I’m not Cherokee but I was reminded of the battle cry sentiment “today is a good day to die”/Yutta Hey. The words weren’t fatalistic but more the clear vision, the calm manner, and the open bravery with full honesty that if today is that day, we are ready. We have lived to be honorable, to help, to soothe, to protect, and if the wisdom is calling us home, we are too powerful not to accept her hand. It’s a reminder of how to live, and how to be.
In 1991–at the age of 23–I met my biological father’s family for the first time and they told me I/we have Micmac and Potowatomi ancestors. The fact of not knowing this wasn’t surprising—I didn’t know that the dad I’d actually grown up with wasn’t my birth dad until I was 13–and discovering this lineage made me proud.
For I’m not a religious person by either nature or nurture yet when I transferred to UC Davis in 1988 to complete my undergrad, I specifically chose Native American Studies classes because I resonated so deeply with their core values. The idea that a “faith” could coordinate the life of a human into the soul of their planet was so profound to me that even today I walk outside and am in the church of our earth. Where mountains rise like the walls of amphitheater’s, and trees— housing the chirp of winged creatures— sway in air that moves across the planet, touching human beings one after the other.
There’s 60,000 different species of trees on the planet. 400,000 different kinds of flowers. The other day near Alchemy Coffee I saw a tree at the northeast corner of 300 East and 1700 South that had peeling bark and I literally said “what the fuck is this?” It was so weird and pretty; kind of thick and reddish, and made me curious why it does the peeling. How is this stuff is out there managing itself, making its own little life, living out its DNA in the peace of managing within both life and death? What an icon. 🙂
The thing about nature and folks that abide Her is that it’s a way of life so much more advanced than any modern religion. For modern religion (etc) says things like “God is within you” or “peace is within you” or “love is within you”, or the “answers are within you”, etc. but those are just words and the barren landscape of thought. Those are stained glass windows and documentation, collating and clarifying, and correcting; they are “over there” and the implication of having to call them into awareness is that they’re separate from us and that it’s our intentional act of telling ourselves it’s not separate that’s what makes it not separate anymore. In other words, WE are the agent by which those ideas become real and important. But with nature, with the sun, with the rain, with the trees with the peeling bark,…it isn’t just words. Nature is what we are and how we live. It’s inside of us. We eat it. We exist from her water. It is “here”, and so close to us we assume a separation with her that doesn’t actually exist. Nature is that God, is that peace, is that love, and is that answer. If we are anything, Nature is that too. If God exists, Nature is its most loving creature.
And in pulling that deep inside, much can be healed and resolved, because in the end we are merely guests here being hosted by a greater wisdom. One in which we are so close, we hold her as separate and invent a God who manages her while she quietly and humbly shows us how to give, how to eat, how to help one another live and how to accept that we will die.