To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can’t see, can’t hear;
Can’t know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren’t always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
We pray that it will be done
Joy Harjo, from In Mad Love and War
Wesleyan University Press, 1990
In light of recent events at Standing Rock in North Dakota, this sacred poem by Joy Harjo seems especially poignant. According to reports, at the height of the protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline, whose path was set to cross ancestral Sioux territory, and under both Lake Oahe and the Missouri River, a golden eagle landed and allowed several of the water protectors to touch him. I believe that, like the eagle, we join a greater “circle of motion” when we “open our whole selves” to the world and listen for true voices beyond our own interests. At this moment in time, at a crucial turning point in America’s history, we must let those rational, honest voices help guide us. We need “sacred wings” to “sweep our hearts clean,” so that we might speak from, act from, and follow our hearts in order to learn a new language of brave authenticity, in order to stand up to what now passes for authority in our country.