From Kim Langbecker, Executive Director
Welcome to Recommended Reads, Sacred Fire Foundation’s monthly book recommendation series.
Today, I am delighted to share an excerpt from Wisdomkeepers: Meetings with Native American Spiritual Elders by Steve Wall and Harvey Arden, published in 1990 by Beyond Words Publishing, Inc. I came across this doing research for an interview with Wisdom Treasure Award honoree Mohawk Elder Tom Porter. This award is presented annually to an Elder who has served their community and culture, and through their leadership and dedication, they have kept the sacred fires of their language, ceremonies, and traditions alive and thriving for the next generations.
The authors of Wisdomkeepers, Mr. Wall and Mr. Arden, both worked for National Geographic magazine at the time this book was written, Wall as a documentary photographer and Arden as a senior writer. It had probably been at least 15 years since I had really looked through it.
It was no surprise to find Tom Porter included in this masterpiece. I had no idea that the photograph of him, taken when he was around 40, was just two weeks before he would have a life-threatening health event.
I’ll save the rest of the story for when we release his interview!
I’d like to share 2 offerings.
The first from Vernon Cooper (a Lumbee Elder) and the second from Oren Lyons (Onondaga). Oren also serves on Sacred Fire Foundation’s Elders Council.
The Age We’re Living In
“I just wasn’t cut out for the age we’re living in. Everybody’s hurrying but nobody’s going anywhere. People aren’t living, they’re only existing. They’re growing away from spiritual realities. These days people seek knowledge, not wisdom. Knowledge is of the past; wisdom is of the future. We’re in an age now when people are slumbering. They think they’re awake, yet they’re really sleeping. But this is a dangerous age, the most dangerous in human history. People need to wake up. They can’t hear God’s voice if they’re asleep. Heavy equipment and light-minded people have destroyed just about everything nature has provided. Well, we can’t keep ruining the earth and poisoning it and think we can get away with it. Certain destruction is going to hit one of these days. We’re on the verge of a change such as has never been before. God is going to intervene.”
The second reading from Oren Lyons (Onodaga)
The Natural Law
“What law are you living under? United States government law? That’s Man’s law. You break Man’s law and you pay a fine or go to jail—maybe. That’s the way it is with Man’s law. You can break it and still get around it. Maybe you won’t get punished at all. Happens all the time. People figure they can get away with anything and half the time they do. But they forget there’s another law, the Creator’s law. We call it Natural Law. Natural law prevails everywhere. It supersedes Man’s law. If you violate it, you get hit. There’s no judge and jury, there’s no lawyers or courts, you can’t buy or dodge or beg your way out of it. If you violate this Natural law, you’re going to get hit and get hit hard.
One of the Natural laws is that you’ve got to keep things pure. Especially the water. Keep the water pure is one of the first laws of life. If you destroy the water, you destroy life. That’s what I mean about common sense. Anybody can see that. All life on Mother Earth depends on the pure water, yet we spill every kind of dirt and filth and poison into it. That makes no common sense at all. Your legislature can pass a law saying it’s OK, but it’s not OK. Natural law doesn’t care about your Man’s law. Natural law’s going to hit you. You can’t get out of the way. You don’t fool around with Natural law and get away with it. If you kill the water, you kill the life that depends on it, your own included. That’s Natural law. It’s also common sense.”
You can find this book at beyondword.com.
May our book suggestions spark inspiration in you.