Making Prayers for the Salmon

Six weeks have flown without posting. EEEEgad. Summer is my only excuse and the fact that I’m working two part time jobs. So as I begin to write again, I shift gears.

Those of you who follow my blog know that I am devoted to salmon and all they represent to our planet, mythologically, biologically, ecologically and spiritually…an amazing creature.

Many years ago now I met a woman dancing her prayers for the renewal of all life on the planet. Silver haired and head held high, Trebbe Johnson drew me to her like moth to flame. The intertribal ceremony where we sent our prayers to the tree of life for re-cycling changed us both, but in Trebbe’s case she manifested an organization. Then called Vision Arrow, over the years it has evolved into Radical Joy for Hard Times. For the last four years, ( I think, ) they’ve sponsored the Global Earth Exchange on Summer Solstice. A planetary gathering of folks convene at wounded places to embrace grief and to bring beauty, grace, forgiveness, and compassion to the places we love.

Though drawn to this endeavor, I haven’t participated…until now.

On June 22nd, I gathered my medicine bag, water bottle, and Self, just myself. I went to the stream where I have monitored the return of salmon for the last two Fall seasons. I chose low tide because the stream is part of a harbor, an estuary where waters, both fresh and salt, mingle. For reasons beyond my ken, I wanted to go farther out on the mud flats than ever before.

Walking, listening, sensing, intuiting, I suddenly knew where to stop. Still out on the estuary but near the north western bank, I saw a piece of drift wood that caught my attention. I stopped, squatted and turned to my bag. Removing sage, a tea candle, small travel rattle and sacred lighter, I lit the sage and began “praying.”

My words were simple, my experience deep.

Prayer song, my body singing, came and went.

Tears of anger for our unconscious brutality to everything around us rose and receded.

Tears of loss for all the places precious to me that have been destroyed, rose and receded.

Tears of joy for the love of living and the awe inspired by the natural mysteries in which we are embedded, they, too, rose and receded.

The Global Earth Exchange encourages making a symbol to leave behind – usually a version of the RadJoy Bird – made from debris, detritus, or natural elements. You can see slides of these creations on the website, including mine which I can also show you here. It couldn’t be simpler, and yet the act of making that bird riveted my attention.

RadJoy bird WA

As I retraced my steps, I picked up litter and surprised myself with these thoughts: Why do we, why do I, purposefully express my gratitude for the love of living on this fragile planet only once a year? I should be doing this at least once a week, like going to church. But who am I kidding? I don’t have the stamina to make that kind of commitment, but hey, I could commit to doing this once a month. This feels right, this praying out on the mudflats, stinky and sucky, yucky and mucky. This feels right. I feel warmed in my heart/belly/mind. I want to do this once a month and I don’t care if I’m doing it by myself. In fact, I like doing it by myself. I’m learning and grounding myself in an experience that touches me deeply. There’s nothing better than that. Ok, then, I’ve got a plan and I’m sticking to it!

And I have…

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About Deborah

Deborah Jane Milton, Ph.D. is an artist, mentor, and eco-psychologist, mother of four and grandmother of eight.
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5 Responses to Making Prayers for the Salmon

  1. hali says:

    this is just beautiful, Deborah.

    Like

  2. miran541 says:

    Well written and very thoughtful — thanks for sharing this experience — please keep doing so!

    Like

  3. Deborah says:

    Thank you, Hali and Miran. I am committed to sharing this unfolding experience. Don’t know exactly what I’m doing or why, but it feels right in my bones. Thanks for caring.

    Like

  4. Lynna G says:

    I love your beautiful heartfelt commitment to the salmon people. Your art is so moving. Thank you,

    Like

    • Deborah says:

      Thank you, Lynna. I hope to start August’s salmon painting today. Thank you for inspiring me – I swear I am moving differently in the world because of these online connections we have. Look forward to more interactions.

      Like

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