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Recently, 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 possum.

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 everyone.

And so ends the story of How Grandmother Spider Stole The Sun.

Now, 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.

 

And in 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?"

 

As 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 28:19-20) 

And 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. 

 

We must 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,  

~~Jennifer

2/16/06

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