"The Vision of
By David Sunfellow
There is blackness, everywhere. Nothing to see. Nothing
to hear. Nothing to touch, or taste, or smell. There is only blackness
and a silence so profound it cannot be described.
Suddenly, without warning, there is a tremendous explosion.
Blinding light and deafening thunder shake the deepest recesses of darkness.
Stars, moons, planets, stellar nebulae, solar systems, galaxies and
universes all come whirling into existence.
As the universe gradually takes recognizable form,
we see our solar system develop. We see our sun and planets. We see
moons, asteroid belts, and comets. Then our planet fills our mind's
eye. We watch it evolve through its many stages: Primal gases whirl
around, volcanoes erupt, vast oceans of water form, land rises from
the tumultuous seas -- and then begins to cool. Now, for the first time,
life begins to form in the oceans and in the thick, gaseous air. Creatures
come into being and begin their long journey to ever-increasing consciousness.
We see the first one-celled creatures and watch them slowly transform
themselves into new, more complex and aware creatures: plants, ferns
and trees; fish, amphibians, and animals that can live on land, in the
sea, and in the air. Ages pass and vast numbers of species come and
go. Some disappear in the twinkling of an eye, the result of some global
catastrophe, while others slowly evolve into other forms. Finally, after
eons of growth, we see the earth as she exists today. From the deep
recesses of space we look at her and are stunned by her magnificent
beauty. And we are also shaken by how fragile she seems floating all
alone in the vast darkness of space.
Looking closer, our hearts begin to ache with a pain
so deep we can scarcely bear it. Silently we cry out, "What has happened
to our mother?!" Her once brilliant skies have become dull and toxic.
Foul stenches rise from her tortured waters, lands, and skies. Holes
form in the blue canopy she has clothed herself in, allowing the deadly
rays of the sun to penetrate her inmost recesses and destroy the creatures
she has so long protected, nurtured and loved. Tears come to our eyes.
An unbearable sadness wells up within. We pause and solemnly reflect
on how this could happen. And as we reflect, we begin to hear the faint
beating of a drum. Like the sound of some primal heart beat, it calls
to us and we are pulled down through the earth's atmosphere to the surface
of the planet.
Silently we pass over shimmering oceans and lush continents;
across vast deserts and sparkling glaciers; through forest-covered mountains;
down wild rivers and dense life-filled jungles.
Then we pass through the places that man has touched:
Through densely populated cities and sparsely populated towns; through
seemingly endless places of deforestation, pollution, and man-made desolation.
And as we do, we begin to see, hear, and feel hurricanes, tornadoes,
floods, droughts, and other natural disasters -- all of which have been
caused by man's abuse of the earth.
And all the while the drum continues to beat and grow
stronger, deeper, and more powerful. As we approach the origin of the
drum, an ancient chant, made by a multitude of beings we cannot see,
softly joins the drum. Day turns into night and the desolation of man
is left behind. A panoramic view of starlit skies comes into view. One
mountain range, dominated by jagged cliffs, draws our attention. On
one seemingly inaccessible cliff we see a fire burning and notice two
Native American figures -- an old Medicine Man and a young brave --
sitting silently around it. Slowly, we circle them and study their faces
in the flickering darkness. Lost in some deep reverie, we realize they
are watching the same vision we are watching.
We move closer. The deep wrinkles of a long life, well
lived, cover the old man's face. He seems as old and strong as an ancient
redwood and as full of life as a new sapling. Entranced by the power
of his presence, we find it difficult to look away. Beside him, the
young brave is equally captivating. A purity seems to emanate from him.
Somehow we know he has a powerful dream buried deep in his heart --
a dream that he will someday find and fulfill.
Suddenly, the old man takes a deep breath and slowly
opens his eyes. For a moment, he quietly stares at the young brave.
And then he speaks.
"Did you see?"
The young brave opens his eyes. His face is flushed
with deep concern and unsettled feelings. "Yes, Grandfather, I saw."
"What do you think it means?"
Painfully, the brave answers, "Our Earth Mother is
There is a long silence. The stars seem to call to
us and for a moment we gaze off into the heavens and ponder what we
have seen and heard. Then we turn back to the brave who seems somehow
connected to us. Somehow we know he feels the same way we do and seeks
the same answers.
"The earthquakes and volcanoes. The raging waters.
The wars. The sick and starving people. The weather. The world is coming
to an end isn't it, Grandfather?"
The face of the old man fills our mind once again.
We watch as he patiently soaks up the young brave's tortured questions,
but does not answer. Instead, he looks compassionately into the brave's
"Grandfather, I have heard the old ones talking and
I know the wise ones among our people are gathering in the sacred places.
What am I to do? Where am I to go?"
"Before doing and going, you must understand."
"Understand what, Grandfather?"
"Why the Earth Mother suffers."
There is a long, thoughtful pause, while the brave
studies the old man's face and patiently waits for him to explain.
"Put your hand upon the Earth Mother, my son."
Tenderly, the brave places both hands firmly against
the earth. To him, she is a living being. He feels the life force pulsating
through her immense body.
"Now listen. What do you hear?"
A few moments pass. He searches the earth, and himself,
for some sound. Startled, the brave looks deep into the old man's eyes.
"I hear the sound of her heart beating! It is everywhere!"
"Yes. Now listen again, even more deeply."
Taking a deep breath, the brave closes his eyes again.
Listening with all his might, he follows the sound of her heartbeat
to another sound, which startles him even more. Again his eyes open
in amazement. "I hear another heart beating! Whose heart is this?!"
"The Earth Mother is pregnant. The old world and old
ways are dying. A new world, with new ways, is preparing to be born."
Puzzled, the brave searches himself for some kind of
answer, but can find none. "What is this new way, Grandfather? How is
it different from the old?"
The old man taps the ground with his medicine stick
and blue sparks splash out in every direction. A cascading roar echoes
through the mountains and valleys. Flying across the ground, up the
trees, and leaping into the air, the blue sparks search for and find
twelve smooth, polished, well-rounded stones. All twelve stones are
then carried in the crackling current to where the old man and brave
are sitting. The stones form a circle around the fire that is burning
in the midst of the brave and old man, and the dancing, crackling energy
softens to a quiet glow.
"Do you know what these twelve stones are, my son?"
"They are the Twelve Races, the Twelve Religions, the
Twelve Paths, the Twelve Tribes of Man."
Pausing a moment to let his words sink in, the old
man gazes into the fire. "Ages ago, the Great Spirit scattered them
to the four winds. For eons now they have grown wise and strong, but
they have not united. They have held to themselves, and their own ways,
as they were intended to." The old man pauses again, and then looks
deeply into the brave's eyes. "But now, my son, the time has finally
come for them to unite and be as one; the time has finally come for
one people, one nation, one path to arise among the many."
"This is the new world and new way that is being born?"
"Yes." The old man looks off into the starry sky. Then
he turns back to the brave. "But it cannot be born alone. The Earth
Mother, and these twelve stones, need help."
"What kind of help, Grandfather?"
"Someone to gather the stones together and help them
learn the new way."
"Who will do this great thing, Grandfather?"
The old man looks back into the fire and answers, "Many
will do this great thing." Then he looks kindly into the eyes of the
brave. "And one of these many shall be you, my son."
"But I know nothing of gathering stones, Grandfather."
"You know more than you remember, my son. Reach out
and touch the stones."
The brave does as he is told and as his hand approaches
the stones the blue current explodes to life again. It flies back and
forth forming a luminous stream between the brave and the stones. Soon
all twelve stones are crackling with the blue current and the brave
is shimmering from head to toe.
The old man smiles and asks the brave, "What do you
Astonished, the brave answers, "I feel the heart and
know the way of each stone." Still shimmering with blue currents of
electricity, the brave searches for a fuller answer, and then speaks
again. "It is almost as if I have lived each one."
The old man smiles and nods, "Yes. You are one of many
who have learned the path of each stone."
The brave removes his hand from the stones and the
blue current dims to a glow again. "But, Grandfather, I am still a child.
I do not know how to gather these stones together, nor do I know the
new way you speak of."
"You will learn."
"There is only one way." The old man pauses and gazes
towards the edge of the cliff. "You must jump, my son."
"Jump? Off this cliff?!"
"Yes, my son. Throw yourself off this cliff into the
arms of the Great Spirit Wind. It will carry you where you need to go
and teach you how to gather and unite the Twelve Great Stones."
There is an uncomfortable silence as the Brave considers
the old man's advice, and deeply searches himself for another, less
"If you wish to help the Earth Mother through her time
of travail; if you wish to help a new world be born; if you wish to
help all beings find greater happiness, there is no other way."
The young brave looks trustingly into the eyes of the
old man. "If you say so, Grandfather, I will jump. I will leap into
the arms of the Great Spirit Wind without hesitation. I will fly like
"No, my son, you will fall like a rock, and tumble
like a wounded crow. You will be tossed and thrown about like a feather
in a storm." As the brave's face begins to pale, the old Indian moves
closer and puts his hand upon his shoulder. "No, no, do not let fear
enter your heart. I will tell you a secret that will make you brave."
"What is that, Grandfather?"
"There is no bottom."
"You will fall and be tossed about. You will be scratched
and bruised. You will be thrown into storms and collide with things
you know not of, but you will not die. No bottom will silence your quest.
It is your destiny to fly!"
"I am glad to hear this, Grandfather." The brave pauses
a moment to collect his thoughts. "But how long must I be tossed and
blown about? How long will it take me to learn to fly?"
As the old man answers, all twelve stones begin to
hum. Their strange noise ignites the blue current which then carries
them to the feet of the brave. The brave looks questioningly at the
the old man.
"They will go with you. They will teach you about the
Circle of Life and remind you of your purpose."
Then the wind begins to blow, the trees begin to sway,
birds begin to circle overhead and a host of animals appear at the edge
of the forest. The brave notices all these things and again turns to
the old man for answers.
"Mother Earth, and all her creatures, will pray for
you. They long for the world to be made whole -- and know their fate
is in your hands."
Overhead, clouds begin to form and take the shape of
old chiefs and wise people, ancient spirit guides and powerful Kachinas.
The brave watches, spellbound.
"Wherever you go, they will be with you. They will
share their wisdom and strength with you."
Marvelling at all that has happened, the brave turns
and looks gratefully into the eyes of the old man. "And you, Grandfather,
you have given me these powerful visions and spoken to me of all things.
I shall never forget this day."
"Words and visions are inspiring and instructive. Prayers
are uplifting and protective. And nothing can withstand the power of
the spirit brothers and Kachinas. But by themselves, none of these things
are enough for this difficult journey."
Puzzled, the brave looks deeply into the old man's
eyes. "What else is there, Grandfather? What else could I possibly need?"
The old man pauses a moment and then smiles. His love
for the brave is almost too much for the brave to bear. "You need other
beings, clothed in flesh and blood like yourself, to make the journey
"And where shall I find these other beings?"
Quietly, the old man turns and gestures out beyond
the cliff's edge. "They are out there, my son, tumbling through the
air like wounded crows."
The young brave looks out beyond the cliff's edge and
pauses. He lets the old man's words sink in. And then he answers, "Then
I, too, will jump. I will join my spirit with theirs."
"You shall, indeed, my son. Together you, and yours,
shall learn to fly. And all things will be drawn together in a joy unknown
since the beginning of time."
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