Monday, August 24, 2009

The Doorway to Something New

It was a fine, sunny day. Bright. And smelling good. There was this place by the spring. Grasses, trees, and birds tweeting all around. You could smell sweet plants in the air. There was living here a fine snake. One day a man came walking through the grasses. Looking at everything, and sniffing and touching. He sat down next to the stream to rest and drink. Snake saw the man and came over to greet him.
"Hello there, human," he says.
"Hello, fine snake."
"Welcome to my beautiful home," says snake.
"How very good," says human. "You live here long, yes?"
"My mothers before me came here before the trees arrived."
"Oh my," the human says, "that is a fine history. And this is a fine day!"
"Then why," asks snake, "do you look so sad?"
"Oh snake, I am just a foolish old man. My years are going to come to an end soon. I do not wish to go. My hospitable friend, death for a human is not easy like for animals and plants. I miss the flowers already. Snake. What is your secret for living so long? Why do you not die?"
Snake laughs, "Because I shed my skin."
"Teach me, Snake. Teach me, please, to shed my skin, so I may live another day."
"As you wish, human."
Snake took the old human into his care. And through the weeks ahead, taught him to sleep like a snake and peel his skin off. From then on when the man felt his time coming to an end, he would just go to sleep and peel his skin off. And he was happy and no longer afraid.

Kay Cordell Whitaker
The Reluctant Shaman

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