In the beginning, when the world was new, there was no light. The people huddled together in cold and dark to keep warm, bumping into each other because they couldn’t see. It was a hard time. Feeling hopeless, they held a meeting. One of the animals said, “I have heard that on the other side of the world there are People of the Light. We should go and ask if they will give us some.”
“Don’t be foolish,” responded another. “If they have all the light, why would they give us any? We will have to take it.”
The animals agreed someone should go, but who? It would be a long hard journey. “I’ll go,” said Buzzard. “I’m big and strong. They will have to give it to me.” The animals cheered as he left.
Soon he returned with nothing to show for his effort but a burned place on the back of his head where the light had burned him.
Other big strong animals agreed to go, but each came back empty handed, all burned on some part of their body.
The animals were in despair. No one knew what to do. None of their warriors were able to return with light. In the silence, Grandmother Spider spoke up. “I will go. I have a plan. I will bring back light.”
Everyone laughed at her silly offer. “You’re old. You’re tiny. What makes you think you can do what those who are bigger and stronger and younger than you could not do?”
“Yes, I am old and small, but those who are bigger and stronger and younger did not succeed. I have a plan. I will go. I will bring back light.” The people laughed even harder at her foolishness, but in the end, they had no other choice. They agreed to let her go.
Grandmother spider molded a tiny bowl out of damp clay and waited for it to dry. Then she spun a fine web as she moved toward the People of the Light so she could find her way back. She was so little and so quiet, none of the People of the Light noticed her. They were looking for the warriors coming to steal the light. Carefully working so that no one could see her, Grandmother Spider put a small piece of light into her clay bowl and spun her way back to her people.
When she arrived with the light, at first the people were stunned, then amazed, then joyful. “Now we will have light and warmth”. They gathered around Grandmother Spider. “You have brought us light and warmth. We will always honor you,” they promised. And they have.
Nancy King is a widely published author and a professor emerita at the University of Delaware, where she has taught theater, drama, playwriting, creative writing, and multidisciplinary studies with an emphasis on world literature. She has published seven previous works of nonfiction and five novels. Her new memoir, Breaking the Silence, explores the power of stories in healing from trauma and abuse. Her career has emphasized the use of her own experience in being silenced to encourage students to find their voices and to express their thoughts, feelings, and experiences with authenticity, as a way to add meaning to their lives.