I am feeling - on this mid-summer early morning - the refreshingly cool, crisp air in what a bit later will feel like a wall of heat and humidity. I'm loving that breeze on my skin. It evokes, in a cellular way, childhood memory - summer mornings on the urban sidewalks of Baltimore. From that deep reservoir these thoughts emerge. We - materially-privileged Americans - have very recently reached the extreme limits of confidence in our ability to control both the political world and the natural one.
Now: with climate change in our faces, gas prices in our pockets, and people who hate us (and are empowered to act on that hate) from one edge of the Earth to the other, we are returning (full circle) to the necessity of surrender, to the realization that we are not the final word.
Perhaps, it's a forced return to what the aboriginals knew: We are not in charge.
These are hard times for many of us. I can not and will not write as judgement of a world that has believed for so long that we can control both when (and the degree to which) we choose to be hot or cold, hungry or full. I will not write in judgement of a people who've used every natural resource, every element of nature to serve human desire and comfort. I will not even imply that we were misguided.
The fact is that humans for hundreds of years have used every part of our God-given gifts - mind, body, and imagination - to evolve a civilization that feeds our human comfort. We've been able to use surgery or chemicals to appear young; we've used fossil fuels to take us where we want to go, when we want to go there. We've created a world of expectation: what we desire for our collective comfort, we can have.
It's not helpful to call that which we've put our collective gifts toward manifesting "good" or "bad." It is, simply, what has been. Now, however, we face a very different, is. Now is about drastic change, diminishing expectation, limits. It can be frightening; it can be painful.
Change rips away what we've taken for granted. I do not choose to see the collapse of all that certainly, as pay-back for human arrogance. On the contrary, we've simply taken what God gave us, used our best judgement, and run with it.
But we have obviously reached the end of some kind of Divine tether. I feel nothing but compassion for the pain of good folks coming up against that brick wall of limitation: friends losing their home to the mortgage fiasco; relatives struggling to get to work on a gas tank that's needed for their rent; other mothers' children dying for a cause that is, at best, elusive.
For these many years that I've known 'Iokepa, he's repeated to me the prophetic words of his ancestors. "You and I have lived in tents and cars; we have gone without food for weeks; you have almost died for lack of medical insurance - all, so that when the change comes, you and I can speak from an authentic knowing. We know what that kind of change feels like."
'Iokepa and I have been repeatedly forced back in these eleven years onto the strength of our faith; to the realization of our abundant connection to all of nature, to all of humanity, and to the world of the spirit and the strength of our ancestors. We've personally traded grand homes and cars, antiques, fine art, and good books - affluent lives of American comfort - for this other.
We learned in these years that we could not hop on a plane, pay for our kids college, stop in for a mammogram - when we chose. We've experienced every single material limitation you might name. There are legions of witnesses to our experience.
But we've surely learned something else that has empowered us well beyond the soft-landing of our former bank accounts. We learned what we are made of without the middle-class props. We've learned the innumerable ways we were supported by a universe that really is on our side.
Change can mean deprivation - or change can force incredible openings to much more within, and outside of, ourselves.
The ancestors have well-prepared 'Iokepa and I to hold out our hand to others, during this time of drastic change. The Grandmothers have assured us that it is never about fear.
We've been assured that when it seems that all we've taken for granted is collapsing around us, each of us has the divine opportunity to rebuild deeper connections - to one another, and to the natural world. We are all given that opportunity to deepen our understanding of the true nature of the world around us.
We may not be in control, but we are loved, treasured and forever cared for. We can share limitless confidence in those possibilities.