Great Spirit, take us humbly,
Light and shadow calling,
We ring the healing bell.
Those words came to me in the week ahead of a monthly handheld labyrinth walk I lead through Veriditas. This offering has focalized my thoughts through the stange and tumultuous months of the pandemic and this month was no exception.
In this golden month of November, my favorite season, I found myself torn between my love of family tradition and my renewed awareness and great sadness over the genocide of indigenous peoples on the land of this continent.
In September, I attended a workshop at Ghost Ranch, NM where we crafted Earth Treasure Vases out of native clay in the Tewa tradition as part of an ancient Tibetan practice to “plant” blessed vessels in significant places all over the planet. As part of this workshop, we participated in a ceremony of truth and reconciliation with our indigenous hosts. In a flood of emotion, those of us with white ancestry reckoned with what our people had done to the native people of America. Although this wasn’t a new revelation, the power of traditional ceremony took this knowing straight to the bone.
Along with this experience, I have been deeply moved by Robin Wall Kimmerer’s beautiful book, Braiding Sweet Grass– a deep dive into what humanity has lost through the destructive nature of white supremacy. Along with grief-filled truth telling , Robin’s wisdom seeds hope through poetic and heartfelt stories.
So I come to the season of Thanksgiving full of pandemic displacement, renewed racial reckoning and also with memories of the mythology of friendship between the pilgrims and Indians, a childhood of construction paper feathered headdresses that blends in my imagination with bountiful dinners around my family table and singing at the piano after the bounty. I know that theAmerica of the Heart, what I call the archetypal under pining of our national hope, wanted that story to be true. And I know the truth of history.
The words that came captured an image of Thanksgiving as a well…. source of water, nourishment, tears, emotion. If we approach it humbly , acknowledging the light of hope on the one hand, the shadow on the other, we might have the opportunity to ring the healing bell.
I wish us each and every one the depth this well affords. As we receive the blessings of abundant still water, eyes open to both the beauty of gratitude and the terrible loss of grief, perhaps that crack that Leonard Cohen sings about will let the light flood in.