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, March 4, 2016

Gifting as spiritual practice

First wisdom (and the reciprocity it assumes) includes gifting, especially gifting things you love. It's not enough to gift things you have no use for. In native culture the gifts received  aren't regarded as having come from individuals but rather from the Creator of all things. It is to the Creator, the Great Mystery that thanks should be given, not to any human being. We say “Please” to each other and “Thank You” to whatever name we have in our many languages for the Great Mystery, the Creator. This may help ensure that those who give do so with humility, with an awareness of the sacred nature of all gifts. The giver does not call attention to himself or herself, but to the spiritual power behind it all. Thus both giving and receiving remain sacred.

Late in the fall I rescued crowded deck pots by transplanting overgrown violets inside to the path along stacked basalt that leads down into the greenway we are restoring for our beaver neighbors. The violets were a gift from Margie, my mom. She died two years ago at the age of 92, eight years unto Alzheimers. Until the last 3 years or so Margie couldn't help herself but bring gifts, every time she visited. Gifts often came from her prized outdoor possessions, mossy rocks, ferns, her coveted bulbs and cuttings. I dutifully found a home for most things (although many did not thrive on my shaded property), many found their way into decks pots that were more accessible than the acreage below our hillside home on stilts. The fern- dotted igneous rock she insisted on leaving lines the path to our front porch, and continues to multiply each year until now and the house is surrounded by Margie's deciduous ferns.

My trek out into the Sunday morning rain revealed that not only did the violets survive in their new home, but there are thriving, with tiny buds and all. Margie's gift outlives her. A woman who spent her non-working hours planting and tending to a corner lot, knowingly or not, gave the things she loved and they now surround my home each year. They are here to remind me of Margie and the gift of life, and add to the family lore. They are gifts to soothe our souls because they become a piece of our own story . Each spring in this small wildlife sanctuary I will watch and listen to the new sprouts tell Margie's story once again. 

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