Sunday, April 11, 2010

Grandmothers Voices

Anthony came home today.

I picked him up at 8:00 in the morning and then drove straight to the Unitarian Universalist Church. I hadn't planned our reunion in quite this time, place, or manner, but several weeks ago my good friend Francesca asked me to sing for the grandmothers at an interfaith event to be held on this very day. They say Spirit moves in mysterious ways, always leading us through sacred "coincidences."

During the service, I told a brief story about my father. When I was a young man, we used to attend gatherings and dinners on reservations throughout the region. Without warning, my father often stood and announced to the people, "My son is going to sing for you now," or "My son is going to sing for the food." In those events, I had no way to prepare; I simply had to open my mouth and sing. This was one of my earliest forms of education as I learned to be in service to the people.

Francesca asked me to sing, and continuing the tradition of my father, I called upon my son to sing with me. I'm happy to say that he accepted the challenge. He stood beside me, opened his mouth, and sang the old ways.

The title of this blog reflects the purpose of the interfaith service. Some years ago, Franceca brought forth a vision of gathering indigenous women from around the world to share in a common wisdom and purpose. Since then, Francesca has traveled with the grandmothers to various places and countries, including Spokane.

Two of the grandmmothers spoke today: Vickie Downey of the Tesuqueh Pueblo and Eva Boyd of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai.

Eva read to the children of the congregation from a book in both Salish and English. It was very touching for me to hear those stories in our old language.

Francesca lit candles for the prayers of the people.

During the service, we sang a hymn titled, "Singer of Life." The song had a somewhat irregular, haunting quality, which reflected its Native American origin. In fact, the words were inspired by a Texcoco Nahuatl poem. I was moved to see the indigenous influence in their liturgy. So few churches include the cultural or spiritual traditions of other peoples and nations.

I was so moved by the hymn that Susan, the worship leader, gifted me with a copy of the Unitarian Universalist hymnal.

Eva spoke about the traditional foods of the Spokane people.

Vickie spoke of the ways her people have struggled to gain a voice within the United Nations.

Francesca, Eva, and Vickie.

As another divine "coincidence," I met two friends from high school at the service: Eric and Todd. Eric is pictured here with his wife Tammey. Todd played the flute for the service and somehow managed to escape my camera. Actually, Todd is the guy seated in the background of this picture.

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