Thursday, February 2, 2012

Of choices and wholeness

Three young ladies and their duennas prepare for the Sunrise ceremony that will usher them into adulthood.   

         I should know better than to read Robert Brumet’s Healing and Wholeness before going to bed at night. Waking me at five this morning, the lessons from the book run eagerly through my head, lessons about free will, choices, and the gifts in both joy and sadness. I find I’m still piecing together my own image of the Universe, and reading that very thoughtful book has my mind clicking along, whether or not the time is convenient. 
            And so I sit here in the pre-dawn darkness, lit intermittently by the cars inching their way along our icy little frontage road, parents dropping their kids off at the bus stop so they can get a better education than on the Reservation. Its not that the teaching is so bad on the Rez; it isn’t, there are gifts in both, but the environment in town is better. Part of education is what happens around and outside the classroom, and the experience of being in the world-oriented, competitive atmosphere of the local schools here prepares the Native American students better for life in the outside white man’s world.  Those that go to Reservation schools and  remain on the Rez in adulthood live in a world where unemployment runs 85%, and all of the miserable things about poverty become a way of life. It’s a different set of lessons.
            The young people of the Tribe are its treasure, and although those that do return are interested in improving things, they are kept out of tribal decision-making because they often don’t speak Apache – not taught in schools on or off the Reservation – and they don’t own land and/or cattle. But change is afoot, and there is great hope for a future where the government is more accessible and responsive to the needs of all of the people and not just a few. Involving the young people is critical to the future of the Tribe.
            And so the parents that are dropping off their children in the pre-dawn darkness hold the greatest treasure of all: the future. Even if the children don’t return to the Rez when they grow up, they will bring their own gifts from the Apache way of life to our world and challenge our thinking, too. They are beautiful. They are a blessing.