While heading for safety from a storm, a son asked his mother,  “Why do we have to run?”

It was early July in the desert. The distant mountains formed a natural valley of parched dirt where vegetation marked its place with individual claims of plant ownership. Daily warm winds would collide and meet high above the earth’s surface to create small brown twisters called dust devils. On many occasions dust devils would appear in pairs like partners in a dance waltzing back and forth bowing and bending in and out on this most beautiful desert theatrical stage. The curtains opened wider exposing the quick death of the separate twisters with omnipotent clouds that now consumed the entire habitat of all that called the desert home.

In Advance of the Storm

Hurriedly many classes of animals could be seen scurrying to find higher ground. The tiny delicate desert mice would sprint hastily on the dusty floor often conversing like runners in quick to-the-point breaths. A mother and son team headed North when an over curious young mouse said to his mother, “Why do we have to run?” The mother responded in a low but breathy voice “It’s our nature to run.” The tiny mouse felt unsatisfied with the adult answer but he maintained the pace of a true endurance runner.

Above the ground, birds of every kind would dive and dip barely navigating a flight plan that prevented them from hitting objects collected in the mass spiraling wind. Two morning doves flew in the brewing tumultuous gust toward an old Saguaro cactus in perfect fighter plane formation before they individually split; one left the other right, before nearly hitting the five-ton plant. Thousands of years had passed in the desert and almost all the paradigms and traditions of the inhabitants remained the same. When the weather changed each would react precisely as they had been taught.

Each animal within its respective race was properly indoctrinated from birth with its distinct cultural beliefs that in essence became the identifying characteristics for each species. From the beginning it was this way and therefore it continued with those in authority dictating traditions that were passed from one generation to the next. To exist in the race to which you were born each animal of every race was required to tightly maintain the many rules and characteristics that identified them. This is how it was done as far back as the oldest and most respected in each bloodline could remember.

An old night owl fluttering with effort in the wind dropped his short stubby landing gear for an abrupt touch down near the mother and son mouse team at the mouth of a cave.

“This isn’t good weather!” a gopher screamed from his position two-thirds beneath the cave’s crusty surface of the earth.

The old night owl perched on a ledge yards above responding unexcitedly with a “whoo”

The young mouse having been brought to rest with the gopher and owl after the arduous run was anxious to find answers to questions that weren’t answered by those in his clan. In excitement the young mouse began formulating a question to the plainly dressed brown and black feathered visitor from the sky. In anticipation the mother mouse glared directly at her son in hopes of intimidating and constraining the curious boy’s speech. Too youthful to recognize condemnation the young mouse asked freely “Why are we here?”

The Real Question

The gopher in eagerness to express his views and those who had taught him “Why boy, it is the storm!”

The young mouse didn’t understand. He had run in changing weather with his mother before but this wasn’t what he was asking.

“Why am I here?” Boldly and even more directly came the continued query of the young mouse.

In haste to prevent another round of embarrassment now outside the mouse species the husky female mother stepped directly before her son asked said clearly “stop it!”

“Why?” the young mouse cowardly answered.

“It isn’t right that you continue to ask all these questions…” the little mouse’s mother said bluntly.

Just in time for the mother’s defense, a group of at least six friends and neighbors from the lower grounds arrived huffing and puffing at the improvised temporal dwelling from their long runs in the blustery conditions. All eyes turned toward the arrival of the new group of mice with everyone noticing that their white coats were messy with spatters of wet from rain and dirt that was now becoming mud.

The white mice now dominated the other species in their numbers with the many other animals and non-verbally begin to assemble themselves together in one area of the large cave’s entrance. The questioning had temporarily stopped as it was now replaced by a murmur of inaudible mumbling of the many mice. Other animals continued to arrive as the winds howled with increasing noise and moisture now lashing at the cave’s entrance. The latest arrivals included; several lizards, a green snake, two prairie dogs and one very tired tongue wagging coyote.

The weather once again became the center of attention for all the animals gathered at the cave, as the first strike of lightening was surprisingly close by. The oldest white mouse clearly seizing the opportunity of fear that was felt by almost all in attendance said, “we have an obligation to speak for the many who are lost in these times…”

The tiny green agnostic snake that had survived a gathering like this before stated “Please don’t bore us with your ramblings we have heard enough of your constant proselytizing” The old mouse who had not even finished his first sentence of many to come was stunned by the bluntness of the snake.

The cute voice of the smallest mouse once again asked the same question of the mixed group “Why are we here?”

Genuine Answers

Again, the gopher immediately replied, “We’ve been through this! It’s the storm” said the gopher in a well grounded reply that the majority in attendance would agree.

“It is possible that these storms bring us together for a reason…” said the coyote who had found his tongue continuing the familiar logic offered by the gopher.

A white dove cooed peacefully something about living in harmony as to the reason but still the young mouse persisted in his question.

“No, I mean why am I here?” said the young ever-questioning mouse. The young mouse’s mother had positioned herself like other experiences at home and in the public eye with complete embarrassment.

A free-for-all began, with jabbing comments coming from every corner.

“To survive” said a lizard laughing.

“To obey” a chorus came from the many mice.

“To eat” said the weary prairie dogs.

“To create peace” said the dove.

“To make money” said the fox.

“To make love” said the rabbits.

Another crack of lightening silenced the crowd.

“…light” came the squeaky voice of the small white mouse. Remembering his purpose like the clap of thunder that slowly followed the lightening, the small mouse spoke bolder this time.

“Light…” repeating the same word with increased voice inflection said the mouse.

In view of the full sky the owl was first to notice a rainbow forming across the desert and the parting of clouds that provided a beam of light surrounding the small mouse located in the center of all the animals.

The room was transfixed as the cave echoed the voice of the owl

“Who can feel the return of the light?”

As the clouds continued parting the beam of light expanded to include everyone once again in instant remembrance of the small mouse’s question “Why am I here?” All fear vanished and smiles appeared in illumination of all.