Sunday, March 3, 2013
The Hunter and the Owl
Good morning, boys and girls! This morning I want to share with you a Native American legend about keeping promises. It is called The Hunter and the Owl, and it goes like this:
Once a man and his wife from the Delaware nation went on a hunt a long way from their village. They set up camp, and early the next morning, the man ventured out with his bow and arrow, looking for game. He hunted all day, and the next day and the next, without finding a single animal to bring home for food. That third night, while sitting around the camp fire, he and his wife heard an owl hoot, and then laugh! This was considered a good sign! So the man took a burning ember from the fire and stepped away from the camp a little ways. He put the hot ember on the ground, and sprinkled a little tobacco on it, and spoke to the owl.
The hunter said, "Grandfather, I have heard you hoot and laugh. I know by this that you see good luck coming my way after these days of discouragement. Please use your influence to bring the animals my way tomorrow so that I may bring home to my people plentiful meat and furs, so that we may be full and warm this winter. In exchange for your help, I promise to cut out the fat and the heart of the first deer I kill, and hang them in the tree for you to eat." The owl laughed again, and the hunter knew his hunt would be much better the next day.
He woke before the sun, and set out with his bow and arrow, leaving his wife to take care of the camp. Before too long, he saw a large buck in the woods ahead of him. He killed the deer with one arrow. In his haste to take the deer back to camp so that he could go out and kill
another before it got too late, he forgot his promise to the owl and did not
take out the fat and heart and hang it in the tree as he said he would do. He flung the deer across his shoulder and started for camp. The deer was very heavy, and the hunter could not carry it very far without stopping to rest. He stopped and was about to set the buck down for a moment, when he heard the owl hoot again. This time it did not laugh.
The owl flew down low, right in front of the man and said, "Is this the way you keep your promise to me? For this lie I will curse you! When you put down the deer, you will fall down dead."
The man was quick to answer, "Grandfather, it is true I did not cut out the heart and the fat and hang it in the tree immediately, but I wasn't going to keep it from you forever! I have powers, too, and my curse to you is that when you alight in a tree or on a stump, you will fall down dead! We will see who is the stronger between us."
The owl circled the man a few times, and then started to get very tired. He said to the hunter, "I will recall my curse on you, if you take back your curse on me, and we will be friends from this moment forward." This sounded like a good bargain to the man, because he, too, was getting very weary. He set down his deer, and took out the heart and fat and hung them in the tree for the owl right then and there. When he picked up the deer again, it was much lighter and he carried it easily to camp. His wife was delighted to see that he had brought game. She cut the meat into strips and hung it out to dry.
The man hunted for several more days, until he and his wife had all the meat and furs they could carry home. He never forgot the lesson he learned on that hunting trip--that once a promise is made, it must be fulfilled.
Keeping promises is not always easy, as the hunter in the story learned. But one person we can always count upon to keep promises is God. The Lord promises to be with us through all things, helping and encouraging us. We can count on God always.
Let's pray. Dear God, Thank-you for being faithful to us and always keeping your promises. Help us to be faithful and keep our promises to you and to each other as well. In Jesus' name, Amen.