Thanks to Maureen Ingram for joining our group and hosting this month's gathering of the Spiritual Journey, and for providing the topic of Community as our focus for the month. You can find her post and the rest of the group here.
I'm currently reading and learning from Braiding Sweetgrass, which is full of wisdom from indigenous tribes, written by Robin Wall Kimmerer. She shares a Thanksgiving Address, a traditional way to begin meetings in the Onondaga Nation. This particular address has been widely shared, and was given by John Stokes and Kanawahientun in 1993:
Today we have gathered and when we look upon the faces around us, we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now let us bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as People. Now our minds are one.
I'm trying to let this address sink in, with its emphasis on balance and harmony. Notice that he speaks not of hopes or dreams, but the duty to live in balance and harmony. Likewise, not only within the human community, but also balance and harmony with all living things. In a few words, John Stokes outlines huge challenges. Lifelong challenges. Still... I believe that we all yearn for balance and harmony. To me these two ideals embody community, and imply a possibility that often seems insurmountable. And yet... and yet I agree that it is our duty to work toward them. I especially admire John Stokes' sense of certainty in the final phrase that affirms community: Now our minds are one.
Choir has been a particular source of community for me. We gather and work hard with the goals of balance and harmony. I often come back to music as a balm. And so, today I will leave you with music.