of the Meadow Lark as he happily cut across the grass lands. The rains had their time to pour
and the fruits and nuts of every kind would grow. It was a vast and beautiful place, where harmony abound. The ancient people there
would give thanks and prayers for their bountiful harvest. They paid homage to all of
nature just taking where they should and leaving where they could. Nothing out of place. The kids would play in the fields and leap with the gentle Deer for there wasn’t yet that
kind of fear between these people and their brothers and sisters in nature. All of nature
had a gift and a message to send. From the wise old owl, the snake that slithered along,
to every rock, tree and blade of grass. Their ceremonies would make all the woodland creatures in awe, hearing the gentle, yet deep,
beat of the drum to the chanting and dancing of the two-legged kind. Then in the breath of time
there were those that came. They didn’t pay homage to nature, they polluted her rivers and creeks. They killed more of the
four-legged than was necessary and sometimes they did it just because. Nature didn’t
understand and so she reacted by giving stings to the Insects and Scorpions, and killer instincts
to the four-legged to surrive. She gave droughts and sometimes downpours when it should not be. She wanted to gently scold
but they didn’t listen. Then things changed and fear was begotten into this beautiful land. Beauty still exists within her, you just have to dig deeper to find it!
We must never give up hope and always love and remember in the far reaches of our hearts, the way things were….
And only then, can we change it back again!
Soulful provided this preface to her story:
Tonight, our story speaks to conflict resolution and the hearts of the oppressed…..to those…many on our own circle…who struggle seeking their true call on the path….the place where they contribute and their soul sings….listen for the little mouse in your heart…..Once…long, long ago in the mountains of the Cherokee people, the animals were not getting along very well. They were quarreling over small matters….filled with too much pride, too many opinions, and very little desire to cooperate. It was a sad time.
Before this time, wounded by many wars, discovered a better way to restore balance and heal communities. Instead of bringing out their bows, arrows, and spears to resolve differences…..they played a game. A very special game. This game was played with long sticks–about 2’ long—with nets woven at the end of the stick. The game was called stickball…and very much like our modern day lacrosse. When a matter arose that could not be settled, the Cherokee would invite one another…and even the neighboring Creek or Choctaw to play. The women were very pleased and proud that the men had a way to resolve differences that did not result in loss of life….but rather created bonds, and built respect and strength of character.
Stickball served well as a path to restore balance.
Seeing the discord among the animals, the Cherokee women approached Yona (Bear) and suggested he too gather the animals and play the game. Perhaps, in this way, peace and balance could be restored. Yona thought carefully and found sense in the suggestion of the Cherokee women. And so it was, that Yona called the animals together, and they formed teams.Yona chose the fleet-footed deer for his team and the wise wolf…..and continued to chose one of best of every land animal….”What a fine team….I am ready to play!” Yona was proudly surveying his team, when, just under a leaf by his paw he heard a little voice squeak….”Oh, dear Yona, you forgot me! I want to play too! I want to play!”
Yona looked about, very startled….as did the other animals…thinking they had heard a skilly (the Tsalagi word for ghost). “Who is there? “ Bear demanded, “Show yourself!”
Out from under a tiny leaf, peeked a little head. The bitty mouse, smaller than the stickball ball itself, came out from under the leaf and looked up at Bear—-which was like looking up at a huge Poplar tree for him….and with pleading eyes said “Oh, please, Yona…Have you forgotten me?! I want to play! I am a land animal and I want to play!” Yona looked down on the little mouse and said quietly, “ I know you are an animal….but you are much too small! The ball is bigger than you! The other animals might step on you and you would just get in the way. So, no, I do not want you on my team. You are too small and might get hurt.” The little mouse looked into Yona‘s eyes. With a tears running down his little chubby cheeks, he whispered, “but I want to play. I can help.” Yona just shook his head… and shouted ”No, …it is safer….you will not play on my team.” With that, Yona swatted at the little mouse and sent him tumbling. With determination, the little mouse brushed himself off and said, “If you do not want me, Yona, I will go play for the birds.” And sadly, but with hope in his heart, the little mouse set off…..with Yona’s laughter and ribbing from the other animals filling the air.
So, through the valley and up the mountainside the little mouse traveled until he finally found Awohali, the Eagle. Eagle, with his huge, sharp talons could have scooped up the little mouse and had a tasty morsel that day, but instead, he tilted his head and listened to the plight of the little mouse.“Awohali, I so want to play in the game….can I please play on your team?” “Sure, little mouse, you may play on my team.” The little mouse brightened. Then, Eagle asked, “Can you fly, little one?” The little mouse sank and turned away. Tears fell once again as he anticipated the remainder of the conversation. Imagine how surprised he was when the Eagle called out….
“Wait! Wait, little mouse! Do not go away like that! If you can not fly, do not be sad, I can teach you!”
The little mouse sniffed, “But I have no wings, dear Awohali! How will I fly?”
“If you have no wings, we shall just have to make you some! THEN, we can teach you to fly!”The little mouse danced up and down and all around with excitement! The eagle called to the woodpecker who brought some sycamore bark. The woodpecker carefully pecked holes in the bark and secured the sycamore “wings” to the little mouse’s front and back legs. Once the wings were fitted snugly, the birds threw the little mouse a small way in the air, and the mouse would fly for a bit then come back down. Day after day, the mouse went a bit higher, and built stronger muscles. Day after day, that little mouse found courage and the bird threw him a little higher, and he flew longer and stronger…..until one evening, he found himself dancing on the wind! That little mouse was flying so swiftly that you could hardly even see him!
The time for the game to begin had come…All the animals came to the field with their sticks and began to pair up. Every animal stepped into place…..got their sticks ready…..and waited for the ball to be tossed.
The ball went high in the air and the animals chased the ball and ran fast across the field. The ball went in the air again…suddenly, the animals looked and looked…and could not see the ball. What could have happened? Was the ball out of play? Oh no! Then they saw it! It was the little mouse who caught that ball in his mouth and was hovering out of their reach! How proud that little mouse was! And how quickly he flew! None of the animals could catch him! Swifter than you can imagine, that little mouse zipped across the field to that goal! He scored the first point! The birds cheered for him! But that wasn’t all….that little mouse scored every point that day and won the game for the birds! The little mouse was the hero of the day!
Yona shook his head so very sadly….because he had not chosen that little mouse….the mouse he said would get in the way….the mouse he could see only as an obstacle became the hero….and he had not invited him to play…because he could not see…..he was blind to the beauty and potential of this little mouse.
And if you look up in the sky in the evening, the descendants of that brave little mouse are still playing the game….celebrating….and flying faster than we can sometimes see…..and that is the story of how the little bat came to be.So, take heart….be open to all the possibilities….sometimes, we are not born with wings….but that doesn’t mean we can not fly…..it means we need to build new wings……and open our eyes
The same elder who taught me this story, Freeman Owle, also told me the story of a little girl whom he taught some time ago. She had difficulty writing and stumbled a bit when she ran, but she was a cheerful girl….a light shone within her. When it came time to play kickball, though she longed to play, no one chose her because she stumbled. One day, Freeman saw the little girl sitting alone…again. He asked why she was not playing. She said, “No one will choose me.” Then, he asked, “Would you LIKE to play?” She answered, “Oh, yes, Mr. Owle….I would…” And so, when recess was over, Freeman convinced a young classmate to choose this little girl for his team the next day.When recess came the next day, the children gathered for kickball. True to his word, the little boy chose the young girl for his team. When the time came for the little girl to kick, she was very nervous….and she missed the first kick. But they let her try again, and this time, the ball went very, very far. As she ran with difficulty to make each base, another girl got the ball–but a look from Freeman said….let the young girl run! The children cheered for the young girl as she rounded all the bases….and the little girl simply beamed with joy.
Some time later, when the young lady was in the hospital fighting for her life, she shared how special that day had been for her…how it had changed her life. That day made more of a difference than anyone could have imagined! She passed away a short while after.We never know what memory we are creating for someone else—nor how our encouragement and support can change the life of another. Eagle knew…..and, if we listen, we can know too. Listen for the invitation to be a gift….listen for the opportunity to give someone wings….listen for the opportunity to find the balance instead of the spotlight.
May the story speak to your heart….wado for listening.
Souful Stuff not only tells wonderful stories. She also does wonderful work. Here is one example. It is called “Proud To Be Cherokee”.
To see more of her work, please go to www.soulfulstuff.etsy.com
Thank you Soul for your contributions to our campfire community!