“What is a blessing? A blessing is a circle of light drawn around a person to protect, heal and strengthen. Life is a constant flow of emergence. The beauty of blessing is its belief that it can affect what unfolds”
~John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us
Blessing for Standing Rock Water Protectors
In the stillness of the North Dakota night
under the million-starred sky
this blessing is called down
upon the tipis and tents,
circle fires and sweat lodges,
cars, vans, trucks and horses,
upon the tribal elders, women and men,
upon the Standing Rock Youth Council
and their runners who raced across the land
in appreciation of all who have come together
to protect the water and the earth which holds it,
upon the babies and children,
and all who stand in witness to this call for clean water
and respect for sacred sites.
We call this blessing from the four directions,
and from above and below,
and from all the people, near and far,
who support the nations gathered in the prairie.
Great Spirit of all our souls, encircle with Light and strengthen
the ones who cook the meals
the ones who wash the clothes
the ones who tend the children
the ones who feed the horses
the ones who gave birth here and their child
the ones who speak out and testify
the ones who post on social media
the ones who march
the ones who drum
the ones who stand their ground
the ones who are arrested and imprisoned
the ones who are tazed and struck with rubber bullets
the ones who report and film the actions and are charged
the ones who established a new camp at Cannon Ball,
to reclaim the land that was once theirs.
We offer this blessing of love, understanding and truth-seeing
on behalf of all the ancestors,
of all our relations,
who speak to us today in the actions at Standing Rock
and in our dreams.
We offer our prayers, joined with theirs,
rising together in the smoke.
May we heed the call of all who have gone before
to protect the water that is life giving to all,
and the Earth, who nurtures us.
May we honor the history of the people
who have been wronged for too many years
and attend to this uprising and gathering
with ears to hear and hearts to love.
May healing come where harm was done,
May hearts and minds awaken,
May actions for the good be taken.
Editor’s Note: I wrote this blessing in response to a prompt from my poetry teacher, Sue Sutherland-Hanson. The blessing was also prompted by a deep desire to take an action on behalf of the Native people who have gathered to protect the water and the sacred burial sites on their land that is being threatened by the construction of an oil pipeline that would be laid underneath the Missouri River.
As I have educated myself on what is happening at Standing Rock, North Dakota, I have learned much and still have much to learn. This movement is testimony of the power of the people coming together, uniting for something that is bigger than each one of us, that is important to our survival and the survival of all the creatures.
Many of those speaking and acting to save the water quality, the very earth that sustains us, and the sacred sites of their ancestors have inspired me. I will name some here, and know I will miss some I wish to lift up. My hope is that this blessing reaches each and every one.
Thank you to the Youth Council of Standing Rock who held a race to thank those who have come together with the Sioux nation tribes, and to the International Indigenous Youth who participated in the protest at the Cannon Ball camp site.
Thank you to Sky Bird Black Owl for giving birth to her daughter in the tipi at Standing Rock and for her testimony about how women (and children and men) must be protected and must speak out to make the world safe for all.
Thank you to the ones who meet with Ban Ki-Moon to instruct him about the sovereign nations and who are not, and have not ever been, seated at the UN table.
Thank you to the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe chairman, Harold Frazier, who met with President Obama in Los Angeles on the National Day of Action at Standing Rock, October 25, 2016, to ask him to protect the rights of the Lakota People, their sacred sites and the waters of the Missouri River.
Thank you to the people who have established the new Oceti Sakowin camp at Cannon Ball, ND, and took back unceded territory affirmed in the 1851 Treaty of Ft. Laramie as sovereign land under control of the Oceti Sakowin, on the final three miles of the pipeline route.
Thank you to those who resisted being moved from the Oceti Sakowin camp by police from five states, and took pepper spray, rubber bullets and other violence as they prayed to protect the water, risking harm to themselves.
Thank you to Amy Goodman and Deia Schlosberg for witnessing and covering the actions and being willing to be arrested and charged in order to maintain freedom of the press and freedom of speech in the coverage of Standing Rock and other pipeline climate change actions, and Josh Fox for continuing coverage.
Thank you to the judge who dismissed the charges against Amy Goodwin.
Thank you to all the persons of faith (Unitarian Universalists, United Church of Christ, Episcopalians and many others) who have traveled to Standing Rock when I could not, who have issued statements of support and solidarity for this justice work, and who have taken supplies and warm clothing to the people living there.
Thank you to Mara Lindbergh, friend and massage therapist of twenty plus years, for talking with me about this important event in our time and for supporting me to speak out.
Thank you to Sue Sutherland-Hanson, poetry teacher, ministerial colleague and friend, for urging me to share this blessing more widely.
©Lisa Ashley, 10.25.16