At the Natick Praying Indians Annual Harvest Moon Powwow, there was a special honor song in memory of another mother, her son, and my mother. Knowing there were only five of us completing the first path around the sacred circle reminded me that the journey of mom’s passing had often felt lonely. The strong presence of Janet Robinson and her amazing heart beside me, made it possible to find a rhythm based on communion rather than isolation. On the second round, the gathering energy of strong clear voices, the presence of children, and others who joined the procession freed my feet further to receive each beat of the drum.
As I moved around the circumference, I thought back to the day nearly four years ago when I had first come to this Powwow seeking a blessing I could not name. At five months into the journey with mom I had seriously doubted my ability to go the distance. The odds on the possibility of us healing a return to the original blessing that surrounded the circumstances of my birth, seemed slim.
On that long ago day, as Harry began to smudge me, tears had poured down my face. By the time the feather that signifies completion touched my shoulder, something had shifted. Already more certain, when Naticksqw’ – Chief Caring Hands, offered her welcome and blessing that day, I had closed my eyes. Her powerful words resonated in my chest, encouraging me to embrace a sureness about entering a covenant to assist in a ‘good death’ for mom. Returning home that day something felt noticeably different. I still didn’t have a single clue about how to accomplish my mission, yet I had faith that somehow I would.
In each pass around the circle I reconsidered the memories of everyday spent with mom. Some of the no longer useful more painful images, flowed out through my feet and deep into the earth. All that was possible has come to pass. I felt stronger and more certain about what may be useful going forward. I remembered the mission has been completed and the promise fulfilled. On the final verse, I thought of all the people I know who are in the last days now with their own mothers and offered prayers for them. Never have my feet felt more sure.
As the song and the drum still hung in the air, I felt flooded with honor and simply blessed. Each person came and offered something from their heart. Then it was Harry’s turn. Knowing the part he had played in the story, when the depth of compassion in his eyes met mine, and his arms offered comfort, a single sob broke loose and rang out into the sky.
I will long remember and treasure the sensation of my feet placed upon the earth with each heartbeat made of honor, and the amazing people who have borne witness to this journey.
And then there was great celebration and joy.
Another Harvest Moon Powwow with the Natick Praying Indians passes from this life to the next. To Cathy Kerr, Janet Robinson, the family of Chief Caring Hands, and all my beloveds who may soon this way of parental grief come; May their time be comforted by your touch, conversations made compassionate by your openness, hearts filled with your love, and suffering eased through your willingness to accept life’s great mystery. Chi Miigwetch.
She Who Brings the Dawn.