Muscogee Nation News Column for June 2008

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.


From the Sky Realm

c Joy Harjo June 08

c Joy Harjo June 08

We can learn what's impending in the emotional tone by watching clouds. These I found when returning from New York City last week.



Honor everyone who crosses your path. Everyone includes time as a person or persons. It includes sky, earth, air, water and other elemental beings. It includes your body. Think kindly; think light. Even each email, text, each word is a transmission. Each transaction brings either light or confusion. Paying attention is honoring. I will never forget the roly-poly bug making his way across the bathroom of my hotel room in Kolkata. It was only when I went into my light body, in which we were equal, that I saw the light around him, and the light trail his path made across the bathroom floor.


Larry Mitchell and Me at the Bowery Poetry Club in NYC

Photo c Lurline McGregor

We Perform "This is My Heart" In Honor of the Bengali Poets and Poetry (after being blown away by everyone else's poetry)
Saturday June 14, 2008


Monday morning is Monday morning

Windy, even cool. Redbird singing. We go on. We all go on, even Redbird whose nest in the mango tree was pushed down by a cat or mynah bird. I found one of the naked babies on the ground. Took care of it until the Wild Bird Rescue people here picked him up. He was so new, but as he warmed up in a nest of a washcloth on a heating pad he made the same moves as a human newborn, the same shudders, the same needs. He's doing well in a nest with another found redbird his same age in the home of a caretaker. Redbird sings this morning, Keeps moving somehow, someway.

Yesterday before going I had a premonition about the outrigger canoe race site at Kailua Beach. I'd heard on the weather report there might be rain. I didn't get a clear image of rain. Turned out to be wind, and out on the short sandy bluff which marked the disappearing beach we were pelted with sand and blown relentlessly. And the wind didn't stop or let up, not for the five hours we were there. The ocean was a raceway for the wind. This made quite a run downwind, and a slurp of rolling, blowing ocean upwind. Many of the younger, inexperienced crews huli-ed, that is, flipped. Still, there's nothing like the blue of the Pacific waters and at Kailua the color is a perfect turquoise. I raced in a mixed crew. And in the push of a race you come to know yourself quite well. I became muscle, lungs, ocean, muscle, lungs, canoe and wind. We came in a close third, a few seconds behind one and two. I loved it. Tonight I head back out to train around five, after working on my memoir, saxophone and singing, and the stack of ongoing business, house, family...

Still, I can't let go the knowing of a dream that is still clinging to me: how the source of creativity is the Source of Creativity, and moves like the Pacific. How do I stay in this knowing through the mundane? It's the same.


Sunday, Sunday

Emerson said:

"Always do what you are afraid to do."

Even on Sunday in Honolulu in early June.

More later.


The Last Full Moon in Albuquerque

c Joy Harjo 2008

(Not literally the last, "my" last full moon in Albuquerque for awhile!)