The other day, I was taking a long walk down a country road on a gorgeous sunny day. I love being among nature, listening to the birds singing their melodies, and inhaling her fragrant perfumes.
As I was walking, I looked down to see a beautiful butterfly that had apparently been hit by a car. It was laying on the road, its wings barely moving in the slight wind, probably hanging on between life and death. I carefully picked it up and gently laid it on a flowering bush while wishing it well on its journey into the next life. The Bible says that even a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without God knowing about it. I think that would include this small delicate butterfly.
There is so much in Mother Nature for us to see and yet we take so much of it for granted. Have you ever stopped to marvel at the majesty of the trees? The marvelous flowers with their splendid colors and perfumes? The green grasses that embrace the earth with its splendor? The critters that run and play in and out of the brush and trees? The magnificent birds as they soar on the winds of the Universe’s breath? The glorious sun that watches over us and gives energy to all of life? The stars that glow and twinkle in the night sky? It’s all so awe-inspiring!
Being among nature can bring so much peace and calmness when life gets to be chaotic. Mother Earth literally grounds us in her energy. That’s one reason I love Native American Spirituality so much. Indians are very much attached to the earth and know that she is a living, breathing being.
Back in the early 70’s, I saw the movie “Billy Jack” about a half Navajo Indian who lives on a reservation and protects the Indians and school students on the rez. It was because of this movie that I fell in love with the Native people, their beliefs, and their culture.
Later after graduating from high school, I thought I might like to be a missionary to the Indians. My church sponsored student missionaries to reservations in British Columbia to live with and minister to them. During my week of training in Vancouver, I was appalled to hear the missionaries calling the Indian people savages and thinking of them as almost less than human! I decided then and there I didn’t want anything to do with this form of prejudice and that I would live with the Indians and accept them just as they were. The very large family I lived with and I became very close and we keep in touch to this day. The missionary staff psychologist said I was the only student who did not have culture shock. I learned a great lesson in how important it is to love and accept people just as they are with no judgments.
I found the American Indians to be a beautiful, extraordinary people. They believe in a Great Spirit that is in everyone and everything. Their traditions and ceremonies are also wonderful. I’ve learned so much from them and will always be grateful to everything they have given me.
Native Americans believe in the sacredness of all life. When we realize our connectedness to nature and each other, we realize that what affects one affects all. If everyone could only realize how much a part of each other we really are, then maybe, just maybe we could know peace. Black Elk said, "The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us."
There is so much good to be learned from other religions, beliefs, and spiritual masters, and there’s no need to feel threatened by any differences. Director Gene Roddenberry (creator of “Star Trek”) stated it well when he said, “If man is to survive, he will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures. He will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, part of life's exciting variety, not something to fear.”
Let’s learn to embrace the goodness of each other’s religions and beliefs without feeling threatened. Let’s stop fighting and arguing over who is right or wrong and trying to force our beliefs on everyone else. And let us learn from the Indians’ example and strive to live in peace and harmony with all people and all things on this beautiful Mother Earth.
Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper June 6, 2014.