A long, long time ago there lived a village of very poor people surrounded by nearly barren rock. There were no trees or bushes, only small blades of grass and almost nothing to eat. The children of the village were hungry most of the time. Every day the children would have to walk to a nearby lake in the hopes of catching a fish so they might have something to put into the nights’ meager soup. Every day their parents would search the landscape from dawn to dusk just to try to find something to put into the soup to feed their children.
One day, a little boy sitting by the edge of the lake looked into the water and there, just below the surface, he saw a huge fish, the biggest fish he had ever seen. He got really excited because he knew that, if he could catch that fish, his family would have enough food to eat for a long time. He was just about to cast his line into the lake when the clouds parted and the sunlight reflecting off the surface of the water shone directly into his eyes. He looked up at the sky, startled.
“Hmm, he thought, “The sky is blue, just like the lake is blue. I just saw a fish swim by in the lake, like the sun passes by overhead each day. What if the sun is just a very big fish swimming through the sky? If I can catch that fish, my family will eat for a very long, long time.”
The boy was so excited that he dropped his fishing pole and ran home as fast as he could. He ran up to his father and said, “Daddy, Daddy, I want to catch the sun!” His father was silent for a minute. He looked at his son, at the big grin on his little face, and he said, “You know, this sounds like a really big job. For a big job like this, we need to go see your grandfather. He’s the wisest man in the whole village, and he’ll know exactly what to do. Let’s go to him.”
The little boy grabbed his father’s hand and ran over to his grandfather’s house. When he saw him, he shouted, “Grandpa, Grandpa, I want to catch the sun!” And for long time his grandpa looked at him silently. Then this gentle, wise old man finally said to the little boy, “If you really want to catch the sun, I will help you. You are going to need a magic fishing line. I happen to have one fishing pole and a magical line. He put the line on the reel and, as he handed the pole to the little boy he said, “Remember, hang on to what you want and don’t give up. You just have to know what you want, and hang on.
The little boy nodded his head, took the fishing pole and ran out of the house into the field. He started throwing his line up into the sky right toward the sun. It kept falling back down but that didn’t matter because, when he threw his line into the lake it would drift back to him anyway, so to him there wasn’t really any difference between fishing in the lake and fishing in the sky. But the other kids came by and said, “You idiot, you fool, you stupid little boy. You’re so dumb. What makes you think you can throw your line up in the sky and catch anything?” They started laughing at him and ridiculing him. They wanted to throw rocks at him but they were laughing so hard they had to put them down and walk away.
The little boy’s body began to tremble and shake so he lay down on the ground. From deep within him there came an avalanche of tears. He cried for all the pain he had ever felt. He cried because these children were his own friends, his neighbors, and they were ridiculing and teasing him for the very thing he wanted most. He cried and cried, and he also cried for his mother. She had died giving birth to him and he had never known her. The only thing he knew about his mother was that she had loved the fragrance of the rose. As he cried, he remembered his grandfather saying, “Hang on to what you want and don’t give up.”
All through the night he clung to the pole as the sky filled with thunder, lightning struck around him and the earth itself trembled. At one point during the night, a wolf appeared in front of him and growled menacingly. “You can eat me if you want,” said the boy bravely, “but I won’t let go of this pole.” And the wolf slipped away into the darkness. Then, right before dawn, he nearly fell asleep and the pole was nearly pulled out of his hands. But the feeling of his grandfather awakened him just in time. The strength surged through his hands and he pulled his fishing pole back. He pulled and he pulled as the sun began to rise and, as the light grew, he got stronger and stronger. After the sun rose, he got so strong that he pulled and he pulled and he pulled all the line in, and he could finally see what he had hooked. There up in the sky was the most magnificent, radiant angel.
The little boy got so excited he pulled the angel right down to the ground, and there before him stood an angel nine feet tall. The angel looked down at the strong little boy and said, “What is it that you want so badly? All night long I threw lightning at you. I tried thunder, I tried earthquakes, I tried darkness and fear, I even sent a wolf to frighten you and yet you wouldn’t let go. What do you want?”
The little boy said, “Angel, you are very beautiful, and that is a very nice sword you have there but I don’t really want you. I want to catch the sun. If you help me catch the sun, I’ll let you go.”
The angel looked at him and said, “Little boy, you’ve got a deal. Now would you mind taking this fishing line out of my wings?”
The little boy climbed up on the angel, pulled the fishing line out of his wings, climbed back down to the ground and gathered up his line. Then he looked up into the sky and saw that there was not a cloud anywhere to be seen. It was bright and clear and full of sunshine. It was not mid-morning; he had been there all night long, fighting and talking with the angel. He ran home and, just as he arrived, the whole village went into panic. At first he thought it was about him but then he saw them looking up into the sky and screaming, “The darkness is taking the sun! ”The darkness is taking the sun!” And they ran about in utter terror, for indeed the darkness was taking the sun.
The little boy shouted to the villagers, “Don’t worry, everybody. I can get the sun back. I can catch the sun.” Everybody got very angry with him and came after him with sticks. But his grandfather stepped into their path and he said to the people “He can do it. I believe him.” And so they let him be.
So the little boy took out his fishing line, put it onto his fishing pole and, as he cast the line up into the sky he yelled out, “Angel!” The line kept on going. Up and up and up it went, up past the clouds, over the moon and on to the sun. He hooked the sun and then he pulled so hard that the sun came all the way out of the darkness. This made the villagers very happy, and they started saying what a magnificent young man he was. “We should make you a prince. We should make you a king,” They shouted, but he didn’t even listen to them. He just kept on pulling and they could see that he was pulling the sun all the way down to the earth. Again the villagers became totally terrified. “You must stop this!” they said. If you pull the sun any closer, surely we will all perish in the flames. They went after him again, this time to kill him for sure. “And if your grandfather gets in the way this time, we’ll kill him too,” said the crowd.
Then suddenly, standing in their path, was an angel nine feet tall. The people fell to their knees before him, and dropped their weapons. They all started crying because of the utter beauty of this angel of grace. His father and his grandfather joined the little boy, and all together they pulled that sun all the way down to the earth. From the north to the south, from the east to the west, the whole sky was filled with sun. But there was no heat coming from it. All that came out of the sun was a pure, radiant love, as sweet as the purest nectar laced with cream. It had the texture of moon velvet and the essence of the all-pure mother within it. It was so utterly nurturing, it bathed the bones and every mineral in the bodies of those around it.
And the little boy said, “Look, look, look!” For at that moment an opening appeared in the sun. The little boy went up inside the opening and from there he could see another opening. He peered through it and what he saw was an absolute paradise, beautiful rivers, forests, fruits, animals, birds and an abundance of everything that would sustain and nourish life. Paradise was on the other side of the sun! The little boy came back out to his people and called, “Look, everybody; through here!” One by one, the villagers walked past him to the right and went up and through the sun.
The last one to leave the barren land was the little boy. But he was no longer a little boy. He was most magnificent, radiant man who stood nine feet tall. As he walked back into the sun, he picked up the fishing line because he knew that, someday another little boy somewhere would need it. And everywhere there was the fragrance of the rose.