Sermoncitos, a family tradition


Sky’s Lessons

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When you take time to look and the night sky and the movement of objects in the sky day and night, you are following an ancient tradition.

2000 B.C. Abraham 2:15,16,19 And I took Sarai... and Lot... and all our substance that we had gathered, and the souls that we had won in Haran, and came forth in the way to the land of Cannan, and dwelt in tents as we came on our way; therefore, eternity was our covering and our rock and our salvation, as we journeyed...and the Lord appeared unto me in answer to my prayers...

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Each culture devises stories shaped by the constellations. For example, Ursa Major has stories based on whether the people see a bear, a big dipper, or a man taking care of his family by the home fire. Abraham saw beyond the constellations to the throne of God.

Abraham 3:1,2,3,10,12 And I, Abraham, had the Urim and Thummim, which the Lord my God had given unto me, in Ur of the Chaldees; and I saw the stars, that they were very great, and that one of them was nearest unto the throne of God; and there were many great ones which were near unto it; and the Lord said unto me: These are the governing ones... And it is given unto thee to know the set time of all the stars that are set to give light... and I saw those things which his hands had made, which were many; and they multiplied before mine eyes, and I could not see the end thereof.

Abraham saw the stars as part of his vision of all creation, including the council in heaven and the planning and creation of the earth. All cultures have stories that verify there was indeed a deliberate creation of all things.
Abraham 4:1 And then the Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth.

Creation took place in phases over a period of time.
Abraham 4:2 And the earth, after it was formed, was empty and desolate, because they had not formed anything but the earth; and darkness reigned upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of the Gods was brooding upon the face of the waters.
Genesis 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
Navajo In this present, or Fifth World, the First People had four lights which had been brought from the lower world. White light appeared over the eastern mountains, blue light spread across the sky from the southern mountains, yellow light came from the western peaks and darkness from the north. These lights were far away and carried no heat, so the air was always of one temperature and no seasonal changes occurred although there was darkness and daylight.

The problem of giving light to the earth was solved by the gods of creation.
Abraham 4:3 And the Gods said: Let there be light; and there was light,
Genesis 1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
First Woman decided that she must find a different way by which to light the earth. After consulting with a council of wisemen, she told her helpers to bring her a large, flat slab of the hardest and most durable rock they could find. After visiting every mountain and rocky pinnacle, they returned with a large, flat slab of quartz; it was twice as long as it was wide, and, when the helpers had placed it on the ground in front of her, First Woman decided it was large enough to make two round wheels of equal size. She had hoped to make four in order to have one for each of the four directions, but the rock was too small for that many, so only two could be made.

The problem of having periods of both light and darkness was addressed by creation.
Abraham 4:4 And the Gods comprehended the light, for it was bright; and they divided the light, or cause it to be divided, from the darkness
Genesis 1:4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

Abraham 4:5 And the Gods called the light Day, and the darkness they called Night. And it came to pass that from the evening until morning they called night; and from the morning until the evening they called day; and this was the first, or the beginning, of that which they called day and night.
Genesis 1:5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Abraham 4:13 And it came to pass that they numbered the days; from the evening until the morning they called night; and it came to pass, from the morning until the evening they called night; and it came to pass, from the morning until the evening they called day; and it was the third time
Genesis 1:13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

The sun and moon and stars were assigned more than light and darkness and heat and moisture. They also help us plan our lives, the planting and harvest, and all the activities of our life.
Abraham 4:14 And the Gods organized the lights in the expanse of the heaven, and caused them to divide the day from the night; and organized them to be for signs and for seasons, and for days and for years;
Genesis 1:14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
Navajo Sun. First Man and First Woman started decorating the stones in a manner that would signify the powers that each was to be given. The first was given a mask of blue turquoise to produce light and heat, then red coral was tied to the ear lobes and around the rim. A horn was attached to each side to hold male lightning and male rain. Feathers of the cardinal, flicker, lark, and the eagle were tied to its rim to carry it through the sky, and also to spread the rays of heat and light in the four directions. Four zig-zag lines of male wind and male rain stood at the top and four more hung at the bottom, and four sunspots were placed for guardians who sometimes stood on its face, but more often took their places in the four directions.

Giving light to the earth both day and night was another challenge, as total darkness could not be tolerated.
Abraham 4:15 And organized them to be for lights in the expanse of the heaven to give light upon the earth; and it was so.
Genesis 1:15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
Navajo Sun. Now after the Sun rose in the sky the Dark Cloud that covered the earlier worlds during half periods became the night. The White Cloud was the dawn, and the sun's light became our day. And along the far horizons where the first ones used to see the blue and yellow clouds, there appeared the twilight and the false dawn.

The moon is a lesser light, but does not stay the same brightness each night, so stars help add some perspective to the darkness so we can find our way. The movement of the lights in the sky helps us find our way and mark our time.
Abraham 4:16 And the Gods organized the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; with the lesser light they set the stars also;
Genesis 1:16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
Navajo moon. Then First Woman and her helpers went back to decorate the second, round stone disc, which was the same size as the first. but First Woman said, "We do not need another bearer of heat and light, so this one will carry coolness and moisture." Then they decorated its face with white shell, placed a band of yellow pollen on its chin, and made a rim of red coral. Magpie, nighthawk, turkey and crane feathers were fastened on four sides to bear its weight and its horns held female lightning and soft winds. Four straight lines placed at the top, and another four at the bottom, gave it control over the summer rains. When it was finished this, too, was taken to the top of an eastern peak and fastened to the sky with sheet lightning.

Everyone looked at the two discs and knew that they were just decorated stones with no life of their own, and they wondered what could be done about it. Then two very old and very wise men stepped forth and said, "We will give our spirits to the sun and the moon so they will have life and power to move across the sky." One entered the turquoise disc and he was called Jóhonaa'í, or Sun Bearer; the other entered the white disc and he was called Tl'éhonaa'í, or Moon Bearer. Immediately the two stones began to quiver and show signs of moving.

After that she drew a sky pattern on the ground and placed one of the large stars in the north. "This will never move!" she said, "and it will be known as the Campfire of the North. It will also be known as the traveler's guide and as the lodestar." Then she placed large stars in the other three directions and one in the very center of her sky pattern. "These must be placed in the sky in their correct positions," she told Fire Man, who had shot two crooked fire arrows into the sky so their trails formed a ladder, and who now undertook the task of placing the stars in their proper locations on the blanket of night. Before Fire Man picked up the first one, First Woman had traced in the sand a path for each to follow across the skyways, and First Man had tied a prayer feather on its upper point, giving each star a prayer to chant as it marched along its designated path.

After the planning was done, the placement of the sky objects took place. We should learn from this to plan before we act, then to take care in carrying out our plans.
Abraham 4:17 And the Gods set them in the expanse of the heavens, to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to cause to divide the light from the darkness
Genesis 1:17,18 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
Navajo. The Holy Ones asked the Turquoise Boy to enter the great, perfect turquoise that was to become the sun; and they asked the White Shell Girl to enter the great, perfect, white shell that was to become the moon. The Turquoise Boy was to carry a whistle made from the Male Reed. This whistle had 12 holes in it, and each time that the Turquoise Boy would blow on his whistle the earth would move one month in time. The White Shell Girl was also to carry a whistle. It was made from the Female Reed, and with it she should move the tides of the sea.

Coyote’s impatience and carelessness in placing stars caused some problems. At the end of the process he could wait no longer, and just shook the blanket and cast up the Milky Way.
As Fire Man was descending the ladder, Coyote stepped up to the blanket and, grasping it by two corners, swung it into the air so the stone fragments and the star dust swept across the sky in a great arc that reached from horizon to horizon. This formed the Milky Way which the Navajo call Yikáísdáhí. They believe it provides a pathway for the spirits traveling between heaven and earth, each little star being one footprint. Coyote dropped the blanket and everyone looked at the sky which was now filled with stars. First Woman said, "Now all the laws our people will need are printed in the sky where everyone can see them.

Abraham 4:18 And the Gods watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed.

Abraham 4:19 And it came to pass that it was from evening until morning that it was night; and it came to pass that it was from morning until evening that it was day; and it was the fourth time.
Genesis 1:19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
Navajo. The lights in the sky were placed during the Fifth World.

New Heavens and a New Earth

After recognizing a lack of material goods, the singer adds, “I got the sun in the morning and the stars in the evening, so I’m all right”. We look to the sky for signs and inspiration all year long. I was fortunate to be driving home last night at sunset. For a few moments the clouds were ablaze with unlimited colors, and the mountains painted with shades and filters. I wondered how long a artist would have to study a photograph of the scene to select all the tints and mixtures to capture the scene on canvas. The passage of time has brought cold, clear nights to the high desert mountain where I live. The garden has been frozen since September 18th, signaling a change in the seasons and the focus of our family tasks. Now that the harvest is over, we pause to gaze at the changes in the heavens and ponder our life and duty. The sky has been as fascinating to our ancestors as it is to us today.

For centuries the “Western” world has subscribed to the Greek paradigm for seeing the stars organized into “constellations” like Orion (the hunter) and Ursa Major (the great bear). Each constellation has its traditional stories that are used in teaching principles and values. The Navajo have seen the Big Dipper, Cassiopeia, and the North Star as Nahookos Bik’a’ii, Nahookos Bi’aadii, and Nahookos Biko. The first two represent the father and mother in a family, and the third represents the fire hearth of the home. The traditional understanding is that the constellation patterns were placed by the Holy People to teach proper roles and responsibilities of families. The Holy Ones met, discussed, planned, and laid out the constellations by which the people will understand the passage of time, growing, and aging. All cultures see stories in the skies, but many people have taken the potential lessons of the stars to extremes, such as those that Isaiah calls “astrologers, stargazers, and monthly prognosticators” (Isaiah 47:13). For these folks, the stars don’t tell stories to guide decisions; they suppose that the alignment of the stars determines their path in life.

Using special tools like the Spitzer telescope, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope, and the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, NASA continues to identify objects without number in the expanse around us. Abraham saw all this thousands of years ago: “and He put his hand upon mine eyes, and I saw those things which his hands had made, which were many; and they multiplied before mine eyes, and I could not see the end thereof” (Abraham 3:12). Abraham also saw that “the Gods organized the lights in the expanse of the heavens” (Abraham 4:14); and the children of God were organized before the creation of the world, and like the Holy Ones of Navajo tradition, they met, discussed, and planned. “And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell (Abraham 3:24). NASA sees these materials all throughout space, including Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, and all the building blocks of life.

The Gods, or Holy People organized the stars in a pattern for our guidance. Learn what lessons you can from God’s creations from every perspective, for they will not always look the way they do now, maybe because we will be taken to a better place. Anyway, the Christian scriptures teach us that God will “create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create... Behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart...” (Isaiah 65:17, 18, 14).