Today, i’m feeling overwhelmed and worried. I feel like the foundation i’ve been standing on has turned into sand and i’m slipping around in it. i’m working on trusting myself to reach out to others for help where i need it and to resolve the new problems that have come up as best i can.
i’ve posted this story before, maybe not in quite this form. When i read it, i usually think about how different our culture would be if we had this approach to people who do wrong. i was particularly thinking about that lately when i read about a renowned trauma expert who was apparently also a bully to his staff. It seems like the original wrong-doing has been compounded by his denial and unwillingness to recognize the problem and to change.
It makes me think about our shadow selves and how if we don’t recognize and own that aspect of ourselves, it acts out in the world in harmful ways. i was reading about the allegations against this man and wondering where my own faults lie. Am i doing things now that could someday lead to me being publicly called out, chastised, discredited? Maybe. More importantly, would i be able to hear feedback that would let me correct my course now? i hope so.
Today, when i read this story, i’m about to share, i hear it as an opportunity to be called to myself. Feeling uncertain, feeling ashamed of maybe making the wrong decision, i can smudge with sage and connect with the Six Directions.
I can call on the East, spirit of new beginnings; the South, spirit of warmth and love; the West, spirit of the setting sun and autumn’s harvest; the North, spirit of quiet, stillness, and deep earth. I call on Mother Earth, source of support and bounty and Father Sky, source of light and understanding. I ask them all to be with me. I ask for blessings and wisdom and invite them to join the spirit of my soul within, a place of union, love and reverence.
This story reminds me that we each have our own song, even if we don’t know it, and move in our rhythm. We are each called to be the best of who we are. And we are still loved even when our flaws threaten to overwhelm us.
Of all the African tribes still alive today, the Himba tribe is one of the few that counts the birth date of the children not from the day they are born nor conceived but the day the mother decides to have the child.
When a Himba woman decides to have a child, she goes off and sits under a tree, by herself, and she listens until she can hear the song of the child who wants to come. And after she’s heard the song of this child, she comes back to the man who will be the child’s father, and teaches him the song. When they make love to physically conceive the child, they sing the song of the child as a way of inviting the child.
When she becomes pregnant, the mother teaches that child’s song to the midwives and the old women of the village, so that when the child is born, the old women and the people gather around him/her and sing the child’s song to welcome him/her. As the child grows up, the other villagers are taught the child’s song. If the child falls, or gets hurt, someone picks him/her up and sings to him/her his/her song. Or maybe when the child does something wonderful, or goes through the rites of puberty, then as a way of honoring this person, the people of the village sing his or her song.
In the Himba tribe there is one other occasion when the “child song” is sang to the Himba tribesperson. If a Himba tribesman or tribeswoman commits a crime or something that is against the Himba social norms, the villagers call him or her into the center of the village and the community forms a circle around him/her. Then they sing his/her birth song to him/her.
The Himba views correction not as a punishment, but as love and remembrance of identity. For when you recognize your own song, you have no desire or need to do anything that would hurt another.
In marriage, the songs are sung, together. And finally, when the Himba tribesman/tribeswoman is lying in his/her bed, ready to die, all the villagers that know his or her song come and sing – for the last time that person’s song.
Today, i forgive myself for being less than perfect. Today, i send you love and joy – from my spirit to yours…