Thursday, January 5, 2012


The Great Mystery is one way of referring to the supreme being in some native American or First Nations traditions.

Just received a marvelous volume on Christmas and the Winter Solstice by John and Caitlin Matthews. The Twelve Days of Christmas have a theme for each day. It isn’t really a celebration but the ninth day is evergreen day and included this little story.

When the Great Mystery was creating all the trees and plants he wanted to give a gift to each of them. But he could not decide which gift was appropriate to each tree and so he held a contest to find out. He told the young trees that he wanted them to keep watch over all the earth for seven days and seven nights.

The trees were very excited to be given such an important task and for the first night they had no trouble staying awake. But, on the second night it was harder and some of them fell asleep. By the third night even more of them were unable to stay awake, even though they whispered to themselves for hours. On the fourth night even more of them fell asleep.

Finally, on the seventh night, only a handful were still awake; the pine, the cedar, the spruce, the fir, the holly and the laurel. “What great endurance you all have” cried the Great Mystery. “To you I give the gift of remaining green forever. You shall guard the forest even in the dead of Winter when all your brothers and sisters are sleeping.” Ever since then the rest of the trees lose their leaves in Winter and sleep until Spring; but the evergreen trees are always awake and always watching.

From the Winter Solstice by John and Caitlin Matthews.