The Reflecting Years

My Elders considered the sixth decade of one’s life to be an introspective time, and it was that for me. I was yet dedicated to serving, though at the same time I found myself reflecting on why I was doing what I was doing. The greater reason for my actions became increasingly important to me, to the point where I was as two people functioning simultaneously: the doer and the contemplator.

The Elders’ teachings continued, only now they related to me, the contemplator. I quit traveling because mine was now an inward journey — a time to draw from my life experiences and the teachings I had been given. Our house is open to Elders, and we cherish their visits. Recent guests have included Kamgabwikwe from the north shore of Canada’s Georgian Bay, Goldie (Vernadine) Longtail from the nearby Sokaogon reservation, and former Diné Chief John Danttouze from west of Hudson Bay, Canada.

Goldie brought stories as well, along with helping in our struggle to save hundreds of elder trees from being cut down. Along with teaching us Diné primitive cooking methods, John told us the legend, first in Diné and then in English, of how Bear taught the people to dream.

As my calling was to serve in the return of the Gifting Way, opportunities kept presenting themselves to gather the needed skills and awarenesses. A Seminole man taught me more about dugout canoe making; an Inca couple invited Lety and me to a Sun Ceremony; and an Ojibwe man from northern Ontario named Moses Amik Beaver showed me new tanning and trapping techniques, along with children’s games and toys. Together we created a book of legends, which he illustrated and I wrote, from tales told by the Elders and the storyline (the Great Story that exists in the universal consciousness, and from which all stories come). Due to the missionary influence, Moses’ people have lost their stories, and they are being gifted back through this book.

Kamgabwikwe, a pillar of traditional vitality
in a rapidly eroding culture