Origin: Central American
Theme: The smallest can be the most important and answers are some times right in front of your eyes if you look.
We always know that the sun is in the sky. Sometimes we can’t see it, since it is raining or snowing or there are clouds in the sky, but we always know that the sun is there. Sometimes we don’t see the sun for days, but we still always know that the sun is there. Well, this is the story of a time long, long, ago when the sun disappeared.
Lizard woke up and was cold. She had been cold for many days because there had been no sun. Everything was dark. The people were cold; the children had stopped playing; the birds had stopped singing. All the people and animals were worried and afraid.
The animals decided to go looking for the sun. The fish and the turtles looked in all the rivers and the lakes. The green frogs and the wide-mouthed toads looked in all the puddles. The deer and the squirrels searched through the forests. The rabbits and the hares searched through the fields, and the jaguar searched through the green jungle. None of the animals could find the sun. The land animals gave up.
The birds said they could find the sun. After all they could fly high into the sky. Surely the sun would be there. Many birds searched through the branches where they made their nests. The eagles flew high in the mountains and to the cones of the volcanoes. The vultures searched the desserts and the empty roads. But none of the birds could find the sun. The birds gave up.
Everyone had given up looking for the sun. Everyone except lizard. Lizard kept looking. She crawled up mountains; she crawled down the valleys; she looked in the cactuses. She looked and looked for days and days. Then finally one day she saw a very strange thing. She saw a rock near a prickly pear cactus and the rock was glowing.
“Aha! I have found the sun,” the lizard shouted. “I will go tell the emperor. I am so excited. The emperor will be able to get the sun from the rock and I will be warm again.”
Lizard ran, as much as a lizard can run through the dessert and cacti to the city. He saw that the people were sad, even though they kept working. Lizard saw the people on their barges selling to others on their boats through the lagoons. They were selling flowers, fruits, blankets and vegetables. The great stone pyramids stood around them. It was hard to see all that was for sale, because it was so dark. Only the torches shown light.
Finally the lizard found the palace, and climbed the huge stairs of the pyramid to find the emperor. He found the emperor sitting on his throne with sandals made of gold and a tall crown made of bright feathers. The emperor seemed sad.
“I have found a stone with a light shining under it. I think the sun is hiding there,” said the lizard as she bowed low before the emperor.
“How wonderful! Lizard you are wonderful. Please go immediately and turn over the rock and release the sun. We are all very grateful to you,” the emperor rose as he extolled the lizard.
The lizard ran immediately, as much as a lizard can run. After twenty hours of crawling as fast as she could. Lizard reached the rock. She tried and tired but she could not move the rock. It was too heavy, and she had failed the emperor. She was near tears. She knew how much it meant to the land animals, the birds, the fish and the humans to have the sun back. She herself was so very cold, from being without the warmth of the sun rays for so many days.
There was nothing to be done but to go back to the emperor and ask for help. She did just that. Crawling and crawling for hours, through the desert, past the canals of the merchants selling wares out of their boats, up the stairs of the great pyramids. Back to the great hall of the emperor where he sat, worried, dark, with his gold sandals and crown of green, yellow and blue feathered plumes.
“Emperor, I have tried and tried but I cannot move the rock. I have failed. I cannot bring the sun back,” Lizard said in her most beseeching voice, prostrating herself on the ground in front of the emperor.
“Do not worry lizard, we can fix this,” the Emperor rose and spoke as if thunder was coming from his mouth. “Come here, woodpecker! We have a great job for you!”
As his booming voice echoed in the great palace hall, huge woodpecker flew in. He swooped down and landed beside the Emperor, standing up to the Emperor’s waist. Woodpecker’s body was drab with gray and black and white feathers. But his head was magnificent. He had long tufts of feathers going back over his head and these were crimson red, emerald green, and egg yolk yellow.
“I am ready to serve,” Woodpecker said as he bowed his multicolored head to the Emperor.
Together the Lizard, the Woodpecker and the Emperor traveled from the palace to the place of the rock. Where the rock shown like with the light of the Sun buried there.
“Peck, Woodpecker! Peck with all your might,” said the Emperor.
The rock cracked and the Sun was released, but he would not open his eyes.
“Sun, you must wake up. The plants are dying, the animals are dying, the people have no hope,” cried the Emperor.
But the Sun would not wake up. No matter what anyone said, the sun would not wake up. So the Emperor decried a great festival. There was music, there was dancing, there was wonderful food! All the animals were welcome. The humans, the birds, the mammals, the lizards, the plants!!
Finally the Sun woke up, and all the life on the Earth rejoiced. From that time on there was a festival every year to celebrate the Sun. And we can still see the Sun giving us life in its path from dawn, to noon, to evening, to night. The Emperor was very pleased and he gave an award to the Lizard and the Woodpecker, as most sacred animals of the Empire.