Stephen Chong (M.Ed.) ~ A life of substance

Stephen Chong - Author and Coach

Abode of Reunion (Part 2 of 2)

Without further need for prompt or invitation, we each took the crook of the others’ arm and made our way down the hillside and strolled amongst the throng of souls in various degrees of earnest conversation and/or embrace. As we strolled in grip of our agog, it was Isaiah who stopped suddenly in observation of someone standing alone and separate from others. The stretch of his silver cord evident reaching back over the mists, and his stunned bewilderment to his surroundings most evident.

          ‘Brother, Brother Isaac,’ cried Isaiah as the startled visitor recognised the voice of attraction.  

          Isaac seemed so surprised at first that he could barely fall to his knees before his old friend without toppling over. ‘Bishop, I, I …’ he stammered as he was lifted to his feet and embraced heartily by Isaiah. Turning to look at Cassiel, I could tell from her finger poised to her lips that she desired that I stay mute and in awe of the unfolding events.

‘It is so good to see you, your Grace. You have been sorely missed by those that have mourned your passing. But how, I mean, where am I? I have not passed over myself, have I? I mean, I am not … dead? And what are these robes you wear? They are beautiful …’

           Isaiah, through his kind look of compassion, was able to at least calm somewhat his friend’s anxiety.

           ‘No, my friend, you are not dead. It is not yet your time. Look! Do you see the beautiful silver cord attached to your heart that stretches back over the mists? You merely sleep but come seeking answers to some dilemma you face in your earthly abode. It is for us to determine what that problem is.’ As he spoke, Isaiah cast a hastened glance towards us as we watched in observation. It was a glance that at once told us that he was sure to his purpose but would call upon us if the need arose to a point of his impasse.

           Isaac’s frown did much to describe his inner turmoil as he at first struggled to articulate his conundrum. Then it was as if a dam broke open and the words came tumbling forth without restraint.

           ‘Oh, my Bishop, my heart is sorely troubled. I can no longer hold to the rigid doctrines of our church and the expression of its sanctity. I have heard much in the thralls of confession that has so troubled my faith that I no longer know whether God’s grace resides in my ability to minister His word. My lips have been sealed by the confessional, but my heart is rendered by holding its misdeeds within. In short, Bishop, I think I am losing my faith …’.

           Isaiah took firm hold of Isaac’s shoulders and led him to repose under the welcome of a nearby elm that seemed to offer solace and support to the occasion.

           ‘Isaac,’ he said as he sat next to his charge, ‘know that I am no longer your bishop, rather, that here, in heaven, I am known as Isaiah. I have been de-robed by the wonders I have both observed and experienced here within heaven’s realm.’

           ‘But, by the grace of God, you were our bishop. How is that possible?’

           ‘Fear not, my friend, the experiences by which I will now assist you have been sown by His divine hand. My eyes have been opened to the wonder of His laws of love and which guide my voice to assist your suffering.’

           At once Isaac looked down at his chest and it was evident that his time at heaven’s gate was shortening, for his silver cord became more vibrant and was tugging softly at his chest.

           ‘Our time is short, my brother. Your human form reclaims its’ spirit’s presence. Know therefore what is most important before you leave.’ Isaiah inhaled deeply before continuing and seemed to offer a silent prayer to He that held his hand. ‘Lose not your faith in God, my friend. The consequences to be borne by those that give scant regard to those precious souls under their care are destined for harsh judgement in the halls of heaven. I know, I have been there. Follow the love in your heart. Treat all His children under the guidance of your care as if the children were your own. Protect and serve those that come to you for spiritual nourishment and NOT the bastions of the church that demand only fealty to its doctrines. I have seen much anguish here in heaven as caused by conformity to misguided orthodoxy and self-righteous obeisance.’

           At once, Isaac could withstand the calling no longer. The urge from his awakening body was much stronger in its beckoning.

           ‘May I come again, my …, I mean, Isaiah? Your words have been as a balm to my wounded spirit. Yet, I think there is much more I must learn.’

           Standing and waving farewell, Isaiah, spoke truly, ‘By the grace of God, I will be here for you whenever you need me. I stand to no other law but the law of love. My heart will tell me when it is time for us to meet again. Go with God, my friend.’

           He watched with a gentle smile as Isaac felt the pull of the silver cord in beckoning to his return.

           ‘Oh, oh, and one more thing,’ implored Isaiah as his friend started to drift away. ‘Never confuse chastity with purity. It is only the pure in heart who can see God.’ He watched as Isaac waved acknowledgement with a smile just as he was moving across the mists. Isaiah prayed it was enough.

Upon Isaac’s departure, we moved together with smiles of gratitude and wonder, before again seeking answers from Cassiel. Questions that had started to form as a huge logjam in my burgeoning bag of unknowns. We strolled for a time, our silence filled with the surrounding chatter of conversations of the many souls and their companions, some in earnest, some in tears. But this time it was I who stopped suddenly in my tracks only to have the others turn in surprise at my reticence.

           ‘Cassiel is it….? Would it be …? Could I …?’

           ‘Speak your heart, dear Athar, and if it is within my power, I will surely open my heart to your inquiry.’

           ‘My mother … Could I …,’ I managed to mumble further. ‘We were much estranged in my previous life. This is a burden I have carried for too long. Could I, I mean, is it possible for me to have visitation. To express now my, ah, forgiveness for that which has passed between us.’

           Cassiel thought deeply upon my request for a moment. It was a moment that seemed to evoke a flash of light transmitted to another sphere or a higher realm. Yet, in a moment, her answer was upon her lips.

          ‘Yes, my dear friend, such a reunion is indeed possible. Yet, be aware that sometimes forgiveness is not readily received in the same spirit which it is given. Sometimes the denial of responsibility is a stronger elixir than truth.’

          I looked at her with an understanding that transcended my anxiety and nodded my confirmation which she acknowledged with her eyes.

           ‘Walk, then, over the hillside yonder,’ she said pointing in the direction. ‘It will be seen what your heart yearns to unfold.’

Walking in the direction of her finger, my steps started to falter the closer I came to the crest over which I could not see. It was as if my heart was fixed strongly to its purpose, but my mind found falter the closer it came to its realisation. That’s when I saw her. I knew it was her even though her back was turned to my presence. She could neither see nor hear my approach, but I knew it was her. The slant and slope of her taut shoulders and hands fixed firmly to her hips was something I recognised from many years of her overbearing.

           ‘M, moth, mother’ I croaked over vocals that did not wish to function without rasping over burning coals. ‘It is I.’

           ‘What, who, leave me alone,’ she said without turning and with venom dripping from her tongue. ‘I don’t know where I am, I have no wish to be here, and I certainly do not wish to speak with anyone. I want to return home. Leave me be.’

           Despite my ill-at-ease, I took a further few paces forward in persistence.

           ‘Mother, it is I, your son …’

           Her quick turn to face me made me stop fixedly in my tracks. Her face, full of the fire of malice, made her already stern visage even more difficult to admire in recollection. There were so few precious moments.

           ‘I am glad you are here,’ I said holding my hands forward to bridge the gulf between us. They were hands that remained empty of touch for she could only look at them as if they were foreign objects from an alien being.

           ‘I just wanted to say, I mean, I sought this meeting to tell you that I forgive you. To tell you that despite the harshness of my life, the many trials that I endured by your neglect, I am happy. Here, now, in heaven, I am at peace with who I am. I came to thank you. For without you, I would not be in the exalted place in which I now abide. If it had not been for your self-centred intent, I would not be where I am today. I could not have risen so high in God’s holy order.’

           In the eternal moments after I had finished speaking and before she could utter a reply, I could but wonder where and why all those words just tumbled forward in presentation. My heart lay open in expectation of their gift of giving but quavered in fear as to what may be her reaction. I could not say that I was surprised, but I confess to a sense of disappointment in her response.

           ‘Forgiveness? What are you forgiving me for? I did nothing wrong. I did what I thought best for you. I was your mother, you were my child - you were meant to obey me. That’s how it works, isn’t it! I stand no sense of regret for what I have done. My only disappointment is that I did not send you to that boarding school sooner. That way, I could have realised my true calling - without being hamstrung by the apron all that time. I mean, your father was never there, was he? Why don’t you go to him with your forgiveness?’

          I could barely keep my knees from buckling and struggled hard to hold fast to the truth about myself I had recently discovered. Yet somehow, I found the way to speak my heart before she was called back by the glare of her silver cord.   ‘Go with God, Mother. He will be forever a light in your darkness. I stand steadfast in His glory but see that your eyes are closed to His brightness. I wish you could see what I see, but I fear your eternity will be a long one.’

           The urge from her silver cord was now one she could not refuse, and it was only her scowl that remained to pierce the darkness she had left behind after she flew back over the mists.

           After she had gone and as I strode back over the hill and across the vale with leaden feet, I was never so pleased to see my two friends awaiting my return with arms open.

Abode of Reunion (part 1 of 2)

Isaiah and I took pleasure in the others’ company. It was as if the recent experience with the Master had required us both to cast our spirit free upon the sands of restfulness. Not that we both felt in any way traumatised. Rather, it was as if we needed to assimilate the transformation. Sitting on the balcony of my abode as we were, we interspersed our recollections and conversations with giant pauses of, well, just sitting. It seemed to provide both the luxury of repose mixed with the elements of wonder and magnitude. We even took time to speculate about what we may achieve as we both evolved forward.

           I was most eager to see my newfound knowledge used to its greatest effect for the many in need of its succour. Isaiah expressed the similar, but more to correct some of the errors and misdirection of religious and spiritual instruction for those with open ears. The reality was, however, that we were none the wiser as to how we could achieve such ends. I mean, to cross (back) over. To break open the veils between heaven and earth so that those with open hearts may hear. To cross the border and cast what we now know to be true to those in need was, for us, a grand undertaking. Yet one we knew not how to achieve.

           ‘I guess when the time is right, we will know what to do?’ he said as I nodded my agreement. ‘Isn’t that how it works? I mean, two eager disciples, as we are, will surely not be left to rest in repose as we attend future revelation.’

           It was right about that same moment that we saw her approaching through the garden. A stranger by regard, but not by a smile. A person unknown to both Isaiah and I, yet not without the bounty of love that preceded her introduction. Her mastery evidenced by the blue and yellow radiance festooned within the glimmer of her robe. When we saw the variant colours, we knew instantly that her being was filled with both the wisdom of truth and the grace of charity.

           ‘May I join you?’ she asked with an open-handed gesture that spoke of a joyous welcome of its own.

          ‘By all means,’ I replied, as I positioned a chair such that she could join us in welcome communion on the balcony.

          Both Isaiah and I rose in anticipation of greeting and thus had the opportunity to make first impressions of the delightful soul who joined our small gathering. Her flawless skin, though dark, seemed to radiate a lightness that bespoke of the purity of her heart. Her eyes were like pools of obsidian that seemed to find no depths in their well. Yet, despite her grace, her dignity seemed only a reflection of her humility and compassion.  

           She required no need of our introduction for she spoke as if old friends, but told us that on earth, many centuries ago, she was known as Olivia, but that here, her ‘nom d’heaven’ was Cassiel. Pleasantries were cast forward and the grace of our Father’s heaven was much discussed before she broke word to the purpose of her visitation.

          ‘I come bearing the gift of your desire. I am sent as the Hierophant to further guide your education about the laws of heaven. Blessed knowledge that will serve you well on your quest to bridge the gulf between heaven and earth - for such cannot be used with malice or misdirection. It is only with the blessed touch of divine reason that this wisdom is freely given.’

           By glancing askance to quickly view the eagerness of my expression, Isaiah confirmed our earnest commitment to our task and implored her further elucidation of what we most needed to commence our journey.

          ‘Come then, let us be away. There is much that I need to show you,’ she said standing to gently extort us to do the same.

Within but the fleeting moment of Cassiel’s directive thought, we trio stood upon a small hilltop. The vista over which we laid collective eyes seemed but a short distance away, but far enough that we remained objective observers to the events as they unfolded. In amazement, what we saw impacted Isaiah so much that he could not restrain his exclamation of awe.

           ‘By the grace of God,’ he exclaimed. ’I have never witnessed such as that which now lays open before me. The closest I can resemble my observations to my previous life is that it is much akin to a train station of embarking and departing passengers.’

           ‘This analogy serves in close description to what is in effect happening,’ replied Cassiel.

           ‘Look,’ I said pointing. ‘There, besides that grand oak tree. There seems such a great reunion between separated kin. A mother and child perhaps? And look! What are all those silver cords leading from many hearts that stretch across the ethers and over the mists?’ There was so much going on that I could scarcely describe one scene without being distracted by another.

           ‘Watch as their story is told and I will do my utmost to describe events for you,’ said Cassiel as we stood in silent amazement as the proceedings unfolded.

The mother, having hugged her son in a loving embrace, now moved to sit under the grand protection of the oak tree with her kin, whereby she commenced speaking in earnest to his open ears.

          ‘What does she speak of?’ I asked.

          ‘Her son is much in need of guidance in his life and is sorely tempted to pursue a path that would not be in his eternal best interest. She seeks to instruct him in a manner that will secure him in the pursuit more fitting to his future progress.’

          Isaiah turned suddenly from his riveted attention to stare fixedly at Cassiel’s declaration.

          ‘But how? Is he not … dead and already passed to our abode here in heaven?’

           Her smile of knowing did much to relieve both our pent-up inquisitiveness and augmenting frustration.

          ‘By no means. He will soon return to where he may, or may not, express the wisdom he has learned. The gift of free-will is forever writ as law upon the flesh.’

          ‘But how …?’ I said in equal surprise to Isaiah.

          ‘This, what you witness, is the meeting place. It is where those that sleep on earth can renew acquaintance with that kin with whom they are connected in love. Do you see those many silver cords attached to those many hearts? Do you see how they arc over the mists?’

          Neither Isaiah nor I could respond, being struck by amazement as we were, but our collective nod was enough for our guide to proceed in explanation.

          ‘These are visiting souls who, while in the depth of sleep, can join loved ones upon their request. Their spirit is attached to their body through the silver cord that you witness. It is only when this silver cord is broken that their journey to heaven is considered ‘one way’, and they pass through the mists of judgement.’

           ‘Do you mean to say that all souls, when asleep, can connect with those they love?’ I asked in earnest.

          ‘Yes, of course. Love is the bridge, and as long as it remains strong and true, then one may call upon the other to guide and assist.’

          ‘But this is extraordinary,’ replied Isaiah. ‘If only such were known by many on earth. That one could connect with those we love beyond the veil. It would change much about how life is lived and in communion with those that have passed.’

          ‘Yes, it would. It is for this very reason that I have brought you here. To witness the magnificence of our Father’s love for his children.’

           ‘Cassiel, do you mean to explain that the process of sleep whilst on earth is more than just a cause for the physical body to rest and recuperate from its travails?’ I hastened to inquire further.

          ‘Oh, yes, much more. Think about it this way. When the human body rests, so does the mind. In such quietude, the spirit is free to explore the pathway between that which is on earth to that which is in heaven. No coercion or control is exercised, rather, the key is love and a heartfelt earnest desire to seek remedy and wisdom for life’s burdens and hurdles that will enable the soul to bridge the veil by visitation.’

          ‘But how are they to know? How do they remember? How do they discern what is a dream and what is, well, real? If such connection is true, then much grief for loss would lessen in the knowledge.’

          ‘These are astute questions and observations, dear Athar. Let us, therefore, stroll amongst those that arrive. Perhaps then we can discern answers that as yet remain elusive.’

The Return

‘Would that I could go back, to return and make right that which I had previously misdirected,’ said I, as we both reclined on the banks beside the vast expanse, the cool water into which we dangled our toes in delight. ‘I carry a heavy burden of trouble for that which I have done in ignorance to the truth.’

           By rummaging around, the small, flat pebble wasn’t hard for Elijah to find. He clasped it gently, then tossed it into the still waters to watch it skip many times across the surface. So many times, in fact, it was impossible to count. I could only stare aghast, remembering as a lad only conjuring at most six skips before my stones were lost to the depths.

           ‘Those deeds committed in ignorance or without intention are not weighed to balance in heaven, my friend. Only those who have erred with deliberate intent, or for determined self-interest to another’s detriment or negligence, are committed for their rightful consequences. It’s like peering at your face through a window and baring the results of a lifetime.’

           ‘Yet, it is so that my errant deeds and insouciance to others now effects my eternity. My glance in the window of reflection speaks to me with unease. Is it possible to return to undo that which I have done?’

           ‘To return is indeed possible, but the circumstances upon which the journey is to be constructed require consultations from those higher above.’

           ‘Yet it can be done?’

           ‘Yes,’ replied Elijah with a smile hidden behind the frown of his brow. ‘But first you must pass a great test. Then, and only then, can you make such a supernatural return through the mists.’

           My eagerness was akin to a small child about to visit a fairground. The very thought seemed to lift the weight of burden from my shoulders whereby my animation could barely be constrained. ‘What do I have to do. I will do anything. Anything you wish.’

           ‘So be it,’ said Elijah solemnly. ‘First you must find a flat stone, much the same as the one I made dance to eternity across the waters.’

      It wasn’t hard to find, and I proudly held my stone forth for examination. ‘Will this suffice to purpose?’ I asked admiring its symmetry and to which I received a cursory nod.

           ‘Now, see how many skips it will make.’

           I felt the weight and flexed my arm in preparation. Recollections from my youth came flooding back to the art of the practice. I knew what to do. It was like riding a bike. I tossed the pebble into the water and stood in anticipation and expectation of the many skips of its journey. Alas, I fell most notably from my crest when the pebble could only manage five skips before descending into the depths.

           Elijah’s mirth at my disappointment was barely contained under his gruff exterior. Yet his eyes told an alternate story.

           ‘Does this mean I have failed?’ I asked in abject disappointment. ‘Does it mean that I cannot return to mend my mistakes?’

           ‘My friend, the showing of our misdeeds can only delay, they cannot prevent, the ultimate realisation of the truth. The truth does not care what you choose to act upon – it remains unchanging.’

           I watched carefully as Elijah bent down to pick up another flat pebble. He seemed to hold it in his hand with loving care. He even whispered words to it that I was unable to interpret. Without so much as a practice swing, he tossed the pebble into the water and watched with a quaint smile its multitudinous skips across the water well out of sight of eye’s reach.

           ‘But how? How did you do that?’

           ‘Find another pebble,’ he said adamantly. ‘But this time, speak to it with love and devotion. Acknowledge its’ beauty. After all, it too is a reflection of the divine. Praise it as worthy and equal to the task of its journey.’

           I, at first curiously, then with the dawning of wisdom, did so speak to the pebble held lovingly in my hand. Then, with a motion as fluid as the water into which it was cast, did I toss the pebble and watch with joy as it skipped upon the water to join its friends on the other side of eternity.

           ‘Good,’ said Elijah as he clasped my shoulder. ‘Now we can see to the next part of your journey. The return.’

           ‘Lead thou me on,’ said I with a mind still skipping across the water like a flat stone.


Stephen Chong

2nd April 2021


In life, some things are just more important than winning … a story:

The young lad came bounding into the kitchen with an enthusiasm only a nine-year-old can display. He was attired head-to-toe in the colours of his favourite team - bedecked in a black and yellow striped jumper, scarf and even a beanie. A vestment totally unsuited to the mounting temperature of the day’s morning. The boy’s father, munching on a piece of toast asked with a slight smile,

“Hey son, what day is it today?”

The look the boy gave his dad could only best be described as incredulous. “Why it’s Saturday, silly.”

“Oh,” replied Dad with a smile behind his eyes, “I almost forgot.”

“Dad, remember, we’re going to the footy, aren’t we?” asked the lad in innocent concern.

“Sure are,” replied the elder as he took another bite of toast.

“Hey, son,” he continued after he had swallowed the morsel. “Do you know where the word Saturday comes from?”

The boy’s brow furrowed as he looked curiously at his father. “Ah, nah!” was the genuine reply.

“Well,” continued dad, “the word Saturday originates from ancient Roman times. It comes from the planet Saturn, who they worshipped as one of their really important gods.”

The lad looked at his father with only a modicum of interest, trying his best to stay focused on the conversation.

“And do you know what else,” continued the older man?“ “In ancient Rome, well over two thousand years ago, they used to have games in large arenas just like our own.”

The boy’s eyes seemed to glow at this extra piece of half-relevant information.

“Yes, except that the games were held with gladiators, and these gladiators used to fight to the death for the entertainment of the crowd.”

“Oh, my!” exclaimed the lad. “Do you mean to say that they battled one another until their opponent was killed?”

“Yep!” replied dad after another bite of toast.

The boy’s brows creased together in consternation. “Why did they do that?”

“Well, they fought to the death for the glory of winning and the roar of the crowd. If they won their battle, they were even called, ‘a god of the arena’. A great laurel in those days.”

“Geez, Dad,” said the boy, “I’m glad we don’t live in those days.”

“Yeah, I guess not, son. I mean, to have to kill someone to win the game would be pretty horrible, don’t you think?”

“Sure would,” replied the boy with certainty.

A quiet few moments descended between the pair as they both pondered the magnitude of the information before them.

“Hey, son,” said the father, “it makes you wonder why winning is so important, doesn’t it?’

“Huh?” replied the nine-year-old a bit out of his depth.

“Well, in our game, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Isn’t that so?”

“Yeah, and I hate it when we lose,” replied the boy as his shoulders sagged.

“I guess,” continued father, “winning isn’t everything. Maybe it’s even more important to lose than to win all the time.”

At this, the lad’s eyebrows really did join together.

“I mean to say,” continued dad, “isn’t the most important thing, after you lose that is, to get up and try again? To fight hard to do better next time and to learn from your mistakes, so that you improve and practice some more and get better than you thought you were.”

“Yeah, I guess it is,” replied the boy.

Then, after a little more toast, Dad asked, “Hey, son, do you think the Tigers will win today?”

The boy’s brows once again cemented. “I dunno, Dad. But you know what? I reckon it really doesn’t matter.”

“What?” replied father with surprise.

“Don’t you see, Dad? Even if we lose we will get off the canvas, fight hard to get better and become a stronger team for it.”

The older man looked at his young cadet with evident pride as he picked up his hat and rose from his seat. “You know, son, I think you’re right.”

The two looked at one another in a compact. As if by osmosis, they knew what time it was as they made their way towards the front door. Then, just as they were about to open the door to leave, the young boy stopped suddenly and turned to his father.

“Hey, Dad, do you know what’s so good about Saturdays?”

“No, son!” replied the father somewhat bemused by the question.

“I’m spending the day with you,” said the nine-year-old with a sparkle in his eyes.

The father looked at his son with love as he placed his arm around his boy’s shoulder as they left the house. “I reckon so, my son. Thank God it’s Saturday.”    

The Cassowary King

The Cassowary King

The man sat at the base of the large silky oak tree, his head firmly placed in the palms of his hands. He paid little mind to the sweet sounds of the rainforest in which he sat. Neither the agog tweets of the lorikeets at play, nor the quaint twits of the tiny finches and sunbirds, caused to balm his troubled mind. None of these alive sounds made impact through the man’s inner turmoil. All the man could do was to mumble laments to his woe and kick the dirt and small scree away with his feet.

           “What more do you want from me?” wailed the man to only the trees who were listening. “You have taken everything. I have no more to give.”

           At these words, the man picked up a fallen stick and tossed it, rather forcefully, it must be said, into the dense underbrush of the rainforest.

           “Ouch,” can the dolorous cry from behind a dense thatch of wait-a-whiles. “Who threw that stick,” commanded the rumbling retort. “I have mind to see that you pay dearly for your mistake.”

           The man lifted his head in surprise at the uncommon intrusion. He did not know there was somebody to where he threw the stick. Immediately he got to his feet and walked the small distance in effort to peer through the thick under-brush, yet he could still not see the source of the voice of anger.

           “I, I, I’m sorry,” he mumbled in somewhat confusion, “I did not mean to hit anyone with the stick. It was an accident. I am dreadfully sorry.”

           All at that same instant, a large cassowary came bounding through the trees to confront the man and his meek apology. So startled was the man that he jumped back many-a-metre, to stand, once again by the base of the large tree of his previous musing.

           ‘How dare you hit me with that stick,” said the cassowary with venom. “Why I’ve a good mind to give you a karate kick that you will never forget.”

           “Please, please, do not hurt me,” pleaded the man. “It was an accident. I did not mean to hit you.”

           The cassowary did see through his anger that the man was sincere in his apology and this did cause him to abate his ire somewhat.

           “Well, okay,” said the mollified rainforest creature, “but don’t do it again. Otherwise I will be sure to make you pay a heavy price.”

           “Yes, yes sir,” stumbled the man, as his chin approached his chest.

           The cassowary turned to leave the man to his own, but then his peaked casque tilted side-wards in question.  

           “Tell me something before I go. Why did you throw that stick, if you did not intend to hurt me?”

           The man scratched the earth diffidently with his feet in effort to draw forth the tumult from his mind.

           “Well, it’s just that … well … I, I’m frustrated, you know.”

           “Frustrated? What is frustrated?” asked the confused bird.

           The man still struggled with himself for a few moments, so he crouched to his haunches and scratched at the earth with the points of his fingers.

           “Well, if you must know, I am frustrated because everything I try, I fail at. My whole life has been one big blob of failure. I’ve never succeeded at anything.”

           Once again the cassowary’s casque tilted beyond the vertical.

           “But, I do not understand,” intoned the cassowary. “What have you got to worry about?”

           The man looked at him strangely, as if trying to work out why this bird could not see the extent of his lament. So much so, that he even felt the heat of anger enter body to seek an outlet through his mind.

           ‘What’s the matter with you? Can’t you see that I am nothing, nothing but a failure?”

           “I can see nothing of the sort,” replied the cassowary, followed by a pregnant pause. “Anyway, what have you got to worry about?”

           “Huh?” was the man’s confused reply.

           “Look,” said the cassowary, “I am nearly the last of my kind. Soon I and my few remaining brothers and sisters will be extinct.

           At these words, the man’s jaw almost dropped to the earth.

           “You cannot be serious. Why, you are a magnificent rainforest creature, a miracle amongst the North Queensland rainforest. Why, the rainforest would not be the same without the statement of your being here.”

           “Well, it is so,” replied the cassowary wearily. “Soon, much sooner than you think, I and my kind will be no more.”

           “This is an outrage,” cried the man. “It should not be so. Something must be done.”

           “I’m afraid it’s too late,” replied the cassowary in despair. “There a so few that will listen to our cry.”

           At these words from the cassowary, the man drew himself to his full height in declaration.

           “I will not have it so. I am going to march out of here and do everything that I can to ensure that you and your kind do not die to extinction.” The man then stumbled over his next thoughts before he found voice. “Why, I will shout from the very rooftops. I will plead with the powers that control our sacred rainforest. I will speak to all ears that will listen. I will not stop until it is done, and you and your kind are safe.”

           The cassowary’s face lightened with joy and a strange warble entered his chest that he could not stop from expressing.

           “You, you would do this for me?” he asked of the man.

           “Yes, most certainly and I will not stop until I have succeeded,” exclaimed the man with determination

           The cassowary’s casque, once again tilted to the side a little. “But, what about your, your frustration? Your lack of success.”

           The man stood to his full height and looked steely at the cassowary.

           “My friend, I will not fail you.”

By Stephen Paul CHONG

24th August 2016      

What are we going to tell them?

“What are we going to tell them?”

“Boys, are you almost ready to go?” I asked of my three teenage boys in the usual mayhem of an early morning start in preparation to get them to school - knowing full well the time it takes to drive the Kuranda Range to arrive at school on time.

           “Nearly, dad,” was the reply from one son.

            “Have you put the washing on the line yet?” I enquired in the knowledge that they are generally most diligent in completion of their morning chores.

           “Not yet, dad,” was the response from another.

            “Okay, but you better get on with it,” I replied without due concern, “otherwise we’ll be late.”

           A few moments later, I hear …

           “Dad, you better come and see this, quickly.”

           Attuned to the sense of urgency in my son’s voice, I made haste to the lounge room where each of my lads was aligned at the front door.

           “Oh, my God, will you look at that?” was my astounded response to what was prancing up and down right in front of our front door.

           There he was, as large as life, a rather sizable cassowary, marching up and down in front of our house. We all watched in awe as this magnificent creature of the rainforest paraded himself before us.

           “Can we go outside?” intoned one son.

           “Not on your life,” I replied in earnest, “those things are dangerous.”

 At that same instant, the cassowary decided that he’d had enough of his prancing and stood directly in front of us and started this warbling sound.

           “Warble, warble, warble,” said the cassowary.

           “What’s he saying, dad,” asked another son.

You know how it is as a father of teenage children – you are supposed to have all the answers to life’s important questions.

           “Dunno, son,” was my informed reply, “I don’t speak cassowary.”

Anyway, after a few more minutes of listening to the cassowary, our dilemma became apparent. The washing still had not been hung out. But, how to get to the line unscathed while Mr. Cassowary was playing sentry?

           Then, our real dilemma became apparent.

           “What are going to tell them?” asked one lad.

           “Huh?” was my informed reply.

           “Dad, if we are late for school, what excuse do we use?”

All at once the penny dropped – I understood our predicament with perfect clarity. Schools have heard them all before, haven’t they?

           ‘The dog ate my lunch and I had to make another one’, or maybe, ‘The cat got run over and we had to get another one’ is probably another.

           Anyway, as all of these possible excuses ran through my head, I thought that maybe we should just tell the truth, but … ‘A cassowary wouldn’t let us out of the house’ just didn’t have that ring of credibility to it.

           Thankfully though, Mr. Cassowary got bored of prancing and warbling and eventually succumbed to the pleasures of the rainforest, allowing us to put all hands to task and hang out the washing.

           As fortune would have it, we managed to make it to school with a few moments to spare. A fact for which I am most grateful, given that I was still in debate about whether to tell the truth (at risk to my reputation), or tell a wee-white lie that did not defy any sense of reason.


Stephen Chong

15 August 2016

mob: 0414 438 909

Older Posts

Custom Post Images

Stacks Image 656
Stephen Chong is available for book signing events, public speaking engagements, workshops, interviews and professional development/coaching activities. For further information, please contact Stephen direct