Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Unexpected teachings

Base of a pine needle basket
I don't know why some forms of teaching surprise me.  I know there are lessons all around for me if I open my ears, but some teachings feel like they creep up on me.  This weekend we went gathering pine needles to make baskets.  I was really into it, feeling the ancestors there with me as I lay down my tobacco and searched beneath the trees for their bounty.  The children weren't that interested but I asked them to take a moment and gather with me.  That was a perfect moment and I thought that the lives of the ancestors must have been the best thing ever.  But standing up cured me of my folly, as my bottom was covered in burrs.  You get what you get and you make the best of it.  There is no value in living like somebody else had it way better.
The pine needles in themselves have a lesson.  I remember the woman who taught me to make pine needle baskets and wonder who she learned from.  I enjoyed the sent of the needles as they soaked in the water.  I am fascinated by how something so small and fragile can come together to make a basket.  I think about how insubstantial each needle is, but when it is part of the basket it is an important part in its existence.  I have had these same feelings learning to crochet recently.  It is just string, but through time and a simple repetitive motion it become something substantive that can bring warmth.  At the same time it is so vulnerable, break one thread and start pulling and the whole thing can fall apart.  I feel these metaphors strongly these days.

I also had an old friend I went to visit to cheer him up.  The teachings he shared with us were so much more than what we offered by our visit. It was humbling.  So much to learn.

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