The Eagle or the Chicken

(Prayer offered over the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday morning, 5 September 2014)


Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.

Allow me to tell you a story:

Once upon a time a young Native American brave was walking through a mountain pass and found an eagle’s egg.  Not knowing what it was he put it in a nest of a barnyard hen kept by his tribe. The eagle hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them.


All his life, the eagle did what the barnyard chicks did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken. He scratched the earth for worms and insects. He clucked and cackled. And he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet in the air.

Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird high above him in the cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among powerful wind currents, with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings.


The old eagle looked up in awe. “Who’s that?” he asked.

“That’s the eagle, the king of the birds,” said his neighbor. “He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth — we’re chickens.” So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that’s what he thought he was.

What a tragedy! Born to soar into the heavens, but conditioned to stay earthbound, he spent his entire life pecking at stray seeds and chasing insects. Though destined to be among the most awesome of all creatures of the air, he believed his neighbor’s counsel and never understood that he could have joined those majestic birds in the sky.

Flying Eagle

All too often we are like that eagle.  We believe what our family or friends or teachers or the media tell us about ourselves: you’re too dumb or you’re too fat or you’re too nerdy or you’re too poor or you’re a punk or you’re a troublemaker or you can’t sit still or you will never make it in college or you can’t sing or you’re not an athlete, etc., etc., etc.  Yet, within each of us is a special, unique gift, a gift given to us by God our Creator.  And that gift is to be an eagle—to soar, to dream, to take risks.


Unlike chickens, eagles are raised to be risk-takers. Eagles are raised in a manner that readies them for any storm they have to face. To convince the little eaglets that the time has come to leave the nest, the parent eagles “stir up the nest.” They make the nest very inhospitable, tearing up the “bedding,” and breaking up the twigs until jagged ends of wood stick out all over like a pin cushion. Life for the young eaglets becomes miserable and unhappy. Then the mother eagle pushes them off the cliff where their nest is located into the air. As they shriek in fear, the father eagle flies out and picks them up on his back before they fall, and brings them back to the cliff. This goes on for some time until they start flapping their wings.

People who soar like eagles are risk takers. They are willing to dare mighty things even when it means they may fail. They will not allow the fear of failure to rule their lives. They cling to the grace of God and this frees them to try new things. What if we put our whole heart and soul into a direction and it doesn’t work? Whenever we move forward with our dream that is the risk we have to be willing to take in order to live as one who rises up on wings like an eagle.

eagle's wings

This year will we listen to the false counsel of others and act like a barnyard chicken—a crowd follower, a “squabbler” fighting for a  grasshopper, content to live in the chicken yard, eyes on the ground, scratching in the dirt, never trying to fly—an earthbound bird? OR will we discover the eagle within?

The decision is ours!!


Let us pray:  Lord, you have created each of us to be an eagle—to soar mightily, dream deeply, take risks courageously.  Be for us a father eagle who is there to catch us if we fail and to bring us back to the cliff to try again and again and again.  AMEN.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.


Brother Frederick Mueller, FSC