Beloved Great Grandmother, I come to you today with an offering, and it’s the only offering I can give you with my fullness and truth:  my broken heart.  I know that you will receive it with tenderness and care, and I pray that you can guide me in finding the american-2029937_1280way forward in a world that would be utterly foreign to you that you wouldn’t recognize it at all.  And because I feel you whispering to me in my heart and in my bones, I come to you with tear-stained cheeks, and with an ache in my belly that is present more and more these days.

In the years that have passed on this Earth between your days and mine, so many things have changed.  Perhaps you already know this, and perhaps in your deep connectedness to All-That-Is, you have already seen what we are now living through.  But as your granddaughter, I feel moved to share with you what I witness with my own eyes on this Earth.

Great grandmother, the humans living on the land that once supported your people have heart-742712_1920forgotten what it means to live in balance and respect ~ with the forest, with the waters, with the sky, with the animals, and with each other.  Stretches of wide open land ~ once understood as the homeland to thousands of species of animals and plants ~ are now seen as a waste of economic opportunity.  In our human greed, we have erroneously come to believe that we are the dominant species on this planet, and all things are available for the taking.  There is little remembering, and even less care, that we are but one part of a whole interdependent living system, and in that forgetting, we have become the bull in the china shop, damaging and destroying all that surrounds us.  We have poisoned the waters, the air, the land.  We have been responsible, through our ignorant and self-absorbed ways, for the death of many species of animals and plants, and even though there is more and more scientific understanding of the interdependence of all life, and the common agreement that we have, in our stupidity and arrogance caused irreparable harm to the very life systems that support us, there is no wisdom driving our culture at this time.  We are a species in deep, deep denial, and though we see the effects of our ignorance more and more, the selfishness and foolishness of the leaders of our culture is so strong, there is no willingness to recognize and correct our erroneous ways.  And the devastation continues.

Great grandmother, I understand that humans have always found conflict and challenges among themselves, and that there has yet to be a culture that was evolved enough to deal with those conflicts in mature and evolved ways 100% of the time.  I also understand that in the history of your people – my people – there have been wise elders, guides, teachers, and healers who have been at the center of community life, and who have helped to call people into wise choice, and have been a strong presence of living that so that the communities have someone to learn from, and emulate until their own lost-places-1549096_1920wise truth guides the way fully.  Now, we have lost community.  Families are spread far and wide, and there are deep divisions and conflict in many families.  We live in houses that you would consider mansions, with every comfort and luxury you could begin to imagine, and many you can’t even begin to imagine too.  But we live without community, and we often don’t know our neighbors.  A deep sense of selfishness and vanity has become a sickness that has overtaken our culture, and while there is still a strong sense of religion – yes, Christianity is the dominant one at this point – there is hardly a deep sense of ethics.  Our culture is split in many directions in understanding what ethics and morals are at this time, as well.  Some speak the word “freedom” and want to ensure that all ways of life are honored and protected ~ and of this you’d be so pleased!  After all, there are so many of us that see how the First Nations people have been treated in these past few hundred years, and are devastated by that and determined to make sure that no others must ever experience that horror.  But some speak the word “freedom” and only want to guarantee their own personal freedoms, angry-1294679_1280ideas, and moral code.  These people, citing religious doctrines and traditional values, seek to strip away any semblance of living that doesn’t match their own preferences, and are carrying forward the very essence of the devastation you faced during your lifetime.  They want to be surrounded by others who are just like them – the same pale skin, the same religious beliefs, the same ideas of what family and community must be, the same belief that they are somehow righteously better-than, and the same desire to destroy all that does not mirror back to them who they are, believing on some level, I think, that they are the chosen ones who are rightfully taking their place in the world.

When you willingly withheld some of the ways of your people as you raised your daughter among settlers, part of me believes you knew that this was coming.  That you saw the destruction of your culture already, and hoped that by marrying her with a white English man you were saving her from greater suffering and abuse.  I see your love for her, and also your surrender into the ever building tide of colonial dominance.  While that surrender brings great sadness into my heart, I also see your courage, and the deep core of strength that you carry.  After all, your whole external world was being rearranged in unimaginable ways.  Your ancestors were treated like animals and slaves, pushed from their ancestral lands, punished and abused for their lifeways, and forced to abandon their way of dress, their language, their practices, all under the demand of the colonial ways, as each settler assured you your ways were heathen, animal, backward, and dirty.  And your ancestors, in their natural way of respect and dignity, still embraced photo-1023416_1920these white invaders, sharing their knowledge and kindness without hesitation.  Did they know that in repayment for their kindness they would be gifted with genocide?

And so, I stand with you here, late in the year 2017.  I have found my way into connection with the interdependence of all life, and have made many changes in the way I live my life.  I have felt you calling me since before I could even name it.  I feel your knowing in my bones – the way of balance, harmony, and respect.  The way of community, mutuality, shared responsibility.  The way of wisdom and understanding.  I feel the call to completely revolutionize my culture, and I am surrounded by many people who feel the same call.  While we all are finding our courage and our strength, as well as greater clarity in what we must create in these dark times, the forces of power and darkness are so very strong.  Those with the most money and power treat this whole life as a mere game of chess, and we are their pawns, unimportant and expendable.  Many of us watch as the darkness infects the humans who already suffer so much, and wonder how these people can be so readily coerced into marching into their own destruction willingly.  And we watch as the leaders of our nation are infected in more money-shark-1612269_1920and more poisonous ways ~ and how they are growing in courage to speak it outright, and to stir the people to support things so heinous, they previously only existed in my worst nightmares.  Power has always had a way of falling into the wrong hands, and without the wisdom to use power with great heart and understanding, it is merely a weapon used to build separation, injustice, and suffering.  And this is the state of our world right now, beyond anything I could have imagined happening during my lifetime.

And so, Great Grandmother, I offer you my broken heart.  It has broken for women who have been abused and raped and treated as second-class human beings, and even though we have used the words of women’s rights and liberation for around a hundred years, the deeply entrenched ways of patriarchal dominance and control are still going strong.  My heart has broken for the magnificence of this world, as it has been reduced to a commodity, a place to take what we want and dump what we don’t want ~ and even the announcement of something as tragic as the extinction of species, climate change, and even the dying of the Great Barrier Reef, stirs little concern.  My heart has broken for our collective human obsession with nonsensical things ~ we care more about possessions and status than about the balance of life ~ and we have fallen into meaningless relationship with our electronic devices while no longer caring about getting to know texting-1490691_1920each other.  My heart has broken for the endless non-white people in this land, and around the world, who have been devastated by colonization, war, and natural disasters, and there are masses of people in this nation who truly don’t even care at all ~ the deep roots of white dominance that were born here as the settlers pushed your ancestors off their lands have festered in unbelievable ways, and while we have made strides in trying to keep this from happening, it has been, to a large degree, lip service when compared to the lived experience of those who are not white.  My heart has broken because I wonder how long it will take until true wisdom, justice, and balance return to this land, and it keeps on breaking as I see our culture moving further and further away from that reality.

I stand here before you, Great Grandmother, offering you my broken heart.  I have spent my life working to open my heart more and more.  I have spent my life unravelling the  ways of not-caring that made me numb and detached.  I have spent my life shedding the layers of cultural conditioning that have told me what should be important to me, and have found my own authentic answers there.  I have spent my life longing to be a little wiser every day, waking up from the trance of my culture’s materialistic, destructive ways, and finding my own gifts to bring forth to be of service during this time of immense chaos and darkness.  I have spent my life longing to heal the wounds and pain exercise-2027999_1280of my people through healing myself, and have come to greater understanding than I imagined.  I have spent my life seeking to be the best person I can be, hoping to cause as little harm as possible as I am living in the midst of an awesomely destructive way of life.  I have sought to find my own truth, to know my own soul, and to help others to find that too, for the brighter we shine, the less we can be tricked and bought and enslaved.

Great Grandmother, I honor you.  And I come to you today to ask for your blessings, to ask for your guidance, and to ask for your courage.  There are no clear answers to the questions within my broken heart.  But I know that what you know, and what your Great Grandmother knew, and what her Great Grandmother before her knew too, is also deep within me, within my blood, my bones, my cells.  I pray that you will help me as I navigate this minefield of living in America in the early 21st century.  Sometimes I lose hope, and it seems like humanity is a sinking ship, and there are no life rafts.  And sometimes I feel like we deserve to go down with that sinking ship, as we have been the very ones that caused the damage in the first place.  But my hopeful heart, naive though it may be, believes that good, meaningful, positive change can still happen, if only we come together, look within, and do the work necessary to heal the ancient pain we each carry.  I am here, Great Grandmother, and I am listening.


To My Cherokee Great Grandmother

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