Friday, January 26, 2007

Zen Shorts

Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth is a nice reminder this time of year of what matters. Resolutions for the New Year have long fallen by the wayside, teachers (and students)are caught up in the assessment craze, and everyone seems a little on edge.

This story - of three children meeting a giant panda - contains within three Zen meditations told by the giant Panda to the children and that relate to their individual stories. Uncle Ry and the Moon helps to remind us of what really matters in life and The Farmer's Luck reminds us that sometimes, it's all a matter of perspective. But my favorite is A Heavy Load - which serves as a reminder that in order to move forward, sometimes we need to let some things go.

Also by the same author is one of my favorite books - The Three Questions. I have given this book to people who mean a great deal to me, most recently to a friend who is going through a particularly rough time with work and family medical issues, yet somehow remembers to do things for others!! The Three Questions is based upon a short story by Leo Tolstoy and has Nickolai searching for the answers to three questions, which he believes will help him to always be a good person: What's the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do? The answers to these questions don't come to Nickolai from his friends, but from wihin himself.

Both stories are a great way to show writers that stories can have an important meaning and message to send. And both stories are strangely calming to read and reflect upon.

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