My alarm woke me at 4:30am. This is not one of the noisy, beeping, or musical sounds. This was my internal alarm, an inner voice saying, “It is the time to pray, and there are a multitude of reasons to pray on this bitter cold morning.”
Rolling over, I pulled the covers filled with goose down around my shoulders. I ignored the call to pray. The slightest grey light peaked over the hills, beckoning me to listen. So I did.
This was one of those moments when deep down in my bones, I knew something brutally wrong was happening to my people, my planet. And, sadly, there was. Our brothers and sisters in North Dakota were faced with military force in response to protecting something that cannot be owned- water.
My internal alarm woke me from dreaming about a beautiful green and brown turtle moving slowly along a path. My sister and I watched the miraculous being for a moment before a car crushed the turtle with its tire. The whole creature was flattened. When I woke, I couldn’t help but relate the turtle in my dream to the creation story about Earth. In the story, we are all living on the back of a great turtle, our Mother Earth. Could it be that this dream was revealing a message? How can we stop the killing of the turtle? How can we protect Mother Earth and its beautiful creatures?
I have felt a whole slew of emotions since early November ranging from excitement, hope, grief, sadness, despair, inspiration, motivation, rage, anger, fear, peace, and joy. All with the looming question, what can I do as one person?
As Mary Oliver writes in a poem, “My work is loving the world.” How can I love the world despite the terrifying events directed at people because of their race, heritage, gender, class, or cultural choices? How much more can I love and recognize the beauty of each moment when rage fills my body to the point of wanting to blame and destroy one old white man who’s face fills the media coverage while the Indigenous Peoples of this land called the United States of America are being mistreated, yet again?
And again, I come back to love. I choose Love over fear. I feel compassion for those who’s actions are brutally fatalistic because, you know, they must have been mistreated so poorly in order to oppress other human beings this way. I pray that they receive the support needed to re-evaluate their actions so that love is their motivation instead of hate. I am one of those people. Who doesn’t have parts inside that can relate to these patterns of oppression, whether internal or external?
With compassion, I turn to all of our nation’s leaders, and ask them to look deep inside and ask themselves, what does my heart really want?
To you, dear one, I ask, what does your heart really want?
Write it down, speak it to a friend, and whisper it to the water.
Someone is always listening.
What I really want is peace inside and out. In moments of rage, I let myself feel the pain and despair that runs deep. After letting go of the feeling, I gather the gems for my heart. What my heart knows to be true:
The beauty, love, support, compassion, and generosity I have witnessed most recently is a powerful force. The power of connection, to one another, to nature, and to ourselves is more powerful than any other force. I am here to love. This moment, right here, right now, this is the moment I was born for.
Another message that feels crucial to share: DO NOT WAIT FOR A LEADER TO TAKE ACTION. You are the one you’ve been waiting for. If you have a voice, use it. If you hear or see injustice, speak up. If you have a pen and paper, write. Waiting for the right leader to come around is another way of choosing to live in fear.
Thanks to all the people who have delivered supplies for the Water Protectors at Standing Rock: winter gear, cash, ceremonial skirts, white sage, flat cedar, Tulsi tea, vitamin C packs, warm clothes, glasses, tarps, hand warmers, sleeping bags, toilet paper, and blankets. Although I have made the difficult, yet true to my heart decision to stay in Western Mass as of now, I have already passed along your prayers and contributions to my brothers and sisters traveling there this week.
Each morning I pour water for the Earth and Water Protectors. I pour water for you. I pour water for our nation’s political leaders. I pour water as an offering of gratitude for my beating heart, breathing lungs, and clear mind.
This is a special moment we are living in. It is a moment when the darkness is no longer hidden inside a closet to never be opened. A light has been switched on and all of the monsters many of us had the privilege to pretend no longer existed are actually thriving. If we bring light into the darkness together, united in love, the monsters will have nothing to do but fall in love with us. Love the darkness. Kiss your fears. Let’s transform the world together. I vote for love.
May these prayers travel on the backs of the winged birds, through the breeze in the tall white pines, within the ripples of the sacred waters.
When I Am Among the Trees
When I am among the trees, Especially the willows and the honey locust, Equally the beech, the oaks and the pines, They give off such hints of gladness. I would almost say they save me, and daily. I am so distant from the hope of myself, In which I have goodness, and discernment, and never hurry through the world but walk slowly, and bow often. Around me the trees stir in their leaves and call out, “Stay awhile.” The light flows from their branches. And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say, “and you too have come into this world to do this, to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine.” -Mary Oliver