Joy to the Rez

This is based on the experiences of myself and others on a team that went to the Yakama Indian Reservation in Spring 2016 to help Sacred Road Ministries with working on elders’ houses and playing with children.  Here is a video.

The child trotted listlessly alone
Down a road, round a well-known corner
And glimmered briefly when she saw the man,
Silent and unsmiling, smoking strongly.
Your people have forgotten how to dream.
But the sky dreams, and the old mountain dreams.

The white man broke the old life down;
Unhealed scars fester as they linger–
“Go home, white boy,” teenage girls shout.
Unavenged sins, yet unforgiven
Will rot beneath the skin and subtly breed
Unfelt hate, cold translucent sorrow.

The white boy asked a passing eagle why,
But he said, ask old woman mountain.
Oh, tell me, madam mountain, tell me why.
Wait and wait, rocks will give no answer.
The watcher’s stony face conceals her dreams,
Olden vast twisted words, unheeded.

We cannot read the mountain, but the sky,
Old and young prophet, paints his visions,
Now brooding, now serene and bright, now mixed
Blue and gold, blaze and vapor blotching.
The wind awakens, sun shoots through the shroud,
Fuller life mingles joy with grieving.

The wind is moving.  Noisy kids arrive
On a red bus with vans of people
Of every age from every place to play with them.
Kickball, cars, jump rope, bubbles, four square,
Give me a piggyback, the children cry,
Sharing hugs, meeting and remeeting.

Remember them, my heart, when winds rewind
Northern chill carrying me homeward;
Remember them since they remember you.
Love is soul-piercing, joy is aching.
Your face erases years of unbelief,
Your embrace breaks my heart and heals it.

Faith brought us this strange beauty, and they ask,
What is faith?  Come with me to bubbles.
The sky is grim and gusting; big ones burst
When the wand barely leaves the platter
In unskilled hands.  But learn to see the wind,
Ride the wind–miracles will happen.

Art of a Mathematician