A Folk Tale

The Three: Willow, Branch, Leaf

Family of Man – Harvest

Pentecost 115

 

As promised, here is the story of Willow, Branch, and Leaf.

 

It is said that the creator looked through the clouds one day and saw a need for shade.  The heat from the sun provided much for the world but the people were beginning to spread their own type of heat – anger.  Grieved at this, a tear fell from the creator’s eye and from it, a tree grew.  The tree could bend and move as no other and it was called “willow” from the word meaning to roll and turn.

 

Beneath the willow tree three plants grew.  One grew outside the tree’s shade while another used the tree trunk to grow tall.  Still another stood straight and offered shade to plants around it, much like the willow tree did.   The plants provided food for the people who became more loving in the shade of the tree.  They reached out to each other more and life was good.

 

Nearby there were three sisters living together.  Different in appearance, the sisters loved each other and stayed together.  They believed their being together made them strong.  A visitor soon entered their life and spoke of other places and other customs.  Several nights later one of the sisters had disappeared and within the week another was gone.  The remaining sister blamed the visitor and cast him out.  She never spoke to strangers again and grieved deeply for her sisters.

 

Time passed and then the same visitor appeared.  This time he was accompanied by the second sister.  She told the elder sister that she had not meant to cause her grief but had wanted to grow and so had gone to see the different places the visitor had described.  She had come home now and had many different ways to improve their land.  The sisters hugged and were overjoyed.

 

One day after much time had passed the third sister appeared with her own family.  She was welcomed by her sisters and asked why she had stayed away so long.  “I needed to grow”, she replied.  “I also wanted to see the world, to make my own way.”  She also offered advice on different ways to do things but unlike her other sister, she eventually went back to her new home.  The sisters did stay in touch, secure in their love for each other which time had not dimmed.

 

A willow tree is very flexible and yet it is also quite strong.  Once believed to have possessed magical powers, its leaves are often used to help combat fevers.  Our folk tale of a willow tree being used to help alleviate heat has some scientific bearing.  The willow is one of the strongest trees, bending to the wind but never fully snapping or being brought to death by other forces of nature. 

 

The family of man is like the willow tree with all its different varieties.  We cannot ignore our differences but neither should we forget our similarities.  When we plant strong roots in our being of goodness and kindness, we will grow and flourish wherever we are.  Nothing can truly take away our love of family when we allow it to grow.  We too need to branch out and stretch ourselves both mentally and physically.  Through our actions of kindness and goodness, we drop leaves that can grow within other environs and improve the world.  Willow branches are said to be used by those believing in magic.  We can create the magic of goodness when we use our skills and actions for good. 

 

Archbishop Desmond Tutu knows the value of our stretching and growing to spread seeds of goodness.  “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”  The family of man will grow when we remember to do good, not evil. 

 

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Easter 23

 

Since 1959 the doll has been a necessary item in almost every little girl’s toy box.  Children have been playing with dolls for centuries and artifacts resembling such have been found in the most ancient of archaeological sites.  Many were thought to be idols but as more and more artifacts have been discovered it is quote apparent that playing with dolls is not a new thing for children.

 

The psychology of playing with dolls has been researched for almost as long as children have been playing with them.  In 2009 Elise Abramson researched one of the world’s most popular dolls, the Barbie.  Her project was titled “Barbie Brains: The Effect of Barbie Dolls on Girls’ Perception of Male and Female Jobs”.  The adult-looking doll has long been blamed for discouraging little girls to break out of gender roles historically limited to women.  Abramson sought to quantify such claims.

 

Abramson’s opening concept was simple.  “Since her creation in 1959, Barbie has been a popular toy for young girls in the U.S. In 1998, on average, girls in the U.S. owned eight of these dolls and approximately two were purchased every second somewhere in the world (Turkel, 1998). With all of her popularity and the persistent part she plays in many girls’ lives, little research has yet been be done on whether she might have a harmful effect on the development of the girls who love her.”

 

The experiment to determine the research was simple.  “In this experiment, 16 three to eight-year-old girls from the Corvallis area came to our lab with one of their parents. After having the child play with either a Barbie Doll or a control toy for five minutes, the experimenter orally administered a questionnaire designed to assess activation of gender stereotypes about jobs and self-perceived ability related to future career ability. The main hypothesis was that after playing with Barbie, girls would be more stereotypical during a picture task. The secondary hypothesis predicted that girls who played with Barbie would say that they could do fewer careers in a question task. Results were insignificant for the main hypothesis and the secondary hypothesis.”

 

Playing with dolls offers children a chance to interact in pretend situations without the consequences of mistakes.  They also enable a child to examine events that might have been painful.  The motor skills involved with speaking to and for the inanimate toy as well as the motor skills involved in dressing and playing with the doll are extremely beneficial in a child’s development.

 

Ruth Handler noticed her daughter Barbara playing with paper dolls as if they were her real friends.  She preferred the paper dolls to her baby dolls after reaching the age of five.  Paper dolls tore easily, however, and had a very short shelf life.  Ruth wanted a more substantial doll for her daughter.  She saw a German doll on a trip to Europe and decided to convince her husband to make one.

 

Ruth Handler was the daughter of Polish-Jewish immigrants.  She married and moved to California where her husband decided to furnish their home with inexpensive self-made furniture out of two new forms of plastic – Plexiglas and Lucite.  He began a company to manufacture such and Ruth as the only sales person soon signed large contracts with Douglas Aircraft Company and others in the industry.

 

Elliott Handler and his partner Harold Mattson liked the doll that Ruth wanted made and had named Barbie after her daughter.  They formed a company for producing the doll and named it after themselves –“Matt” for Mattson and “El” for Elliott.  It is estimated that one Barbie doll, which is sold in over one hundred and fifty countries worldwide, is purchased every two minutes.

 

The Barbie doll first produced in 1959 has undergone many changes.  This year Barbie dolls that feature curvier bodies and different skin tones will be available.  Marketing has lessened the “cute” emphasis and sought to encourage girls to think outside the typical box in accomplishing their dreams.  Ruth Handler certainly did.

Inventing the Chance to Learn

Inventing the Chance to Learn

Easter 14

 

Leonore Zweig grew up the daughter of a bricklayer.  She grew up in a village called Lusatia and upon graduating from what we might call high school, she continued her studies.  She eventually received a doctorate from Heidelberg University in 1921 and worked as a teacher in both England and Berlin, Germany.  In 1923 she married a lawyer named Ernst Goldschmidt and they had two children.

 

 Upon receiving an inheritance from a murdered cousin, Leonore established her own school in 1934.  Leonore had lost her job the year before she opened her own school.  Working for eight years at the Sophie-Charlotte-Gymnasium in Berlin, she was fired in 1933 because of her religious preference.  You see, Leonore was Jewish.

 

The Private Judische Schule Dr. Leonore Goldschmidt or the Private School of Dr. Leonore Goldschmidt as it would have been known in English was granted a license to hold official examinations in 1936.  In 1937 Leonore’s school became an examination center for the English University of Cambridge.  This meant her students could enter universities in the rest of Europe and North America if they scored high marks on their examinations.  The school was shut down by the German government in 1939 and the Goldschmidt family, along with many students and teachers, immigrated to England.

 

Leaving their German home was not easy for the eighty children that accompanied their school’s founder.  Most left behind parents and many never saw them again.  Those that returned to Germany after World War II found a very different landscape and homeland and many discovered their parents had been victims of concentration camps.

 

A roll call of the students of Dr. Leonore Goldschmidt is something like a Who’s Who of professional and influential people.  Clearly they had potential and all achieved it.  They made contributions to their world and the world was a better place because they lived in it.

 

This is the first of a two-part blog post regarding how we limit the opportunities of others simply because we might have a “perception” about them.  The legal definition of the word discrimination has nothing to do with statistics or science.  It does not involve theology or proven results.  It simply is “disparity of treatment”.  Like the Golden Rule that has been around for almost as long as there have been beings that walked upright on two feet, it refers to the treatment of others as we ourselves would like to be treated. 

 

The Golden Rule, reflections of which are found in every code of conduct known to mankind, is an ethic of reciprocity.  It is a moral directive that relates to basic human nature: Treat others as you would like to be treated; do not treat others in any manner that you yourself would not like to be treated; be careful because what you wish upon others you also wish upon yourself.

 

The so-called Golden Rule makes all of mankind inclusive in acknowledging that we feel and receive things similarly.  It is not the same as another maxim of reciprocity, “do ut des”.  That states “I give so that you will give in return.”  The Golden Rule is giving without any expectation of something in return.

 

Dr. Leonore Goldschmidt taught her students without knowing what their lives as adults would be or how far they would go in their studies.  She willingly helped them escape a Nazi regime that would have put them to death simply because she was devoted to creating a chance to learn for all who desired such.

 

Recently several states within the United States have or tried to enact legislation that goes against the chance for all to experience the same opportunities.  Similar legislation has been introduced in other countries and many terrorist groups advocate the same or similar beliefs as those supported by these laws. 

 

When we single another out and label them in such a way that prevents them from having the same chances as others, we discriminate.  Sometimes such discrimination leads to people being fired, refused service or even being captured and killed in concentration with ovens designed to murder those “different” people.

 

Such actions do not give anyone an advantage and they restrict the future of us all.  The students of Dr. Leonore Goldschmidt are just one example of how important it is that we recognize the inclusiveness of mankind and not look only at our differences.  If we want to continue the chance to make a better world, we need to live smart and live with kindness and equality towards all.

 

With Highest Regard

With Highest Regards

Lent 30

 

I can come across as a very serious person.  There are some things I take most seriously, things like respect, treatment of others, and honesty.  However, myself I seldom take seriously.  I believe having a sense of humor is vital to surviving life and I think if I cannot laugh at myself, I should not laugh at others.  Now, does that mean I have a good self-worth or a poor level of self-esteem?

 

Self-esteem is one of those words we all throw around but seldom really think about its meaning.  Most people consider self-worth and self-esteem to be synonyms but, as we discussed yesterday, they are not.  A good working definition of self-esteem is the confidence and sureness, satisfaction and assurance about yourself.  In other words, self-esteem is thinking highly about yourself.  Many dictionaries consider synonyms for self-esteem to be ego and pride.  While self-esteem is sometimes listed as a synonym for self-worth, self-worth is never a synonym for self-esteem.

 

Self-worth is defined as valuing oneself.  The true difference between self-worth and self-esteem is found not in the definitions or even the synonyms.  The easiest way to understand the difference between these two words is in their antonyms, the words that are their opposites.  Antonyms of self-worth are few.  In fact, generally speaking only one is ever listed and that is self-deprecation.  However, self-esteem has more antonyms, some of the most popular being ego, humbleness, humility, and modesty.

 

Having high self-esteem can become a rocky road and lead to thinking only of one’s self.  Self-worth, however, can lead to appreciating others.  When we are able to accept ourselves and value our complete being, then we can accept others and treat them with respect.  This recognition of our own uniqueness leads to an acceptance in the uniqueness of others.  It allows us to value the contributions each person makes to the world.

 

Having a good sense of self-worth leads to a life lived with positivity.  There is an ancient Cherokee American Indian story that tells the tale of two dogs being fed.  The moral is that the dog we feed is the dog that grows.  That may sound like simple logic but we often forget that fact when it comes to our own psyche.  When we “feed” ourselves negative thoughts, then we are feeding the wrong dog and turning our life into a self-defeating project with no hope of success.

 

We should feed the figurative positive dog within ourselves and help ourselves grow, nurturing our assets and building newer and better skills while emphasizing those we already have.  Discover what works for you and then capitalize on it.  Your favorite colors, music, etc. all will feed the positive dog within you.

 

When we use our unique talents and skills to help the world, our self-worth will grow immeasurably.  We will not need to follow the latest trend for a sense of self-esteem; our actions will give it to us.  When we learn to accept ourselves, then we can enjoy our being and live with confidence and contribution, laughing with pleasure not dismay, replacing sarcasm with smiles and delight in our being.  When our own personal value grows, then we can really blossom and enjoy being part of this wonderful garden we call earth.

 

Thinking Woman

Thinking Woman

Pentecost #189

 

The really neat thing to me about the mythology of the indigenous people of the Western Hemisphere is that their mythologies are alive.  They are not simply stories of the past.  They are lived out by the cultures from which they arose and they continue to be told and augmented.  Rather than just be a neat campfire or bedtime story, these mythologies are still being woven, created with each new telling.  Artist Lauren Raine describes mythology this way:  “Myth comes alive as it enters the cauldron of evolution, drawing energy from the storytellers who shape it.” 

 

The Thinking Woman is not just an American Indian myth, although she is prominent in the cultural oral tradition of many different tribes.  The Greek mythological character Penelope’s name literally means “webbed vision” or “web on her face”.  In some cultures, Thinking Woman is called Thought Woman.  The Pueblo called her Thinking Woman; The Navajo Referred to her as Grandmother Spider Woman or “Na’ashje’ii’sdfzq’q”; the Hopi Indians knew her as ‘Sonukfang”.

 

I will be the first to admit I am not a huge fan of spiders.  I probably border on having arachnophobia, in fact.  I am amazed, nonetheless, at their ability to weave such fine webs and marvel at their ability to use such delicacy to capture their prey.  We’ve discussed the Spider mythology of African cultures and, as mentioned before, even the Greeks made reference to the web of life.  It is in the mythologies of the Western hemisphere that we really see the emphasis on the connectedness of mankind.

 

Many cultures have always referenced a female creator spirit.  Some historians and archaeologists feel that Christianity is the influence behind male creator deities but, in truth, we have no real basis for this.  While it is an undeniable fact that women bear children, they cannot do so without a male.  In mythology science takes a back seat so some believe the first creator made the world from a discard blood clot while others believe the universe was woven from a great spirit’s imagination.

 

In her book “The Trail of Spider Woman”, Carol Patterson-Rudolph wrote: “It is through the poetry of myth, mask and metaphor Spiderwoman comes alive. The rock surface of an ancient petroglyph site is merely a veil between the observer and the other transcendental realms; it becomes a portal through which to enter the world of Spider Woman. “

 

The Keres tribe believed that in the beginning there was only one being, a spider named “Sus’sistinako”.  Being all alone, she sent her thoughts out into the galaxies or space.  With these thoughts, Sus’sistinako wove together the universe.  Under the earth she placed the Corn Mother, “Iatiku”.  Credit was given to Iatiku for creating the physical and emotional elements of the world, even the concept of fun called Koshare, a clown supposedly made from her own discarded skin cells.

 

Like another deity we recently discussed, Iatiku was two-fold.  One part stayed underground and it was to this characterization that the dead returned.  The other piece of Iatiku lived in the world and gave life to it.  Iatiku had her own myth which featured her two daughters.  One was named after her mother with the other named Nautsiti.  Eventually, daughter Iatiku became the mother of the Indians while Nautsiti became the mother of the “whites” or Europeans.

 

The Thinking Woman or “Tse Che Nako” spun her webs from her imagination.  Her stories became real as she continued to spin, organizing life into patterns that continued to grow in size and complexity.  Her webs continue to be woven and, the Pueblo believe, we become part weaver and part storyteller as we also are part of the web.

 

The mythology of Thinking Woman has no real ending.  There is even one version of her story that predicts she will return.  Historian and writer John Loftin mentions this:  “Spider Woman was the first to weave. Her techniques and patterns have stood the test of time, or more properly, the test of timelessness – because they have always been present. It makes sense that one would follow the instructions of a deity who helped form the underlying structure of the world in which one lives…..…..Weaving is not an act in which one creates something oneself – it is an act in which one uncovers a pattern that was already there.”

 

So what web will you weave today?  Do you believe as Loftin does that weaving uncovers what was already present? It is an interesting concept, I think.  Our lives are a web of interconnected relationships, even for those who feel disenfranchised.  No one becomes born alone.  Our very introduction to this universe took at least two people – the female and male parents.  And because infants are unable to feed themselves or even find food, none of use reached the age of five or six years without the help of others.

 

Let me give you one more quote from anthropologist Carol Patterson-Rudolph:  “The Navajo have their own version of Spider Woman. As with all metaphors, Spider Woman is a bridge that allows a certain kind of knowledge to be transmitted from the mundane to the sacred dimension………they believe that an individual must undergo an initiation before he or she can be fully receptive to this kind of knowledge. Thus, to the eyes of the uninitiated, Spider Woman appears merely as an insect, and her words go unheard. But to the initiated whose mind has been opened the voice of this tiny creature can be heard. This is the nature of wisdom, conveyed through the metaphor of Spider Woman.”

 

No matter how independent we think we are, we need those who make up the strands of our webs of living.  “What might we see, how might we act, if we saw with a webbed vision? The world seen through a web of relationships…as delicate as spider’s silk, yet strong enough to hang a bridge on.”  In her book “From a Broken Web”, theologian Catherine Keller posed these thoughts.

 

No matter how delicate or ethereal a spider’s web might appear, they actually are very strong.  I think sometimes we underestimate the webs in our own lives.  We might not want to “bother” someone and ask for help.  Perhaps it is the fragility of our own ego that prevents us from doing so.  At this time of year, depression is at its highest.  We need our webs to give us strength.

 

Today when someone mentions the word ‘web”, a spider is not the first thing that comes to mind.  “Web” is the nickname for the Internet, the World Wide Web of technology that connects us all whether we like it or not.  I read a statistic that is probably an exaggeration but it mentioned that an infant’s vital information will be posted on the “web” within an hour of its birth.

 

Today the myth of the Thinking Woman or Spider Woman is most often seen in the weavings of the southwestern Indian tribes.  The pattern of the cross of the Spider Woman has become an important and popular symbol.  The cross represents balance with the unification of the four directions or elements of the world.  In the middle, though, is the most important element for it is the unifying force, the center.

 

Ecologists reference a great web of life and even physicists have an entanglement theory.  There really is no denying that we are all connected.  Neith was the primal weaver of ancient Egypt while Celtic mythology references the web of Wyrd.  In India the great jewel net of Nedra has each gemstone reflecting every other gem.  The Greeks believed the great weaver spirit gave Theseus a thread to lead him through his personal labyrinth.  The original myths of Thinking Woman told of her sitting on one’s shoulder, whispering correct choices.  Psychologists might call this our subconscious while some religious people might consider it an example of a guardian angel.  Perhaps she is there with us, guiding us through the labyrinth of our own lives.  Clearly we all need to be Thinking Men and Women, living to weave a web that benefits all.

Wandering Blessings

Wandering Blessings

Pentecost #188

 

The Alaskan Inuit are a very interesting group of indigenous people.  For one, they are not just an ancient culture, they are a modern one.  Many of the tribe live as their ancestors did, in spite of the modern world being all around them.  For another thing, the Inuit mythology has no gods, no deities.  Today’s Inuk, the singular form for a member of this culture, is thought to be descended from the Thule culture around 1000 ACE.  The Thule culture denotes those indigenous people who did not settle in the Alaskan tundra but continued their migration eastward.  Some left the tribe and headed south, inhabiting the lower regions of Canada and becoming part of the Algonquin and Iroquois groups of tribes.  The majority continued their travels until their reached Greenland and interacted with the Vikings.

 

Today’s Inuit are a group of similar indigenous people who live in the Arctic areas of Canada, Alaska, and Greenland.  While many use the designation Eskimo as a synonym for the Inuit, this is really not correct.  Eskimo is a group term which includes the Inuit as well as the Yupik and Inupiat tribes.  Most Canadian and Greenland Inuit consider the term “Eskimo” to be derogatory as they see themselves as distinctively different cultures.  Oral languages of these people are not do distinctive, however.  Inuit languages are classified in Eskimo-Aleut language families while Inuit sign language is spoken in Nunavut, the northernmost section of Canada newly formed as the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.  Further differences between Eskimo and Inuit are noted in the Canadian Constitution Act of 1982 which refers to the Inuit as “a distinctive group of Aboriginal Canadians who are not included under either the First Nations or the Metis.”  Those Inuit in Greenland are citizens of Denmark but not of the European Union.

 

So what spirits were important to the Inuit?  As with all of the indigenous people who inhabited and became the earliest of settlers and immigrants in North America, animism was an important part of life.  Animism is a belief that things in the universe possess souls. [ A typical modern-day descendant living the ancient customs will apologize to a table leg that is kicked, recognizing the spirit within the table and respecting it.]  The Inuit believed deeply that there were spirit masters of the animals they hunted and shared space with on the planet.  Qayaq is the mythology of a hero who could transform himself into all sorts of living creatures – animals, birds, and fish.  His journeys are told in an epic cycle of Alaskan Inuit tales, portraying his journey of discovery and mastery of the environment and natural world.  In short, his story is an illustration of the process of learning by being.

 

Qayaq wandered all over and had many different adventures, overcoming enemies and making new friends.  IF ever caught and eaten, he would be reborn and continue his journey.  Sadly, when he did return home, he discovered his parents had died during the course of his explorations.  In grief he turned himself into a hawk, spreading his wings to fly over the land from which his family had been born.

 

Today in the United States of America it is Thanksgiving Day.  It is a day for people to celebrate and give thanks for all they have.  The first such festivity was supposedly between different cultures – the American Indians of Massachusetts and the Pilgrims.  It was a day of peace and sharing, a time to give thanks for a harvest and, I’m sure, to pray for the future.

 

The story of Qayaq is one that encourages us to step outside of our comfort zone and live.  It also warns of being so focused on the future that we forget the past and our own heritage.  The world is a glorious place and we all hope to make it better.  However, we should not and cannot forget the blessing of the past.  They are the cornerstones of the future.

 

Today I will give thanks for my life and the ability to live.  It is not a perfect life but is continually offers lessons and chances to be reborn and to rebuild.  I will also give thanks for each of you.  You are my environment and are shaping the future by your own living.  My wish for you is a healthy life, one full of prosperity and joy.  Most of all, I will give thanks that we have a future.  Spread you wings and soar, my friends.  We can make it great!

A Stolen Sun

A Stolen Sun

Pentecost #187

 

They were called the poles that held up the sky.  To many in modern times they represent religious beliefs or perhaps identification.  Totem poles were much more than the first name badges, however.  They were a type of family tree.  They represented what a family believed in and who, to a stranger, might offer hospitality.  It was easy to identify which families shared similar totems or beliefs and what those beliefs were.  Common to the indigenous people of the northwestern part of North America, totem poles often traced the lineage these “First Families” felt they had with animal ancestors.

 

A common representation found on totem poles is that of the raven.  There are many myths that feature the raven and in British Columbia, the mythology begins with the world covered in darkness.\ and the Kungalas tribe.  The chief of this tribe and his wife had a son they loved very much but unfortunately their son died.  Every morning the chief and his wife, accompanied by the entire tribe would grieve by the son’s corpse.  One morning a young man who seemed to glow was found sitting where the corpse had been.  The chief’s wife was convinced her son had come back to life and when asked by the chief if he was their son, the young boy answered affirmatively.

 

The tribe was overjoyed at the return of the chief’s son but the boy would not eat.  Finally a slave called Mouth-at-Each-End offered the boy a piece of whale meat.  The boy ate it and then began eating everything else in sight.  The son, in an effort to save his tribe from starvation, decided to send his reborn son away.  He gave the boy a raven blanket as well as berries and fish eggs to scatter on the land so that he himself would never be hungry.

 

The legend tells that the young man put on his raven blanket, which was nothing more than a complete skin from a human-sized raven, and flew up to what the Kungalas called the sky world, a world much different from theirs, a world of light.  He waited by a fresh water stream until the daughter of Chief-of-the-Skies happened along.  The boy changed himself into a leaf and when the girl partook of the water, she swallowed the leaf.  Soon thereafter a young baby was born to the girl.  The baby was the darkling of the Sky People but he would never stop crying.  They finally deduced he wanted to play with the ball in which daylight was kept.

 

The lad played with his ball of light for several years but one day put it on his shoulder and ran to the hole in the sky where the ball had once been.  Putting on the raven suit, he flew the ball of light back to earth.  He found the Kungalas by the Nass River eating what the natives called olachen or candle-fish.  He asked them to throw him a fish but they refused.  He then told them he wanted to make a trade – the ball of light for the fish.  The clan refused and began shouting insults at him.  The boy in anger cut the ball open, throwing light upon all the ends of the earth.

 

The myth addresses a common concept of ravens being trickster spirits and, as any farmer can tell you, there might be some truth to that.  What I find most interesting is that the type of fish the people were eating at the end when the boy returns to earth is so specifically identified.  The candle fish has many names such as olachen, eulachon, hooligan, oolichan, or ooligan.  Found along the Pacific coast of the northwest coasts of both the United States of America and Canada.  The name eulachon is a Chinook tribal name but some of the other names come from English and Irish names.

 

The candle fish during spawning season packs on an extra fifteen percent of body weight and if caught, was sometimes dried and then used as a candle.  It is a very greasy fish and they were often processed for their oil.  The oil was then traded and the trade routes were often called grease trails.  The fish eats smaller fish along the ocean floor and is an integral part of the aquatic food chain of the region as well as being a staple of the tribes in the area.

 

The boy wanted to trade one small beam of light for the sun he had stolen from the Sky People.  Would he have made the trade?  We will never know.  He was considered a trickster so perhaps not.  By refusing the simply give up a fish which gave them both artificial light and sustenance, the Kungalas gained sunlight.  Many might say they made the better trade.

 

We should not forget the name-calling aspect of this story, though.  None of the tribe’s people seem to have tried explaining their refusal.  Instead they laughed at such a suggestion.  All too often in today’s world we are very quick to judge and yes, some engage in name-calling.  When we offer an option perhaps not thought of by the masses, we are considered to be instantly wrong.  When someone doesn’t go along with the proposed scheme, they are called stupid or a spoil=sport.

 

Not every scheme is a winner and there are certainly enough unscrupulous people out there that it makes good sense to be leery.  Good communication is also vital whether we are agreeing or refusing.  Can grief return a loved one to life?  Science would tell us no but maybe we need to look at how we are defining “life”.  The chief’s son, if he had not died, would have become the leader and it was the duty of every leader to lead the tribe into a better future than before and to provide for the living.  Certainly having the sun in their lives helped…until it got too hot as in yesterday’s story.

 

Most of us have lost a beloved family member.  We have a variety of ways to keep that person’s memory alive.  Some make scrapbooks while others dedicate memorials or establish scholarship funds.  The simplest thing is to live a life that would have made that loved one proud.  When we lose a loved one it seems as if the sun of our own personal lives has gone dark.  Finding our own way back into the light can be difficult.

 

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day for Americans and, while many will celebrate with friends and family, some will be alone, left to grieve as the tribe did in loss of a loved one.  I fervently hope that if you are one of those who will be sitting in the dark, that you find a glimmer of light.  Volunteer at a homeless shelter or assist at a soup kitchen.  Being alone is not a crime nor is it shameful.  Being alive, though, should be celebrated and we all have things for which to give thanks.  And even if you are staying home tomorrow, give thanks that you have a home.  You will get to have your celebratory holiday meal in your comfortable clothes or maybe even in your pajamas!

 

The raven has had something of a misnomer for hundreds of years.  A member of the Corvus genus, ravens, along with crows which are a close cousin, are actually some of the most intelligent birds on earth and ravens live an amazing thirty years.  In the colonial period of the U.S.A. ravens and crows were an integral part of both agriculture and urbanization.

 

The light is not just about being bright in the company of others but walking in goodness and peace.  If you are reading this, you are a blessing to me.  We may not all seem to give light to others like the candle fish could, but you sustain me and are a bright light to me.  Daily I give thanks for you.  It is one of my prayers that you are blessed and walk in peace.