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The Story of the Phoenix – from Greek mythology

There is a bird that lays no eggs and has no young, yet he always exists. He was here when the world began and is still with us today. Once, the bird had lived for 500 years and felt the end of his life was near. Day by day he lost more and more of his strength. He realised that he couldn’t soar as high in the sky as he could before, nor fly as fast or far as when he was young.

“I don’t want to live like this,” he thought “I want to be strong again.”. So he lifted his head and sang, “Sun, glorious sun, make me new and strong again!”. But the sun didn’t answer. Day after day the bird sang. When the sun still didn’t answer, he decided to return to the place where he had lived in the beginning of time and ask the sun once more.

He flew across the desert, pass the hills, through green valleys and over high mountains. The journey was long, and because he was old and weak, he had to rest along the way. Now, the bird had a keen sense of smell and was particularly fond of herbs and spices. So each time he landed, he collected pieces of cinnamon bark and fragrant leaves. He tucked some in among his feathers and carried the rest in his claws and began to build himself a nest with the cinnamon bark at the top of a palm tree and lined it with the fragrant leaves.

Finally, with everything ready, the bird sat down in his nest, lifted his head, and sang, “Sun, glorious sun, make me new and strong again!”.

This time the sun heard him. Swiftly it chased the clouds from the sky and stilled the winds and shone down on the mountainside with all its power. Suddenly there was a flash of light, flames leaped out of the nest, and the bird turned into a big round blaze of fire. After a while the flames died down. The tree had not burned, nor had the nest. But the bird was nowhere to be seen. In the nest remained a large heap of silvery ash…

Slowly the ash began to tremble and heaved itself upward. Out of the ash rose up a new bird; small and crumpled. But soon he stretched his neck and lifted his wings and flapped them. Moment by moment he grew, until he was the same size as before. He looked around, found an egg made of myrrh and hollowed it out. He then placed the ashes inside and closed the egg. The bird lifted his head and sang, “Sun, glorious sun, I shall sing my songs for you, for you alone! Forever and ever!”. Just as the song ended, the wind began to blow, clouds scudded across the sky and all living creatures crept out of their hiding places. It was time to start anew…

This Phoenix lives in all of us; it is our resilience. When life burns us down, we rise up from the ashes - fresh and anew - for new beginnings await us.

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