Last week my daughter had to read a short story in her literature class. It was titled The Stone in the Road. It was a fictional story about a small country where many business men and farmers traveled along the same road. One day a large stone was inconveniently located in the middle of this road. As each person passed, they grumbled about the stone and criticized the king and their neighbors for not having a clear road safe for passage.
This continued for three weeks, until finally the king called a meeting of all his countrymen. He had everyone gather on the road surrounding the quarrelsome stone. He proceeded to chide each individual for complaining about the stone but doing nothing concerning it. The king confessed to having placed the stone in the road himself; to see if his countrymen would act nobly and responsibly, or if they would behave like children fussing and complaining but doing nothing.
Sadly, the king had been disappointed. For no one in his kingdom removed the stone. He walked over to the monstrosity, lifted it up, placed it on the side of the road and knelt down where the burden to all had once been. Under the stone had been placed a small tin box. On top of the tin was a note. It read, "For him who lifts the stone." Inside the box was a shimmering gold ring and twenty bright gold coins. The king then said, "These were waiting for the man who would move the stone instead of finding fault with his neighbors."
When we finished reading the story I talked with Baby Girl to see if she understood what was meant by this. We had a very in-depth conversation concerning responsibility (as in-depth as you can get with a 9 yr old girl who has a 2 minute attention span.) Of course, I walked away from the conversation feeling a bit of pride knowing that I would have removed the stone given the opportunity. (Oh how naive I can be. How foolish; how I open myself up and just beg to be taught humility.)
A few days later I was taking Studly to his friend's house to spend the afternoon hanging out. (F.Y. I. Twelve year olds hang out, they don't play anymore. Lesson learned.) We were driving along the road and then it happened... Knock Knock Knock (That would be the sound of the opportunity I was looking for.) Low and behold my O.C.D. eyes saw 'my stone' in the road; except it looked more like a large piece of wood.
And what did I do you ask? What every other person traveling along the road did, I complained and kept on driving. I saw the piece of wood and the thought that skipped through my mind was, "Now why doesn't somebody pick that thing up. It is going to damage a vehicle or cause an accident."
Wow. How humbling that was for me. Just a few short days ago, I sat arrogantly in my dining room speaking confidently about responsibility and when faced with 'my stone' I did exactly the opposite. I became the foolish irresponsible townsperson. I chided myself for having been so proud.
On my way back, I pulled over to the side of the road and braved the oncoming traffic to remove the large piece of wood. There was no tin box full of gold and beautiful rings under 'my stone' (unfortunately), but I was able to go home and look my daughter in the eye.