Monday, September 12, 2011

We Are All Related

We returned home yesterday after an incredible week of vacation. We spent time with friends in 2 different parts of the country, and met many wonderful people along the way. We felt the peace and sacredness in places that were as varied as landscape can get. From the lush verdant farmlands of the midwest to the striking Badlands and Black Hills, we found sacred ground where the Spirit of the place touches you so deeply that you will never think the same way again. But even more importantly we found people.

'Mitakuye Oyasin' is the Lakota phrase that says We are all related-We are related to all things!Four-legged, two-legged, winged ones, swimmers, crawlers, plant and rock people.We are all related. As we traveled this week we felt this relationship even more strongly than ever. As we drove the scenic drive in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and a group of wild horses came right up to us, it was easy to believe that all things are related. As a wild horse put its nose a few inches from the face of my autistic son and his camera, there was no question that the horse knew to be gentle with my son. Yes, in that moment 'all things are related' was very evident. But in other moments we met other two-leggeds who seemed to instinctively know how to relate to my son, and he was afforded the opportunity to practice social skills we have worked long and hard to instill.

At Crazy Horse Memorial, we shared a picnic table with a couple from Minnesota and a couple from Rapid City. The man from Rapid City just happened to  be a Nascar fan. He and my son were able to talk about their love for all things Nascar. It didn't matter that one of them was a successful businessman and one of them was an autistic young man, it mattered that they were related in their love for a sport. It mattered only that all 6 of the people sitting together, from different parts of the country, different lifestyles, different faith traditions, were related by Creator and  their love for the Spirit of this place, and the spiritual need to be there on this special night. It mattered only that we were sharing and honoring the sacredness of relationship.

Relationship is an attitude that we found in our travels. We may get so wrapped up in our day to day existence, our problems,routines, issues, that we forget this important lesson. Relationship is based not on blood ties, nor proximity, or even similar belief systems. Relationship is the underlying commonality that we seem to have lost in our hectic lives. We see all around us, on the internet, on the news the differences that keep us divided and suspicious of each other. What we really need to be reminded of is that even when we are from different places, believing different things, we are related. An autistic young man and a South Dakota businessman can come together in conversation. A wild horse can recognise the special need of a  two-legged brother who is different and behave with gentleness, and in doing so honor our relatedness.

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