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16 September 2018


or, what I learned about love from Lakota parents

Love deserves two posts. I write a lot about love because it is such an incredible force. Because it binds us to each other and cosmos. Because it makes us strong. Because it may be the very best humanity offers the world and each other.

I’ve learned a lot about love from the Blackfoot and Lakota people. Spending time not only with their home lands but with their children has made me both a better lover and better mother.

One of the most meaningful things I learned about love from the Lakota is borne in their name for children: “little sacred ones” or wakanyeja. I remember being taught that children and elders are closer to the spirit world, and so they are more sensitive than we “grown ups,” middle aged people. Professor Red Shirt writes that, "as long as a small infant has a soft spot on its head, it is sacred. It is through that opening that Tunkasila communicates with that child."

Kevin McKenzie, Cree & Meti; NMAI 2017

In the Christian way we are taught that before we are born an Angel takes all through cosmos and shows all the greatest mysteries. Then the Angel presses the finger to our lips creating the divet over the upper lip so that we will not tell all these great unknowns to everyone when we are born, but get to experience them and live them—find them out all over again through life. Some say the older we get the more we forget what the Angel showed us. But I think the idea was that deep down inside we would know the mysteries, so that when we experienced them our intuition would leap up and recognize them—THIS! This is it! And we would stay on the path that brought us to that moment. We would find our way back to Source, back home.

But in too many Christian traditions, children have not been treated as “little sacred ones,” often their sensitivity is beaten out of them with words and hands—instead of revered and learned from. Instead of hugging our children and holding them so they do not need to cry, we tell them to buck up, shut up, with hands and words.

As an HSP, I have a different perspective on the strengths and purposes of sensitivity. Because, like a child, I am still deeply, highly sensitive. Not only does it make us more aware of the world we are in, the feelings and experiences of the living beings around us—it makes us more aware of the Spirit world here with us now. The sacred in the mundane. Some of us have visions or dreams, others pull down great insights about life and cosmos in every day conversations, colors, weather, from animals or art. Our sensitivity makes this possible, makes us awake to communications on both axes of the medicine wheel. Children and elders are closer to that spirit world, we are taught, and they have access to this wisdom more directly, more seamlessly, more readily than adults. Because as we harden, we create walls to all kinds of things, not only pain or struggle.

And while I am HSP, and hold onto that sensitivity, still I find myself hardened by the world: Cynical or low on faith, sometimes more than others. Beat down, tired of the hegemonic world I live in that places so little value on the things I hold most sacred, beings I most honor.

So, I think we are meant to learn about love by loving our children and our elders—who we are asked to love better, with more awareness, with more energy, with more dedication, with our higher selves. We are asked to be our best selves as we love our elders and our babies. Compassionate, empathetic, without walls of any kind. This in itself is a great gift.

But I think there is yet more to learn from our little sacred ones. I think the sacredness of our children, and the love we are asked to give them, helps us keep cosmos closer to us, keeps us closer to the Spirit world where we can feel, know, experience our interrelatedness, our inseparable connection to all of life. Loving them well reminds us how to live like children and elders: closer to Spirit world.

One more infinitely meaningful thing the Lakota offer that makes my life more significant. Pilamaya ye, Lakota people. May this post honor you and your ways.

three of the sweetest little boys I know

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