Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: NEIGHBOR (06/01/17)
TITLE: Grappling with the Great-Eyed One
By Holly Westefeld
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"It smells like a great-eyed one. Stay here while I investigate."
Mai padded toward the rustling. Sure enough, there was a baby great-eyed one tangled in vines beneath a tall tree. She considered its plight, then returned to her own young.
"It is a baby that seems to have fallen from its nest. We must gather some of our neighbors together to help it."
"To help it, Mama? But you have taught us to always avoid the great-eyed ones."
"Yes," Mai conceded, "we must avoid the adults, for they will eat us if they can, but this is a baby."
"Won't its parents find it?"
"They would not be able to reach it where it is."
"So there would be one less great-eyed one to hunt us."
Another young one proffered, "It could be food for another creature, perhaps even the striped one who rescued us from the flood."
"No, little one, that is not a good reason to do evil."
"But we would not be doing evil to leave it there, as though we never found it, and continue to gather our food."
"Yes, we would. Remember, Creator has taught us that not doing what we know is good is the same as doing evil."
"But how can we help it, Mama? It is bigger than the biggest papa."
"That is why we must gather our neighbors and devise a plan."
They returned to their colony, and Mai called the other mamas and papas who were there to come and plan how to help the baby great-eyed one. A couple of them offered the same excuses as the young ones, and Mai reminded them of Creator's teaching.
Finally, they agreed on a strategy. At first, they had thought they should feed it, so it wouldn't nip at them while returning it to its nest, but when they realized that would mean sacrificing other creatures, they decided to just leave enough of the vine around it to keep it from attacking them. Its parents' beaks would be sharp enough to free it once it was home.
The mamas and papas wove a sling, with a harness at each corner. They lay it in front of the big-eyed one, and gnawed through the vine at a safe distance. As they had hoped, with a gentle nudge from behind, the still tangled baby tumbled on to the sling.
Mai, along with three other strong volunteers, slipped in to the harnesses. Mai and her partner were farthest from the tree, with longer cords so they could start climbing without tilting the sling. Once their cords were tight, the other pair started climbing. They climbed slowly and steadily, despite the frantic thrashing and noises from their passenger.
Finally, Mai heard and smelled other great-eyed ones, and peered through the branches to make sure it was only babies, not the parents. She breathed a sigh of relief. Just two babies.
They carefully maneuvered the sling on to the branch with the nest. Rather than risk the baby falling again by nudging it toward the nest, they decided to abandon the sling. Mai and her partner held it steady, while the other pair slipped out of their harnesses, then traded roles.
Mai caught a nail in the harness, and her heart started to pound as she heard the beat of wings. "Run!" she squeaked.
The others hesitated for a moment, but sped down the trunk when the mama great-eyed one swooped toward them. With a frantic tug, Mai freed her nail, just escaping the grasping talons above her head. She collapsed, breathless and exhausted, under the bushes at the bottom of the tree.
"Oh, Mama, we were so scared for you!"
Mai patted her little ones. When she was able to speak, she said, "Loving your neighbor, especially when it is loving an enemy, is not always the safest thing to do, but Creator tells us that it is always the right thing to do."
The colony returned to their nests and feasted on berries and mushrooms that the others had gathered while the four had grappled with the great-eyed one. They thanked Creator for the success of their mission of mercy, and especially for His protection. They also asked if He might choose someone else next time.
"If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right." James 2:8 NIV
"Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." James 4:17 NIV
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