It’s hard to believe that yesterday we flew like eagles above Lake Superior on this blog, watching the ice fields, pondering the forming, sustaining and breaking up of winter ice.
Today we’re on solid ground near Shanty Town in Baraga watching what happens when we view the world like squirrels or chipmunks. (If you want to fly up in the air and get another look at Shanty Town from the sky, please click here and scroll to the last picture. See all those little dots? Those are ice fishing shanties still on the bay, protected by Sand Point. There’s still ice this close to shore–although some fisherfolk pull in their shanties every day.)
I am still pondering the way we view Life.
Years ago, the Anishinabe, the Ojibway, taught me about the Circle of Life. A native man took me through the reservation in his pick-up truck. We visited some elders, and then drove down a sandy backroad. We got out of the truck and he found a long branch. He drew a circle in the sand and began teaching about the Native American cosmology.
He shared that the Eagle represents the Eastern direction in the right side of the circle. The Eagle represents that view from the airplane, that view from far above. That is our ability to see the Larger Picture. It’s our ability to see wide and far. It represents many other things as well: birth, childhood, fresh energy, creativity, sunrise, beginnings, new ideas.
The southern direction, he explained, belongs to the little creatures on the ground. The mouse, the turtle, the squirrel. The gift of the southern direction is to see closely. To see detail. To be present with the small things, the earth-walk, the fishermen in their shanties and the boy spinning on his four-wheeler.
The south also represents mid-day, maturing from a child into an adult, fertility, earth, love.
As we travel around the Circle of Life, we come to the western direction. Here the wolf teaches and the bear slumbers in the den. Here we embrace adulthood. Here we let go, and let go again. It is the time of twilight, the setting sun. It is also the gateway to the Spirit World, where we do our final letting go and walk into the Other World.
The northern direction carries the medicine of the deer, the buffalo. Here we embrace wisdom. We give away to the people. We rest in the winter of our lives; we contemplate; we realize the fruits of Old Age. We stop and listen. We integrate. We again give away to the people the gifts of our wisdom, the gifts of our journey around the circle.
Each day contains the Circle of Life. Each moment contains the Circle of Life. Each day we are given the opportunity to see the Larger Picture, to witness the beauty and love of the smaller details of living, to let go of that which no longer serves and to embrace our wisdom–and to share it with others.
I wish you all the gifts of all the directions as you travel ’round and ’round. Smile when the child does wheelies with his four-wheeler on the shiny ice. Smile at the laughter of fishermen telling jokes and swapping tall tales. Smile when you know it’s time to leave the ice at sunset. And remember–always remember–share your fish with your family and neighbors!
Enjoy the sacred hoop of this day…