Shine (draft, unfinished)

Our bodies are spirit houses. When my daughter’s spirit entered her body she became sunrise. Her lungs accepted breath. She took on the promise and challenge of earth as all of us do when we come here, no matter that we are human, plant, mountain, creature, stars or winds. We all assume the same pact. And when I’ve viewed the body at death, it’s just that: an abandoned house, though essence and memory may linger, because the spirit makes an imprint that continues to generate energy. And this is fed by memory, by the remembrance of those who knew us, by the lands on which we walked, by the house we lived in. It doesn’t go backwards or forwards. It just is in timelessness. When we recognize each other, it’s spirit we recognize. The body just holds the shape. It’s the shine that we know.

It’s shine that compels us to want to watch sunrise, sunset, to look fiercely into the eyes of another. The stomp dance fire carries a shine that links us to the creator, our ancestors, each other and the sacred stories of how we came here and how we will leave this place. It is the heart, just as the heart within our bodies that is the shine generator. Some carry an immensity of shine. The sun nourishes us, as surely as we are fed by fried chicken and greens. Or a place: consider the shine of Diamond Head Crater, or Denali Peak. Stones carry shine. Everything has a spirit.

There is a shine that money can buy. When I spend time in Los Angeles I see this bought and constructed shine up and down Sunset Boulevard, in expensive cars, haircuts, manicured everything, the nip and tuck of features to eliminate any sign of being past childhood, every last detailed coiffed into place. Paris Hilton has this shine of money. If you look past all the paid for shine, she’s rather plain, even homely. Her spirit is having trouble breaking through the need for attention. Trappings can mask the spirit if you choose not to pay attention, to not see. When you follow that road your spirit starves.

This doesn’t mean that all public figures cultivate a false shine. Accomplishment and beauty are strong generators of shine; the shine can be genuine. Some people have a natural shine that the camera loves, that our eyes will follow because we are always on alert for the shine. Robert Redford has this shine. Several years ago I was called to participate in a press conference for the Turner Network show, The Native Americans at the Indian museum in New York City. I was the narrator, and for this event, I was the Indian. I walked out to a wall of cameras between Redford and Ted Turner. This was the moment in my life that I was the most and least obvious in the world. As I sat unnoticed between these two while they fielded questions—I was intrigued by Redford. Despite the attention, he was humble. He knew how to act. His spirit sat squarely within his body and radiated confidence. He absolutely believed in himself and was there because of high ideals. His shine was coherent and inspired. This makes a quality that we all want to be near.

We eat shine: it’s the sun in our fruits and vegetables, and the energy of water. And our words, thoughts and acts as we move about the business of our lives either radiate shine or the opposite of shine: fear.

I walked away from the church, the false doctrines, judgment and racism I experienced there. It was the church that taught me to fear what my spirit knows, to dislike myself for being Indian and female. Yet I loved the stories, songs and talking of higher states of knowing and being.

There’s a song I loved from Sunday school that spoke to me about shine, no soldiers marching to war; it flew past dogma and the impaction of fear. Here it is in English and Mvskoke, from my friend Rosemary McCombs Maxey:

This lit-tle light of mine, I’m gon-na let it shine.
Kul-ku-ce cv-na-kē, hv-ya-yi-ca-res,

This lit-tle light of mine, I’m gon-na let it shine.
Kul-ku-ce cv-na-kē, hv-ya-yi-ca-res,

This lit-tle light of mine, I’m gon-na let it shine.
Kul-ku-ce cv-na-kē, hv-ya-yi-ca-res,

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine. (This is the command form and says "Let it light.")
Kul-ke-kvs, kul-ke-kvs, kul-ke-kvs.

The stanzas in the hymnal continue:
Every where I go….
All-through the night …

This love I have… 
This hope I have… 
This faith I have…
This peace I have…

(notes to be continued)

No comments: