Grandmother Bear shares a birthday with Mother Moon, and is almost as old. She is near as tall as a redwood and as strong as the evening tide. She is as wise as the oldest owl and as sly as the sliest fox. She moves silently through the night, her thick, heavy coat blacker than the deepest pitch, her claws the color of moonlight.
Grandmother Bear watches over her tribe closely, for she is the guardian of all ancient peoples and their descendents. She guides us in the ways of nature, and of the human spirit. She cares for our souls to make us happier in our own skin.
One evening, Grandmother Bear stood on the highest mountain peak, far above the lands of man and in full view of a sparkling sea and spoke with Mother Moon.
“I fear for my people, Great Mother. They no longer listen to the ways of the Elders. They no longer hear the voice of the Spirits.”
The moon in the sky appeared to move nearer to the Earth, it’s great circular mass widened across the sky, blocking out several stars and caused the distant sea to grow anxious and turbulent.
A face appeared against the large mass and a voice rumbled from it, causing the ground to shake beneath Grandmother Bear’s feet.
‘You cannot make a chicken fly. Some will hear and some will not. All will learn their way in one time or another.’
“They will destroy each other. They will destroy this world you so graciously gave us.”
‘All things grow and all things die. Time is not forever, it is but an instant of insanity.’
“What must I do to stop this insanity?”
‘Teach them. Love them. Show them the wonder of what surrounds them.’
“This I have tried. They are besotted by gadgets and convenience. They do not wish to learn the old ways. They do not wish to slow their pace.”
Mother Moon seemed to consider this and finally said. ‘A child will lead them.’
“A child, Great Mother? No one will listen to a child.”
‘A child has lead before, from Him knowledge and a new path was forged, so one shall lead agsin. All shall listen, the tide shall turn. Know this, most loving of my creatures, all cannot be saved. Some may wish to hurry to their demise. We cannot suffer for their destiny, their choices are their own. We must accept the few over the many; so that one day, few may become all.’
“I shall do as you request, Great Mother. Tell me, how will I find this child?”
Mother Moon smiled and her form seemed to diminish against the dark evening sky, allowing a few more of the stars to shine about her. ‘As it was said once, so very long ago, let a star show the way.’
Grandmother Bear watched as one star glowed brighter than the other, a star far to the West, its glow grew stronger until the area over which it shone was alight with a silver glow.
“I know that place,” Grandmother Bear whispered, riveted by the light. “It is filled with many savages and towering mountains of hard metal. The tribes there there have no time for wisdom, no time for the old ways. Such a child could not live there.”
Mother Moon’s voice trembled terribly, the ground shook with force and the tides below dashed hard against the cliff rocks. ‘Do you doubt me?’
Grandmother Bear bowed penance to the display of power and in respect to the Ancient One. “Never, Great Mother.”
Mother Moon’s voice softened to a warm glow of moonlight. ‘Seek this child. Teach the old ways and as with all things, watch as they grow.’
“My presence in the city will cause difficulties, Great Mother. Man no longer holds a respect for nature or its inhabitants. I cannot seek the child in my true form.”
‘Chose a form you have used before, dear one, to aid your quest. Go with my blessing.’
Grandmother Bear felt a familiar tingle through her body as a wide moonbeam engulfed her, lifted her, and cradled her. She felt a plethora of warmth, an abundance of love and most off all, a deep-seeded feeling of goodness. Her body stretched and then shrank and she instinctively curled into herself upon the ground, until she felt smaller, weaker, and unfortunately colder.
Slowly she rose and touched her now, almost hairless arms and face, her thick heavy coat had been replaced with swaths of long colorful fabric and the pads of her feet had been replaced with leather moccasins. She shivered slightly as the moonlight that had changed her was retracted.
“How long must I stay this way?
‘Until my face is fully upon you again.’
Grandmother Bear rolled onto all fours and watched as Mother Moon returned to her original size and position. The sea calmed, the Earth no longer trembled and despite herself, Grandmother Bear felt a sense of loss from no longer being in the Great Mother’s presence.
An enormous white owl settled atop a low branch in the tree directly behind her.
“What do you want?”
The owl’s eyes widened and then softened. “Knowledge talks, wisdom listens.”
Grandmother Bear growled at him, but it no longer sounded the same in this new form. She sighed and sauntered away from the cliff, then remembered that she should be walking on two legs and not four.
It took a few tries, it had been many, many moons since last she walked as a human, but she finally caught her stride half way down the mountain.
The owl followed. “The woods are lovely, dark and deep.”
“The one who does not talk, knows.”
“He who laughs last, laughs most
“Empty cans make the most noise.”
The owl shut up, but continued to fly around her as she navigated around ancient boulders and through flourishing forests.
“Be kind to your shadow.” the owl scolds.
“My shadow does not pester me so.”
“Where do you wander?”
“Where my paws…feet take me.”
“Good company on a journey makes the way seem shorter.”
Grandmother Bear knew she would not easily rid herself of the irritating owl, for they had known each other for many centuries and she had heard all of his quotes and grumblings. Still, perhaps she would appreciate his presence later and he was quite good at spotting food.
“You may attend if you will be quiet.”
“Silence is golden.”
Grandmother Bear stopped, swung her head around and growled ferociously, pleased that it came out far more like her usual self than previously.
The owl’s eyes grew all the wider, then he quickly snapped his beak shut and nodded. He knew better than to anger her.
And so their journey began…