Earth Day was set as a time for human beings to reflect on their relationship to the natural world. In my fifth Booker Series novel (as yet unpublished) the character Booker summarizes what he has learned about the Earth Mother from Joseph, the Pueblo Indian Wisdom Keeper. From Psalm Maker: The Journal of Booker Jones, herein is shared the lesson.
If you take from Mother Earth, you need more than permission. If you honor the relationship, you need to give back an offering. There has got to be mutual consent and mutual exchange. The act of honor must be central to awareness. A potter takes clay and leaves something of value behind. A painter takes pigments and leaves an offering. A sculptor selects stone and removes it to his workplace, but he must leave behind something to fill the void. He must balance one gift with another. What will he put in place to honor the stone or the tree that he seeks to sculpt? Will he sacrifice blue corn or his favorite shirt or blanket? What will he give to be an honorable human being?
How do we live with respect for all life so that all is safe and secure? Who is responsible for the beauty of being? Why must any people be made to beg for human rights? When did respect fade from consciousness? Power sacrifices respect to desire. Respect is as gentle on the peoplescape as it is on the landscape.
If everyone is aware, no one needs to shout. Respect has a voice that speaks quietly. When one culture, race, or religion dominates the Earth, respect for difference disappears, and within this loss is also the demise of humanity.
What is indigenous should never be abrogated. Do not remove dignity off the face of any people. Dignity is the body language of respect. A tree has dignity until it is chopped down. A mountain has dignity until it is exploited. A bear has dignity in its habitat. A human being has dignity in the space of freedom. Dignity is a right of natural law. Where there is no dignity, nature itself has been violated.
The man’s Indian brothers and sisters believe that the Earth is already in transition to another world, another great cycle of Earth habitation. If the Earth is cleansed again, as the Hopi prophecies foretell, life will emerge into its fourth re-creation, the Fourth World. For many people this bitter medicine is best taken with averted eyes and held breath.
As Anglos, the writer’s people are perceived by the Indians as having no natural manners. We have lost respect for our Earth Mother, and thus we cannot walk in beauty or in dignity. All right behavior for Indians begins with honoring Creation in the metaphors of Father Sky and the Earth as Mother.
There are Indian records that are sacred to Native Americans. These documentary artifacts have been safeguarded and preserved for thousands of years, back to the dawn of consciousness. These records say that human beings are star-born, that our origins are in a cluster of seven stars, the seven sisters.
Eurocentric rational minds found this concept to be absurd, even contemptuous, so the Indians put their cosmic views back into the box. In 21st century contemplation, the possibility does not seem so far fetched. And yet, anthropologists and evolutionists continue to ignore the knowledge of indigenous, land-based peoples, pre-supposing their science to be superior to native superstitions. The attitude allows them to walk in poverty among great treasures that they cannot see.
The Anglos ponder and speculate for their lifetimes on things that have been known to Indian medicine men for centuries. The Indians have waited patiently for the white men to ask serious questions, but Anglo pride has always prevented the humility required of wise men. If a person comes in humility to an Indian holy man—a wisdom keeper—and demonstrates devotion to understanding, the knowledge of the ages will be shared. This is the writer’s experience. He, a white man, ignorant and without resources, defenseless in mind and purpose, came into the tribal circle and was given the great gifts of new sight and new hearing.
To walk with awareness and insight in the natural world of Creation is the walk-in-beauty that Indians sing about. Perhaps it was also the experience of Whitman and Emerson and the poets and psalm makers of history. Certainly, no world teacher could be apart from the experience and still be able to demonstrate Truth.
On this day, in this journal, this man wants to affirm that all people have the capacity to walk in beauty. If a man like himself, born in pride and affluence, and trained to objectify Creation, can be re-created in one body over one lifetime, the same is possible for anyone. The question, for this man, and for each individual, is whether or not we will surrender our sense of separate self in each and every moment of existence.
In the kiva with Joseph, my Pueblo brother and mentor, there is no meeting of minds. We do not connect through an association of ideas or concepts. The practice is that we come together in the space of the quiet mind and enjoy communion on a level of awareness beyond the mind. Vision is not dependent on magic. Ritual and ceremony are only disciplines designed to disengage the mind so that true awareness is possible. To meet in this holy place beyond the references of the conditioned mind is pure joy, pure satisfaction, pure love, pure release. In this experience is sacred bonding and real relationship. Peace is the original gift of Creation, and it is inherent within us all.