As I listened to Arkan Lushwala speak, I recognized what he was saying about our own indigenous memory: “You start praying while you are also listening. I become aware of, remembering, what I pray about at that moment. We need to rely on our own ancient indigenous memory. Stop being isolated. Fully become part of the earth and water and plants and air. This is an immense source of knowledge about these problems.”
I remember, and have often spoken of how important my time spent in the Rocky Mountains and other National Parks was in making a deep connection to Mother Earth. Being immersed in the heart of the mountains always elevates me to move closer to the sacred. All my senses are heightened there. I feel a strong connection to the Spirit when there. The mountains are a sacred place.
It was these experiences that led me to live without a car. After one year at Earlham College I moved to Indianapolis where I purchased a used car (for $50), mainly for trips home to Iowa. This was in 1971, prior to catalytic converters, and the air was full of noxious, visible smog.
A fundamental vision came to me of the Rocky Mountains obscured by smog. That vision shook me to my core. Listening to Arkan, I now understand my indigenous memory was triggered.
This vision of the mountains in smog continued to weigh on my spirit. After a few years, my car was involved in an accident. I had become increasingly uneasy about owning a car. I was led to take this opportunity to see if I could live without a car, so I didn’t have the car repaired. I quickly had to learn how to use alternatives. Fortunately I lived on a city bus route, had a bicycle, and was already a distance runner. I learned to be careful about the weight and bulk of what I bought at the grocery store. I learned to accept there were certain events or meetings I could not attend, either because of the distance or the weather at the time.
My spirit resonated with this decision, and I have been able to live without a car for the almost fifty years since then. (I have to say since I retired last summer and moved to Iowa, this has been more of a challenge.)
As Arkan says, “there is something there that is watching what you are doing and helping guide you.” As a Quaker I put this in terms of being led by God.
This vision has been a fundamental determinant of how I have lived since. It has blossomed like a flower, opening more and more opportunities to be true to this vision of living, and speaking out against the dangers of fossil fuels. I was led to learn to be an Action Leader in the Keystone Pledge of Resistance, which provided the opportunity to participate in public events to raise awareness about the dangers of fossil fuels and pipelines, and to train others to participate in nonviolent direct actions. The vision also led me to be involved with organizing and participating in Dakota Access pipeline efforts. It was during these that I began to be connected to Native Americans. I have had similar experiences while becoming involved with the Prairie Awakening, Prairie Awoke celebrations, which Bear Creek Quakers (my Quaker meeting) have been helping with for many years.
There have also been many other benefits, such as greatly improved running, and much greater experience with photography since I am able to see the beauty of what I am walking or riding my bicycle through. And being able to stop and take photos of that.
Also, the strong spiritual connection that overwhelmed me in the mountains, was now present during my walking, running and bicycling. And anytime I am paying attention. That is also why I have developed the habit of trying to capture what the spirit is saying, or what I am remembering from my indigenous memory, first thing in the morning, and writing about that on this blog.