What is Life, Asked the Child
Richard Running Deer

My grandfather was an old man when I was a child, and I remember the stories he used to tell me. He would speak to children from all walks of life. Some he grew very fond of; some only grew up offering great disappointment. I remember the story of a young boy who came to him and asked, "What is life, Grandfather?"

With a smile on his face, he would raise his hands and say, "What is life? Life is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow that dances across the grass and loses itself in the sunset."

"I don't understand," the young boy looked up at him.

Grandfather said softly, "For you to know life, you must speak to the Great Spirit. The Great Spirit answers to all who seek the medicine. Look with your eyes. Hear the wind with your ears. Touch the earth with your heart. And you will know. Go my child and ask the Great Spirit to show you the way."

So the child went off toward the river and sat for a very long time.

"Great Spirit, speak to me," the child whispered
And a meadow lark sang,
But the child did not hear.


"Great Spirit, speak to me," the child yelled
And the thunder rolled across the skies,
But the child did not understand.


The child looked around and said,
"Great Spirit, let me see you."
And a star shone brightly in the sky,
But the child did not notice.


Bewildered, the child shouted,
"Great Spirit, show me a miracle!"
And a fawn was born in a nearby bush,
But the child failed to see.


So the child cried out in despair,
"Touch me Great Spirit and let me know you are here!"
Whereupon the Great Spirit reached down from the sky
and gently touched his cheek.


But the child brushed away the butterfly
and unknowingly walked away.


Copyright 1998,Richard Running Deer. All rights reserved.