11 February 2009

Talk and Go Straight, and Let All be Well.

Prayer to Grandfather:
Talk and Go Straight, and Let All be Well.
by: Alane Golden

Motavato Black Kettle of the Southern Cheyenne spoke to the Indians at Medicine Creek Lodge:

"We were once friends with the whites, but you nudged us out of the way by your intrigues and now when we are in council, you keep nudging (to fight) each other. Why don't you talk and go straight, and let all be well?"

Talk and go straight, and let all be well. This is what you taught your children, and this too is what shapes me. But Grandfather, the world is a very different place today than when you walked in harmony on this earth. The time has come for all here to talk and go straight, and let all be well. Though, this is becoming more difficult with each passing day, and I ask for your strength and guidance on this journey.

Segal's Law says a man with a watch knows what time it is, but a man with two watches is never sure. You taught your children that Natural Law tells the time by looking at the position of the sun in the sky – that the sun is our watch. You taught them to navigate through the tidal creeks, using the stars and the moon - to spear flounder swimming beneath the murky water, so they too might be self-sufficient. By imparting your knowledge of tools, they learned the honor of creating. Because of you, they paid close attention to the seasons - learning to grow and prepare the same food gracing their dinner table. By doing so, they grasped the interconnectedness of man to earth, and knew they must respect and care for the land - because they understood it was a gift. Thanks to you Grandfather, your daughters learned the joys of music, of knowledge in books, and the value of sharing and giving freely. You were a man of few words, because you were a leader by example. For these things and more, I humbly give thanks. If not for you, I would not be here - trying to walk the road in a way both honoring you, and those who came before.

But Grandfather, in thinking about the time in which you lived compared to now, I sometimes find myself confused. Though the sun still remains in the same position, the clock often tells a different time. We are no longer able to get in our rickety, hand-made, wooden boats to fish freely. There are now permits required for so many of the things that just were, in your lifetime. Without money, the people are blocked from collecting the gifts of nature to share with their families, and the delicate cycle between nature and man is now broken. And the fish Grandfather, the fish! Those left are now very sick. In the world in which I walk, pregnant women are told not to eat shellfish because mercury poisoning may damage their unborn children. This is poison we put in our own water. In spite of the many rules and regulations, the people still walk on the land and swim in the waters. But, most here have lost their way. Trampling over, no longer walking with the land is what we honor today. What does this speak of the time in which we now live? Who are we? How will we be remembered? The time for all on earth to talk and go straight, and let all be well is upon us. I again ask for your strength and guidance on this journey.

Though you never went to university, you worked yourself into an early grave making certain your daughters did. Because you sacrificed yourself so your children might have opportunities you did not, I pray that you are now standing tall in the knowledge that your grandchildren have carried forward these values. It is because of you that we were able. For this, we owe you much. Know your sacrifices were not made in vain. And, like you Grandfather, I too have traveled across the Atlantic Ocean. Visiting Europe, I walked on the land upon which you once found yourself a teenager in uniform, carrying a gun. My trip was only possible because of the path you forged. Studying academics – not warfare – my weapons instead were books, pencils and paper. While learning, I tried to honor you, ever mindful to, “Talk. Go straight. And, let all be well.”

After studying in the halls of university, I traversed the world for nearly a decade - carrying what little possessions owned, upon my back. Crossing many oceans, I reached the farthest corners of the world – traveling to the places described in the books you could only read. In these faraway lands, I became a student of life - observing every one and every thing encountered – trying hard to remember the things you passed on. It was with the Koori Aborigines of Australia and while traveling with the Maoris of Aotearoa in which I most felt your presence and heard clearly, “Talk. Go straight. And, let all be well.”

Though this walkabout was good, and I learned much, the time to return to my land soon came. For, somewhere along this journey, I found my father. You remember him well. He was the one you begged your firstborn daughter not to marry. She did not heed your wisdom, and things between them were as bad as your vision foretold. His warrior spirit was not equal in strength to the disease crippling him. But fear not, Grandfather. Because after you returned to the earth, our Mother was able to gather the courage to leave – taking her daughters back to the very place in which you were raised. Thanks to the help of all our extended relations, we learned your practices – growing up healthy and strong in mind, body, and spirit. It was through these teachings that I learned to treat those as I would be treated. This concept has been taught for thousands of years. And, though easily spoken, can sometimes be most difficult in practice. But, because you walked - rather than talked - your daughters were good teachers, and we came to understood that actions speak more loudly than words. So, when I learned our father was alone, ill, and in need of care, I traded a life in Australia for one in New York City (NYC). It was on the long trip back in which I heard these words whispering in the wind, “Talk and go straight and, let all be well.”

I have seen many spectacular things in this grand city. There are buildings taller than many mountains. Art of every kind, from many periods, hangs on walls in sprawling halls of splendor and magnificence. Great performers grace stages on Broadway, singing and dancing to live orchestras playing the same music once transported through the phonographs of yesteryear. Hundreds of trains run simultaneously in incongruent directions beneath the city - depositing the millions running to-and-fro to places yet discovered. Here, people from many cultures and classes live side-by-side, in relative harmony. The city houses some of America’s best institutions for higher learning. Every summer, Central Park explodes with life - thousands of tulips bloom, setting the stage for music concerts and Shakespearean plays. There are extravagant parades for every occasion. Though I have experienced these things as an individual, knowing you have been watching fills my heart with indescribable joy. I feel strongly that you have taken great pleasure in bearing witness to this wonder and pray this has brought you a small measure of happiness. That - in some way - these moments have made you proud…that there is a smile upon your lips when you gently remind, “Talk. Go straight. Let all be well.”

While experiencing these things has been remarkable, my spirit is sometimes heavy, Grandfather. Though trying to stand tall, my walk grows increasingly more troubled – shoulders stooping slightly. For, they are burdened by a saddened heart. Just as the scale requires a careful measure to maintain balance, too great in number have our troubles mounted to achieve equality, and our lives have grown off-kilter. We have again lost our way, Grandfather. I find the challenges of life in NYC many - the road often clogged with great distraction, and much noise. Lately, balancing tears of joy with those of sadness grows ever more challenging. At times, I am fearful the image of the many desperate faces peering through the windows of a plane crashing into the World Trade Center will forever haunt my dreamtime. The sadness of their restless spirits trapped here has been, at times, overwhelming. In retaliation for this act, a continuous, near eight-year war has been waged. Though our troubles mount daily, leaders tell us yet another foreign enemy threatens our sovereignty. All the while, woes at home mount. The losses are many, ever increasing and they tug upon our souls with greater intensity. Thousands of men, women, and children have given their lives in the streets of far-away places. And, much blood has been shed.

Our great nation has lost its way, Grandfather. We now find ourselves at the same crossroads in which your generation once found itself. With our Elders fast disappearing, their wisdom has become too carelessly forgotten. It brings great sadness to admit the painful lessons learned by your generation have been ignored by most in the next. The people have arrived full circle - back to the same hard road upon which you already walked. We are reaping what we have sewn. And, just as then, many people now do not have work. The unemployment lines grow larger with each sunrise. Countless are losing their homes. Still, others find themselves without very basic health care. Fuel has become so costly the people must choose between filling their cars, or their stomachs. And, after surviving the horrors of war, our veterans are returning, only to find themselves living on streets throughout the nation - killing themselves in record numbers. The country is sick, Grandfather, and “Talking, going straight, and letting all be well,” has grown most challenging.

It is in this spirit that I humbly ask for your continued guidance. Without which, I would be lost. Because you walked the earth for many moons, you have the answers to the questions now being asked. Please accept this prayer, dear Grandfather. More than any time on my journey, I ask your help to remain brave, to grant me the fortitude of endurance, to aid in the mindfulness of the gifts of generosity, and to give me the wisdom I seek. Like you, the great desire to leave this earth a better place than when I lived, remains stronger than ever, and I thank you for your counsel on this journey. Talk and go straight, and let all be well!


Thanks for all you do!
Live your values. Love your country.
And, remember: TOGETHER, We can make a DIFFERENCE!

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