Do It Again, Daddy!

“Do it again, Daddy, do it again” All of us have seen children excited about what they have learned, especially when they have conquered a fear. Many of us have been around small children and have taught little ones how to turn fear of the unknown into confidence, through trusting in God.

Below is a Native American story as  told to me by my friend, and fellow flute player, Barry Flory.

In the Native American culture, when a child was four or five, the father would take the child for a walk to a place in the woods that the child had not seen and stop before a tree. The father had this specific tree in mind, as he had done this before with the older ones. He had a plan for this child, using this very tree.

When they arrived at the tree, he would lovingly and securely scoop up the child and begin to climb the tree, instructing the child to hold on, as he himself would climb back down the tree, leaving the child alone on the branch.

Standing safely and solidly on the ground, looking up, the father sees just what he expects to see – his child hanging on tightly with a frightened, uncertain, and confused look on his face. Fear of the unexpected and the unknown was taking hold in the mind of the little child. Suddenly, all was not as it should be, and the child didn’t understand what was happening and why his father would let go of him.

“Daddy, get me down,” cried the child. “No,” explained the father in a kind, but firm voice. “I put you there and gave you only one instruction – to hold on tight. Trust in me and you will be fine right where you are.”

“But Daddy, I’m scared.”  “Do you not trust me to keep you safe?” asks the father firmly. “I’m still scared and I don’t understand why you put me here and left me!” cried the child. “Why don’t you like it up there?” the father asks. “Because I’m afraid I will fall!”  “Didn’t I tell you to hold on tight? Don’t you trust me? Don’t you trust yourself to hold on?”  “Well, I’m going to get tired and I will fall, Daddy.” the child cries frantically.

“Do not fear falling from where I put you, for I am here and I will catch you.” said his father. “No Daddy, I can’t. If I fall, I will get hurt.” Again, the father instructs the child, “You must decide to either stay where I put you and work hard to hang on, or you must fall and have faith in me and believe me when I say that I will catch you.”

“Daddy, I can’t let go. I will fall and I am scared.”  “I’m right here and I will catch you if you fall. I promise and I will not break my promise to you, for I am a good father.” A quiet time passes; a time that seems long to the father, but even longer for the child in the tree, as they contemplate their choices.

As would be expected, the child’s mind tries to find another option. “Daddy, if I can’t let go, and I can’t fall, won’t you come up and get me?” reasons the child. “You must decide from the two choices I gave you, and I will be right here, below you, should you fall.”

Finally, exhausted, the child let go and fell from the tree with a little scream. Of course, the father did what he said he would do and caught the child, pulling him into his arms and holding him close to his heart, giving his brave child comfort. After a while, the child was calm and looked up into his father’s eyes, and said triumphantly, “That made my tummy jump, I was so afraid!”

No further words were shared for a time, as they began their trip home, with the child still in the father’s arms. They hadn’t gone far from the tree when the child spoke, “Daddy?”  “What child?” “ I was scared, but you told me to hang on, and as I got tired, you told me you were right there to catch me so that I would not get hurt if f I fell! I was so scared to fall, and I knew that I would fall. And when I did, it made my tummy jump, and kind of tickled.”  “Yes child, we must all learn to trust. Today, you learned that when you trust in your father, as I trusted in my father, that he will protect you! And, we must all trust in our Creator, our Heavenly Father, who watches over each of us. Someday, child, you will fall again, and someday, Your Heavenly Father will be there to catch you!”

The child spoke again. “Daddy, we are still close to the tree, can we go back and do it again? It was kind of fun! Can we do it again, Daddy?”

Watching an uncertain, scared child work through a situation like this is usually painful for a parent. It is like when a child is learning to ride a bike, part of us wants to keep a hold of the bike to prevent them from falling. Yet, we know we must let go, risking skinned knees and tears,  as we ask them to trust us and be courageous. They grow and gain confidence as they are launched into pedaling and balancing alone.

Following His instructions is not easy. Trusting in Him completely is not easy. Falling is inevitable. However, as He promises to all of us who receive Him, the warm, funny, wonderful feeling that we can find inside ourselves by so doing is incredibly gratifying. So, can we “do it again?” We can if we have faith and courage through him. Trusting in Him takes away our fears!

Trust in Him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. 

~Psalm 62:8

How the Turtle Won the Race

Many years have passed since this story was told by the lake animals.

Every year, in the spring, all of the wild animals who lived near the lake would gather together for a race. They had done this many times and the eagle always won. He could fly the highest, he was the fastest, and he could see the farthest of all the other creatures. He was proud of his position and boasted of it often.

In the early spring, he would call together all of the birds, the land animals, and the water animals to discuss who would be brave enough to race him and become the “Chosen One.” Eagle was always certain that he would maintain his position as the winner. 

One spring morning, on the day of the race, the darkness was gone and the morning sun was causing the lake to sparkle. Eagle had not shown up yet and the animals began to talk. Who would try to out-do the eagle this year? Much to their surprise, tiny Turtle rose out of the lake and came forward, bravely exclaiming, “I will race the eagle.” Everybody laughed. Rabbit, Crow, and many of the other faster animals had tried before, never being able to run or fly fast enough to beat Eagle. How in world could a little turtle ever expect to beat Eagle? “I have a plan,” said Turtle. “And I think I can outsmart Eagle.”

Suddenly there was the loud whistle of Eagle, as he soared over them and landed in the middle of their circle. He pranced around, acting very proud, “Well, who will race me?” he asked. Much to
Eagle’s surprise, Turtle slowly walked up beside him and answered, “I will race you, but I need you to take me to the start.” Eagle agreed, and Turtle climbed on to his back. The animals watched in amazement, and in awe of Turtle’s bravery.

eagle flying

Eagle thought, “I will take this little guy on an exciting and scary ride!” So Eagle took off, flying higher and higher over the lake, purposely performing for the crowd, confident that he was scaring poor little Turtle. When they were high above the water, just over the starting line, Turtle said, “Let’s go!!!”as he jumped off of Eagle’s back!! The crowd below gasped! Eagle couldn’t believe his eyes!!! Turtle was falling very fast toward the water, in a perfect dive! Turtle knew that his shell would protect him when he hit the water. Eagle started diving toward the lake, as he had done hundreds of times before while fishing. He tucked in his wings and was falling very fast, but as hard as he tried, he could not catch Turtle.

The race was over! Turtle had won, and when he poked his head out of the lake all of the animals and birds cheered loudly! As they declared Turtle, the “Chosen One,” each animal realized that size and strength and speed were not the only things that made one a winner. Using one’s mind and being brave was important too – and anyone can be a winner. 

Legend of the First Native American Flute (Lakota Story)

A young man  found the tracks of an elk and followed them for a long time. The elk, wise and swift, is the one who owns the love charm. If a man possesses Elk Medicine, the girl he likes can’t help liking him, too. He will also be a lucky hunter.

This young hunter had no Elk Medicine. After many hours, he finally sighted his game. Although a skilled hunter, the elk always managed to stay just out of range, leading him deep inside a thick forest. The tracks had disappeared and so had the elk. There was no moon. He realized he was lost and, it was too dark to find his way out.

He came upon a stream with cool, clear water, where he stopped to drink and eat food that he had brought with him. He rolled himself into his fur robe, propped his back against a tree and tried to rest. But he couldn’t sleep because of the strange noises that filled the forest, the “groaning” of trees in the wind, and the cries of night animals such as the owl. It was as if he was hearing these sounds for the first time.

Suddenly, he was aware of an entirely new sound, one that neither he nor anyone else had ever heard before. The sound was mournful and ghost-like; it made him afraid, so he drew his robe tightly about himself and reached for his bow, making sure it was properly strung and ready for immediate use.

As frightening as the sound was, it was also like a song, sad but beautiful, full of love, hope and yearning. Before he knew it, he was asleep, dreaming of the bird called Wagnuka, the redheaded woodpecker. In his dream, Wagnuka appeared singing the strangely beautiful song and telling him, “Follow me and I will teach you.”

The sun was already high when the hunter awoke the next morning. On a branch of the tree against which he was leaning, he saw a redheaded woodpecker who flew from tree to tree, but never very far, looking back all the time as if to say, “Come on!” Suddenly, he heard that wonderful song again, and his heart yearned to find the singer. Flying toward the sound, leading the hunter, the bird flitted through the leaves, while its bright red top made it easy to follow.

At last, the woodpecker lighted on a cedar tree and began hammering on a branch with his strong beak, making a noise like the fast beating of a small drum. A gust of wind arose, and again the hunter heard that beautiful sound right above him.

Looking up, he discovered the song came from the dead branch on which the woodpecker was tapping his beak. He realized it was the wind which made the sound as it whistled through the hole the bird had drilled.

The hunter took the branch, a hollow piece of wood full of woodpecker holes that was about the length of his forearm. He walked back to his village bringing no meat, but happy with his discovery.

In his tipi, the young man tried to make the branch sing for him. He blew on it, he waved it around, no sound came. It made him sad. He wanted so much to hear that wonderful new sound. He purified himself in the sweat lodge and climbed to the top of a lonely hill. There, resting with his back against a large rock, he fasted, going without food or water for four days and nights, crying for a vision which would tell him how to make the branch sing.

In the middle of the fourth night, Wagnuka, the bird with the bright red top, appeared, saying, “Watch me” and turning himself into a man, showing the hunter how to make the branch sing. In his dream, the young man observed very carefully, as instructed.

When he awoke, he broke off a branch from a cedar tree and, working many hours, hollowed it out with a bowstring drill, just as he had seen the woodpecker do in his dream. He whittled the branch into the shape of the birds with a long neck and a open beak. He painted the top of the birds head with washasha, the sacred red color. He prayed. He smoked the branch up with incense of burning sage, cedar and sweet grass. He fingered the holes as he had seen the man-bird do in his vision, meanwhile blowing softly into the mouthpiece. All at once, there was the song, ghost-like and beautiful, that drifted all the way to the village, where the people were joyful to hear it. With the help of the wind and the woodpecker, the young man had brought them the first flute.

NOTE: This legend has been edited from historical documents and is believed to be of public domain.

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