Legend Sitting peacefully, humming to himself, Jin, a young monk, began to paint the bright colored horizon on canvas. He sat in a branch, high into a tree, overlooking a lake that stretched on a mile or so with maple trees circling its banks. At the tip of the lake, a large beautiful Sakura tree stood humbly and proud. The young monk dabbed his brush lightly into the blue paint, painting the sky. Swaying his brush along the canvas, the monk soon became a part of his painting. Humming to himself, a melody of nature as he painted on a cherry blossom to the Sakura. As he did so, a shadow passed through the sky overhead. Jin, without much thought, looked up to see a bright-red bird flying through the air. It chirped loudly then began to sing the song of which all birds are known for: The Melody of Spring. Jin, knowing very well how the melody went, joined the bird in singing. Of course, one would know very well that the monk could not really sing like the bird, but through the years of history, his land had translated the meaning of the song of the birds. More or so, the birds had helped; in their own ways. Absent-mindedly, the monk painted the red bird into the picture of his painting. As he did so, a blue bird passed by over head, joining the red bird in flight and song. A wide smile spread over the man’s face, as he knew that is was the first day of spring. The young monk’s smile brightened his face, as so did the sunset shine on the lake. The wind bristled through the leaves of the trees, sending a warm feeling throughout the atmosphere. The two birds chirped and sang, flying around each other, being gay. The joy spread out over the lake, as if lighting the atmosphere with nothing but the sun’s rays. Dreaming, the monk continued to sway his brush along the canvas. As the young monk sat dreaming, a wondrous and peculiar light brightly lit the atmosphere around the lake. The monk jumped in anguish surprise, and the birds seemed to have done the same. The monk watched wondrously as the birds began to chirp much louder than before and began to circle each other as the white, pure light began to form in a larger shape in the middle of the singing birds. The monk was frightened, but by the same essence, there was an awe inspiration that filled his heart. He couldn’t make himself look away, his eyes moved on their own and they forwarded themselves upon the wondrous glow that the birds were now circling. As the feathered bodies circled, the light seemed to get brighter, almost as if it were trying to imitate the sun. It blinded the young monk for a short period. When the man’s eyes cleared of the whiteness that blinded them, although a little hazy at first, a pounding sensation went through Jin’s heart. Brilliant colors filled the young monk’s eyes and pounding heart, hues of pink, blues, purples, greens, all journeyed through his mind and into his entire being. When the colors began to fade, a bright, cheerful smile from soft, light pink lips, stared over to him. Shaking his head slightly, the young monk tried to understand what was happening. Taking place of the smile, was a woman. White kimino flew in the wind around her, lighting the atmosphere to a powerful glow. Cherry blossom colored hair circled her perfect round face, as it gently swayed in the breeze. The monk reached out a hand to touch it, but when the woman’s eyes touched his, he could only lean back as he dazed into the grey eyes that were on the woman’s face. Although he was young, he knew, as a monk, that the grey eyes only meant that the woman wasn’t a woman, but a spirit of some kind, perhaps a goddess. He began to feel the aura of happiness and solitude that touched his spirit as he gazed upon the beauty that was in front of him. Humbled, the young monk bowed deeply towards the spirit. A faint, cheery chuckle came from the lips of the woman, as a smooth hand reached over towards the monk. “Young, dear monk, I humble you in the presence of a goddess. May you experience this joyful gift, and let your heart wonder to places it has yet to discover. My name is Ekiko, Goddess of all things nature and spring. You may lift your chin towards I.” The goddess’ soft, smooth fingers touched under the monk’s chin; lifting his head. Jin could only look in amazement as he found himself in the presence of this goddess. “I am most of awe as I sit here in your presence, o’ Goddess, but why did you choose to show yourself to me? I do not understand, for I am only a young monk who still has much to learn.” The monk spoke in a hushed, confused tone, not sure how to properly address such a goddess as this, as her beauty shined over him like the sun shines over the hill tops. The goddess smiled. “It is the first day of spring, young monk, and you were here, at this lake, painting on this beautiful, joyful day. As my spirit brought things to life, and let the plants grow, and the birds come alive, my eyes saw you in this tree, sitting peacefully as the first day of spring washed over you like a soft, clean river. It enlightened my spirits, and so I let myself appear in your presence. You may be young now, but I can see in your future, that you will be a wise, powerful monk when you grow elder. But you must remember this day, and have it in your heart until the day you rest. Even then, you should still remember. May your wisdom grow as do the plants grow in this season.” The warm and gentle tone that came from the goddess as she spoke, rinsed over the monk with an easy, comfortable essence. Jin could not help but to close his eyes as it washed over him, feeling his being up with a powerful glow of joy and happiness. Slowly, his eyes opened to the goddess once more. She smiled to him with a bright essence, and he couldn’t help but to smile back. “Paint.” The goddess said as she looked over to the canvas that was next to the monk. At the first few seconds, the monk was confused, then after clearing his mind, he saw what she meant. After resetting himself with the canvas and his paint, the monk looked out to the goddess, and began to absent-mindedly paint her into the painting. He made sure to put the joyful, peaceful presence into the canvas. As he finished, he labeled the canvas at the bottom. The goddess gave a contented smile and brushed the monk’s face with a soft hand. “Hold that painting dear to you always.” The young monk shook his head, already knowing that she was about to leave. It made him sad inside, and he wanted her to stay, but he knew he couldn’t protest with a goddess. “Do not be sad, young one. With that painting and this memory, it will always bring you into happiness when you remember it. Also remember that I am with the creatures of nature. I am always here.” Jin nodded. The goddess named Ekiko shook her head in a gentle manner, smiled a peaceful smile, and then let herself be engulfed by the white, glowing light. “Goodbye, Jin!” Was the last thing the goddess had said to the young monk as her appearance left. The young monk sat in the tree for most of that day, looking at the painting that he had done. The two birds from earlier had stayed near him, still singing. He only wished the day wouldn’t end, but as the sunset began to set that afternoon, he knew he should return to the temples and to continue his training. A soft sigh came from his lips as he lowered himself from the tree with the canvas. He gave a long look towards it, and knew he would place it in a sacred place when he returned to the temples. It would become a memory that the young monk would remember forever.