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.
Saturday, April 30, 2016
It started one dusk-saturated evening last summer, after the dinner dishes had been washed and put away. We were rocking gently in metal chairs on the cantilever deck 30+ feet above the dense, echoey greenway behind our house. The same greenway we are restoring to support the beaver family that spends its springs and summers here. It's been a labor of love for some time now.
Thirty-two goats had been munching their way through an acre or so of wetland invasives, mostly blackberries, grass and nettles, across four neighbors' backyards. The goats were there to clear the land before we could plant the three dozen willows gifted us by a local nursery. They marched single file down our driveway and through our yard because it has the easiest access, and because we are up on stilts there is a large open space perfect for night time shelter. By this time the peaceful little darlings had been working long enough to eat their way south into Terry's and Becky's property, returning under our house to bed down.
One night I got inspired to grab my wooden flute (the G seemed good accompaniment to the shrill sounds of crickets and deep sound of frogs). While I worked my way through my beginner song list the goats returned. Some went to bed, some stood watching me play until I was done and then they too went to bed. We all seemed to love the ritual for their entire 2-week stay. I missed them for weeks afterward.
Since then I play the flute and sing when the urge strikes while I am gardening in the newly established flower beds (mostly keeping up with returning invasives). I know part of learning how to interact with Mother Earth is to be quite and listen. I also figure part of learning how to interact with Mother Earth is to learn how to express appreciation for all my blessings (there are so many). I sing and play my gratitude. Gratitude is at the center of native wisdom. It feels good to practice like my ancestors. It makes me feel connected to something greater.
The days and nights are getting warmer, not quite warm enough to dine on the deck yet, but my urge to sing has grown like the intense green spilling out of the greenway. I can feel it "call me." I'm compelled to go out on the deck, so I do. On the way out I'm compelled to grab my flute, so I do. I'm compelled to play my short song list, and often sing a song or two. I've memorized a couple dozen earth-connected songs I sing as they pop in my head. The urge usually lasts less than 10 minutes and when I'm finished singing and playing I feel light and nourished. Like skunk cabbage and horsetails thrive in the wetland muck below.
Perhaps the best part of the story is that because the beavers have changed the ecology we now host an annual duck pair in the creek. They fly in and out of the area while raising their young, but began about a week ago showing up in time to hear me play and sing, a ritual I have adjusted to precede dinner. It sets me up to eat in a more grateful and thoughtful way, and it seems to make the ducks happy.
So here's one of the songs I was inspired to sing last night:
Wonder of it All
Singing offers double coupons (double coupons means getting double or triple benefit out of one activity):
The health benefits of singing