To celebrate the return of the light, please enjoy this wonderful Native American story, "Ant Dances for Light". It is full of lessons in how to triumph over greed and ignorance, by choosing the middle way and applying equanimity, diligence and renunciation. May we all follow Ant's wise ways! Best wishes for the New Year. May it be a year of peace and awakening for all beings everywhere.
Ant Dances for Light
In the beginning the Earth was a place of darkness. Dark and cold covered this earth in all directions. It was hard for the animals. In the darkness only those with night vision, claws and sharp teeth did well. The rest were prey and felt much fear. They hid, they ran, but they wanted something easier. Yet they could not imagine anything other than the dark world and its difficulties.
So the animals went to the maker of this Earth and pleaded to have this creation reimagined. Something was missing, but they did not know what. The maker said, "There is something else. It is called light. It will bring warmth. You will be able to see." To some this sounded very good. To the hunter animals it did not seem beneficial. Bear spoke for them, " I want the dark. I like the night." The animals began arguing. Some birds spoke out for light; owl and nighthawk disagreed. Soon all of the creatures were arguing. Then a small voice spoke. It was Ant. "Couldn't there be dark and light? There would be goodness in both dark and light.” Bear looked down at Ant. "I don't want it! I don't like it! I like dark!"
Maker said, "This must be settled fairly. We will settle this as many things have been settled—with a dance contest. The one who creates the greatest, strongest, dance, the one who stands at the end of the dance, that is the way it will be. Bear, you will dance for dark. And Ant, you dance for dark and light." And so all the animals began to prepare for this great contest. They prepared the food, for each contest is ended with feasting, where all hard feeling is lost in the joy of the feast. And Bear prepared to dance as he prepares to do everything: he ate. And ate. Ant prepared in a different way. She sat and folded her hands. She prayed. She fasted. She only sipped water.
Bear had eaten enough. He was ready to dance. He stood. He took his first step. "I am Bear! I dance for Night!" And his dance was strong. The animals watched and feared they would continue to live in darkness. And then it was Ant's turn. She stood and the animals gazed at her tiny form. She pulled her belt tight, and began to dance. She danced for dark and danced for light; She danced for day and danced for night. She danced for peace among all beings; that they would get what they need. And then she sat and the animals thought: that was different. But it was strong. It was beautiful.
Then Bear stood up. He had continued eating and was huge. "I am Bear!" And Earth shook under his feet and the animals shook, thinking of the darkness that would be their home forever. "I dance for Night!" His dance was strong. But Ant had been fasting and praying. She stood, lightheaded and dizzy. She tightened her belt against her hunger. She danced for dark and danced for light; she danced for day and danced for night. She danced for peace among all beings; that they would get what they need. And the animals smiled. Her dance was good and strong.
Then Bear rose again. He'd been eating still more. His belly stuck out in front of him. "I am Bear! Uhhh..." And he fell forward with a great crash! The animals cheered! The Earth was going to change. Ant had won! She didn't need to dance again, but Ant did. She danced for dark and danced for light; she danced for day and danced for night. She danced for peace among all beings; that they would get what they need.