Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Mitakuye Oyasin

Just wanted you to know that the trees have been talking to me.  We had an ice storm yesterday, and last night around nine o’clock when I took the dog outside, there was an intense cracking chatter that filled the air as the tree branches jiggled in the wind.   At 4:30 am, when I got up to make coffee for my husband who had to leave on an early flight, the trees were still loudly rattling their branches probably in protest of the 20 degree temperatures.

Now, as the sun is up and the ice on the ground has melted enough for the horses to be safely allowed into the pasture, I walked back towards the house with the gentle cracking of the trees, still murmuring softly to me.  I thought about how much I’ve learned in the past year, and how connected I feel to everything around me.  It is a direct thread between the horses, my friendship with Pam and Paul at Blue Star, which led to my friendships with Native Americans that they know, and what these remarkable teachers have helped me see about the world around me. “Mitakuye oyasin”, they say – “All are related”. 

It seems like either you understand this or you will miss out on some of the most important things that might happen to you during your time here on earth.  I read a speech recently that Chief Phil Lane gave at the United Nations over ten years ago.   He talked about how his grandfather had a conversation with another elder who was an old friend and explained to him that scientists and researchers were beginning to become “ecologically conscious”:

“They have spent great amounts of money and studied Mother Earth for many, many years and they have recently made a new discovery.  They found out that everything is interrelated.  They found out that when you pollute the air which all living things breathe and pollute the water which all living things drink, you pollute all living things.  What do you think about that?”

The old man smiled knowingly and shook his head.  “I was wondering when they would get around to that!  Just look at what we do to our Mother Earth.  We cut her hair where it should not be cut up and rip up her skin where it should not be ripped up, then we drill holes inside her and suck all of her blood out and put things inside of her and blow her bones up.”  He then looked deeply into the eyes of my grandfather,  shook his finger and said,  “And what would happen if you did that to your mother?  She would die!  And this is exactly what is going to happen to all of us if we do not learn to respect and understand the spirit and teachings of our Mother.”

Yet, here we are ten years after he gave that speech, and we are still busy destroying our dearest treasure.  How do you teach more people to listen to the trees?  Or protect and honor the horses and other creatures? Or show kindness and care for one another like we are all part of the same family?  My friend, George, talks about building a  “tiyospaye”, a family that goes beyond blood relations and includes friends who have become relatives too.  And I watch those relations meet and join with other groups of people whose friendship I value, more people who listen to trees, love animals and care about each other.  As blind, foolish and narrow-minded as some folks might be, I believe that there are also many circles, many “tiyospayes” continuing to intertwine all around the world so that we can all feel the spirit, learn the teachings and look after our Mother.  I think that’s what the trees were telling me.