MNN Column: The New Year

And this column either will or will not be in the January 2008 Muscogee Nation News. I sent it, didn't hear back. Squeezed in within minutes of the deadline. So, here it is.

Tonight, I went down to Hui Nalu Canoe Club for a late afternoon paddle. The winds have been up, carrying squalls of rain. The ocean, like tears, carries away sadness, anger, and fears. And, as I have many times before, entered into the ritual of gathering together, carrying the canoes out to the water's edge, lining up for seats, getting in, acknowledging the canoe, the water, each other and setting out, together. We didn't paddle far, nor were we in race training mode. Because of the winds instead of going out we headed up into the marina. We went for a while, then turned around and came back out in time to see the sun disappear into water. This is part of the ritual. Then we headed in. We carried the canoes back up, gathered together for the closing chant, then we parted into the dark. When I arrived I was in my cluttered mind. When I left I was back in my ocean mind. Tonight the ocean mind reminded me of forgiveness. And told me to be kind, even to those who test me. I am also reminded of our people’s tradition of going to the water every morning. The water cleans us, not just physically. The ritual marks a new beginning.

January marks the beginning of a new year, in the ‘na-hvtke tradition. Each sunrise marks a new beginning, so does each breath. Each marks a renewal. So as we begin again why not let ourselves shine with joy, kindness, the resolve to do the best we can in all things?

There’s a Hawaiian story that says it like this: we have a bowl of light. Each stone of anger, each stone of jealousy (we have lots of these in the nation) each stone of fear, of envy, of greed fills up the bowl, obscures the light. We can turn the bowl over, empty out the stones and restore the light.

The bowl is our fekce, where our spirit lives.

So, let it shine. Thanks to Rosemary McCombs Maxey for this version of
Kul-ku-ce cv-na-ke, or This Little Light of Mine.

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.
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…

I want to acknowledge two young Mvskoke filmmakers who are doing good work out there. Jason Asenap’s short film “Two Hearts” was just featured in the Santa Fe Film Festival. His mother is Marsha Asenap, her maiden name is Marsha Deer. His Creek grandparents are Alfred and Munna Deer. His father is Comanche. And Sterlin Harjo came to the University of New Mexico from Tulsa to speak to show his wonderful full-length feature film, “Four Sheets to the Wind”, which also featured one of our citizens, Richard Ray Whitman. Harjo’s film was featured at Sundance and is getting some deserved critical acclaim. He is both Creek and Seminole. His grandfather was Arthur Brunner on his mother’s side. His parents are Brownie and Nan Harjo.

Let it shine, Jason and Sterlin. Let it shine everyone. May it be a good year, full of fresh beginnings.

1 comment:

Lisa Allender said...

Hi Joy Harjo!
What a LOVELY post!
Will be scrolling through your Blog....
I think you are putting out great energy into this Universe.
Continued success,and Peace.

Oh--I found you through a link at Anne Haines' Blog, and I found her through my pal, Collin Kelley's Blog.

feel free to visit me, at: