Lifelines: The Black Book of Proverbs

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Mayan Corn People

Creation: Spring and Easter
Remember the rain that made your corn grow. (Haiti)

According to the Maya, God wanted to make man before the first day dawned. First he made them out of mud. But these mud people were soft and limp and when they got wet they could not stand up. They could talk, but their words made no sense. So God broke them up and decided to try again.

God next chose wood. These men could at least stand up straight. They could walk and talk; they were able to build houses and look after themselves. But they did not look right. They had no hearts and therefore no expressions on their faces. They were unfeeling and forgetful, beating their dogs and burning the bottoms of their pots. Besides, they had no memories, so they didn’t know how they were made or who made them.

So God destroyed the wooden people in a great flood.

Finally, God ground corn into corn meal. He mixed the meal with water, and with the dough he made four men to whom he gave the gift of knowledge. While they were asleep, he made four women, so when the men woke up, each had a wife.

The cornmeal couples thanked God for giving them life, and the ability to see, hear and understand all that was around them. They could see so much and so far, that God decided to limit their vision to what was closest to them.

Finally the sun could come up, because there were human beings to enjoy the dawn.

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When the occasion arises, there is a proverb to suit it. (Proverb from Rwanda and Burundi)

Welcome to this space where we can talk about proverbs that we can relate to (or not), and proverbs that make sense to us (or not). Most of all we can discuss how proverbs make us think about life and living. We can also share experiences of proverbs that have provided us with lifelines or just the chance to reflect.

Some of the proverbs here may also be found in "Lifelines: The Black Book of Proverbs", published by Random House and authored by Askhari Johnson Hodari and me. The foreword is written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

One of the unique features of our book is that we arranged the proverbs according to life cycle, in sections including, Birth, Childhood, Love, Marriage, and Intimacy, Challenge, and Death.

For more proverbs and for information on Lifelines: the Black Book of Proverbs, please visit us at