An Anasazi Story by Jeff Posey.
One summer afternoon at the circle of stones where Grandfather marked the movement of sun and moon and stars, he told this story to his grandson, Tuwa.
In the center of the plaza of the High Priest’s great house in Totec Canyon stands a tall, solitary pine tree. When I first saw it, I wondered if the entire plain and canyon had once been covered with grandfather pines and they had all been cut down save this one, or if this single tree had been specially planted and cared for.
I was told: One hot summer day like this one, a ragged old Owl Man walked up the creek, no possessions, thin as a wraith, nearly exhausted. No one knew him. He went into the plaza and beat a hole in the ground with a stone, placed a single seed into it, and covered it.
He had a small jar and he began carrying water from the stream to the seed, keeping it soaked, trip after trip, all day long, every day. People took pity on him and gave him scraps of food. He slept on top of his seed, like a bird warming its eggs. That winter he died, and the following spring a tiny strand of green emerged where the Owl Man had planted the seed. The people remembered and protected the tree and kept watering it, as they have done for many lifetimes.
It is a striking thing, this single tree in the treeless valley. It stands out in the evening sun like a small orange-green thunderhead tethered to the ground. Owl Men now watch it day and night, three or four pairs of eyes on it at all times. The High Priest listens carefully to the Owl Men’s interpretations of the omens of the tree. If the omens are good, everyone is well and happy. If the omens are not good … things are not so pleasant.
There are more Skywatchers than Owl Men among our people, and all our great buildings are oriented to the sun and the moon for good reason as I have taught you. But the Owl Tree is closer to the High Priest than the sky, so he is more influenced by it than the clear messages to The People in the heavens. He is more Owl Man than Skywatcher.
This is what I call the nearness mistake. All Skywatchers learn that, while the stars and the sky are most powerful and important, people choose to believe what is nearest to their eyes. One day you will see the great Owl Tree. May it serve to remind you, my grandson, that what is near is not necessarily what is most important. You must learn to see beyond. You must learn to always see the sky above the trees. Even if there is but one.