The Legend Of Christmas
Vigilance--Part IV of V
"Parable of The Ant, The Leaf And The Sea"
GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Dec. 23, 2003 --
It was the fourth night of the Legend of Vigilance Story, and the
children were filled with candy and hot chocolate and sparkling
eagerness to hear the next episode.
They were curious about the sheet hanging on the
wall near the Sentinel's Great Chair. On it, scribed with
charcoal, was a formula:
RA x's 3 C's = V
"My Little Ones, how happy you look
tonight. In just 48 hours, Santa will come.
Christmas will once more be a happy day for all the children, for the
entire Land of Prosperity. But," he paused and swept his
big, strong hand
over the heads of the children pressed into a smiley circle before him,
"...it wasn't always that way. Long ago, during the reign
of the Beast of Terror, such a night like this was cold, unfriendly,
Mary, a Little One with chipmunk
cheeks rouged by the crisp night, pointed toward the sheet that hung
against the wall. "Is that our story, Sentinel? Are
we going to learn about math tonight?"
"Ha," the Sentinel replied.
"You are very smart, Mary. Yes. That is part
of the story. It is the Math of Vigilance, and I will tell
you about it in a moment. But, for now, let me tell you about
how the people of the Land of Poverty found the third secret to
chasing the Beast of Terror away. Can anyone tell me
what the first two Secrets of Vigilance are that we've already learned?"
Timmy's hand shot up.
"Last night, Sentinel, we learned that the Beast brought darkness to
the Land by making people feel small and helpless.
He made them feel In-Timmy-Day-Shine!"
The Little Ones
giggled in unison.
"That's right, Timmy.
The Beasts wings sucked up the sunlight and put a blanket of darkness
over all the people's hopes and dreams. And the Stranger
reminded them they were not small,
but as big as, as strong as the Beast. Conviction in their own
self worth and value helped them stand up to him. That was the Second
Secret of Vigilance."
stammered a little girl who held a piece of rock candy up so all could
see...."and when we hear the Beast try to bully us and say mean
things, we say: I'm Rubber You're Glue, Everything You Say
Bounces Off Me And Sticks On You! That's the Second Secret,
Conviction means we stand up for ourselves and others. We don't let
anyone beat us up or make us feel badly, from the outside or inside.
If we are brave, we see the sunlight. We see our hope and dreams, and not
our nightmares. The Beast wants us to hide in the dark of
ourselves. He wants to Intimidate us. But we don't let him,
"But, we're going
backwards, children. What's the First Secret? Can you
"It's Cee Our Unity
Repels A Great Enemy," shouted out a boy with rich mocha skin
glistening in the firelight. "It's the Courage we need to
fight the Fear of the Beast. And, we get it from each
other. We stand on each other's shoulders and we grow so
tall and are so strong the Beast runs away! Courage to fight the
Beast's Fear, that's the First Secret."
The Sentinel leaned back
and twirled his beard with his fingers. "Ah, you are so
smart, Little Ones. You have learned so much. I am
very proud of you. And so are your Mothers, Fathers, and
Grandparents of Vigilance, and all your Loved Ones. Give
these Little Ones a big hand."
Standing around the perimeter
of the room, the Parents
and Loved Ones of Vigilance clapped for their children, grandchildren and the Little One's
As the applause quieted, the
Sentinel's Voice grew serious. "I'm going to tell you a story
about two children, a boy and girl, who escaped the Land of Prosperity
in search of the final Secret of Vigilance. The
Stranger told this story long ago, and I will share it again with you."
The Sentinel paused, took a deep breath and continued.
"The two children were brother and sister. They decided to find
the Final Secret of Vigilance because no one in the Land of Poverty
could find it anywhere. They packed food in their
back-backs and slipped away from the shadow of the Beast using their
new-found Courage and Conviction to brave the Fear and shine light on the Darkness of Intimidation.
made their way to the edge of the earth where the sea separated land
and water. There were convinced the answer would be here, at the ends
of the earth. They had heard that shells could speak, so
up many different ones and listened to the sounds of the sea captured
pressed them to their ears, hoping to hear the Final Secret.
Sister Mary turned to her brother, Billy. Billy, she said,
do you hear anything? No, he replied, only the sound
of the sea."
The Sentinel pretended to hold a shell to his
ear and urged the Little Ones to follow suit. Small hands
pressed imaginary shells to their ears.
"Sister Mary picked up many shells of all sizes,
big, small, curved ones, flat ones and listened like a Robin in the
spring for the sound of a worm. Brother
Billy did the same until nearly all the shells on the beach had been
tried. Finally, Brother Billy picked up a conch shell that
looked like a curly ram's horn, and placed it against his ear, now
sore and red from the rough edges of the shells scraping against his
He was about to put it down when he thought he heard something.
Sister, he yelled, come and listen. He handed the shell to
Sister Mary who put it gently to her ear. Yes, she said, I hear
something. But...but...it doesn't seem to be coming from
the shell. I think....I think...
Sister Mary removed the shell from her ear and cocked her ear to the
first she heard only the rustling of the reeds nestled near
the sand. She moved closer to them. Yes, she said, I
think I hear something..."
The Sentinel leaned forward with his hand
near his ear, as though he were listening to the wind. He
let the room grow very, very silent as his eyes grew as large as goose
"Lo and behold, Sister Mary heard a small Voice
saying--Come Place Ant In Sea. Come Place Ant In Sea."
exaggerated the words. The children leaned ever so close.
"I hear it too, said Brother Billy.
Come Place Ant In Sea, he repeated. The
brother and sister began to look closely at the reeds for the little
squeaky Voice saying over and over, Come Place Ant In Sea.
Finally, they spotted it! A tiny ant with a round black head and shiny body
with skinny legs, was crawling up to the top of a swaying reed and
calling out: Come Place Ant In Sea
"Sister Mary and Brother Billy knelt next to the reed and
studied the ant. Its
antenna wiggled and its big eyes, stuck on each side of its
shovel-shaped head, rolled
up and down and sideways. Come Place Ant In Sea it
Brother Billy looked at his sister and said: I think the ant wants us to put him in the sea. I think so too,
replied his sister. Brother Billy searched the sandy soil and
spotted a large green leaf."
The Sentinel pretended to look down on the
floor and scooped up a make-believe leaf as he went on with the story.
" I'll make you a boat, Mister
Ant, Billy said. You can sail safely on it. Come Place Ant
In Sea, the creature squeaked. Sister Mary found a small stick
and pushed it against the reed to make a bridge. The ant crawled onto it.
Brother Billy held up the curved leaf shaped not unlike the bow of a
boat. He urged the ant off the stick and onto the leaf.
Sister Mary and Brother Billy waded into the water, holding the ant
and leaf just above the surface. Come Place Ant In Sea,
squeaked the ant. Come Place Ant In Sea Okay, said Billy,
and gently set the leaf on the lapping surface of the water. Slowly,
the ant began to drift out toward the horizon atop its makeshift
sailing craft. The wind began to blow and the leaf and ant grew
smaller....and smaller....and smaller..."
The Sentinel's Voice grew softer and
smaller as he spoke until he was whispering and no sounds came out of
his mouth. The children leaned forward so far their noses almost
touched the wooden floor. There was a long silence before the
"Now, children, how long do you think
Brother Billy and Sister Mary stood and watched the ant drifting
A Little One sitting near the Sentinel's
boots thrust up his hand.
"I think, maybe, until it got dark?"
"Good answer. Anyone else?"
"Maybe, until they got hungry and cold and
had to go home?"
Another child offered: "Until they
couldn't see the ant any more?"
"Until they couldn't hear it any more?"
The Sentinel nodded to each answer.
"The children helped the ant out and then stood for a long while watching
it drift away. When it disappeared, they grew cold and
hungry and lonely for their parents, just as many of you said. They had come to find
the third secret of the Beast of the Terror's rule over the Land of
Prosperity, but they found nothing but an ant who wanted to go into
the sea. When you try very hard to do
something and it doesn't work, what do you do?"
thought over the question. "You give up!"
"That is what some people do," said
the Sentinel. "Some people just give up. They say,
'Why try anymore, it doesn't work.' They throw up their
hands and quit trying. And that was the Third Secret they
learned. They learned the little ant was the answer to their quest."
"But, Sentinel, I don't
understand. The ant wanted to go into the water, didn't it?
How did they give up. They just watched the ant do what it
wanted to do, to go into the sea."
"No. Not quite. The ant was
telling Sister Mary and Brother Billy not that it wanted to go into
the sea, but the Third Secret Of Vigilance.
The ant didn't want to go into the sea at all. Instead, he
wanted the children to understand the message. Come Place Ant
In Sea He was
saying in ant words: Com-plac-en-cy."
does that mean, Sentinel?"
"Well, it means giving up
on your hopes and dreams, Timmy. It means getting tired of
trying. It means you no longer care. Remember when I asked
how long you thought Brother Billy and Sister Mary watched the ant
drift away? The question was, how long were they Vigilant?
How long did they care about the ant?"
"But they were cold and
"Sometimes," the Sentinel said, we have to fight hard to keep trying.
Had they kept looking, they would have seen the wind change blow the ant back to
the shore. But they left too soon. The ant was
counting on them being there so he could tell them he didn't want to
go out to sea, but that he was a messenger. That he had the
Third Secret Of Vigilance. But, Billy and Mary were gone. They
gave up on finding the secret when they had it all the time.. And that's what happens to people who become
Complacent. They give up trying to do the right thing.
They become Come Place Ant In Sea!"
"I get it," Timmy said.
"The people of the Land of Poverty gave up on fighting the Beast of
Terror. When they gave up, the Beast won. Right?"
"That's right, Timmy. See,
the Beast of Terror tried to make you give up on many things.
You might be brave for a moment or two, but what will keep you from
letting your bravery melt like snow in Spring back into Fear and
Intimidation? Complacency is like water dripping on a
rock. It wears down our Courage and Conviction.
Like learning how to play the violin. You know you just
can't do it, and when you try, you make awful sounds with the bow
screeching over the strings. So, you quit trying. You
become Complacent. You just stop. People give up on
many things in life because they are too hard, or so it seems.
And, the people in the Land of Poverty had given up fighting the Beast
of Terror. They gave up finding the Secrets of Vigilance,
until the Stranger came and told them the Stories of Vigilance."
"Sentinel, how do
you know when to give up or not? How long do you stand in
the water waiting for the ant on the leaf to come back?"
"That is such
a good question. Let's look at the formula for the answer.
You see, the people of the Land of Poverty asked the Stranger the same
question. How do you know when to Not Stop Trying?
He gave them this formula to destroy Complacency.
RA x's 3 C's=V
is a simple formula, children. It simply says Right
Actions Times the Children's Children's Children Equal Vigilance.
All that means is when you are doing the right thing, you know it is
the right thing if it helps other children both today and tomorrow.
Like, being nice to someone who is sad or unhappy is the right thing
to do today and for the children tomorrow. Sure, you could walk
past someone and not smile or say hello because they looked sad or
lonely. Or, you could go up to them and be nice and friendly
with them, and try to help them be happy. If everyone
passed by a sad and lonely person, soon the world be all sad and
lonely because don't we all get sad and lonely sometimes?"
I feel that way sometimes when I think my brother is being mean to
me," said Little Linda, poking at her brother.
"And sometimes I feel that
nobody wants to play with me. Sometimes I cry," said
That's what the formula
does, children. Complacency means we don't care.
Right Action for the Children's Children's Children's sake means we
care about today and tomorrow. The Beast of Terror
threatening the Land today will threaten it tomorrow and the next day
if people don't stand up to the Beast."
Linda jumped and down.
"You need Courage, Conviction and Right Actions that help the children
in the future. You need all three to fight the Beast of Terror
and make the Land of Prosperity, right Sentinel? Right?"
right , Little One. And that's what the people of
the Land of Poverty learned that night. They learned that it
took Courage, Conviction and Right Actions that benefit future
children, the Children's Children's Children to drive the Beast of
Terror away. They learned that removing Complacency from Land
of Poverty would turn it into the Land of Prosperity."
"So, what did they do,
Sentinel? How did they finally get the Beast to leave the
land now that they had the Three Secrets of Vigilance."
"Ahhh," the Sentinel said
touching his nose, "we'll find that out tomorrow
night. But for now, let's have one final cup of
chocolate before we all go home and pledge to ourselves that we'll
always think about doing the right thing not just for ourselves and
for our families and friends, but also for the future of all the
"Yes, we'll all remember never to put
an ant on a leaf and send it out to the sea," said Little Linda as she
and the other children stood and clapped and laughed and hugged and
then ran to the table filled with steaming cups of hot chocolate.
--end of Part IV of V--
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