Careful What You Wish For

Joseph Erb

A long time ago when the Cherokee people were new upon the earth, they thought that life would be much better if there was never any night. They beseech ed the Ouga (Creator) that it might be day all the time and that there would be no darkness.

The Creator heard their voices and made the night cease and it was day all the time. Soon, the forest was thick with heavy growth. It became difficult to walk and to find the path. The people toiled in the gardens many long hours trying to keep the weeds pulled from among the corn and other food plants. It got hot, very hot, and continued that way day after long day. The people began to find it difficult to sleep and became short tempered and argued among themselves.

Not many days had passed before the people realized they had made a mistake and, once again, they beseech ed the Creator. “Please,” they said, “we have made a mistake in asking that it be day all the time. Now we think that it should be night all the time.” The Creator paused at this new request and thought that perhaps the people may be right even though all things were created in twos… representing to us day and night, life and death, good and evil, times of plenty and those times of famine. The Creator loved the people and decided to make it night all the time as they had asked.

Ivan Mijatovic

The day ceased and night fell upon the earth. Soon, the crops stopped growing and it became very cold. The people spent much of their time gathering wood for the fires. They could not see to hunt meat and with no crops growing it was not long before the people were cold, weak, and very hungry. Many of the people died.

Those that remained still living gathered once again to beseech the Creator. “Help us Creator,” they cried! “We have made a terrible mistake. You had made the day and the night perfect, and as it should be, from the beginning. We ask that you forgive us and make the day and night as it was before.”

Once again the Creator listened to the request of the people. The day and the night became, as the people had asked, as it had been in the beginning. Each day was divided between light and darkness. The weather became more pleasant, and the crops began to grow again. Game was plentiful and the hunting was good. The people had plenty to eat and there was not much sickness. The people treated each other with compassion and respect. It was good to be alive. The people thanked the Creator for their life and for the food they had to eat. The Creator accepted the gratitude of the people and was glad to see them smiling again. However, during the time of the long days of night, many of the people had died, and the Creator was sorry that they had perished because of the night. The Creator placed their spirits in a newly created tree. This tree was named a-tsi-na tlu-gv {ah-see-na loo-guh} cedar tree.

When you smell the aroma of the cedar tree or gaze upon it standing in the forest, remember that if you are Tsalagi {Cherokee}, or human...you are looking upon your ancestor.

the Shaman of Fateville

the shaman of fateville 1

There are had been a new Zen master in the tiny town of Fateville. A Shaman to the likes none had ever seen before.

Every Monday afternoon, hundreds of followers encompassed the town’s square waiting to see the young man from a history of family wealth..Rumor had it that held a silver spoon to his mouth and silver virtue all about. Waiting and wondering what words of wisdom would be said for the week.

The little northern town had suffered so much with inner turmoil and outside land management…conflicts. That most citizen’s spent their time looking down instead of up!

Some would even say, Fateville had been in the middle of it’s own irrelevant little civil war…for about a generation or so.

Indeed, the young man cloaked with immaculate white linen and words of the way, mindfulness and enlightenment had been just what the town had ordered.

Peace seemed to have settled on the settlement as though a new light could be seen at the end of an endlessly wrought with misgivings…tunnel.

The only difficulty on the horizon had been the commencement of erecting a new chapel. A not so virgin plot of land in which those that wished to…could come and pray and seek the way had been set aside. Only issue at hand was the ancient farmer, John John. John’s family had farmed the land in and out of Fateville for centuries. But as luck would have it…the townspeople did not have time for old ways and wished to usher in new philosophies and new riches. John had been given an ultimatum to which he could not refuse.

‘Leave the land to the town…or, suffer being disowned and ridicule and shunned!’

It was shortly after the news of Fateville’s councilman’s promise to the farmer that the Zen Master began arriving late for his weekly service.

To add to the township’s dismay…the Shaman began to dress somewhat provocatively…considering his tenure with a Higher Power. The ends of his dress began to look frayed and in need of cleaning. Normally a clean cut and clean shaven man…the Master began to carry a five day shadow for a beard and his hair fall into a heavy dread locked style.

So as Fateville’s history proved time and time again, nothing good can stay in the northern town. Nothing, absolutely, nothing.

Upon the fourth Monday, the Shaman did not show up at all. The citizens were certain that he had learned of his ‘fate’, as it were! That the town council had again handed down the promise…

‘Speak Shaman of the way…as it were and as it will always be. No more shunning of the faith or you to will be disowned and cast out of the town as a fool!’

As the worshipers were reading themselves for the fall out…upon the sacred ground. A young woman named T ran to the alter and began sobbing as though she had seen a ghost.

‘What is it that makes you belittle the altar of good wishes…child?’

‘John-John the farmer, it’s the farmer, he has gone and hired himself help. And, the image has stirred me so…’

As mass groups of uninformed persons do…the town took itself as one down to the square in which the new marketplace was to be built and held it’s ignorant vigil there.

And, as the hot noon day sun approached it’s highest peak a shine was placed upon the tops of two bald men tending the fields. The crops were knee high with the promise of touching the sky. Such vegetables that had been difficult to find due to the drought…such vegetables as, corn, squash, lentil…were all in abundance.

Indeed, Fateville’s Higher Power had returned. Who had been this bald and able man helping the ancient farmer?

Upon approach it had been apparent to the citizens that the way of the Buddha and the way of enlightened had been finally felt by Fateville. For indeed, the young Shaman and the old Farmer had been the heroes of the field that day.

As the crowd began to gather around to touch the young man and the farmer. As the council men cleared their throats and readied their mouths to eat crow…the Shaman spoke.

‘It is easy to fall into the way of humanness. The judgment, the ridicule, the wanting for more. I, too, succumb, just as any of you do. But the luxury of convenience is a false illusion…We must always attend to the earth if wish for anything to grow!’

Or, so the story goes….

the shaman of fateville 2

I met a young man with autism today…

I asked him,

John-John, why aren’t you at church with your parents?

John-John,

I’m allowed to see my God as I want to see him. And, I like to do that at home!

And,

Just for one split second I thought…

…perhaps the earth will be okay someday…