People are hungry for stories.
Every where you look, there are stories. Sometimes we create them, and sometimes, we simply act as scribes and record the stories that others have told us. This too, has enormous value. Without scribes, so much beauty would be lost. Just recently, in a museum book store, a book caught my husband David’s eye and he bought it for me. It’s called, Wolfkiller: Wisdom from a Nineteenth Century Navajo Shepherd. I’m very excited because somehow, I have the feeling that there will be some idea in this book that I can build on in some way for my YA novel.
The wonderful stories in this book were compiled by a woman named Louisa Wade Wetherill. She learned the Navajo language and became entranced by the stories of a man she befriended called Wolfkiller. She took down the stories and kept them in a journal, which was turned into this book. What fascinating stories they are! So attuned to nature and so wonderfully observant.
Here’s one lovely story about how the first burro was created: A young girl who loved to make things found a pile of scraps left by the Creator after he finished making coyotes, antelopes, and other animals. The girl and her brother decided to use the scraps to make an animal of their own.
Using a piece of jet, they made four small hooves. Then they molded a body and four small legs. Now they had a very funny looking little animal. They made it ears like a jackrabbit’s and hair from cattails.
“He has no heart, liver, lungs, or intestines,” the little girl said. So she made a heart and lungs out of beautiful red stones, a liver out of turquoise, and intestines out of a white shell. Now the animal was complete inside and out, but it still wasn’t alive.
Then the wind whispered to the children, “He is beautiful inside and is made of strong things. I will put breath into him so he will live, as it is not right to waste beautiful things.” So the wind blew life into the burro and he stood up and began walking around. Then the wind told the little girl, “From now on, you must think and talk about this animal in a kindly way. Think of what he is made of inside and not what he looks like on the outside. You know how it depends on what a person is inside as to whether they are worthwhile or not. From now on, try to find the good in people and do not look for the evil.”
What a lovely story and what a lovely message: Like the burro, we are all beautiful inside. Write on!