The forest was quiet—too quiet. From out of nowhere came the clatter of horses’ hooves, and then silence again. A few moments later a flame sprang from the dry leaves.
“Fire!” Roared the bear. “Run for you lives,” cried the crow. The forest animals, great and small, all fled in panic toward the river. But one small bird remained on the far bank watching the forest burn. “What can we do?” He cried out. There was no answer. “But this is our home,” he cried again, “We must do something—it’s on fire!” Silence was the only answer.
At last, he swooped down from his perch, scooped up a bill-full of water and flew over to dump it on the fire. Time after time he flew from the river to the fire until his weary wings were singed and covered with ash. High above, the gods looked down at the chaos below, and they laughed.
“What in the world is that little bird doing?” Asked one god. “He is trying to put out the fire with a bill-full of water! But why? I will find out,” And the god went down to Earth to ask the bird.
Later, when the god returned to the skies, he was surrounded by the other gods. “Well? What is he doing?” They all asked at once. The god replied softly, “He told me, ‘I am but one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something.’”
Tears welled up in the gods’ eyes and fell as gentle rain on the flames below, quenching the fire. What can you do? Do what you can.