Addendum May, 2007
   One of the great stories from Russia is the story of “The Firebird.”
Here is the beginning of one of those stories.
Will the young man pick up the fiery feather?
If he does, his life will never be the same again.

When the soul enters the realm of springtime
and picks up the fiery feather,
it will go through a deep transformation of life.
Springtime has its own initiation for the soul to pass through,
as do all the seasons.  

The Firebird

  Once upon a time, not in this time but another time,
in a certain place, not this place…                                                    
a place where broad forests stood                                                      
and many birds flew among the                                                     
branches of the ancient trees,                                                   
there was a realm ruled by a mighty king.                                                      

In that realm there was a young hunter
and the hunter had a horse that was a horse of power.
                                                        It belonged to the men of long ago,
                                                       a swift horse with a broad chest,
                                                         eyes of fire and hoofs of iron.  
                                                         There are no such horses nowadays.
                                                          They sleep deeply in the earth
                                                        with the men who rode them,
waiting for the time when the world has need of them again.
Then, all the great horses will thunder up
from under the ground and the valiant men of old
will leap from their graves.  
Those men of old will ride the horses of power,
and with the swinging of clubs and a thundering of hoofs,
they will sweep the earth clean of the enemies of God.

At least, that is what my grandfather said,
and his grandfather said it before him,
and if they don’t know, well, who does?

  One day in the spring of the year,
the young hunter was riding through the forest on his horse of power.
The leaves were growing green in the sun                                                  
and there were little blue flowers under the trees.                                           
Squirrels ran in the branches,                                              
hares worked through the undergrowth,                                              
yet, it was quiet.  No birds sang.                                                  
The young hunter listened for the birds,                                                
but the forest was silent                                                  
except for the scratching of the four-footed beasts,                                       
the dropping of pine cones,                                                
and the heavy stomping of the horse of power.                                        

  “What has happened to the birds?” the young hunter mused aloud.
He had scarcely uttered the words
when he saw a big, curved feather lying on the path before him.  
The feather was larger than that of a swan,
longer than that of an eagle.
It lay there glittering on the path like a flame of the sun,
for it was a feather of gold.

Then the youth knew why there was no singing in the forest;
he knew that the firebird had flown that way,
and the flame on the path was a feather from its burning breast.

  Suddenly, the horse of power spoke
and said, “Leave the flaming feather where it lies!
If you take it, you will be sorry,
for you will know trouble, and you will learn the meaning of fear.”  

The young hunter turned the matter over in his mind.
Should he pick up the golden feather or not?
He had no wish to learn fear,
and who needs more trouble?  
But on the other hand, if he picked up the feather
and presented it to the king,
the king would be pleased and might reward and honor him,
for no king had a feather from the burning breast of the firebird.  
The young hunter turned the decision this way and that.  

  What would you do?                                                
Would you pick up the feather?                                      
Or, would you play safe,                                     
and leave it lying on the ground?                                       

Whoever picked up this fiery feather was heading for trouble!                        
The life and energy of spring is fierce,                                                     
turbulent and inflationary!                                               
Something greater than ourselves is at work.                                                  
If we discerned the path before us,                                                   
we might go back to sleep.                                                  
May God have mercy upon us!                                                 
To pick up the fiery feather is a sacred event!