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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: rain (10/17/05)

TITLE: Lo Ikwithltchunona, The Cloud-Swallower
By Amy Michelle Wiley
10/22/05


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New Mexico, August 18, 1803


The stone column of Lo Ikwithltchunona rose dark against the sky. The breath of the gods hung in the air, thick as clouds. Taima crouched against the stone, his eyes fastened greedily on the promised rain. The gods looked favorably on his people and tomorrow it would rain. This year their crops would flourish.

No longer did Lo Ikwithltchunona, the Cloud-Swallower, haunt these canyons. For, according to legend, this giant had once roamed New Mexico, drinking of the clouds that drifted about his head and killing all men he came across. But the gods had grown weary of him and had defeated him, tossing him over a cliff where his body turned to stone. Now the clouds dropped rain as the gods pleased.

Taima headed toward home, passing the half-finished mission house. He smirked at the white man and his crew of sweating fools, working under the open roof. “You see the clouds? Tomorrow the heavens will pour and your precious mission will be full of water. We who belong here will be glad and drink of it. You who came uninvited will weep.”

The white man looked up. “There will be no rain for ten days. The God of creation will give us this time to finish this building, to build a roof to cover His people.”

Taima sneered. “Tomorrow the Zuni people will dance a rain dance. Tomorrow those dark clouds will pour. You had better work fast, White One, or you will drown.”

The next day dawned gloomy. The Zuni tribe was a flutter of activity. Bright moccasins flashed and tortoise shells rattled from many knees as the masked people gathered in long lines. The tribe joined together in unity, men facing women. Left foot step, right foot high! Left foot step, right foot high! Music welled from Taima’s soul, a song created in the moment, sacred and heartfelt. The earth trembled with the rhythm of the dance. The gods would be pleased.



The cracked ground pressed hard against the tiny seeds that had been entrusted to it. Dark clouds still hung at bay, these five days later, burdened with rain, yet none fell. Taima’s eyes narrowed and he strode toward the mission. He found the white man sitting cross-legged.

Minutes passed before the missionary noticed Taima. “Forgive me,” the missionary smiled. “I was praying. Would you like to sit down?”

“Our people dance with song and bright colors and yet the gods do not listen!” Taima mocked. “Why should your God take heed when you sit silently by yourself?”

The missionary was silent for a time. “God listens to His people, whether they cry loudly, or whether they speak silently.”

Taima considered this. “And your God would have drought? Have us starve to death?”

“Rain will come. But first we finish the roof. God would have His people safe.”

Taima’s dark eyes burned. “So this is your God against our gods.” His lip curled. “You are like Lo Ikwithltchunona! Take heed lest you be dashed off the cliff as he was.”

The missionary glanced at the tall rock. “Perhaps Elijah would be a more appropriate name for me. My God is stronger, Taima. He will show you.”

“I am Taima. My name means thunder. Beware! It will thunder here, White One.”



For three more days it did not rain. For three days the seeds in the ground grew drier. And for three days Taima cried out to the rain gods. He sang loudly and he stood quietly. But all the while he heard only the steady hammering on the mission roof.

On the ninth day Taima cried out to the gods, “You defeated Lo Ikwithltchunona. Why do you allow a small white one to keep away our rain? Has he more power than you?” Taima dared mock the gods. But rain did not fall.

On the tenth day the missionary said, “The roof is finished. Tomorrow it will rain.”

Taima laughed. For ten days the gods had held back their breath. The eleventh day would not bring rain at this cloud-swallower’s word.

But something clutched at Taima. Perhaps it was curiosity. Perhaps it was something deeper. Something like fear or awe, deep down in his soul. He stood all night beneath the stone of Lo Ikwithltchunona, watching the sky. All through the night the clouds rolled steadily closer, until they towered right overhead.

As the first glimmer of dawn found its way over the horizon, the rain began to fall.




References:
http://www.sacred-texts.com/nam/zuni/zft/zft34.htm
http://www.inquiry.net/outdoor/native/dance/rain_zuni.htm
http://www.20000-names.com/male_native_american_names_02.htm


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This article has been read 2316 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Melanie Kerr 10/24/05
That was an excellent read. I loved the names you used and the gentle repsect shown by the missionary.
Tammy Johnson10/24/05
I love how history repeats itself! This is a very delightful, modern day Elijah story. Nicely written!
Debbie Sickler10/25/05
I can't pronounce it, but I liked it! Great story told very well!
Phyllis Inniss 10/26/05
Interesting story. Our God is a great God.
Jan Ackerson 10/26/05
Beautifully, beautifully written. My hat's off to you. Bravo!
Cassie Memmer10/27/05
Beautiful! I was entranced all the more because of a bit of Indian blood. But would have thought it wonderful without the ancestry. You've done an excellent writing job here!
Lynda Lee Schab 10/27/05
Wonderfully story-telling, as always. Creative, descriptive, and entertaining, with a poignant message. Bravo!
Blessings, Lynda
Karen Ward10/27/05
A great read. Loved the attitude of the missionary...
terri tiffany10/27/05
Very nicely written! I envy your talent to be able to write in that time period and make it real!
Garnet Miller 10/27/05
What a wonderful story. I loved the detail and the subtle lesson. The missionary could have gotten indignant with the Zuni man, but he let God speak for him. We could all take a lesson from him when we deal with those that do not recognize the God of all Creation! Thanks for a well-written read:)
Suzanne R10/27/05
I love this type of tale that incorporates history, God's work, different cultures etc. And this piece certainly lived up to it's very impressive title. Well done!
Anita Neuman10/27/05
La Ikwithsparrowina - The Tale Crafter.

Brilliantly done, dearie!
Debbie OConnor10/27/05
Woo hoo! What an awesome story. This needs to be published. Great work! :)
Pat Guy 10/27/05
Ok - this is a very Wow! story! Excellent!
Nina Phillips10/27/05
All I can submit here is another BRAVO!! Wonderful story relative to the faith.
God bless ya, littlelight
Jesus Puppy 10/27/05
No need to ask whose this was... A very great job. Little Sparrow..
Shari Armstrong 10/28/05
Great story :) Very well told!
Donna J. Shepherd10/28/05
Excellent. Enjoyed this. - Donna
Shelley Snyder10/28/05
I really enjoyed reading this story. Very well written and told.
Julianne Jones10/28/05
I can't add anything that hasn't already been said. Incredibly well done. Expect to see you in the winner's circle!
Brandi Roberts10/30/05
Very well written Amy! Held my attention through the whole thing!
D. Phenes10/31/05
Congrats Amy.. I really enjoyed this. djdeb
Kyle Chezum10/31/05
Way cool! Very creative.
Deborah Porter 11/01/05
Amy, congratulations on your very well deserved win (even without html in the title) ;-)

We may not be able to pronounce the name, but you definitely struck a chord with the judges and your readers. Well done. With love, Deb (Challenge Coordinator)
B Brenton11/11/05
Wow. Amy this is amazing.

It brought tears to my eyes.
Folakemi Emem-Akpan01/04/06
Whoa, am i impressed? I never thought the story would lead where it led. Good work
Sherry Wendling06/14/06
Oh, Amy, thank you sooo much for cluing me in to this powerful piece! I love the way you crafted Taima's speech with that direct, poetic flavor of the Native speaker, and the ending, where the building clouds almost take on a character of their own, as servants of Yahweh. Just exquisite!