This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
From Growing Into the Mystery Paul Hampton Crockett
It is my privilege today to introduce you to thirteen extraordinary women. Thirteen
grandmothers, to be more specific, from different parts of the world and each grounded in the unique heritage, traditions, and ancient culture of a distinct indigenous people. They have joined together to form the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers with a singular intention of utmost power: to offer themselves up individually and together, in a spirit of service and healing, to a hurting world. They pool their talents, teach and lean upon one another, go wherever the Spirit leads them, or remain wherever they may be, and pray, or teach, or learn, or love, or ask important questions, or shake up the status quo as needed here or there, in ways that may be safe only for grandmothers. In short, they do the work that needs to be done. As much as they can take on.
The Grandmothers, group shot. For more information, please visit http://www.grandmotherscouncil.com/
They are drawn to contribute all over the world, led by urgency and circumstance to
areas of the most pressing and critical need. At the moment, the focus of their prayer, and subject of their considerable combined intention, is very close to home. They are engaged in active prayer for the healing of the Gulf of Mexico. And they say our help is needed, desperately. As many of us as might be willing or able.
"Aggie" with the Dalai Lama
Before moving on to their prayer, I wanted to briefly introduce them. (That is so, I
suppose, because it is my sense of these women, their knowledge, power, and rare purity of purpose that transforms the idea of the prayer from a well-intentioned "New Age" Hallmark Greeting Card to a shot at true miracle. (It may be that an important part of the power and promise of the prayer involves its “working vision” of ourselves as parts of a Greater Whole, devoted to a common positive purpose, but I am ready to express my love for the Earth and the bounty she has so long and freely provided us, however I can. If she is suffering, I care. And so do you, if you stop to think about it. Bottom line: if there are any ways we can possibly help the Earth, our only home, we must.)
Their stories each partake of heroic journey. From different parts of the world, and carrying perspectives that are truly unique, they have faced up to tremendous challenges, inevitably been stung, slammed, or sidelined with walls of resistance, and yet still found the courage and strength to persevere. Since most or all of these women emerge in their wholeness from tribal groups that have been either casually or with direct intention targeted for genocide, their commitment to selfrespect, and tending to the ancient traditions once found so very fearsome, sing of Human victory. Against all odds. And now, still here, they focus their wealth of experience and most sacred intention upon the well being of the younger generations, and those still to follow. Individually and collectively, they seek to tend to the well being of Mother Earth, herself.
Cheyenne Girl, 1815
The joy with which they undertake the dead-serious task of global healing, their apparent affection for one another in undertaking the work, the abiding love for Humanity burning steady and constant within their breasts that is its own miracle, a Love that apparently cannot die—all shine as a bright light offering promise of hope to a world quickly fallen into the outer edges of a very long and very deep shadow. Click on the image below, and you will be find a gallery of "portraits" of the women, just so you can see their faces, and a brief biographical sketch on each:
Today they engage together in active prayer for the Great Gulf-- even as its so recently blue and green waters blacken with flowing rivers of oil, or devolve into a lurid rainbow sheen that is really no color at all. They pray for the Earth as beach shorelines that have been forever pure white, or shades of delicate pink, are "going under the oil" for the first time, and forever. Even as you read these words, a clean Florida beach is being silently claimed by the dark filth. The truth is nearly too much to bear. Life sometimes just sometimes lacks any clue whatsoever of when to pull its punches, even a little.
How sweet it was. Photo by Tony Ludovico. Tony achieves magical effects with his camera, and part of the reason is that he generally works without scuba gear. This shot is composed of a constant sequence of images captured in one dive, and ascent. More of his work can be seen at http://tonyludovico.com/
The women meanwhile pray for the innocent animals poisoned outright, or orphaned and left to burn alive on the edge of a ruined sea, fixed firmly in place by black goo under a blazing sun . With their parents killed off, who then will hear their tiny cries and come for them?
WPA, "New Deal" art at my alma mater, Coral Way Elementary. I have always felt lucky to have been born and lived in Miami. Only recently have I realized that this playful art "I always knew," together with the cold clean water enjoyed from this very fountain, played a definite role in helping create that feel of "magic."
There is quite literally an entire world of suffering being played out in the vast underwater realm-- always closer to home than we imagine--and its environs. For some reason, and feel free to believe what you will, I can feel it. Most unfortunately, I am not speaking poetically. It is indeed a terrible thing to experience even on the sidelines, but I cannot doubt that it is for a reason. It is all far beyond my ability to describe, and in any event you wouldn't want to hear it. These innocents are taking a punishment we would not inflict upon even the most murderous of villains, and the Goddamned shame is ours.
And so the women pray for relief from suffering on behalf of the fine living creatures, tragically forced to rely upon us and our wisdom to safeguard their very atmosphere. Their innocent faith has been badly broken, as has ours, yet they now swim within, breathe of, and finally die from exposure to the consequences. The difference is, they were never able to understand or given a voice with regard to the affairs of Man. We were. Even if hypothetically we could communicate, how far would we get in trying to explain, when they know not of the word "greed?" We stretch and strain to reach understanding ourselves, for all that we know. They pray for the recovery of the plant life, submarine and near by the shore, all essential to the health of the planet in ways we cannot fully understand.
WPA Art, Coral Way Elementary School, above and below And, they pray fervently for the People affected by the dark, swelling shadow always in motion upon the sea and under its surface—sadly, a number growing daily, and exponentially, with neither end nor even any limits anywhere yet in sight. They pray for you, and for me.
They have asked for our help: yours and mine. They say, they cannot do it without us.
After some thought, I decided night before last that (for all the stacks of correspondence littering my desk) I had nothing more important to do than to pass along their request. And here it is, finally. At this point, we cannot afford to be without a prayer. I fear that the extent of our naked desperation will become ever clearer, more quickly than we realize. Part of our challenge is that we lack even a basic vocabulary for disasters on this scale. Especially when things get uncomfortable, we tend to stick with what we know. Completely understandable, but not at all helpful in dealing. For example: those here in South Florida (or, more horrifyingly, New York City) mustn't let ourselves imagine that, because we are not Louisiana, we are off the hook. It only works that way with hurricanes. An event of this magnitude is as patient and deliberate as it is utterly grim. 9
All you need to do is smell it coming, people say, and it's... just awful. There’s no words for it, one friend told me. Enough to literally sicken. Enough to kill hope. And it's not even yet in sight. The oil coming is like a hurricane approaching, in that something ominous is taking shape out there, and heading our way. We know that if a hurricane comes (especially one “big one” like Andrew, or two in succession, like Katrina and Wilma), everything can be changed forever, in a moment. Yet for all of its drama, the destructive force of a hurricane is relatively simple and straightforward. It announces itself in noise and fury, wreaks what havoc it can, and finally resolves into cloud. In contrast, the growing sea of toxic black oil knows no season, it comes in absolute silence, and it never leaves. What has prepared us to even conceptualize this experience?
There seems no better time than this moment to begin taking up arms against despair. Perhaps you can tell: I am more than a little upset. And I have been called Chicken Little or a Cassandra in a light spirit by my friends, and that comforts them. But I know what I know, and will not hide what I feel to be the truth: that all of life on Earth as we know it will shortly be hanging in the balance. What brand of foolishness is it, to believe that thoroughly poisoned seas will allow life on Earth to proceed, as usual? I ask not because I am of a fatalistic spirit, but because if I am to ransom Hope it will not be based upon some pretty lie, or convenient oversight. Please, may we pray?
Tibet Here is the prayer of the Grandmothers. Its manner of expression is a bit different from the way I generally pray, but then again I have never needed prayer as I do now. I will defer to their profound understanding of the Earth and its needs, and our place within it all. They know much that our scientists have long forgotten, or never considered. It is possible that we can make a difference, and we can afford no lost opportunity. I am throwing my all into this “practice,” and invite you to do the same. However you might feel it, though, is exactly how you should play it. This prayer is by no means exclusive; consider adding it to those you might know and find comfortable. If you feel lost, beyond hope or ability to pray, consider asking that the prayer pray itself through you. Ask for help. Ask for Hope. For your own benefit, and for those looking up to you to keep themselves from falling apart. And for the generations to come. Please send whatever light you can. Come what may, if we are in this together, we will at least be assured that we are none of us facing this nightmare alone. When the stakes are high and prospects fearful, that simple assurance can make it all much easier.
Now, from the Grandmothers: