February 18th, 2011

Writer's Block: If I could find my way

If you could turn back time, how far back would you go?

13,000 b.c.e. or whatever time was just before the first horticultural societies began.  I would like to understand what prompted humans to take that first step away from hunting and gathering societies in the direction of our modern world.  i think i would like to be in a position to try to help prevent that step from being taken.

The Shaman Speaks to the People--Another Fantasy

It is autumn in what will someday be called the Caucasus Mountains.  A large group of nearly 100 people has congregated in a lush valley to watch an unprecedented event.  Events are almost always caused by Mother Earth or the Great Medicine, childbirth, earthquakes, eclipses, etc.  But this event is caused, at least in part,  by a human being.  A woman, whom i will call Harvester, has noted over the years that food brought to the settlements sometimes fell to the ground and took root the following spring and provided grains and berries at hand thus shortening the time needed for gathering.  This spring she deliberately planted seeds in the ground and now we are all watching as her work comes to fruition.  As the grain is passed among the people and they agree that the taste is good, a celebratory mood erupts through the crowd, and soon the wise woman is called upon to speak.  The woman, older than most of the people, but clear eyed and with a strong voice, raises her hands, stands in silence for a long time, then says these words.

My brothers and my sisters and our children and our children's children.  We have seen something truly wonderful.  Even i do not know what to make of it.  It looks very good.  Like a child which is newly born or a band which is newly formed, we will not see the true meaning of this for many seasons, perhaps not for many generations.  A child usually grows up good; but sometimes it becomes sickly or behaves badly and becomes an adult who needs rather than gives.  A band may form of good, strong people, each one having fine character and many gifts.  Then later this same band might become disputatious and fall apart.  Why this happens only the spirits know.  And only the spirits know what will come from this new thing..

Change, even change we desire and seek, always has unknown, unexpected consequences.  Some of these are hurtful and we hasten to undo their causes if we can.  If we cannot, we adjust to new pains and sufferings and fears and trust that we will help each other get through it and that the spirits will help us as well.

We are a people of joy and love.  We know how to live and to live well.  The spirits taught our ancient ancestors how to be and what to do and we have passed these teachings on generation after generation.  I see among you, held in the arms of his father, the child of the child of the child of my elder sister.  So four generations are here, a rare and marvelous thing, a true blessing.  But even where there are only parents and children, the teachings get passed on.  To love, to share, to give,  to always cherish the community and each person in it, to stand together, to suffer together and, if necessary, to die together.

When i am the wise woman, as i am at this moment, i speak to you as one set apart by my peculiarities.  But in a moment, when this speech is over, my peculiarities will no longer matter and i will again be one of you, a part of us, a person who lives as you live, laughs as you laugh and suffers when you suffer.  May it always be so.

Harvester has today given us a great gift.  I feel that this gift will carry us to a place we have never been, a place where the ancient teachings might be forgotten, a place that might give us great fear if we could see it today,  When i try to think of that place, whatever it might be, i ask if it could be better than the life we have here.  The life we have here is a good life.  Here we love each other and care for each other.  Will we still love each other and care for each other in that place to come?  I do not know,

When i was brought here as a young bride many springs ago, our band was only half this size, less than half this size.  I quickly learned the names and faces of everyone, and soon after i learned the hearts of everyone.  Except when the men hunted or one of us needed some hours or days by themselves, we were always close together, close enough to touch and those touches were wonderful.  Now that we are many we sleep and eat farther apart, and i no longer feel i know the heart of everyone.  This is a loss to me as a wise woman, but even more a loss to me as a sister, an aunt, a grandmother, and a friend.  Something has changed and even the spirits do not seem to know what it is.  But it is a loss, a loss of something good.

This new thing, this food growing in our midst, it may be a blessing or a curse.  We do not know.  But we must be careful not to lose the things we cherish, the things that make us who we are, the things that make us love one another. as we pursue what is new.  Some say people are not changed by events, our ancestors said and future generations may say it also,  But people do change.  Just look at the people who say people don't change, see how the smallest event makes their heart different.  And i feel in my heart that this is no small event.  I pray that our hearts will not change.  Let's dance.