Long ago, when the Earth was always lush and warm, a twinkling star traveling across the sky looked down on Earth. The star watched longingly as flowers bloomed and trees swayed in the gentle winds, and it watched the children playing happily, always laughing and enjoying their games. Seeing this, the star wished more than anything in the world that it too could live on Earth, inhaling the fragrances, frolicking in the warmth, enjoying all the beauty.
One day the star wished so hard, it grew wings. Filled with excitement, it flew to Earth and hovered just about the tops of the linden and birch trees, hiding behind their quivering leaves.
Now it watched from this close distance as children played their games, and after a while, it decided it must live on Earth. “What shape shall I take?” the star asked itself, wondering how to make itself beloved by all the children.
That night, the star flew closer to Earth and watched a young brave turning in his sleep. Wishing to hear the wisdom of one of Earth’s creatures, the star turned itself into the shape of a maiden and moved to the young man’s bedside.
“Wake up,” the star, disguised as a maiden, said. “Wake up,” she said again, and the young brave turned in his sleep and opened his eyes. He could not believe the sight before him. This maiden was more beautiful than any he had ever dreamed of. Her voice was like the sound of a flute, her scent like flowers, and she seemed to glow in the dark night.
“Who are you?” he whispered, rubbing his eyes.
“I am a star who left the sky to live on Earth with all your children, and now that I am here, I want to know what form I should take. I want all the children on Earth to love me. Please tell me what form they would most love.”
The maiden vanished, and the young brave, rubbing his eyes again, believed he must have been dreaming.
In the morning when he awoke, he stepped outside. When he looked up, he saw a shimmering star lingering in the morning sky, just above the treetops. He felt this must be the star who had spoken to him, and he hoped to answer its question.
He hurried to the lodge of the wisest men of the tribe and knelt before them. “Last night I dreamed of a star,” he said to these elders.
They listened closely, for they knew that all living things had the power to communicate with humans if only each of us would pay attention.
The young brave continued his story. “The star asked me what form it should take to live on Earth.”
“We must think about this,” the elders told the youth, and they sent him away.
That night, the star again took the shape of the beautiful maiden and visited the sleeping young brave. “Please tell me what form I should take,” she pleaded. “I cannot wait for the children of Earth to love me. I am lonely there above the trees.” And then she disappeared.
When dawn broke and the star was again in the sky, the young brave ran to see the elders.
“We’re still thinking,” they said.
The young man walked to the trees and looked up at the star, and looking around to make sure no one was watching or listening, he called, “The people love the white roses that grow in the mountains.”
Hearing this, the star traveled to the mountains, and there, taking the shape of a white rose, it waited for the children to come. Alas, it lay in such a faraway place, no one came along, and after a while, it grew lonely again.
Once more the star returned to Earth disguised as a maiden, and once more it asked the young man what to do.
The young brave was distraught. “The children love the grass,” he said, and so the star turned itself into a blade of grass and lay upon the ground, shivering in the morning wind. Suddenly a herd of buffalo thundered across the prairie, and the star, hearing their pounding hooves, feared it would be crushed. So it rose as a star into the sky.
When the star next visited the young brave as a maiden, she pleaded, “Tell me your favorite place in the entire world.” And in his half-sleep, he said, “I love the water,” for he loved nothing more than swimming and paddling across the cool lake near his village.
That very night the star moved to the lake, and there it lit upon the surface and its reflection shimmered back up at the sky and it seemed to melt into the water.
The next morning, while the wise men sat inside their lodge, still arguing about the best form for a star to take on Earth, the children ran to the lake to take their morning swim. The young brave joined them, and to their amazement, the surface of the lake was covered with hundreds of delicate white flowers. Inside each of these, a star shimmered.
The children jumped into their canoes and paddled in and out among the star flowers, laughing and shouting with joy.
The young man ran to the wise men’s lodge. “Come to see the new shape of the star,” he cried. And when the wise men saw the flowers upon the lake, they said, in unison, “We shall call them water lilies.”
And the star was happy forever afterward, for every child loves water lilies.