It’s rare that words elude me.
I sit in the aftermath of five days on Stephen Jenkinson’s farm, awash in awe and longing. This was my third visit to the shores of the Bonnechere River, and my expectation of leaving “wrecked on schedule” accompanied my journey, along with various items Stephen had requested us to collect.
An ancestral song or chant and a jar of water from your home place. Twelve sticks cut from a living tree well-courted all winter. A handful of semi-precious stones and a deer hide, smoked and brain-tanned. And many more. We had no further instruction on the intended use, though my fellow scholars and I could smell a ceremony gathering.
It began scarcely after our bodies had settled into the teaching room, road-weary but anticipating. Stephen took the floor and hinted at the days ahead. The work would be relentless, requiring deep willingness to relinquish despair and capacity to break the two trances that hold sway over all those raised in the dominant culture: universal and eternal.
- Universal – that how we think is the same for all peoples throughout the world.
- Eternal – it has always been this way.
To wit: humans have always feared death. Life is inevitable. Our ancestors don’t need us. All unquestionable ‘truths’ for the children of nowhere. Yet what unfolded over those old time days was a blend of hand-made endeavours, the melting of metaphor, and grief-soaked lies finally torn asunder.
Guided by memories rippling through the ages, illuminated like starlight from cultures long extinguished, I lived long enough to see what I never thought possible: orphaned humans claiming their dead.
This changes everything, friends. May the loneliness for our seen and the unseen finally come to an end.