Turning to One Another

I just finished reading Dr. Margaret Wheatley's book, Turning to One Another. It is a beautiful book. Full of hope and promise. Most of all I was struck by the author herself. I wish more people wrote of the future in this way. Many works seem to focus on blame and grievance. This one was steeped in respect and grace. It touched me deeply.

The very last page of the book contains a story from the Aztec people of Mexico:

It is said by our Grandparents that a long time ago there was a great fire in the forests that covered our earth. People and animals started to run, trying to escape from the fire. Our brother owl, Tecolotl, was running away also when he noticed a small bird hurrying back and forth between the nearest river and the fire. He headed towards this small bird. He noticed that it was our brother the Quetzal bird, Quetzaltototl, running to the river, picking up small drops of water in his beak, then returning to the fire to throw that tiny bit of water on the flame. Owl approached Quetzal bird and yelled at him:

"What are you doing brother? Are you stupid? You are not going to achieve anything by doing this. What are you trying to do? You must run for your life!"

Quetzal bird stopped for a moment and looked at owl, and then answered: "I am doing the best I can with what I have."

It is remembered by our Grandparents that a long time ago the forests that covered our Earth were saved from a great fire by a small Quetzal bird, and owl, and many other animals and people who got together to put out the flames.


It occurs to me that the little bird didn't ask anyone to join him. He didn't begin a campaign. He didn't write a book. He simply took what he had and began to work on the problem and in doing so inspired others to do the same until it was solved. Actions are always more powerful than words. (Even though I absolutely adore words.)

It is also interesting to me that an ancient culture in Mexico would tell a story that is very much like the Biblical account of Andrew bringing a boy to Jesus with five loaves and two small fishes to feed a crowd of over 5,000. Andrew asked, "But how far will they go among so many?"

A similar anecdote tells of a boy standing among thousands of starfish that had been washed up on the beach during a storm. He picks them up one at a time and throws them back into the ocean. His friend tries to stop him. "Why are you doing that when it doesn't matter? You can't save all of these starfish." As the story goes, the boy replied, "It matters to the one."

Another Biblical account is of a widow who put two small pennies in the offering box. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others."

When you are dealing with love, life, sacrifice and all the other important human themes, the small stuff matters. Possibly, it is all that matters.
© Random Cathy
Maira Gall