It's the only constant. Whatever is now, will evolve and change and become something new. From the ashes of the phoenix rises a phoenix, the same and yet not the same.
Sometimes the hardest part is waiting for the cycle to wheel around again. In the I Ching, hexagram 24 is "Return." The message of this is that the primary obstacle has been overcome, and now the seeds of change have been sown. Like seeds though, there is a time where nothing seems to be happening. You can't force seeds to grow any faster than they grow, you can only make sure that you are providing the right environment for them to do their thing. The anticipation is hard -- you don't know until you know if anything will result of the work you put into creating the environment. In a similar way - it is coldest not right before the sun rises again, but right after. The temperature continues to drop for a bit because the earth is still cooling from the darkness and while it takes time to start warming up, the heat is still escaping out into the atmosphere. But eventually it does, indeed, warm up for the new day.
All stories are stories of change. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end (that is sometimes a new beginning). Some stories are more complex and have more changes, more evolutions, calls, challenges, rejections, acceptances, journeys, descents, ascents, resolutions.
When I was getting my Masters, I had the fortune to take a storytelling class taught by the wonderful Margaret Read MacDonald (I think I've mentioned this before, but it always bears repeating). One of the stories I learned for this class was an Estonian folktale, of course, also told wonderfully by Margaret herself (I aspire some day to be such a good teller!).
Mikku & the Trees
Changes. We learn, we grow, we sometimes become lazy and forget. Sometimes we get opportunities to learn again, other times, not so much! May we all have many learning times ahead of us, and not so many forgetting and lazy times! Snip, snap, snout, this tale is told out!
Once upon a time, the trees talked to us. Once upon a time, there was also a boy. He went into the woods to find some firewood.
Aha, he said as he stood at the foot of one of the trees -- this tree will make fine firewood, and just as he raised his ax to cut it down, the tree said to him, wait! What are you doing!? Mikku said to the tree, I need firewood, so I am going to chop you down! The tree said, oh no, that will never do! I am an apple tree! I provide sweet apples for you that last from fall until spring again, sweet fruit all winter long, surely you don't want to cut me down! And Mikku said, oh, you are right, that would be no good at all. The tree said, yes, Mikku -- you take care of us, and we will take care of you!
So Mikku continued walking through the forest until he came upon another tree that looked like it might make good firewood. As he raised his ax and prepared to chop the tree down, the tree said wait, wait, Mikku, what are you doing!? And Mikku said, I am looking for firewood and you look like a fine tree to make firewood out of! The tree said to Mikku, but Mikku, I am a maple tree! If you cut me down, no syrup for your pancakes! Mikku said -- ohhh, that would be terrible! I love syrup on my pancakes! You are right, I will not cut you down! The maple tree said, thank you Mikku -- remember, if you take care of us, we will take care of you!
So Mikku continued walking through the forest, and lo and behold, another tree appeared that looked like it would be wonderful firewood and Mikku went to chop it down, lifting his ax and the tree said, Mikku wait, what are you doing! And Mikku, starting to get a sense of how this conversation was going to go, said, well, I was going to... I was thinking you looked like... well... maybe firewood but... and the tree said to Mikku, but Mikku -- I am a walnut tree! You love to crack walnuts and eat them, especially roasted. And Mikku agreed that was true and agreed that he should not chop down walnut tree. Walnut reminded Mikku, if you take care of us, we'll take care of you!
So Mikku kept walking, but slower, and slower and finally he sat down because every tree had a use, and he didn't want to chop any of them down! He needed a solution, whatever was he going to do?
As he was sitting there, he saw pine cones and branches on the forest floor all over the place! A solution! So he stood up and started collecting the branches and pinecones, and suddenly a tiny elf appeared and said Mikku! What are you doing!? It was all Mikku could do not to stare -- a stranger little being you cannot imagine, wearing clothing of many layers, textures, and colors, almost shimmering in the light!
Mikku said, I am gathering branches and pinecones off the forest floor because all the trees have uses and I can't cut them down! The elf said, very good Mikku -- if you take care of the trees, they will take care of you! As a reward for recognizing this, here is a wand -- if you ever have need of anything, lift your wand and ask for it. BUT -- you must never, ever ask for anything that goes against nature for that would be very very bad.
So Mikku lifted his wand and said, I would love some honey! And the bees brought him honey. Hmmm, that worked really nicely! He tried again and lifted his wand and said, birds, I would love some berries! And the birds brought him bushels of berries.
Mikku took his branches and pinecones, honey and berries home with him and never wanted a day in his life. When he needed his fields plowed, he raised his wand and moles plowed his fields. When he needed to sow his field, he said little bugs, please sow my fields, and they carried away the seeds and sowed his fields. Because he took care of the trees, they and all the creatures that relied on them, took care of Mikku.
In this way, Mikku became rich and lazy. One day in the middle of winter, it was cold and rainy, and Mikku wished for it to be warm and sunny. In his laziness, he lifted his wand, and said Sun! Make it hot, hot, hot! Forgetting all about the elf's warning. And the sun focused all it's heat and light onto Mikku and his wand and burnt them both to a crisp. Since that day, the trees have never spoken to another human being, but to this day you can hear them whispering as the wind blows through their leaves, you take care of us... we take care of you... you take care of us... we take care of you... you take care of us... we take care of you...
(Based on Mikku and the Trees as told by Margaret Read MacDonald and appearing in Earth Care: World Folktales to Talk About. Linnet: North Haven, Conn., 1999, but with some storyteller liberties taken.)
With evolving love and curiosity (and a good tale now and again),