Yesterday we climbed the trail to the cliff-top laughing and slipping up the steep bank. We sat in the green plastic Muskoka chairs (we keep stashed under the big white pine) and finished our last meal befor the 24hrs we’d set as our vigil. And so our fasting began as we watched the sun set.
We are watching, waiting, and praying for the gathering of First Nations leaders with Prime Minister Harper today. Joining with so many Canadians who wonder what positive outcome might emerge from this opened door.
The door was only opened grudgingly, as a compromise to the stand-off Chief Theresa Spence had created with her demand – with the nation watching – to meet before she’d eat again.
Food to the human body is like water to the earth. Without the cycle of rain dropping, rivers flowing, and evaporation lifting H2O again to the clouds – the earth dries up and dies. Without the cycle of food chewing, enzymes churning, and calories burning – the body slowly digests itself and dies. Like a fire that must be fed, the body needs food for the soul to “be” a human “be”ing.
With a fire, only ash remains once heat and smoke have been spent. With humans, only the empty body remains once will and hope have ceased to “be”. Our time is brief to walk this earth. And though the long nights of this winter season might make us want to stay asleep. And though the Maker’s grace supplies endless compassion for those who don’t “see”. And though wisdom waits with patience until harsh lessons might be learned by the teachings of experience. There is in the human heart always an urgency –when the circle is broken – when the cycle is altered - to bring about again the balance that sustains all life.
We look to our leaders to sustain that balance. We expect wisdom from those we give power and authority to. We trust that their hearts carry the interests of not only today - but what also will keep the circles turning for generation after generation after generations to come.
But those who would take hold of the wheels of power will always be turned themselves towards the bread of arrogance. Take the flour milled from the grinding wheels of commerce and control. Add the yeast of priviledge and the waters of pride - that are good when pure - and a dough is made for leaders of all kinds. In the oven that is the debate and discerning of short-term benefits over long-term costs – the leader gets hungry. Hunger grows for the bread that feeds the all-so-human desire to be above it all. We want to lift ourselves above and beyond reproach. Then “we” – the arrogant few - can claim the truth, the way, the light that none but “us” can see.
Conservative ideology claims this arrogance as a birthright. I’m not talking here about the petty games of party politics between Whigs and Tories - but about the underlying claims that bring one’s beliefs into action. The “conservatives” of this world believe that - because of their “insider” knowledge and status - they “know what’s best” for the rest – who couldn’t possibly know - should trust - what their economic high-priests and corporate-funded scientific experts say.
This status claimed by the elite means they deserve to rule, to lead, to take whatever measures necessary to feed the ones who they deem deserving to share their bread. The underserving, unwashed, and unenlightened can have the crumbs of what’s left from this high table.
Communist ideology (or communal-ist for the politically queasy) sees the world from the bottom up. It believes that human history tells the story of a collective wisdom. This wisdom takes the crumbs of the High Table and with spit and blood and sweat rekindles them into a new loaf. Confucius, Isaiah, Jesus, Bhudda, Black Elk, Marx, Ghandi, MLK, and Mandela all baked up loaves of this kind. It is the bread of humility. It is the recognition that power corrupts, that greed twists, that priviledge perverts even the strongest purest will. That good intentions and good words are not enough.
The spinning of the wheels of commerce and control must be always balanced between the sure force of the strongest and the moral imperatives of the weakest. Our “be”ing, our humanity, our place in the circle is maintained by the way we care for the earth, for the weak, for the ones pushed into shadows by the bright lights of the priviledged and so-called “gifted”.
It’s raining this January morning. Winter’s season is unbalanced. Still, the river drops over ancient granite between frozen shores. It churns away and thunders a song of the ages. The circle, the circle, the circle cannot be broken. We can damn the river, damn our opponents, damn the consequences – but try as we might to rise above and rule the day – the choices we make will always come back to haunt the footsteps of our children’s children’s children.
Are the lessons of the past just footsteps in the snow? Will they melt and be forgotten when the sun shines and the economy comes round again to keep alive the dream of riches for me and mine? Or will we learn? Will we see where the path leads? Where it always leads.
Where does the path lead when we trust that the interests of the rich are in the interests of those who get to serve at their table? When will we learn that the interests of the middle-class are with the long term interests of the hungry, the dispossessed, the ones who live closest - who depend the most - on earth, and sky, and the sacred sustaining waters that define our very existence here on this shrinking globe.
For today, I choose to step away from the cycle of consumption that feeds my body. I step away from being full of answers. Answers that come quick can too easily divide us. Divisions breed anger that blinds our imaginations. Can we seek instead the wisdom of the ages? To see the cycle is to appreciate it’s power and to humble ourselves in its service.
Today i send from this sideline my hope, my soul’s cry, my heart’s desire to where our leaders sit and ponder and must hear the people’s song. The circle, the circle, the circle cannot be broken. The balancing must come again.