In Native American cultures, The Great Spirit is a deity intertwined with the fabric of the Universe itself on the large scale and yet personally engaged with the web of living things and the world on an earthly scale. I am creating a spiritual practice by borrowing a little from the Buddhists and the practice of mindfulness, but mostly from the strong connection I feel for the worship of Earth as taught us by our first nations. For those who hunger for the connection of a spiritual practice from someone who is learning to braid her own.
Friday, July 17, 2015
Song as prayer
I should have known that waking up most mornings for an entire lifetime with a song in my head was some sort of sign. I should have known that when I attended my first earth-centered spirituality information course in the fall two years ago that the most impactful exercise in the half-day workshop I attended in Portland's Hoyt Arboreteum was when I sang in a round ("beauty up above you, beauty down below you, beauty all around you, beauty from within you"). I walked next to a strong baritone and every note spoke to me like a distant native language resurrected. But then I saw an example in front of me that led the way.
While attending a spiritual group one Friday evening, a slender young woman with China skin, enlivened Robin-egg-blue eyes and dreds sang a song on the agenda. It was a call to action song, "People of the earth tribe rise up, people of the earth tribe rise up now . . . " I knew in that instant I must sing. Rather than stand up against what I loathe I must speak up for what I love. I must sing.
Luck would have it that spirited songstress happened to be attending a song and ceremony school and invited me to join their year-long commitment. I enrolled in song school and learned about the potential importance of sound and voice raising vibration to connect with Spirit. I sang with singer/songwriters, listened to every song on their website and started a book of songs I love to sing, and songs I would love to share with others. Songs sung with others have to be short and easy to learn.
(Blogger doesn't currently support audio files. When they do I will add a few favorite songs. In the meantime, visit http://www.singingalive.org/songs/.) I find that starting or ending a prayer with a simple song is perfect for me. Sometimes a song alone is enough. One of my favorites for starting a meal of two or more: There is no time. Speaking of families, in my case I know adding native songs to our rituals will be awkward at first. One of the poets I met at Fishtrap Outpost has created a ritual of reading his (and others) poetry at the dinner table with the extended family, and wouldn't think of doing it any other way. I am gathering my courage.