WINTER 2016 -

We are blessed to live in amazingly challenging times. Often we cannot help but feel hopeless in the face of what is happening, be it environmental destruction, political injustice, poverty or greed. But if we allow these things to cripple us, then neither we nor the world has a chance. This cannot be allowed to happen.

We also live in a time of amazing possibilities. For the past half year I have been greatly inspired by what is going on at the Standing Rock Lakota Reservation on the banks of the Missouri River. What I have witnessed from afar has been the miracle of peaceful, prayerful, non-violent resistance standing up and speaking out to the forces of might. “Sage Against The Empire” as one poster put it. The power at the heart of this movement is the recognition and deep acceptance of the Sacredness of Life.

The indigenous people of North America have been showing the way. What started as a small isolated incident became the largest gathering of Native American tribes in history, together with thousands of supporters, and captured the attention of the world. Because of this, many people living comfortably in the dominant white culture have now come to recognize that we have much to learn from the indigenous cultures of the world. The People of Standing Rock are teaching us that the time has come to take care of our home, the Earth. We cannot wait any longer and there is no more pressing task than this in our lifetime. Starting now, we need to live our lives in a way that recognizes that everything we have comes from the Earth and is sacred.

When I ask myself, who were the real world leaders of the Twentieth Century, four people stand out for me: Mahatma Gandhi, who said: “The weak can never forgive; forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.” Nelson Mandela, who said: “It always seems impossible until it is done.” And Martin Luther King, Jr. who said: "Everybody can be great because anybody can serve….You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love." And, of course, the Dalai Lama: “Develop the heart. Be compassionate, not just to your friends, but to everyone.”

In the 21st Century we have the Water Protectors of Standing Rock. Their rallying cry is simply: “Water Is Life.” Their continued vision has been one of unity, compassion and prayer. They prayed for everyone involved in this situation, without separating friend from foe. The gathered tribes have shown us again and again the real power of ceremony in spiritual activism. And although there is still a long road ahead, and many other “black snake” pipelines planned on other reservations, this gathering has a deep resonance and significance.

The last prophesy of Lakota Chief Crazy Horse was: "Upon suffering beyond suffering, the Red Nation shall rise again and it shall be a blessing for a sick world. A world filled with broken promises, selfishness and separations. A world longing for light again. I see a time of seven generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the sacred Tree of Life and the whole Earth will become one circle again. In that day there will be those among the Lakota who will carry knowledge and understanding of unity among all living things, and the young white ones will come to those of my people and ask for this wisdom."

We are all united in this task to bring our world back to beauty. As the Sun stands still and brings peace to the land, please take a moment to feel - what is your Standing Rock; what do you pray for? May we remember to remember as the returning Sun brightens our paths and we step into the New Year. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We too, together with the Spirits, can change the world.

- Jonathan -