I was introduced to a story from the Native American
tradition that explains how the sun came to be in
its place in the heavens. The exact origin of
the story is uncertain. My own research
suggests that the version of the story I heard comes
from the Creek (Muskogee) tribe, although, I found
similar tales from the Cherokee and the Choctaw.
Nonetheless, I want to share with you the legend of
"How Grandmother Spider Stole the Sun." It goes
something like this:
When the Earth was first made, there was no
light. It was very hard for the animals and the
people in the darkness. Finally, the animals decided
to do something about it.
"I have heard there is something called the
Sun," said the Bear." It is kept on the other side
of the world, but the people there will not share
it. Perhaps we can steal a piece of it."
All the animals agreed that it was a good
idea. But who would be the one to steal the Sun?
The Fox was the first to try. He sneaked to
the place where the Sun was kept. He waited until no
one was looking. Then he grabbed a piece of it in
his mouth and he dropped it. To this day all foxes
have black mouths because the first fox burned his
carrying the Sun.
The Possum tried next. In those days, Possum
had a very bushy tail. She crept up to the place
where the Sun was kept, broke off a piece and hid it
in her tail. Then she began to run, bringing the Sun
back to the animals and the people. But the Sun was
so hot it burned off all the hair on her tail and
she lost it. To this day all possums have bare tails
because the Sun burned away the hair on that first
Then Grandmother Spider tried. Instead of
trying to hold the Sun herself, she wove a bag out
of her webbing. She put the piece of the Sun into
her bag and carried it back with her. Now the
question was where to put the Sun.
Grandmother Spider told them, "The Sun should
be up high in the sky. Then everyone will be able to
see it and benefit from its light."
All the animals agreed, but none of them could
reach up high enough. Even if they carried it to the
top of the tallest tree, that would not be high
enough for everyone on the Earth to see the Sun.
Then they decided to have one of the birds carry the
Sun up to the top of the sky. Everyone knew the
Buzzard could fly the highest, so he was chosen.
The Buzzard placed the Sun on top of his head,
where his feathers were the thickest, for the Sun
was still very hot, even inside Grandmother Spider's
bag. He began to fly, up and up toward the top of
the sky. As he flew the Sun got hotter. Up and up he
went, higher and higher, and the Sun grew hotter and
hotter still. Now the Sun was burning through
Grandmother Spider's bag, but the Buzzard still kept
flying up toward the top of the sky. Up and up he
went, and the Sun grew hotter. Now it was burning
away the feathers on top of his head, but he
continued on. Now all of his feathers were gone, but
he flew higher. Now it was turning the bare skin of
his head all red, but he continued to fly. He flew
until he reached the top of the sky, and there he
placed the Sun where it would give light to
And so ends the story of How Grandmother
Spider Stole The Sun.
after we finished hearing the story, we began
discussing the various characters in the story,
their respective roles and contributions and wisdom.
The selflessness of some, enduring personal harm for
the benefit of all. The human traits that each
animal in the story represents.
the midst of our deeply analytical conversation, I
wondered out loud, "What I want to know is who
had the sun originally, and why wouldn't they share
it with the others?"
Christians, we have a responsibility to share the
sun - the light, the Son, the Light of the World,
the Good News with others. Jesus said, "Go
therefore and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the
Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to
obey everything that I have commanded you." (Matthew
several times in the Gospels we are reminded not to
keep our light under a jar. Our light -- our
spiritual sun -- is not something to be hid from
others, but to be shared.
not count on the fact that our crafty and creative
dark-dwelling earth co-inhabitants will follow the
same course of self-help as the animals in the
Legend of Grandmother Spider. We can not
assume that our brothers and sisters in God will
understand that the deep yearnings they feel are
really yearnings for wholeness that can be found
only through the Light of the Savior they have not
experienced. Jesus said, "You are the light of
the world. A city built on a hill cannot be
hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it
under the bushel basket, but on the lamp-stand, and
it gives light to all in the house." (Matthew
5:14-15) Let us not be selfish by keeping the
Light to ourselves.
Grace and peace
to you as you journey.
Yours in Christ,