Long ago, before the world as we know it had seven continents, the sun abandoned her usual routine and decided that she preferred to stay in bed with the covers over her head. The world was in darkness. Owls, bats, and other nocturnal creatures were in delight, whereas tiny sparrows and shy deers were in fright. Without the sun to light the open sky and to warm the damp ground, how could they traverse their paths?
The darkness persisted for what would have been seven days and seven nights. Now, even the bats were fed up. They couldn’t sleep because the owls were hooting nonstop. Clouds were vanishing and the moon had lost its glow. Temperatures were dropping and the cows were overflowing with iced milk as the milkmaids couldn’t find their way to the cowsheds. The snakes were tired from oversleeping, and the fires were raging with anger because everyone wanted them to burn so brightly—they had never worked so hard in their life.
All of God’s creatures and elements came together to discuss their predicament. The mountains, the trees, the rivers, the moon, and the stars were the first ones there. Then, all the animals, from the two-legged to the four-legged to the three-toed, turned up. Next came the reptiles, the amphibians, and the sea creatures—from the smallest mites to gigantic whales.
Being the designated king, the lion asked, “What should we do?”
“We can’t take this darkness any longer,” the exhausted bats cried.
“Without the sun, we are withering,” the sunflowers said. “The sun was part of us and we are part of it. Without the sun, we are dying!”
One by one, the creatures and the elements stated their case.
Little Jacob Sparrow observed the assembly with keen interest, spying down on them from his high perch in an apple tree. He was a petite and polite boy, and many tagged him with the sobriquet Chirpy because of his cheerful temperament. He lived in a humble hut, along with his father, his mother, and six siblings—three girls and three boys, and a dog named Lewis. The entire family loved life, even though they all had to work long days cultivating their land. Many avoided them as they were considered to be one of the poorest families in all of creation. But they accepted the enduring darkness that surrounded them and everyone else.
After hearing everyone’s case, the lion proclaimed, “I will travel to the sun and ask her if she can rise again.”
The goats cheered, the ocean waved, and the clouds wept tears of joy.
With his head bowed, the lion ventured off to the sun, holding a fire stake to guide the way.
“Good evening, glorious sun,” the lion said. “I have come to ask one request.”
“Hello, my gracious lion,” the sun said from behind the covers, trying hard not to beam too bright as she didn’t want to blind him.
“You have come such a long way. Please take a seat. What is it you have come here to request?”
“With utmost respect, I ask that on behalf of all of creation—the earth, the water, the fire, the air, the space, all the humans and the animals, the trees and flowers and all living beings, the stars and the planets, the moon, and the ocean—may you please rise again? We miss you. We long to have day and night return to us.”
“Thank you for such a beautiful sermon. But unfortunately, the answer is no.”
“Why not, dear sun?”
“I have burned so many creatures from my strong rays. Millions have been hurt and damaged by my strength and vigor—this was not my intention. I feel such deep sorrow for the damage I have caused and I have decided to no longer rise.”
“But isn’t it your duty to shine brightly?”
“My decision has been made and no one can change my mind.”
With that said, the lion picked up his burning stake and left.
When the sunflowers heard the lion’s disappointing news, they decided to visit the sun.
“Hello beautiful sunflowers,” the sun said.
The sunflowers opened their withered faces, basking in the sun’s warmth. “Dearest namesake, we have come to ask you to shine on the earth again. We miss your play. Without you, we cannot grace the world with our beauty. You are our inspiration and our life force. We are dying to see you again.”
“Thank you for your beautiful words. But no one or nothing can sway me. I will shine no more.”
With their petals wilted low, the sunflowers returned to the earth.
When the clouds heard of the sunflowers attempt, they too decided to visit the sun. The moment they arrived and saw the sun hiding, the clouds collapsed into a puddle of emotion. “Oh, our beloved sun,” they said, “we cannot take your absence any longer. If you don’t shine, water cannot evaporate and we can’t cry tears of rain. The plants need us to do our duty. We beseech you to show yourself again.”
“Dear clouds, I understand your anguish, but I cause too much pain to beam upon the world, and I much prefer to stay here in bed.”
Hearing of the clouds’ failure, the ocean devised a plan that went against the current of the others. It then worked up the courage to visit the sun.
“Greetings, Great Light,” the ocean said. “I understand that you don’t want to hurt people with your joyous rays. But please dear sun, it is not your fault that this happens. I too hurt others. People drown within my deadly waves; seafarers cannot resist their desire to explore my treacherous turquoise seas knowing they may not return. The young and the old have died in my lap many times over, yet I do not dry up. So too, day in, day out, you must continue to rise and shine.”
“Your argument is very convincing, my tidal friend, but I will shine no more.”
Disappointment flooded the ocean. It had been swelling with confidence that it would succeed, but now it was flat and without a ripple in sight.
The lion called another meeting to discuss this perplexing situation. With his mouth open, his cold yellow eyes staring straight ahead, and his mane full of leaves, the lion waited for all to arrive.
“Order, order!” the lion called out when everyone was assembled. “So far we have failed in our attempt to convince the sun to shine upon the earth again. Does anyone have any ideas as to what we can do next?”
Some began arguing and blaming others for causing the sun to hide. The trees pointed branches at the crows, hunters directed their rifles at the lion, venomous snakes poisoned the lakes, the whales thumped the ocean, tidal waves extinguished the fires, and thunderbolts struck the mountains.
The lion let out a deafening roar. Tiny ants stopped biting, and feisty stars from faraway heavens stopped bickering. The crowd was dead silent. One couldn’t even hear another living creature’s heart beating nor detect the diverse melodies of nature running its course. Surveying those present, the lion said, “Dear friends, how can we argue at a time like this? We are in a desperate situation and we must work together.”
The assembly decided to send a large group: bats, dolphins, milkmaids, the moon, doves, an arrow-maker, moths, deers, honey-gatherers, and a courtesan. The motley crew greeted the sun, and then one by one each advocate tried to convince her to change her mind.
Disappointed, they all returned.
See their long faces, little Jacob Sparrow decided to visit the sun. He did so for no good reason, though. He didn’t want to convince her to shine again as he knew that others had gone and failed. His parents had taught him to never ask or beg for anything. He wasn’t curious either; in fact, he didn’t like to travel as he was content with wherever he was. But the wind was perfectly still, and he could hear a soft, sweet sound calling his name.
When little Jacob Sparrow arrived, he got down on his knees and bowed low, with his two palms together in front of his heart. “Hello, my beautiful sun.” A tiny tear fled from the corner of his left eye.
“Hello, my dear child,” the sun said.
The boy stood up and gazed at the sun’s bed, lost for words.
“Have you come here to ask me something?”
“No, I have not, my beloved sun.”
The sun raised her eyebrows. “No, my dear child? Then why are you here?”
“I have come to adore you. I have come to let you know that I understand your decision.”
“Thank you, little Jacob. You are the only one who feels that way.”
“My beloved sun, while I have learned to live in darkness, I remind myself regularly that this is not how things truly are. I remember your light, and I will never forget you.”
“I am so happy to hear this.”
“My one concern, my beloved sun, is that I pray others will not forget you too.”
“What do you mean?”
“It is very easy to adore those that we see, and it is very easy to ignore those we cannot see.”
“But you know I’m here. I will always be here for you and everyone.”
“I know that. But many who live in this beautiful creation don’t know that. Some are already starting to forget you, and the newly born calves, seedlings, and rivulets can only imagine what you are like. Very soon, many won’t know the opposite of darkness, but I understand your decision as to why you cannot show them.”
Little Jacob’s comment struck the sun harder than a speeding comet. “You are right!”
“I am?” The boy’s tone of voice was squeaking with bewildered excitement.
“Yes, Jacob. And it makes me wonder…” The sun was silent for a moment. “My ancestors used to say, ‘If we don’t know what’s right, we’ll be living in blinding darkness. But if we do know what’s right and we don’t do it, then we’ll enter into greater darkness.’ They were the brightest of all! Thank you, my son. I now know what needs to be done.”
“Thank you, my sun. I now know my purpose here is done.”
The sun very slowly pulled back the covers, fully accepting the consequences of her duty. Her intense bright light instantly burned holes in little Jacob Sparrow’s retinas. Unable to see, he collapsed to his knees. As the sun rose to her feet, her scorching heat blistered the boy’s skin, causing it to bubble and burst. His clothes peeled off, and his brown, curly hair was scorched into a powdery black dust.
Little Jacob Sparrow’s deceased body lay beside the sun as if it were her black leather tote bag, empty and worthless. The soul that once dwelled inside it had fled, and the sun’s face was wet with tears, knowing that she would be forever indebted to the boy for his love and sacrifice.
Although her radiant heart was discolored by the boy’s burnt remains, the sun raised her arms up, yawned, and realized how good it felt to be shining bright again.
All of creation rejoiced. From that moment on, the moon has always reflected the sun’s tiny black blemish, a blemish that reminds us every day of our beloved friend Chirpy.
Copyright © Leisa Golding 2019