I like to sit with the changing seasons. Today, a lovely summer day, cool and bright, the trees are showing just a hint of the reds and other colors to come. Still, the vista is dominated by a wide range of green.
We are grateful for so much: one another, rain, friends, the presence of those who have passed over, the freedom to practice our traditions, and the relative safety of ourselves and our loved ones. We are reminded that for so many, today is another day filled with violence, repression, and dread. Let those of us who are able to do so, do what we can for those in peril. Let us acknowledge all, living and dead, who suffer. Let us remember the needs of the children who are the future.
When I was younger I wondered why the elders went to the grave yard to speak with those who had passed over. After all, they were gone. Maybe they were in the spirit world, maybe they had just ceased to exist. They were certainly not in the graveyard.
Later I encountered the dead as envisioned by Thornton Wilder in Our Town. These folks were thoroughly human, yet disengaged from the lives of those left behind. While the dead watched and longed for incarnation, they were helpless.
Now I am an elder, and I view the dead with more nuance. Some spirits indeed seem to walk the land. Some offer assistance and solace to the living. Yet others spread suffering. The worldwide Indigenous belief in the immediacy of the Ancestors and spirits is a lived reality for me. I honor the centrality of place for community, and for our own lived experiences of connection to that which is larger than ourselves. I acknowledge that the Ancestors reside in place, even as they transcend it.
When Indigenous people are driven from our homelands, the connection to the Ancestors becomes tenuous or broken. When our shrines, burial grounds, and other sacred places are despoiled, our traditions are undermined. Our hearts and the continuity of our sacred histories are broken. Please remember our sacred groves, burial grounds, and mountains are our churches. The destruction of sacred sites is an attack on the very spirit of the people. Thus, the killing of an ancient oak or olive tree, or the mining of a sacred mountain, is an act of genocide.
I hope you will take time today to connect to the land, to sense the presence of the Ancestors, and consider the needs of the people. Will you take a few moments to offer tobacco to the Ancestors and spirits, and pray for all who are suffering the loss of their lands? If you are safe, and able, will you express gratitude for the goodness of the day?
I hope you will share, here, your stories of the land, and the Ancestors and spirits who reside there?