Inspired By

The Sacred Circle: Laughing/Learning, Loving, Living and Leaving

The Sacred Circle: Laughing/learning, loving, living and leaving

[Clockwise starting from the top: Passion/Desire between (the two), Play/Delight within (the one), Pause/Deference through (the-all-of-everything), Purpose/Determination among (the three)]


Many tribal cultures value and promote four basic characteristics of living in relation to the land, to life: gentleness, kindness, respect and honor.

To be gentle is not to grasp or grab or crush. To be gentle is to touch softly--with the body it is as a mother touches her newborn child, with the body it is as a lover touches his beloved, with the body it is as a grandfather/mother touches the flower in its delicate beauty. To be kind is not to withhold or to be coldly distant.

To be kind is to share warm feelings--with the heart it is to smile warmly in the harshest of atmospheres, to find laughter in the most serious moments, to care when caring seems to be difficult. To be respectful is not to disregard the circumstances or history of others.

To be respectful is to have sensitive thoughts of others--with the mind it is to carefully consider the path that others have traveled, it is to seek to understand clearly and cleanly what is offered from others, it is to know what is the best of the communications and gifts offered by others.

To honor is to voice what is in one's body and heart and mind to gift to another or others--it is to express simply and clearly and directly what is most beautiful and meaningful in our living, it is to make the soul manifest in the world, through the performance of meaning and beauty, through truly naming in language and song our passage ....

In my childhood I learned to track and to hunt and to be an exceptional athlete, that is, I learned the value of being physically fit. Oh, I pounded the earth in my stalking and vital power. More recently I have learned how to physically fit my self to mother earth, to move and touch gently her body.

In my youth, I was taught how to deal with my frustration, my anger, my sadness, in positive ways. I learned how to be balanced in my exuberant feelings, that is, to be emotionally fit. More recently, I have learned how to emotionally fit my self to woman, how to open and share my heart in kindness and warmth with Her.

As an adult, I found and developed keen and precise and powerful thoughts. With my imagination and creativeness I constructed my visions in the world and demonstrated my mental fitness. More recently, I have discovered the humility of thoughtful service to others and how to mentally fit my self to the needs of community.

Thus, as a man in his body, I first learned of my capability to hunt and kill, that is, to capture and hold to my self what was out there in the world. As I grew older I learned how to give back to life by planting seeds and how to use the physical power I have to gift life rather than to take it.

As a man, I learned the strength and stamina of my heart and many commented. . . ah, he has 'great heart'. . . And as I grew older I learned not only to be bold but also to use my feelings to support the disheartened and faltering.

As a man, I learned how to brandish the sharp and bright weapons of my mind, incisively and with effectiveness. And, later, as I grew older, I found that the light of my thoughts might provide a clarity of vision and view much deeper into matters of concern to my family and community, and I found that this light might be useful to others, as well as my self, as we struggled in our families and communities to be healthy and strong.

My sense, now, of these matters is that while a man might first learn about the competition, capture and kill, with his body . . . first learn and develop great strength and stamina of heart, first discover and develop the character and quality of his mental sharpness, as he matures he must realize that while they are the qualities of a young warrior they are not the final qualities of a man and a human being.

He must learn that if this is all that he learns then he will have a tendency to secure his place and try to maintain his territory and in this individualized attempt to 'possess' that this will lead to violence and war of a variety of sorts, whether it be physical, legal, political or other kinds.

A man must continue in his journey of becoming and belonging and believing and eventually be recomposed and transformed, so that his power is used to plant the seeds that will bear the fruit of support and vision that will provide for and sustain his family and community . . . he must deepen into a state of being that is relationally supportive of community rather than individually possessive, he must move from a concern with capturing and conquering of place and position into an essential true presence "in relationship."

He must move from a "getting" to a "giving."

How might this occur?

As children we pursue play ... laughing and learning, we find delight (within)

As youth we pursue passion ... loving, we find desire (between)

As adults we pursue purpose ... living, we find determination (among)

As elders we pause ... leaving, we cease & desist our striving (through)

If the child within us disrupts the passion of youth and the purpose of adulthood, eventually we will have no one to love us or teach us how to live, and we will be helplessly without hope.

If the youth within us ignores the delight of childhood and the determination of adulthood, anger and resentment will come to us quickly and often.

If the adult within us forgets how to laugh, learn and love, soon we will find ourselves exhausted, alone, in bitterness and despair.

Most importantly, without the places and times, without the elders to show us how to pause in prayer and recover, our disrespect, ignorance and forgetful inconsiderateness will lead us into emptiness, suffering and meaningless death.

Mountain Climbing Children, still the body of its becoming (sensing only your beauty)
New Age Youth, calm the heart of its belonging (feeling only your love)
Mining Adults, quiet the mind of its believing (knowing only your truth)

In the silence, let the elder comfort and care for the soul in a sacred place, in a sacred way ... let your soul come into being (a part of the whole, a part of the spirit- which-moves-through-all-things)

Waubishmaa'ingan (white wolf) stewards land upon which generations of his family have lived. His Dakota (Sioux) and Anishinabe (Ojibwa) grandparents burned the prairies and his European relatives prevented burning there, promoting the forest. Today he is restoring the original pine savanna (prairie under the pines) and writing a book called Wissakode: Land of the Half-burnt Pines, that illustrates how the land values of both cultures can be cherished and realized. He carries the pipe and has welcomed tribal people in small groups over the years into special places and times of healing.