by  Mary V. Kolar

I pulled one leg over the other and tried not to look as awkward as I felt.  The muscle pulled on the knee unaccustomed to this new posture.  The elder sat easily, although I heard some of his wizened bones creak on the way down.  He lit a long pipe decorated with shells and feathers. He inhaled deeply allowing the smoke to drift to the stars and then he handed me the pipe.  I took it in both of my hands; palms up the way it was offered to me, then inhaled deeply.  The herbal smoke filled my lungs burning and singing.  My eyes watered and every instinct was to cough it out, but this would have been an insult to the offering.  I managed to control my instincts and then handed it to the next in the story circle.  Slowly it made its way around until at last it returned to Swimming Turtle. 

There was silence as the cool night air wrapped itself around us.  I began to feel lighter and felt myself swaying with the smoke in the moonlight.  I’m not sure how long we sat on the cold ground listening to the fire crack and pop.  Finally the silence was broken as Swimming Turtle spoke.

“The wind once failed to blow because it thought it was not acknowledged.  The sun spoke to it telling it that without the wind, earth would grow lame.   The wind said, “It is not so.  I make no difference.  Nobody hears me.” 

The water spoke and said, “Without you I would not ripple and sing my song in the cool of the afternoon, without you I would grow silent.”  The wind said, “Yet everyone hears your song, not mine.”

The tree spoke and said, “Without you I would become heavy with dead leaves and they would not fall but rot upon my branches.”  The wind said, “It may be so, but still your colorful leaves are admired, not my cleansing breath.”

The birds spoke and said, “Without you we would fall from the sky exhausted not having you to ride upon.”  The wind said, “That might be so, but it is your flight that is admired, not what you ride upon.”

The clouds spoke and said, “Without you we would never travel, but remain where we are never to see the world as our hearts are want to do.”  The wind said, “That is true, and yet you are admired in your movement and no soul sees me.”

The canyons spoke and said, without you we would be stark not smoothed and molded by your gentle breezes.  “The wind said, and people admire your beauty with little thought of my persistent work.”

The Great Spirit looked down and thought this is not good.  The stars shown brighter and the moon laughed as a great comet flew from the sky chased by its tail.  All fell quiet and when the wind next spoke they all heard a gust.  When it spoke again they heard it moan through the canyons and whistle through the tall branches of the pines.  It had been given a voice.  The wind grabbed leaves and tossed them in a small whirlpool lifting them high spinning them in happiness and celebration.

Now the wind could be seen and heard.  It frolicked and played and was no longer silent. 

It is this way with tribes.  All play a part.  All have a voice.  One depends upon the other for accomplishments and beauty.  None achieve alone.  The Great One has given each of us a voice.  To find that voice you must first be silent and wait and then your voice will be discovered.

Swimming Turtle grew silent once again.  Then he picked up a tortoise shell rattle, shook it three times, rose gracefully and retreated inside his teepee.  It took two people to help me unlock my legs and rise.  In deep thought I limped to my own tent.  I vowed to find my voice and fell asleep to the sound of the wind whispering through distant branches.

Mary began writing seriously since she hit the hallmark age of fifty.  She is meeting with good success as many of her stories have been published. Visit her at to learn more about her writing endeavors.
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