The Great Spirit looked around and knew all was great
but humankind wasn’t standing full tall
so he worked with great passion, and two gifts did fashion;
things to help make them first among all.
But once he had made them, to him it occurred
that these gifts had such enormous power
and he decided that day to hide them away
until he was sure humankind’s readiness was in flower.
“But where shall I hide them?” he wondered aloud,
“for they need to be safe from misuse and seduction,
and if released would spell ill since when used without skill
on this world it would mean strife and destruction.”
Now the beasts, great and small, met and gathered around
knowing full well what the Great Spirit had done.
Gnashing teeth and sharp claws offered to help with the cause
so to curry favour they lined up, one by one.
“Give them to me,” said the bear, “and I’ll ascend the great tree
so much higher than any of them can go.
There, at the top of my climb they’ll be safe for all time.
They can’t shinny as high up as that tree grows”
And the great spirit sadly said, “it cannot ever be
they’ll find a way to climb to the top of the tree.”
Then a great wave of water flew up in the air
with a swish from his magnificent tail.
“Give them to me and with glee to the depths of the sea!
They’ll not get them there,” said the whale.
And the Great Spirit said, “look, already they swim deep.
The depths of the ocean from them it won’t keep.”
So then the eagle flew in with a great rush of wings.
“Give them to me and I’ll fly to the moon!
Too far for them all, no matter how tall!”
He screeched with a voice like typhoon.
And the Great Spirit said, “already they fly faster than you
and soon they’ll be standing there too.”
The great beasts all fell silent since none of them knew
how to find a place humans were unable to get to
but then from the edge of the knoll a small voice–the old mole
said, “I might have an idea,” with little ado.
And the great beasts – how they all laughed and they mocked!
“How can you possibly do things we could not?”
But the Great Spirit turned to one they’d all spurned, saying
“small friend, speak, let’s all hear of your plot.”
And Mole said, “hide the gifts deep down inside of them all
for if they find the wisdom and courage they need
to find them in there, then great eagle, whale and bear
surely they’ll be ready, you’ll have accede.”
And the Great Spirit smiled and thanked the mole
for he knew he found wisdom in that gentle small soul.
And so to this day those gifts are still there
for those with the wisdom and courage to find them
so Justice and Love do great works conceived of
the hands and the hearts that unbind them.
And perhaps the best lesson of all to be had
was another the Great Spirit taught
when he heeded the prose of the smallest of those,
thus honoring the wisdom she brought.
I recently listened to Prof. John Borrows giving a lecture about human rights and its place in Canada’s Indigenous Constitution, and in fact, in all our lives. He ended it with a short story that I wanted to make sure stayed with me. To help with that I put it to verse. I owe Prof. Borrows a debt of gratitude for not only an inspiring talk but also for the gift of the story.