Of everyday life
I wonder what could shift in our lives--not just our own, but everyone’s--if we started every day with even the smallest ceremonies and the smallest noticings, and kept doing it. Especially if the rituals include an acknowledgment of gratitude, even a tiny one.
There are two owls living in my in-town neighborhood where old sycamore and fir trees surround older homes. Sometimes they talk for hours into the dark night. A pair of hawks nest in the tallest tree on our block and I look for them sailing back and forth to the sluggish Snake River to fish or find a vole or other tiny mammals. In the summer, osprey nest nearby and I get to watch the chicks fledge with parents screeching, reeling above and around them. Watching, listening to the birds nudges me forward toward a conversation with these creatures, an invitation to listen more closely to what wisdom they have to share.
Beautiful thoughts, well shared, and they will likely hang around in my head for a while. At least I hope so.
Anishinaabe words seem to take their time about saying what they want to say. (Does that make sense?) The English word "owl" is short and sharp - like the owl's beak; but "gookooko'oo" waits and listens as the owl speaks for itself. There's a timeless patience in that kind of language, an empathy, an openness.
All of which is a long-winded way to say, thank you for spending time and thought with us.
Down with alarms! I love to hear how others start their day, their nights, the routines we create for ourselves, so thank you friend for sharing yours and reminding me how beautiful and full a day simply unfolding can be. Being a nightowl myself, I really have come to love the late winter sunrises at high latitude, letting even a less early riser get to witness the day's arrival.
Yes to all of this :-)
"Watch, now, how I start the day / in happiness, in kindness." From Mary Oliver's poem Why I Wake Early.
“Every word spoken in a Native tongue on this continent, on this Turtle Island, is a life affirming act of defiance”. I love this. As a person of colonial ancestry, I feel that every time I learn a word in a Native tongue, every time I use it, I seek to make a life affirming act of apology and solidarity. I have been waffling on whether it was my ‘place’ to use these words - now, I have clarity. Miigwech!
Chris, I would love it if you shared more about your teaching experience. I'm taking an online course in teaching English as a foreign language,: the art and craft of pedagogy is just about unknown territory for me.
Although I'm mostly retired, I just started setting an alarm again, the gentlest one available on my phone. This is so the precious early morning hours can be leisurely and not rushed: I have an important daily meeting at 8 am. (I've also started going to bed earlier to accommodate the 5 am awakening.) At this time of year, it's still dark here in southern Spain till 8:15 am or so, but I'm usually awake before the alarm goes off anyway.
Reflections on spiritual states past: Almost two years ago, I was driving at night on one of those endless two-lane roads in Cochise County, Arizona. I was some miles west of Chiricahua National Monument, and nowhere near any of the larger cities in that county. There were no streetlights, and I was in the middle of a 90 minute trip. I felt very much alone, but not threatened.
Ahead of me, my headlights caught what appeared to be a pyramid-shaped pale brown pile in the middle of the road. As I neared it, I could see that it was moving. Suddenly, the top of the pyramid turned to face me, and I could make out the unmistakable satellite shape of the head of a huge owl. Then it flew off the large dead animal lying in the road.
The Chiricahua Apaches (Ndé), who held on to what is now known as Cochise County for a long, long time despite settler harassment and connivance, believed that owls were omens of death. I have little doubt that I was headed there fast at that time. Things have changed mightily for me since then, as it happens. I have always loved owls, but I can certainly see how their appearance can mean many, many different things.
thank you for sharing the message of gookooko'oo! (and the name! perfect.)
after we talked, on Monday my sister texted that in the middle of Los Angeles they woke up to an owl hooting. Love this story so much and how your mind and heart works. Thank you my friend. xx
I love the understanding of "all my relatives" as not just people you are related to but every being with whom we have a relationship, which ultimately, is every being. It makes me think of a verse from the Bodhicharyavatara: As long as space endures, and as long as beings are are to be found, may I continue likewise to remain, to drive away the sorrows of the world.
Good to learn of James Vukelich Kaagegaabaw and his YouTube videos. Getting up early yesterday, as I always do, I looked out my window to the east and saw a river otter scampering around on an area of flattened cattails and then two others a few feet away, partially hidden by cattails, appearing to be tumbling in play. There have been beaver here at this cattail marsh since I moved next to it in 1984, but the otter family is something new. They are bringing joy and playfulness to these dark winter days.
Thank you for the video link about your Ojibwe greeting. As I watched, I realized that my small solo apartment is full of family: houseplants, cat, and neighbors. I enjoy the new-to-me perspective!
RE: footnote 1 - I've decided my 'word of the year' (not that i usually pick a word, but if I had to..) is "inefficient"
And as you know, I love all things about ceremonies of the ordinary. May we all listen to owls and learn from walking slowly (at least some of the time) and paying attention.
Those kids are lucky indeed.
I really enjoyed reading and imagining your great horned owl story. I feel so honored when I get to see or hear an owl. These cold winter mornings and evenings make that experience so special. Many thanks to you for sharing.
Thank you, Chris, for the Ojibwe word for owl.