I was asked to do invocation for an organization I’m part of…I thought I’d share it here.
“For tonight’s invocation, i have a parable that some might find just a little Cheesy. But seeing as we are gathered in the state known for cheese and are celebrating the passing of the torch from one Big Cheese to the next, let me tell you the mousy tale of Who Moved My Cheese…by Spencer Johnson.
The story involves four characters who live in a maze: the mice Scurry and Sniff, and two ‘littlepeople’, Hem and Haw. Life in the maze is well pretty good. They have found a huge source of their favourite food, cheese. The little people. Hem and Haw have even moved their houses to be near it and it has become the center of their lives. But they do not notice it getting smaller, and are devastated when they arrive one morning to find the cheese is gone.
The mice, Scurry and Sniff, accustomed as they are to the economics of cheese, quickly accept the loss and set off into the maze in search of other sources. The little people, because they have built their lives around the big cheese, feel they are the victim of some kind of fraud or theft. rather than accepting and adapting, they cling to the memory of the cheese, ensuring that they go hungry. Meanwhile, the mice move on and find new cheese.
The cheese, of course, is a metaphor for what we want in life. The maze represents where you spend time looking for what you want.
The four imaginary characters represent the simple and the complex parts of ourselves. Sometimes we may act like Sniff, who sniffs out change early; Scurry, who scurries into action; Hem, who denies and resists change as he fears it will lead into something worse; or Haw, who learns to adapt in time when change leads to something better. Whatever parts of us we choose to use, we all share something in common: a need to find our way in the maze and succeed in changing times.
As everyone in Wisconsin knows, having cheese makes you happy. The more important your cheese is to you the more you want to hold on to it. But, as the four friends discover, you can’t hold onto the cheese. You eat it, or it goes bad. When you enjoy it too quickly, it’s gone. But there is more cheese to be had out there in the maze. You can sit and pine for your lost cheddar, or you can scurry along to find that next aged swiss (preferably not sitting atop some Packer fans’ head)
As Haw soon realizes, he can’t wait for the old cheese to return. He sets off alone and as he does, he scribbles things on the wall of the maze to help his friend Hem find him:
What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
When you stop being afraid, you feel good!
The sooner you let go of old cheese, the sooner you find new cheese
Imagining your new cheese helps you find it
Smell the cheese often, so you know when it’s getting old.
Move to the new cheese and enjoy it!
Instead of seeing change as the end of something, Haw – and us – must learn to see it as a beginning. For life not to be wasted, it demands a level of risk and adventure, and delicious wonderful cheese. If you are willing to live this way, change loses its horror. What the Littlemen, Hem and Haw, discover is that breaking through your fears makes you free.
And so we see Haw’s handwriting on the wall: Anticipate change. Adapt. Learn to free yourself of your fear – just rearrange the letters a little. Savor the adventure.
It’s your time to shine during the good and bad. Celebrate when your cheese is moved, for it’s a new opportunity. And remember that a maze isn’t as confusing when you have wings. Then you can see all the cheese at once, you no longer need to worry about this dwindling pile or that pile. When your cheese is moved, spread your wings and fly. “Until you spread your wings, you’ll have no idea how far you can fly.” –Anonymous. Ray Bradbury says, “Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down…you’ll find out how to unfold your wings as you fall.” Soar above the maze and take stock.
So I leave you with this. Don’t be the little person and continue to stay stuck in your maze with your dwindling cheese pile. Remember, if you do not change, you can become extinct.
Be a mouse.