Liam Greenwood recently lent me Roots of Survival: Native American  Storytelling and the Sacred, a book published in 1996 by Joseph Bruchac, a writer of mixed European and Native American descent who was primarily raised by his Abenaki grandfather. It’s a mixture of mythic stories, critiques of Euro-centric culture, history told from Native American perspectives, and Bruchac’s own distillations of what he has learned from decades of studying the varied spiritual practices of Native Americans. Distillations like this poem Bruchac wrote about native mountaintop fire rituals at dawn:
The mountain seen
and the mountain known
are not the same.
One is the image
held in the eye,
The other is the knowledge
gained in the climb.
The mountains we carry
inside are the same —
the images held,
the wisdom gained.
We are seeing things in this pandemic world that tower over us emotionally and
spiritually. We are told to “stay home” – literally or more metaphorically in hiding our
public faces behind masks, not getting too close physically to each other, and not
reaching across political divides. What we see this way looms especially high and even
ominously over a congregation like CVUUS whose very purpose is to build Beloved
Community in all its forms.
But then we go out and do things as best we can while caring for ourselves and each other. As one of our protest songs say, “We put one foot in front of the other, and lead with love.” If we do that, we will find that these mountains invited us to new perspectives on our gifts. It is in this spirit that I have looked to our anxiety about what will happen in our schools this September, I have adopted these words from Albert Einstein as my mantra for this month: “Wisdom is not the product of schooling, but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” Blessed be, Rev. Barnaby