The Native Americans have a deep understanding of the earth, how to live in balance with her and how to give thanks for all that she gives us. “The Legends of the Fall” is one of my favourite movies. No, not because of Brad Pitt! Because of the way the Native American tells the story – his interpretation of events. It’s beautiful! I especially like the way he explains the connection between Brad Pitt’s character, Tristan Ludlow, and the grizzly bear throughout the movie, culminating in the scene when Tristan is aiming to shoot the bear, but can’t because “their spirits had become one”. Ah, goose-bump stuff! I love it!
I have a lovely book called “The Life and Art of the North American Indian” by John Anson Warner. In it is a quote on a ritual that is followed when killing a deer. Let me share it with you:
So there is something else to consider. The deer. It is dead. In the old days we all remember, we did not go out on a hunt lightly. We said to the deer we were going to kill, “We know your life is as precious as ours. We know that we are both children of the same Great True Ones. We know that we are all one life on the same Mother Earth, beneath the same plains of the sky. But we also know that one life must sometimes give way to another so that the one great life of all may continue unbroken. So we ask permission, we obtain your consent to this killing.”
Ceremonially we said this, and we sprinkled meal and corn pollen to Our Father Sun. And when we killed the deer we laid his head toward the East, and sprinkled him with meal and pollen. And we dropped drops of his blood and bits of his flesh on the ground for Our Mother Earth. It was proper so. For then when we too built its flesh into our flesh, when we walked in the moccasins of its skin, when we danced in its robe and antlers, we knew that the life of the deer was continued in our life, as it in turn was continued in the one life all around us, below us and above us. “We knew the deer knew this and was satisfied…. For we are all bound together, and our touch upon one travels through all to return to us again. Let us not forget the deer.” By Frank Waters, “The Man Who Killed the Deer”
Imagine how different our world would be if we all showed such respect for the food that we ate. “Mindfulness” might be a concept that is only now getting attention in Western Culture, but it has been intrinsic in many cultures for centuries. The next time you are about to eat something, give thanks. Acknowledge the source of each item of food on your plate and all that has been necessary to bring this meal to you. Do this before you take your first bite. Then eat it slowly. Eat. Mindfully.