I am a child from nowhere, a long string of wandering ancestors trailing behind me
Some forced from their native homes long ago, some more recently
By war or economy — conquered, defeated, starved, persecuted
They carried their wounds with them where ever they went
And as is the cycle common in abuse without healing, they turned from victim to oppressor
For years, I have asked myself: where do I belong?
When one’s spirituality is a spirituality of the land, but the land doesn’t belong to you?
Ancestors who stole the land, who killed and enslaved and pillaged
And here I am, a child from nowhere, curled up on the pine needles and live oak leaves
Here I am, a child from nowhere, flying to one of an overwhelming number of “homelands”
Only to find its gentle rolling hills and old stone walls are beautiful and soft and welcoming
But don’t fit anymore
Because my wild soul was shaped by earthquakes and wildfires, granite and glaciers
Bears lumbering and coyotes singing, and the darkness you only see
When there is nothing for miles but stars
How do I breathe into all this pain?
My ancestors’ wounds: the wounds that they caused and the wounds that they carry?
The land invites me in
Not always nicely; not always gently
Sometimes through flood or fire or blizzard or rip tide
This land is prickly and bristles with raw power
As if to say: how dare you think I could ever be owned or controlled?
Reminding me that the land has its own peoples who understood it better, whom it still loves
And yet, it claims me for its own
This child from nowhere, landless but somehow capable and willing to feel its pain
This land doesn’t belong to me; nowhere belongs to me
I am caught between the past and the future
Too many strands of transience and suffering to have a homeland
But I belong to this land
And that is a gift beyond measure
Reflections on Indigenous Peoples Day 2019