Spring will be here this month. It’s an exciting time of year. Everything that has been asleep will reawaken. The trees regain their leaves. The colors of nature become vibrant. The sounds of the morning birds will return. The bustle of nature will happen once again.
In my busy years of my professional life, I looked past nature. I was so busy with deadlines. I needed to get the next project off my desk. I needed to set up a meeting. Every call was urgent. Every moment was essential. At least, that is what I thought.
On February 16 at 10:20 pm, my Grandson was born. Mi Cante Olowan – Song of My Heart. He was 9 lbs 4 oz. A big boy. Amazing. The heavens opened up and allowed another angel to join us here, at least that is what I believe. I watched my son and his adoration. I saw myself many years ago. I remember that look. I remember that feeling. The awe of it all. It’s breathtaking.
Another generation is born. This is the circle of life. I’ll enter into another stage of my life. I’ve been fighting it, but it’s necessary. I’ve been dragged kicking and screaming into middle age and I hear the call of becoming an Elder. It’s time. Youth and being young was for that period of time, but now it’s time to move onto the next stage of my life. I’m the link from one generation to the next.
Throughout this journey, I’ve had my Mother to help me understand what was happening. She was my rock. She was my comfort. She was my understanding. Nearly 5 years ago, her body gave way and she joined the heavens. I still speak to her daily. We have our conversations. I tell her the latest goings-ons. I ask her for guidance. I seek her consolation.
My favorite memory with my Mother was at Sundance. I’d gotten involved in our ceremonial way of life against my parents’ wishes. They were boarding school children who had these rich cultural ways of life torn from them. They believed they were saving me and my siblings from this loss by not teaching us. Yet, it is what defines us, so I sought it out.
Every morning during Sundance my Mother would be there to help me prepare. Before the sun came up, in the cold, damp dark night, I’d come out of sweat to find her at camp getting my ceremonial stuff ready. This particular year it was a hot year with several of the days in the upper 90s and 100s. I was physically exhausted. I sat there while she braided my hair and cried. I couldn’t stand myself. My skin was burnt. My muscles were sore. My feet hurt. I smelled. And, I didn’t know if I could go on.
I was hopeful that my Mother would comfort me, but she didn’t. In her true Native woman nature, she reminded me in Lakota, this is who we are. She reminded me of our strength. She reminded me, we sacrifice for the people. We offer our prayers so the people may live. She told me to put my sorrow and pain at the tree that day. I did.
As this new generation of my family begins, I have enormous amounts of hope that we continue to thrive. I reflect on the trauma we’ve survived. I reflect on how in the darkest of days of our ancestors, they dreamed. They knew that one day we’d be ok.
Yes, our community still struggles and some families are finding their way out of the darkest of places, but I see more and more people thriving. I’m witnessing our capacity. I’m witnessing people who’ve learned to maintain a rich cultural life in a contemporary world. We see each other. We hold one another up. We cheer one another along.
This spring time, as Mother Nature reawakens our part of the world, take a moment for quiet prayer or contemplation to be in awe of it. It’s magic. Our part of the world is a small part, yet important.
We are responsible to keep Mother Earth in its pristine state, so that our grandchildren, great grandchildren, and other generations that we will not see, will have a place for themselves. It’s our duty to them and ourselves to care for each other and the Earth.
This year, I’m going to enjoy watching my Grandson grow. I’ll be in awe and watch my son with his family. I know this, they are the best of me. I’m a writer, a storyteller, I’m the one who keeps the memories alive. I can hear my Mother remind me of this. I’m the best of her. And, she was here. Mitakuye Oyasin – All My Relations.