WHAT GREAT AND HOLY WISDOM we deny our souls when we allow them to breathe only in the narrow confines of one particular tradition.
I’m thinking again of Brother David Steindl-Rast’s “the mystical core needs to bring forth so many different myths and teachings, needs to be celebrated in so many different rituals, because it is inexhaustible.” (See For a music of silence) … as I’m immensely moved by the prayer of Invocation offered by Black Elk – “a Lakota of the Ogalala Band” – before he began to describe the ground of his faith, through an interpreter, so that it might be set forth in a book for future generations.
Hey hey! hey hey! hey hey! hey hey! Grandfather, Great Spirit, you have been always, and before you no one has been. There is no other one to pray to but you. You yourself, everything that you see, everything has been made by you. The star nations all over the universe you have finished. The four quarters of the earth you have finished. The day, and in that day, everything you have finished. Grandfather, Great Spirit, lean close to the earth that you may hear the voice I send. You towards where the sun goes down, behold me; Thunder Beings, behold me! You where the White Giant lives in power …
Great Spirit, Great Spirit, my Grandfather, all over the earth the faces of living things are all alike. With tenderness have these come up out of the ground. Look upon these faces of children without number and with children in their arms, that they may face the winds and walk the good road to the day of quiet. This is my prayer; hear me! The voice I have sent is weak, yet with earnestness I have sent it. Hear me! It is finished. Hetchetu aloh! (So it is!)
Heȟáka Sápa (Black Elk) 1863–1950
First, I note Black Elk’s sense of the absolute necessity of invoking the blessing of God before ever he began to speak of Him. Second, I note my own readiness and ability – from a Christian perspective – to say Amen! Hetchetu aloh! at the end of Black Elk’s prayer. And as I ask the Spirit of God to “lean close to the earth that you may hear the voice I send” – I lean inwards to hear the loving reply. Is it not the case that an inner voice within all of us whispers “all over the earth the faces of living things are all alike. With tenderness have these come up out of the ground.”
Great and Holy Wisdom, still us, quieten us, calm us, come to us.