Shira Shaiman has cancer. Her mother died of cancer. She is also a mom with young children. This week she wrote about the Days of Awe, her illness, and a miracle. I hope she will forgive me for including a lengthy snippet. I hope you will visit her blog and read the post in its entirety.
“I was no longer in this house in Somerville, Massachusetts, but in a place I can only describe as a clear space outside of time and physical reality. I continued praying to God to be granted forgiveness for all of my shortcomings. I imagined seeing myself with the eye of God, the compassionate vision that takes in all of the goodness and all of the smallness and ignorance and misdeeds. And then in that place of no time and no space, I turned, and saw my mother. She looked so lovely, the way I remembered her before cancer ravaged her beautiful face. She was also wearing white. And she too was praying for her soul before Hashem. We didn’t talk or otherwise interact. We were each engaged in our own intensely intimate moment with God, the living and the departed brought together on Yom Kippur in parallel activities. I realized—it was so obvious how could I have not known this before—that by atoning for our transgressions each year we are, among other things, given the chance to prepare for death.”
Akiema Glenn and Kanjana Theporiruk have been blogging about language, Indigenous culture, and First Nations worlds. Their blog is perceptive, evocative, and deeply thoughtful. One of the questions they approach is basic to the experience of diaspora amongst people everywhere: Are we still Native after we lose our culture, language, and land?
Antinuclear and Green Left wrote about the continuing seizure of Aboriginal lands by the government of Australia. Bob Payne wrote about similar conflicts between the Federal Government and First Nations people in Canada. Climate Connections addressed the continuing Mapuche hunger strike. Finally, Richard Bull considered whether First Nations are better off now than before Columbus.
And on a brighter, but connected, note, Molossus published a brief conversation with Sherman Bitsui, a Dine poet. He spoke of language, culture, poetry, and the land. Here is a brief segment:
I have no other “place” to look back to but what is underneath my feet and the moment in time that I have been born into. My roots reach beyond the subsequent layers of imagined origins that history writers have given to the Americas. I have a deep connection to Dinétah (Navajoland) and the American Southwest, the landscape is ever present in my imagination, it is my place spiritually, culturally and politically.
Perhaps because Pachamama is calling to each of us, more and more people of all faiths are turning to the old ways. Sometimes the turning seems very different from tradition. Yet, there are many ways back to connection with the Earth and the Creator. One path is that of Neo-shamanism. Carol Leigh Rice wrote a lengthy, and comprehensive introduction to the new shamanism. In her usual, thoughtful style, she explores both the theory and practice of neo-shamanism, noting that the call can come to anyone. While I find the individualism and lack of tradition in the new shamanism troubling, Carol sees the same trends as encouraging. As so often happens, we are probably both right.
I hope you, your loved ones, and the places that hold you are blessed now, and in the days to come.