Wind Sword

I drove south last weekend. Hour after hour led me further down the highway, away from my home and into another world that was about to become one.

There is magic in being able to move across the land-watching the trees change from evergreen to oak, the sky shifting from grey and melting to a slow blue burn stretching across the horizon.

Driving a road is not flying where the view is distant and pulled back. It is different than walking, every step an embrace between foot and earth. Driving offers both scope and meditation, relationship and consequence.

And for me, on this sweep down the West Coast, it was a revelation. I slid over the patchwork quilt of the earth herself, noting the rise of hillocks and the sway of valleys melting up the sides of the Siskyous. I observed the body of the mother that sustains me and provides shelter, food and clothing.

I saw the gouges made in her flesh to extract gravel, the trees burned and charcoal scenting the air with  wildfire. Lake Shasta low and red on its banks from too many years without rainfall to fill her basins.

But the beauty of her was still overwhelming. Despite the scars and the indignities inflicted on her soils and forests, she shone her pine needles and yellowing maples, ran sparkling rivers and offered aching sunsets. Her heart was open, even as oil blood was pumped out of her, even as her hills burned.

When I finally arrived in San Rafael for the Bioneers conference, I was open to being shaped. To being further awakened to my power for healing or destruction in relationship with mother earth and all my relatives, plant and animal alike.

I met several dancers at the end of the conference, indigenous women who moved in circles and harmonized with song as they spun. We spoke of the evolution of their forms, what rose organically from the moment, what shapes were brought to the movement as an offering. I asked if they did contact improv and Esme, the long-haired one, smiled in rapture.

"What brought you here?" she asked me. Her body curled and flowed with the braids swirling down her back.

"A call to build bridges with word and fuse movement with Movements that embody the reality of relationship between individuals and their souls, between the earth and our species, between us and our relatives...I don't know exactly what that will look like yet, but that's what I feel."

Esme's words kissed my ears.

"My teacher speaks of wielding the Wind Sword...your words, you have this gift. The way will come to you."

She smiled again, soft and strong and wrapped in grace.

And as I rode north, I rolled down the window and watched...and inhaled the burned air and blackened hills from the Sonoma and Napa fires.

I shook in waves of our collective legacy. What I do matters. How I wield the wind sword is important because it tells my story and stories shape the way we see the world. How we treat her.

Sunny Dooley, Dine' story-teller, told me not to be lazy. Find your people. Swab your cheek. Find the stories that connect you back to the earth. Tell these. And never think they do not matter. They matter.

And so I drove north, aware of the fact that I am driving a car that burns the very fuel I think should be left in the earth. The terrible contradictions of what we say we believe and what we do. The amazing opportunities to observe the impact we have on our planet and to change course, just as I turn left to follow the path home.


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