White Flower and the Warriors
Long ago there was a beautiful Cherokee maiden named White Flower. Three braves were in love with her, Big Elk, Thunder Sky and Winter Wolf.
White Flower loved all three of them equally and she could not make up her mind. She knew each of them loved her and that they were all handsome, strong and honorable and any one of them would make a good husband.
She decided to test the men to find out who loved her the most and she would marry the man who won the three challenges.
First, she took three long, leather thongs and tied each of them into a hundred knots and told the men to untie all the knots. She thought this would prove who had the most patience. It took the men all day but each of them untied all the knots.
For the second test, she threw three white stones into the raging river and told them to dive for the stones. She thought this would prove their perseverance. The three braves jumped into the river and fought the strong current and rapids, diving into the cold water over and over until they each found the white stones.
So far the three warriors had succeeded in both challenges. White Flower still could not choose who she loved the most. She told each of them to take only his knife and to go into the forest and kill a Grizzly bear and the first one to kill a bear would be her husband. This would prove who was the bravest.
“I will not go,” said Big Elk. “You have made us waste time untying knots when we could have been hunting for food for the tribe. You are a foolish woman and I don’t want to marry you.”
“I will not go,” said Thunder Sky, “We risked our lives in the raging river to find stones to win your love. You would not have cared if one of us had drowned. You are a selfish woman and I do not want to marry you.”
“I will not go,” said Winter Wolf, “Now you want us to fight bears with nothing but a knife when one or all of us will surely be killed. If you had loved any of us you would not have wasted our time or asked us to risk our lives. You are a cold-hearted woman and I don’t want to marry you.”
Each of the brave warriors chose other women in the tribe to become their wives. White Flower who had once been the most beautiful maiden in the tribe never married and died alone.
True love is not something to be tested. No one should have to constantly prove their love.
I know a woman who is constantly telling me how much she loves her husband. She will say, “I love my husband but...he leaves his dirty clothes on the bedroom floor. I love my husband but...he brought me red roses and I only like yellow roses. I love my husband but...he snores when he sleeps and it wakes me up. I love my husband but.... She always has a “but” followed by a criticism or complaint. She never just says, “I love my husband...”
When you look at her husband’s tired face and sad eyes, you can tell he doesn’t feel loved at all.
True love is when you can tell someone “I love you” and not expect anything in return. They don’t even have to say, “I love you,” back. They don’t have to do anything or say anything or earn anything, just being who they are, the way they are, should be enough. We don’t have to love them “but” or “because”...we can just love them. They don’t have to fix our lives, solve our problems, swim raging rivers or kill a bear.
I don’t know if True Love can be earned. Love should be freely given. How do you earn love, how many hurdles do you have to jump? How far do you have to run? How many roses do you have to buy? How many gifts do you have to give? How much is enough?
Sometimes we treat God the same way. We want God to answer our prayers and if we don’t get what we want, we think He doesn’t love us. We ask for miracles like a child asks for candy. “Please God, do this or that, and if You do, then I will love You.”
God has infinite patience with us but He must get tired of the games we play.
Crying Wind is the author of Crying Wind and My Searching Heart, When the Stars Danced, and Thunder in Our Hearts, Lightning in Our Veins. All her books are available from Indian Life. Check catalog on page 18.