Monday, July 27, 2015

"I Burned the Sage"



A beautiful abalone shell
A small bundle of sage
A gift from a dear friend
A present from an Uncle

I've longed for this
But I can't explain the longing
Just like I can't explain
Exactly what it means

Four or five times
Mere days after receiving
I put the gift to use
I prayed as I burned sage

I have heard some say
That smudging purifies
Or that it symbolizes
Prayer and purification

So in the heart of the nation
I prayed for the purification
Of the nation's heart
And I burned the sage

When my own vision clouded
And my heart needed to clear
I went down to a lake to pray
And I burned the sage

After the pain of a battle
When loved ones fought
I prayed when the dust settled
And I burned the sage

When my own storm came
And took away my hope
I danced and prayed for hope
And I burned the sage

I couldn't say precisely
What the burning sage "did"
Nor that I needed it
In order to pray as I did

Only that somehow
My heart loved it
And seemed at ease
I liked praying this way

Is this what my ancestors felt
Unetlanvhi Uwetsi?
I will take it as a gift from You
I will burn the sage again



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I wanted to write a post about this with my thoughts... but somehow there is something deeper here and I can't see it clearly enough to write about comfortably. It feels more right to make a poem instead.

P.S. A special nod goes to my friend in heaven, "Gift From Land of the Great Water"— you once gave me a set of candlesticks from your homeland and looked at me incredulously when I said I never prayed with candles. I hope you and Creator have a good laugh about this. Can't wait to see you again.

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