Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cultural Context of Woman

      There are special times in each woman's life when she no longer is the girl, but is asked to step up and be a woman.  I am thankful that in the cultural context of girls becoming women, we have our ceremonies to help us be molded in the image of changing woman.  Our responsibilities as care takers of our families are laid out for us in song, in prayer, with chanting, with women singing together in praise of the path we will soon have to walk.  I want to share a moment with you that I had a couple of weeks ago.  I think it is a great representation of the transference of knowledge and responsibility.

      "As I stood facing the East watching the bright orange light come over the horizon, I was thinking to myself, wow what a beautiful sunrise, I can see why the early morning is a woman's time to pray for blessings and to pray over the water.  In our teachings, life begins in the east, woman are a representation of life, and it is our blessings that bring hope, love, charity, and happiness to our families.  I stood there holding my prayer feathers on my right hand and my shawl hanging over my left shoulder.  I raised my prayer feathers four times to the East to bring blessings to the water that would soon be shared by all in that prayer meeting...."

       My mom usually brings in water for our family peyote meetings, but for this one special occasion she had asked me to bring these wonderful blessings to our family.  As a daughter and mother, I felt a great sense of knowledge and responsibility being passed to me by my mother.  I have actually had the pleasure of bringing in water for our family meeting once before, but I don't remember it quite like this. After giving blessings to the water, I then bring it into the meeting and ask for blessings from the fire place.  When my mom used to bring in water, she would sit there looking beautiful in front of the fireplace and praying...and praying.  My brothers and sisters used to joke about how long our mothers prayer was, but now that I was sitting there in front of that fire place, the responsibility was placed on me to pray for  my whole family.  It was only then that I understood why her prayers were so long, because a mothers prayer is long and said with tears.

        I keep these moments close to my heart, because I feel like our true selves come out in certain circumstances and it seems like only in these moments do we get a glimpse of what we are here to do.  As a new and young mother I remember struggling with the new role I found myself in.  I think many women whether or not they are intentional in their efforts to become mothers, struggle with their own identities.  I am a woman before I am a mother or am I a mother before I am a woman?  I don't find these roles or identities mutually exclusive, rather they are a balance of individuality that is necessary for harmony.  In Navajo philosophy, the male and female aspects of our selves are necessary for harmony which allows for health, wellness, and balance.  It is when these elements are not balanced that we experience imbalance and become not well.  

        Going back to our cultural teachings surrounding roles, it is through our clan that the intimate relationship between mother and child is reinforced through the mothers clan.  It is through the blood flow of your grandmother and mother that allows you to know your mothers love.  And it is through her love that teaches you to love yourself.  We recognize that we have many mothers, like mother earth and water woman, it is understood they are all looking out for us, but it is also our responsibility to love and respect them.  You call them "Shimรก" 

       As that it this the week to recognize the work that Midwives do, I thought it would be nice to talk a little bit about women and our roles as mothers and educators.  As midwives we too are mothers and educators and we have the pleasure of having a small piece in the very private exchange of a woman becoming a mother, a man becoming a father, and a families legacy expanding.  It really is a beautiful thing.

Blessings to You!