Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Legend To Heal By

Statue of
Changing Woman
in Sedona

Late start for me today, much doin'
but have been thinking about
a legend I was told a very long time ago,
and somehow it seems right today...
Particularly after a conversation I had with someone last evening of their recent loss... This conversation was then followed by another long conversation with another dear soul of a grief resolved after a long journey walked and resolved with a guide that became a trusted companion through that unfamiliar path...
Seems this legend is once again asking to be shared ~

Long ago and many many moons ago there lived  a man and his wife who had one daughter. Mother and daughter were deeply attached to one another, and when the latter died the mother was disconsolate. She cut off her hair, cut gashes in her cheeks and sat before the corpse with her robe drawn over her head, mourning for her dead.
After death came, would she let them touch the body to take it to a burying scaffold. She had a knife in her hand, and if anyone offered to come near the body the mother would wail, “I am weary of life. I do not care to live. I will stab myself with this knife and join my daughter in the land of spirits.”

 Her husband, relatives and close friends tried to get the knife from her but could not. They feared to use force lest she kill herself. They came together to see what they could do. “We must get the knife away from her,” they said.

At last they called a boy, a kind of simple one it seemed, yet with a good deal of natural shrewdness. He was an orphan and very poor. His moccasins were out at the sole and he was dressed in wei-zi (course buffalo skin, smoked). “Go to the tipi of the mourning mother,” they told the boy, “and in some way contrive to make her laugh and forget her grief. Then try to get the knife away from her.”

The boy went to the tent and sat down at the door as if waiting to be given something.
 The corpse lay in the place of honor where the dead girl had slept in life. The body was wrapped in a rich robe and wrapped with ropes.

Friends had covered it with rich offerings out of respect to the dead. As the mother sat on the ground with her head covered she did not at first see the boy, who sat silent.
But, when his reserve had worn away a little he began at first lightly, then more heavily, to drum on the floor with his hands.

After a while he began to sing a comic song.

Louder and louder he sang until carried away with his own singing he sprang up and began to dance, at the same time gesturing and making all manner of contortions with his body, still singing the comic song.

As he approached the corpse he waved his hands over it in a blessing.

The mother put her head out of the blanket and when she saw the poor simple boy  with his strange grimaces trying to do honor to the corpse by his solemn waving, and at the same time keeping up his comic song, she burst out laughing.

Then she reached over and handed her knife to the boy. “Take this knife,” she said.

You have taught me to forget my grief. If while I mourn for the dead I can still be mirthful, there is no reason for me to despair. I no longer care to die. I will live for me, live my life for my relations and hold my daughter's life UP so that she too will live on in memories.”

The boy left the tipi and brought the knife to the astonished husband and relatives. “How did you get it? Did you force it away from her, or did you steal it?” they asked.

She gave it to me. How could I force it from her or steal it when she held it in her hand, blade uppermost? I sang and danced for her and she burst out laughing. Then she gave it to me,” he answered.

When the Elders of the village heard of the orphan’s story they were very silent. It was a strange thing for a boy to dance in a tipi where there was mourning. It was stranger that a mother should laugh in a tipi before the corpse of her dead daughter. The Elders gathered at last in council. They sat a long time without saying anything, for they did not want to decide hastily. The pipe was filled and passed many times. At last an Elder spoke. “We have a hard question. A mother has laughed before the corpse of her daughter, and many think she has done foolishly, but I think the woman did wisely. The boy was simple and of no training, and we cannot expect him to know how to do as well as one with good home and parents to teach him. Besides, he did the best he knew. He danced to make the mother forget her grief, and he tried to honor the corpse by waving over it his hands."
 The mother did right to laugh, for when one does try to do us good, even if what he does causes us discomfort, we should always remember rather the motive than the deed. And besides, the boys’ dancing saved the woman’s life, for she gave up her knife. In this, too, she did well, for it is always better to live for the living than to die for the dead.

And for this we give thanks in our thoughts today, and so it is ~

Wherever you are whatever your struggles, know that there is light, there is HOPE in healing,
and we are with you... in all ways...

The Fire is burning brightly with thoughts on the wind to all mentioned here, we are with you along with some powerful angels...

Walk In Beauty,


Anonymous said...

the beginning of your story brought to mind a scene in "Dances With Wolves", where the young woman is grieving the loss of her husband and faints when Kevin Costner, approaches her

Irene M said...

Whew............... story blew me away.... and
the visual I got, reading on and on, blew me away more. I thought : " what a horrible story " Ah, but the meaning at the end is soothing, true and peaceful. Great blog this day, you never disappoint, even though it is a bit later than usual, I waited patiently and it proved to be ONE OF THE BEST written.
Staying cool and FIRM

Anonymous said...

The blog today was beautifully written and sent a message to all of us who is still mourning the death of all of our loved one. If only we could let go and not torture our selves for what we did or didnt do to help our loved ones. I know the old saying is life is for the living but when sometimes you dont want to live because of all of the special people you have lost it is very complicated. Life is good and one must always think of the ones who are left behind and how they depend on you. I can understand the grief of the woman and understand the boy who helped her come out of her mourning. How sad for all the families who chose that path. Her words were beautiful when she said I no longer care to die but live for me and for my relations. A lesson learned from a mere poor little orphan. Words of wisdom. Written very much from the heart.

Cathy Madden said...

I was waiting for this and believe me it was well worth the wait. As I enter into the age of being the mother of adult children I am trying to find a way of transitioning. I've not been very successful at this thus far. My children, at least my man children, seem to expect me to mother still. I want to become more of a friend. I know we women in the south, or at least I've been guilty saying,"Mother to the grave", but I've been revisiting this with some concern. It's time for my husband and I to put ourselves at the top of the list. I love them dearly but it can be quite taxing and exhausting at times. I pray I will never lose one to death but if I have to bury one I might need a lot of folks to gather all the humor possible to help me move into a place where I might continue to live for those I love that are still here.

Kelly 2 Wolves said...

Awsome Story,The boy what we would call a Heyoka, This is also why we do a wiping of th tears ceremony so we do not fall away into that place of darkness, and remeber as we live so will the memories of those we love that went before us. Life is for the living and there is much to do! Love ya Sissy

Anonymous said...

The wiping of the tears seems interesting. I would wonder if it could last for each year passing and with the birthdays, the laughter, the just having someone to talk too. I have been in that place of darkness and often go back there and have to climb out again and again. The memories of those we love that went before us sometimes we just cant let go. I know Life is for the living, you are so right there is much to do when you can get yourself up and do it. Life is what we make of it, sometimes we can and sometimes we cant without the love and help of family and friends that will listen to you.

Anonymous said...

Doc, you've done a wiping of the tears ceremony, think you could ask Kelly 2 Wolves to share hers here as well... thanks for the reminder of choosing to live ... deep legend of truth... i remember someone calling you a heyoka in a circle of healing in Virginia one time long ago... and then i can recall the smells of the sage filling the room and it got so very hot there that night i could feel my loved ones arms around me he was so very close, it was that night i chose to live and living i have been ever since then with happiness in all ways for wnth my relations and friends. what memoreis this evoked forme

Kelly 2 Wolves said...

In the wipeing of the tears, it is done to end your mourning, To say you have cried enough! The sun rises every morning with or without each of us, As we make our journey through life and back home again. To stop living because we have lost someone brings shame to that persons life who we lost. To stand in the minute of death, instead of celebrating the lessons learned, and the time spent with that loved one Serves No One and is selfish. We choose what we what to feel, and if you want to feel lonliness and sorrow for all of your remaining days, the beautiful gift of this life the Creator has given to you has been disrespected. I have lost Many along this road, and often reflect with smiles on fond memories ,teachings,and Joyful moments spent. If I feel a longing for a loved one I pray and speak to them and know my heart is heard. And I get up and move a muscle and go on with my tasks for the day with that love in my heart.Because I still have some living to do. And I know they are always with me Blessings to all going through these times.

Anonymous said...

Each path is different, each in many ways the same. The tears must slow, the smiles must return. I thnak you for the reminder todya and the beautiful, meaningful story. It is true that we disrespect teh dead if we fail to live fully. To hold the gift that their life has been to us. To celebrate their memory as we live in the light of the love they led us to feel. Every dark moment spent grievig and being distraught is a moment we could have well spent recalling the meaning of ur lovedones life. As you have said many times, there is humor in heartache. We must find the smiles, let the grief go as we are ready to enbrace the life we have. For each of us in our own time. Let that time be now.