Saturday, March 25, 2017
Once upon a time there was a man who had about twelve cows, and he loved his cows. Every morning and evening he would praise them for the amount of milk they were giving and praise them for their beauty. One morning he noticed that the amount of milk had lessened. Each day for a week he noticed the same thing. So that night he decided to stay up and see what was going on.
About midnight, he happened to look up at the stars, and he saw one star that seemed to be getting larger. It was - and the light got stronger as the star came closer and closer to earth. It came straight down towards his cow pasture and stopped a few feet from him in the form of a great ball of light. Inside the light there was a luminous woman. As soon as her toes touched the ground, the light disappeared, and she stood there like an ordinary woman.
He said to her, "Are you the one who has been stealing milk from my cows?" "Yes," she said, "my sisters and I like the milk from your cows very much." He said, "You are very beautiful, and I'm glad that you like my cows. And so, this is what I want to say: If you marry me, we can live together, and I will never hit you and you won't have to take care of the cows all the time. I'll take care of them part of the time myself. Will you marry me?" She said slowly, "Yes, I will. But there's one condition. I have brought this basket with me, and I want you to agree that you will never look into this basket. You must never look into it, no matter how long we are married. Do you agree to that?" "Oh, I do," he said.
So they were married, and they lived together very well for six or seven months. Then one day, while she was out herding the cows, he happened to notice that basket standing in a corner of the house. He said to himself, "Well, you know, she is my wife, so it could be considered to be my basket. After all, this is my house, and the basket is in my house, and so it could be considered my basket!" After he had said this, he opened the basket and then began to laugh. "There's absolutely nothing in the basket! Nothing! There's nothing in the basket!" He kept saying these words and laughing so loud that his wife eventually heard the laughter.
She came into the house and she said to him, "Have you opened the basket?" He began laughing again. "I did!" he said. "I opened the basket! There's nothing in it! There's nothing in the basket at all! There's absolutely nothing in the basket! Nothing is in the basket!"
She said,"I have to leave now. I have to go back." He cried out. "Don't go! Don't leave me!" She said, "I have to go back now. What I brought with me in the basket was spirit. It's so like human beings to think that spirit is nothing."
And she was gone.
~ An African Story
from The Soul is Here for It's Own Joy - Sacred Poems from Many Cultures
edited by Robert Bly
african rock art from Chad