Myths, legends and folktales fascinate us because they tell in metaphor story many segments of what I call the Cosmic Whole Story—the story of God and people as recorded in the Bible.
The Canela people with whom Jo and I translated a partial Bible have a myth about the origins of the human race, which shows how badly people need what we celebrate at Easter. The original tale is long and complicated, but here is a compact version:
The Canela Creation Myth
One day both Sun and Moon leave their houses in the sky to visit earth which is filled with plants and animals, but no people. Both Sun and Moon have certain special powers that they exercise during their adventures on earth.
Sun has the power of knowledge and teaching Moon what he should do by demonstrating what to do and warning him against doing the wrong thing. Moon, however, disobeys Sun and consistently does the opposite of what Sun demonstrates and wants Moon to do.
Unfortunately, although Moon is obstinate and unwilling to learn from Sun, it is he who has the power to set precedents–whatever Moon does on earth will go on forever.
Palm trees used to be short and easy for anyone to pluch the fruit, but when Moon disobeys Sun’s instructions and mistreats a palm tree, it shoots up to a great height. Since then, all palm trees are tall and harvesting their fruit is difficult.
One day Sun shows Moon how to make children. He wades into a creek, slaps the water with a cupped hand and comes up with a beautiful son. Moon wades in too, but whacks the water with an open hand instead of a cupped hand and emerges with an ugly child. They keep making sons and daughters for a while until they grow tired of it and return to dry land.
Moon then asks Sun, “What will happen to our children when they get old and die?” In answer Sun takes a long dry stalk from a naja palm and spears it deep down into the water, but being light, it pops back up again and floats on the surface. “This is what will happen to our children.” Sun explains, “When they get old they will die, but then revive and come alive again and go on living.”
Moon then picks up, not a naja palm stalk but a large stone, and before Sun can stop him, throws it into the water where it sinks to the bottom. “Now look what you have done!” shouts Sun, “Now our children will die and stay dead forever.” Sun and Moon ascend to their houses in the sky and never again concern themselves about their children.
The Bible Version of the Story
The Bible tells the same story. God, the Creator, placed Adam in the Garden of Eden. Just as Sun instructed Moon, so God taught Adam how to live in the garden and warned him about the forbidden fruit. Just as Moon wilfully disobeyed Sun, with disastrous consequences, so Adam disobeyed God and set a precedent, which led to death for all his future children.
The Canela myth stops there with people living under difficult conditions and dying in the end. The Cosmic Whole Story, however, goes on to a better ending.
God’s Redo Icon: The Rest of the Story
God clicked the Redo icon when he sent His Son Jesus to earth as the second Adam. Jesus did everything God intended Him to do without disobeying and reset the precedents earlier set by Adam. Instead of death, the consequence is life. “As in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:22) Because of what Jesus did in living, dying and returning to life, never to die again, God’s children, those who believe in Him, will live forever with Him.
The Canela people have been reading the “Rest of the Story” in their own language for the past thirty years. Many Canelas have chosen to believe in the God of the Bible, the Creator who loved them and who hit the Redo Icon to give billions of his creatures everlasting life.
This is what Easter is all about! It’s especially good news in these fear and panic-filled months during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Let’s celebrate God’s Easter Redo this Sunday!