“The return of ‘we’”
by Roel Crabbé
“It is not about ‘me’, it is about ‘we'” – Jamie Sams
A few days ago we drove the car to a Lowompi ceremony, accompanied by Lakota Medicine Man Steve Mc Cullough. A traditional healing ceremony that we have been going to for a few years when our busy schedule allows it.
Along the way we were quiet, all kinds of memories appeared in front of my eyes. We had supervised the Shamanic Ancestor Workshop a few days before, and it had made a profound impression on us, just like the participants. It is as if the term “Family” shows itself over and over again in this phase of our lives.
The ceremony was organized for the healing of a good friend, who is suffering from a serious health problem. Just like in all Lowompi ceremonies, we came together with others to pray for healing. A prayer that would last for hours, in the darkness of the ceremonial space, carried by the beautiful Lakota songs and the Holy Drum.
On the way to the ceremony, I remember how uncomfortable I felt a few years ago when the ceremonial room was filled with the many people who had come together in the circle to pray for my healing. It was quite an experience to see all those friends and to feel how their presence touched me in the depths of my heart.
That night I received a lot of blessings, healing, and power, supported by the prayers of all those beautiful people. A moment that I cherish with my whole being and which changed my life drastically. I am still full of deep gratitude that I can only express with silence.
The whole experience came back, now that we were in the circle for our friend. There were many people, and some drove for hours from Germany or the Netherlands to be present. It became a powerful ceremony. With tears in my eyes while experiencing the love that flowed through all those hearts. In feeling in my deepest how blessed we are, when we can come together from our hearts to pray for each other, to wish beautiful things, and to create one heart in which everything can shine. In feeling how much I love her and how my mind, heart, and voice become one in that ocean of prayers.
The experience of this ceremony makes me feel very grateful for my life. Perhaps it is the power of prayer that has always appealed to me in Shamanism. When I look back at my first steps on this path, now 12 years ago, I remember how being together in circles has always moved me deeply. Whether it is at a Midwinter ritual, sweat lodge ceremony or shamanic workshop, it always touches me to be together in a circle of people connecting the hearts for the good, for healing.
When we approach life like this our world changes.
In Shamanic traditions, the power of the community is very important. Unlike our Western culture, which is more individualistic, “we” is central to the traditional community. This is something that I have always felt connected to and that I have found in many of my teachers. It is an unlikely blessing to be part of a circle of prayer. This is what calls me, this is what makes me happy and where I draw strength from.
After the ceremony for our friend, during the nightly drive home, I felt touched and grateful. When I look at the people who play a major role in my life, I see again and again the power of the circle and the love that connects us. We are blessed with a life in which we make many circles, always opening ourselves to the power of love. A life full of friendship, support, and soft eyes. Driving on that deserted highway there was only deep gratitude.
The circle and prayer continue to grow more and more in our lives and work. Wishing good things to each other in all simplicity. So simple and so important.
Another friend of ours was recently told by doctors that she too has serious health problems. She’s going to a healing ceremony tomorrow. Griet goes to pray for her. At that moment I need my night’s rest and will stay home to pray by the candlelight. The next day we go into the sweat lodge to pray and listen to what life tells us.
As I write all this down I feel the power of this. Prayer has become the oar in our lives and gives us a soft heart and so many beautiful people on the path. Prayer offers us the opportunity to give from the goodness of our hearts and thereby embrace the deep riches of life.
All this makes me quiet. There is something that fills me with awe. In my mind, I have seen the endless line of people I love for several days. I see their beauty and the mantra echoes in my head: “Thank You, Thank You, Thank You …”
In the Lakota tradition, they say “Mitakuye O Yasin”, which means “For all my relatives”. I suspect these words came from the same source of deep respect and gratitude to be part of creation. Everything is connected. Everything and everyone is our relatives. Lessons that I have received many times, but which now touch me deeper than ever before.
I think of Mother Theresa, who chose to live a life of serving and praying for all those who are lonely. So beautiful, so powerful and so incredibly important.
Prayer makes us beautiful. It allows us to open ourselves to the beauty of life and the goodness of our hearts. One of my teachers says that all prayers have already been answered and that all our wishes are ready to enter our lives. It is prayer that opens the door. Not prayer from a supplication, but the power of our heart.
When we live from the heart and give prayer a place in our lives, the connection to the circle is nourished. We receive strength by praying for each other. But above all, we know that no one on this Earth is not being prayed for. Let us, therefore, each in our way, live from prayer. Let’s wish every creature beautiful things, burn candles, love, and believe in each other.
In this way, the beautiful dream that lives in all hearts, the dream of a beautiful “we”, can prevail.
©Roel Crabbé (7 November 2008)