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The Sun and the Tern
Originally published in Family Flier Spring 1995 issue
The tern flew low; very close to the water and away from his native island. He flew swiftly, changing altitude ever so slightly as he soared along the neighboring shoreline. Once in a while he picked up speed as he moved his wings.
The morning finally heated up and after breakfast the tern decided to touch ground and talk to the sun for a bit. "Sun, did you know that there is a dark shadow behind me? It is scary, sometimes very long, but the worst thing is that it follows me everywhere I fly. It really distracts me."
The sun didn't look surprised and listened patiently as the tern went on. "Sometimes I'm afraid, but of course, I don't let the other birds know that since I don't want to scare them too." The tern paced back and forth along the beach and the shadow followed him. "See what I mean! I can't shake it loose!" The sun didn't answer still. "Well, if you are not going to talk to me I'll just go back with my friends. Goodbye!"
The next morning the tern returned to the beach, but it was cloudy and he could not find the sun. He walked along the beach and saw a crab. He wasn't hungry so he talked to the crab instead of eating it. "You know, crab, I miss the light of the sun. It guided me to the best fish and it led me to this beach that I love so much. Have you seen him today?"
The crab laughed and turned away. At this the tern raised his wings and ran in circles around the crab, "Auck! Auck!," he screeched, "What will I do? Even an old crab like you laughs at me!"
"Stop screaming," said the crab. "You're not going to make the sun talk to you by behaving like that. Do you think you are bigger than him that you can tell him what to do the way you tell me? Sit there. He will be by soon."
So the tern sat down and began to cry when he realized how arrogant he had been.
A breeze caressed the tern's feathers and he heard a soft voice say, "Tern, did you feel me today?"
"Sun, I could not see you today. I looked, but all I saw were clouds. What do you want from our friendship?"
"You don't have to do much, little tern. Accept me the way I am. Sometimes I am quiet and sometimes I talk a lot, but I never forget you; not even this morning. You see, I was with you all the time you soared above the waves and I bathed you with warmth through the clouds even though my light didn't reach you. Why do you ask for more than what you have?"
"But the shadow scares me!"
"It will never harm you as long as you look ahead and let me guide you."
"When I fly home at the end of the day the shadow is in front of me and I can't help but to look at it. What do I do?"
The sun answered with great tenderness, "Simply remember me because when you are not around I feel lonely too and only the memory of you helps me to hold on until I come around here again the next day."
The tern went home remembering he was not alone. He saw his shadow all the way there. He remembered the sun and was no longer afraid.