It's important to remember our place, our relationship to all things.
This line of thinking sparked a memory of an old story and I credit Ken Cohen for bringing the story to my attention in his book, Honoring the Medicine. Here it is:
An elder and chief from Vancouver Island, British Columbia, was invited by the Pope to visit the Vatican as a representative of her nation. Grandmother was pleased with this recognition. The Pope took Grandmother on a tour of the magnificent buildings, art, and archives. Later, when it was just the two of them and they were in the basement of the Basilica, the Pope pointed to a closed red door that was barely visible among the rows of sacred texts.
He explained in a hushed whisper, "Only a few great leaders have seen what lies beyond that door. I escorted the Dalai Lama into that room, and now I am going to show you." The Pope opened the door.
The splendor of the Vatican contrasted sharply with the simple view that greeted Grandmother: 15-foot square chamber in the center of which were a wood chair and a small table. An antique looking gold colored telephone was on the table.
The Pope pointed, and said, "Ever wonder how I speak to God?" Knowing that Grandmother would welcome a chance to speak with the Almighty, the Pope continued, "It's a long distance call, but it reaches. You only need a credit card," he smiled.
Grandmother shook her head with regret and explained, "I am poor, so I must decline the honor." Yet, she was filled with gratitude for the offer.
A year later, while the Pope was visiting Western Canada, he received an invitation to attend a longhouse welcoming feast in his honor at a small village on Vancouver Island. The Pope accepted and was pleased to see his friend. After the nightlong festivities, as dawn was breaking, Grandmother invited the Pope for a walk around the village. The cool fog was just beginning to lift and he could see the cedars and the sea.
To his surprise, he noticed a small simple cedarwood shack with a red door. The Pope was incredulous. "You don't mean to tell me....?" "Yes," replied Grandmother, calmly. They went inside, and the room was barren, except for a red telephone sitting in the dirt. The Pope smiled and Grandmother said, "You won't need a credit card though. From here, it's a local call."
The stories told by indigenous people do such a wonderful job of teaching us to remember place, with each other, in our community, our nation, on Earth, and in the cosmos. Wherever we are, we are there.