Stories connect us to the time-tested wisdom of the world's peoples--and teach spiritual and moral lessons we want to pass on to our kids. Each week, Beliefnet will present a spiritual story from a different faith tradition, followed by simple activities that bring the message home. We invite you to share the stories with your children, do the activities together, and make "Teaching Tales" a joyous part of family life.

Reprinted with permission from "How the Children Became Stars" by Aaron Zerah, published by Sorin Books.

The original people of Australia tell the story of Bamapama, the crazy man. He lived in the Dreamtime where anything is possible.

Bamapama's people dwelled underground in a place where the sun stayed in one place all day long. It never went down and it was always very hot.

Bamapama decided one time to go up to the surface of the earth. "I'll go hunting," he said. When he got to the top he saw a big kangaroo. Bamapama started chasing it. But Bamapama couldn't get close enough to throw his spear, so as the kangaroo ran away to the west, Bamapama followed. The day was long and the sun was going down further and further in the sky. The kangaroo stopped running and Bamapama caught up to it. He was about to throw his spear when the sun fell completely below the horizon. It was now dark.

Bamapama had never seen night before. Where he lived it was always light. He became very frightened. Bamapama started to cry. He climbed a tree to see if he could find light high above, but it was dark there, too. So he climbed down the tree and fell asleep.

When he woke up the next day it was morning, and the sky was light again. Bamapama was full of joy. Looking at the sun, he said, "Here they sleep at night and rise with the sun. This is a good way."

Bamapama went back home and everyone wanted to know where he had been. He told them all about chasing the kangaroo, the setting of the sun, and how when he woke up from the dark night, it was light in the sky once more. "Come and see," he said. "It's very different. You sleep at night and then the sun is up again. It is a good way to live."

He led all the people to the surface of the earth. The darkness came, the people were frightened, and like Bamapama, they, too, started climbing up trees. Bamapama said, "Don't be scared!" and the people came down and slept.

When the sun rose the next morning, the people stretched out in its warm rays. They said, "This is a good way to live. Much better than living under the earth where it is always so hot. And here if we get cold we can get wood from the trees and make a fire. This is a good place to stay."

So Bamapama and the people stayed above the ground in the new place.

Bringing It Home

To Do This Week

  • The next time you go outside, take a piece of paper with you. Write down three things you never noticed before and share what you saw with your family.
  • Pretend you don't know anyone in your family at all. Tell them one thing you see about each of them.
  • Move something important to you in your room to a different place or sleep in a different place than you usually do. Share how that felt.
  • Think about some new place, school, or work you know you will go to in the future. Write or draw how you feel about going to that new place.
  • Imagine you have never seen flowers in your life. Now for the first time you are about to see them. Draw or paint a picture of what you will see.
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