how i found my Gratitude Song
During one of our Tahoe's Geotourism Expo prep meetings, I was standing at the water's edge with a Washoe elder, who had not seen the lake since childhood (relocated to a reservation). He looked for a long time at the water and then shared, "The water has lost its sparkle, I guess no one is singing to it anymore". I felt a confused grief in my heart, trying to understand his loss and how singing to the Lake would return its sparkle.
The Washoe people have a special 'water blessing' for the lake along with songs, round dances and ways to show gratitude for the wonders of this watershed. One elder had shared how they talked to the bears when they need them to leave an area they are gathering in and wondered why our cultural uses such force to move them out of their habitat vs learn their language. The ancient and sacred relationship to this watershed and wildlife habitat by the original people of this land, includes gratitude for the life support the land, water and wildlife provided.
So I made an conscious effort to learn the language of the land, what I call the "LANDGUAGE" of Tahoe. In thinking about it, doesn't all language come from our relationship to the land? We may learn it as words to enable common understanding, but even the 'root words' have roots in the land that informed early sounds... And what about recent insights on mycelia and fungi, in managing the underground 'world-wide-wood-web' in connections and exchange? Yes, relationship is the 'currency' of all living systems. (ok that's another blog).
We may have forgotten a responsibility the original people of this land hold sacred. A simple way to connect that honors earths gifts. Maybe a Gratitude Song could help Tahoe recover its sparkle as we remember, recover and re-story our sacred relationship to nature, as a part of nature. I hit another layer of the 'Landguage' of Tahoe which led me to how I might activate this 'currency'.
At first I attempted to learn a few WaSheShu songs shared with me, but being in another language it was not as easy to remember. I then wondered where they found these songs (clearly not online) and then realized the muse was in the water, on the wind, pulsing in the rhythm of the land. One only needs to meander, wonder and listen. I slowed down to feel my foot connect to the terrain, noticed the wind flowing in and out of my lungs, the songs in the stream, the dancing rhythm of fire and how... I am that.
A Julie Butterfly quote confirmed my resolve, " There can be no Peace ON Earth, until there is Peace WITH Earth." Yes, this is how we do it... walk the land to understand. Notice tree limbs waving at you, streams singing and fire flames dancing in rhythm.
I saw myself reflected in nature and verses flowed:
Like Wind... I Breathe and I Blow
Like Water...I Nourish and I flow
Like Fire...I Consume and I Radiate
Like Earth...I Sustain and I Cultivate
As a Spirit in Rhythm with Creative force
I live in the Abundance... of Infinite Source
This activated a "re-membership" in Earths 'currency exchange'.
A Gratitude Song came next
Thank you Great Earth for grounding my Spirit
Thank you Great Water for the Wind and the Wave
Thank you great Sky for lifting my Spirit
Thank you Great Fire for lighting my way
(there's more verses, but you get the idea)
Even humming them as I wander increases my sense of place, connection and appreciation for waves of wonder not always heard inside the noisy 'cultural canopy'.
In order to feel the unique quality of a new place, try walking the land to understand... get curious on how this place came to be. Wander with wonder (hard from the seat of a speeding car). When you mindfully walk the land to understand, the personality of the place reveals it's face and then you can smile back, listen for its song and soon you will be singing in harmony.
May your gratitude song become a currency of your unique creative force..
living in the abundance of infinite source.
National Geographic Sustainable Destinations appointed Geotourism (destination stewardship) Liaison of Lake Tahoe