How the sandman got his start

It was well into the winter. 

The mountain snow was getting deep. 

All was still in the winter chill,

Except one bear who just couldn’t sleep. 

He tossed and turned in his big bear bed. 

Restlessness seemed his plight.

It was getting late to hibernate

And sleep was nowhere in sight. 

He had tried all the tricks he could think of,

Counting sheep, counting backwards and more. 

His head started to ache as he lay there awake,

When he heard what he thought was a snore. 

It was coming from somewhere inside his cave –

Which was of concern to the bear, of course. 

He got out of bed, nightcap on his head

And began his search for the source.  

Just down the hall of his warm cozy cave,

He found a smallish, content-looking fellow,

Sleeping quite sound, huddled there on the ground,

Hugging a quilt and a silk-covered pillow. 

In a ball on the quilt, lay a small fuzzy lamb,

Like a snowball starting to melt.

With an odd sort of rapport, the sheep echoed the snore

Of his friend snoozing under the quilt.

“Uhum” the bear said, clearing his throat,

But the fellow didn’t so much as quiver.

The bear tried it once more. Then he let out a roar.

The lamb dove under the quilt with a shiver.

Composing himself the fellow stood up,

He was jolly and puckish and plump.

He said with a grin, “I’ve been sleeping again.”

The bear grunted the grunt of a grump.

“But I can explain. Your cave is so snug,

Just right for an afternoon doze,

So warm and so quiet.  We just had to try it.”

From the quilt poked a timid sheep nose.

“You were dozing indeed,” the tired bear groused.

“But I can’t catch a wink for some reason.

Yet you and your sheep fell right asleep.

I’m missing hibernation season.”

“Let me guide you in going to sleep, said the man.

I’m quite a good sleeper you’ll find.”

Hand-in-paw the man led the bear back to his bed.

The fuzzy lamb followed behind.

“Now clear your mind, save one happy thought.

Feel your muscles begin to release.

Breath deep and slow.  Let worries go.

Until all that is left is peace.”

The bear replied bluntly, “I can’t do that.”

But the fellow whispered softly, “Good night.”

From out of his hand, he sprinkled some sand,

And the bear was out like a light.

The bear awoke that spring with a yawn and a stretch,

And climbed out of bed to get dressed.

Rubbing sleep from his eye, he remembered the guy

Who gave him his long winters rest.

He decided, right then, he would search out the chap

That drowsy fellow and his fuzzy pet sheep.

And sure as you may, in a great stack of hay,

He found both of them soundly asleep.

“Sleepyheads,” the bear chided politely,

Rousing the fellow awake, then the lamb.

“I don’t know what you did, but I slept like a kid.

You can’t imagine how grateful I am.”

“It was my best hibernation ever.

You have a quite a gift I would say.”

The fellow was spry with his simple reply,

“It became a gift when I gave it away.”

The tale of the fellow and his sleeping sand

Spread like wildfire through the wood.

It was very good news for those unable to snooze

(Like one owl who didn’t rest like she should.)

“I haven’t slept all night in years,” said she.

You could see it in her weary eyes.

“Sleep’s what I need, but I sit up and read

That’s why people think I’m so wise”

First, he instructed her as he had the bear,

To clear her mind, and stuff.

With a flash of the sand, as if on command,

The owl drifted to sleep, sure enough.

When she awoke, the owl told a rabbit,

Who told Rover (a true gossip hound).

The dog told a bird who passed on the word,

Until the “sandman” and his lamb were renowned.

Soon animals from all through the forest

Sought them wherever they rested --

Next to a creek or on a steep mountain peak.

And the man always helped as requested.

“You’ve got a special gift,” they would tell him.

His reply was always humble and swift.

“Its not special, per se, until I give it a way.

That’s when a talent transforms into a gift.”

There was a secret to the sandman’s work

That he’d kept since the tired bear’s cave.

Magic, understand, wasn’t in the sand,

It was in the advice that he gave.

“Clear your mind, save one happy thought.

Feel your muscles begin to release.

Breath deep and slow.  Let worries go.

Until all that is left is peace.”

Today the Sandman travels the world

With his sidekick, his small fuzzy sheep.

Using sand and advice, crisp and precise,

He helps folks who are tired find sleep.

He loves making a difference for others.

It fills his nights and it warms his heart.

He does his best to bring the world rest.

And there is a lesson he tries to impart.

If you have a talent you’re hiding,

Put it to use to give others a lift.

Because on that great day when you give it away,

Your talent will transform into a gift.


Jon lentz   2001