We are story gatherers. That’s what we humans do. The bird people and others who move about are up to the same thing. Ever watch a dog gathering stories from bushes, posts, or the back end of another dog? Same thing! She or he is literally picking up messages about who’s been there, who they were with, what they were eating, where they were going….sound familiar? We always have our ears open for the best stories. Note that the stories we remember aren’t of the ones who sit back, do nothing, and point fingers and talk. Anyone can do that… And each of us is in the midst of making a story, our own story. And as we make our own story we’re carrying forth the story of our family, our clan, our tribal people, and a larger time and space, so large we cannot comprehend it.
One story I keep turning over and over in my mind is how a friend of mine from up North, Candyce Childers was healed. She was very ill, an illness that was scraping loose the bottom of her soul from her physical body. One night, the Mother Mary appeared to her, and healed her. Candyce was grateful for the healing but mystified at the appearance of Mary. She did not attend to the Catholic belief system in which she had been raised. Her mother, a Catholic faithful Athabascan woman told her it was her mother’s prayers to Mary that had basically set up the resonance, the connection. Her mother, Candyce’s mother told her, had loved Mary and prayed and spoke to her constantly. Consider that those prayers had literally set up a bank of assistance for her descendents.
When I write these columns I always feel the presence of Henry Marsey Harjo, my great-grandfather. He loved to gather inspirational stories and share them. I am in the stream of his thinking, his love. I have felt other relatives and helpers around for other occasions. We all continue to help each other.
This past Memorial Day I was terrified as I got ready to take part in an around-the-island paddle in honor of my canoe club's 100th year anniversary in Hawai’i. I’d been up the night before running through all kinds of “worst thing that could happen” scenarios. I had never done what is called a “water change”. This meant having to either leap off the canoe into deep ocean and climb onto the escort boat, or take the escort boat out, follow the canoe, then when it's time to make the change, leaping off the escort boat into the ocean, swim to the canoe and climb in, while continuing to paddle. My spirit wanted to do it. My will was wavering.
Then, there I was, standing on the edge of the escort boat; about to leap into the choppy waves of the deep blue, and the approaching canoe I had to swim to looked much farther away than I imagined. I looked out and was surprised by a tremendous love for the ocean. I felt my father’s love for the water. I jumped.
In retrospect, I believe that the leap was healing for me, and more than that, it will remain as a foothold for my grandchildren, something they can use when they must make a leap to get to the next higher place within themselves. And then….there’s the story.