All One People
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Standing in their Circle, a group of people reverently turn to face and address the four directions. They call to their Great Mother and Great Father, giving thanks for their many gifts. The Circle is blessed with sweet smoke from sacred herbs and becomes a place where dance and song flow forth. It becomes a place where words of power are spoken.
Where is this great Circle? Who are these special people? (Does it really matter?) The scene described above could take place in many cultures. It could have occurred in stone age times, or with the tribes of North America, or even today in our own living room.
Perhaps the similarities we find are because we are all One people. Like a forest with many different trees, we all sprang from the same soil. We all took root and grew on the same green Earth, sought light from the same Sun. While the shape or size or color of our "leaves and bark" may differ, we are all made of basically the same materials. And within our cultures are many great things in common.
A Native American woman once taught me that there is no single "Indian culture" per se. They are a widely diverse collection of many tribes, nations and peoples. This often complicates a wide range of political and social issues facing Native Americans. She explained that while many things will vary from Indian nation to nation, one common thread holds fast. From Canada to South America, most Native Americans share the belief in an Earth Mother and Sky Father. And with this common thread comes a reverence for nature and the desire to live in harmony with it.
While it is obvious that the Earth Mother and Sky Father are similar to the Pagan belief of a Goddess and God, perhaps we have even more similarities with the Native Americans. Both Pagans and Native Americans were persecuted, becoming scarce over time. Both are now reviving, becoming more and more a part of the 1990's. Pagans too are a diverse people, with many different Traditions. Perhaps if we look for the common threads throughout our own diverse community, we may just be surprised at what we find! Perhaps our common threads can help hold us together.
These common threads stretch farther than just Native Americans or Pagans. They weave in and out of a wide variety of people we meet every day. People who live and work and play and learn with each of us. When we become frustrated with our differences, perhaps we can search for and focus on that which we all share. While the specifics of our religions may differ, people who hold their faith very dear and make it a central part of their lives have much in common - whether devout Christian, Jew, Pagan or whatever.
Another common thread is that many faiths are divided into a variety of diverse sects. Since our history does not include a time where all people ever agreed on all things, perhaps we can see religion as a mosaic. (And which part of any mosaic is not part of the whole?) Or maybe religion is a gem with many facets. (Which facet does not help shape the entire stone?) Or maybe it is a warm bowl of soup, helping to thaw the many bleak, cold parts of our lives. (Which ingredient in any soup does not blend into its overall flavor? Which noodle is not linked together by the same hearty broth?)
So as we stand in our Circle, sing our songs, dance our dances, we should remember that our Circle is one of many sacred spaces. Our dance is but a single step in a larger rhythm. Our words of power form a language spoken by many in a great variety of ways. We are all one people.
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