(I want to hear it read)
Each night her father jumped from his cave wall into the branches. He stepped down from branch to branch like they were stairs till he came to her nest. He licked her face in greeting. She purred. Each night he would lay down and gather his daughter into his arms. There they would slumber and dream.
On the ninth night of his mates disappearance, he lay awake most of his night watching his daughter and thinking. He missed his love terribly. This missing was like a stone in his chest. It was hard to breath. All night long he felt dead sadness.
As morning mercifully came with the gradual brightness of a dim blue sky, he allowed the new sounds of the meadow below to gather in his thoughts. Birds were beginning to chirp and then sing. The wind rattled the leaves. The grass flowed like river grass carried by currents of clear water.
As the sun began to fill the dark morning sky with more blue he allowed his eyes to move to the river. Those eyes narrowed in suspicion.
That river who tore his love away, was the distance of only a few steps from the base of the tree. Just the sight of those waters caused him sorrow, and then anger. The kind of anger one feels when a friend has betrayed your trust, he thought.
Yet, those waters were singing a song. She was saying something but he could not, did not want to understand the message.
He realized that he was angry at the river for causing his love to be swept away.
It was then that the winds blew hard through thousands of leaves rattling like the hum and whisper of thousands of hummingbirds wings. The tree was talking. Images filled the father’s imagination.
Those images were of strange events. Long before cats and trees lived here, there was a flood on the earth. Water covered all the land. As many moons passed through night skies, night after night, the waters receded and dry land appeared like islands in a sea. Many more moons passed and those islands became large stretches of land. The waters became narrower. Eventually, they became long curling rivers.
Each river, the tree continued, had a place in their center of their currents where they dreamed. Those dreams told each river their purpose. The purpose was always the same. It was to nourish the land where it’s waters spread their fingers.
However, this river, the tree continued, had a unique purpose. As the oldest child of three rivers who lived very near each other, this river child dreamed of a paradise protected by huge walls that acted like sentinels. Immensely strong rock walls that would protect every living thing within its borders from the ravages of the fierce tornadoes that raged across the great plains each year.
The river dreamed of a garden of immense beauty. Like all beings who have dreams, the river devised a plan of action. One evening she spoke to her two sisters about her paradise. She dreamed of flowers, fruit trees, vegetable gardens, and animals of all shapes and sizes.
The sisters were so mesmerized by the dream of a garden that they laughed in glee.
"Yes," they said. "Let's do this. But how will we build the rock walls?"
She smiled and said, "We don't need to build anything. They live underneath our bellies. All we need to do is combine our power and remove the ground beneath us until the walls appear."
The plan made perfect sense. In the course of a cycle of a moon, the three rivers slowly converged into one powerful white rapids snaking force of water.
Their raging waters pulled away the rocks and dirt and created a path deeper and deeper into the ground, year after year until a wide shallow canyon appeared. Within one hundred years that canyon got very deep. Still, their waters continue to rage. The deeper they carved, the higher their rock walls grew. Like sentinels guarding their world, those walls were friends. The walls would keep away the ripping winds. They would guard the creatures of the canyon so that the three sisters could nourish them. As they dug deeper, those walls became taller, revealing many small caves and crevices.
Eventually, the three sisters recognized themselves as one force. They called themselves Trinity. Three in one.
Trinity loved her new home. She washed and scrubbed the dirt from every small and large cavern.
She builds thousands and thousands of little and large rooms. Trinity did this because she knew that travelers by the hundreds and then thousands would arrive soon. Every visitor needed a home.
The first of the visitors, she knew, would be birds. Birds love small spaces near water. In the first spring thaw, a few birds flew over the open canyon. They circled it three times and then flew into the center where they landed on a boulder which sat in the middle of the river. They looked at the walls. They saw small crevices and caves. The three birds flew halfway up and into a small triangle shaped space the size of a catspaw. It was perfect. They stayed the night. The next morning they drank some water at rivers edge and then they flew away. A day later, an entire flock of more than a hundred small birds flew over the canyon walls and landed on the bank of the river. They looked up. The three scouts flew to their designated home and chirped to the rest of their clan. Then, one by one, two by two the birds flew to other small rooms in the rock wall. Within a short time, all the birds had found their new homes.
Word gets around with birds. Before the third day turned to night new birds had arrived by the thousands. Within a full cycle of the moon, the rocks walls were filled with the sound of chattering singing birds. They were each telling their story of where they had come from. The stories were all the same. They lived in forests next to rivers that were unprotected by the big winds. Their homes were continuously being attacked by fierce storms that blew through branches causing nests of young birds to crash to the ground. Life there was chaotic and tragic.
But here, the nests were built in solid stone and protected by walls. This place was a miracle. A paradise, they said.
One thing you can predict with birds. They love berries and seeds. Because of this, each bird was filled with them from their last meal in distant forests abundant with fruits and vegetables. When they eliminated the remains of their dinners from their feathery bodies, those seeds fell to the ground and into the water-rich soil.
The seeds grew fast. In just four seasons plants grew everywhere. This attracted more life. Cats, wolves, deer, mice, lizards, and fish. Soon a garden of nourishing beauty appeared.
The images faded and trees voice spoke directly.
"This entire valley of life," the tree said to the father, "was created by Trinity."
"This River is the Mother of us all. Every tree, bird, and animal has found their nourishment from these waters. Every day and night she sings to us about how happy we make her."
"However, while life grows in this valley, the river continues to dream of more beauty. She continues to dig deeper into the earth."
To do this she calls on her friends, The Rain Clouds. Sometimes, the Rain Clouds get carried away and much too much rain. But even then, a balance between wet and dry is brought back.
"That flash flood that swept down the canyon walls was the river continuing to create more life. Life always grows from something dying. And though The Rain Cloud did not mean to destroy banks of Trinities canyons, even the sky gods make mistakes."
"But remember," the tree continued. "New life is born from old life dying."
"A tree grows tall, and the leaves form shade." The tree continued. "The winter comes, the leaves die and fall to the ground. They turn to rich soil that nourishes the roots of the tree. When spring comes, the tree absorbs the nutrients left by the decaying leaves now turned to dirt. From that soil in the spring, the tree grows higher into the sky as the green leaves return and face the sun to gather more energy."
The father’s thoughts were in turmoil. “If this river loves us so much, then why,” he responded, “did it take away my love?”
There was a pause. The leaves were silent. Then the wind began to rustle. “When a fish is caught in the mouth of a cat,” the tree said, “the fish gives up its life to feed another life.”
The father listened with greater understanding then. He remembered that this is what he was teaching his daughter. The fish nourishes her, he had told her. Always thank the spirit of each fish for the nourishment they bring. And then wish that spirit a journey back into this life in a new form soon.
“We all,” the tree continued, “are part of Trinity’s dream. When we give up our bodies, like the leaves, we always return with a new body in spring.”
“The mother of your child,” the tree said, “will return. I promise.”
The father sighed a breath of sorrow at the memory of her. The sigh of sorrow, like a bird freed from a cage, flew away. He breathed more deeply. He felt the calm.
The father looked down into the river which was now dappling reflecting sunlight into his eyes. She was singing a song of beauty. He could hear her.
The song said that she loved the way the cats walked like dancers across the rock walls.
She adored the sight of the trees bending in breezes while they sang to each other.
She was fascinated by how birds could swerve and swoop through the branches.
She found deep calm in the graceful rhythmic movements of the fish as they swam through the center of her body.
It felt like a stone being removed from his chest. He breathed deeper. His eyes closed and opened in gratitude. He could hear the waters singing. Once more he understood the words.
He looked down at his now waking kitten. Gently, he gathered her up in his soft mouth and carried her down the tree, jumping onto the grass, and then walked up to the river’s edge where she would have her morning drink of clear cool water from her divine mother. Trinity.
In his heart, he was smiling at the magical power of the beauty of this canyon.