were very excited about this mirror and could not wait to test the peddlar’s claims.  The peddlar cautioned them, though, that the mirror’s riddle was more difficult than many people thought.  It would do nothing unless the correct wish was made and the wisher knew what was most precious in this world.  This didn’t deter the townspeople, who each thought that they knew of the most valuable wish to make.

Later that evening, the peddlar revealed the mirror to the town.  As he unwrapped the velvet cloth covering it, a hush fell over the crowd with anticipation.  What would such a mirror look like?  Would it be covered in gold and jewels?  Or perhaps made of the finest wood?

Dropping the cloth from the mirror, the peddlar held it in his hands before the crowd.  There it was, in all of its simplicity!  Just a small piece of glass and lead, only about a square foot, surrounded by a cheap pine frame.  Some in the crowd gasped out of surprise, and others laughed.  How could such a simple piece of furniture make wishes come true, let alone provide the most valuable item  in the world to all of those who asked for it?  Not willing to take a chance that the mirror wasn’t real, though, the townspeople quickly lined up to start their wishing, each being certain that they had the answer to the mirrors riddle.

The peddlar instructed them to stand before the mirror and imagine themselves with the most valuable item they could think of.  If they were correct, they would immediately have it for themselves.

The first wisher was a man who believed that money was the most valuable thing in the world.  He pictured himself surrounded by gold coins and piles of dollars.  As he looked on, the mirror created the image from his imagination and he saw himself in the mirror surrounded by an amazing fortune.  Believing that he had the answer to the riddle, the man smiled to himself.  Just then, the mirror laughed at him and the image dissolved.  “Ha ha ha,” it said.  “This is not the most precious thing in the world.  Next!”  Now dejected, the man walked away.

The next wisher was a woman who believed that power was the most valuable thing in the world.  She pictured herself commanding an army of soldiers, ruling her own country, and creating awe in the citizens of her lands.  As before, the mirror created these images from the woman’s thoughts.  Just as quickly, the image was shattered as the mirror again retorted, “Ha ha ha!  This is not the most precious thing in the world.  Next!”

This same pattern repeated itself as each townsperson stepped before the mirror and made his or her wish.  Wishes were made for fine jewels, beautiful clothing, expansive mansions and luxurious feasts.  But none of these proved to be the answer to the mirror’s riddle.

Finally, as evening approached and the crowd began to dwindle, a young boy came to the front of the line.  He had rushed to the center of town from his parents’ bedside, where both were stricken with raging fevers and terrible coughs.  He was very scared that his parents would not recover, and that his family would be broken apart.

As he approached the mirror, there was only one wish that rested in his heart.  In his mind he pictured his parents healthy again, with smiles on their faces as they set off for a family walk through the garden.  Looking on, he expected to see this idyllic scene emerge in the mirror, as all of the other wishes had.  But the mirror remained blank.  Confused and thinking the mirror was broken, he turned to walk away but stopped when he heard something strange.

“Ha, ha, ha,” the mirror laughed, although this time it was not a defiant laugh but a friendly chuckle.  “Little boy, you have wished for the most valuable thing in the world.  Go home and you will see that your wish is granted.”

As the remaining townspeople looked on in surprise, the boy ran home.  When approached his gate, he saw that his wish was granted.  Waiting for him were his father and mother, cured of their fevers and coughs, and ready with their walking shoes on.  Taking each of his hands in their own, the happy family strolled down the lane to their garden.

The next day the peddlar and his mirror were gone, but the lesson they taught the townspeople remained.