Right Relation: Living in Sacred Balance

Kindling the Native Spirit: Sacred Practices for Everyday Life - Denise Linn 2015

Right Relation: Living in Sacred Balance

“I think one of those ’End of the World’ people came onto our porch last night and left us a message,” said my husband, David, as he came into the house a bit amused and plopped down the morning’s newspaper on the kitchen table.

“What? You’re kidding!” I replied, as I poured coffee for our ritual of reading the newspaper and drinking coffee together to start our day.

“It’s the strangest thing,” he said. “There’s a large cardboard box on the porch that has writing all over it—something about earth changes, the end of times, and fiery devastation. You know, it’s the stuff that ’The End Is Coming’ people always write about. But it’s strange that they left us a cardboard box instead of a pamphlet.”

I suddenly froze, coffeepot in midair.

“Um . . .” I gulped. “Actually, I think it was me. I think I wrote all over the cardboard box in the middle of the night . . . and then completely forgot about it.”

“What are you talking about?” David said, sounding confused.

I suddenly remembered what had happened. In the middle of the night, I’d had a powerful dream. It was so real . . . and it came with a commanding and seemingly prophetic message. I was acutely disturbed by the dream and had stumbled in the dark onto the front porch to get some fresh air.

There was a cardboard box next to the front door that I’d left there the day before on its way to the recycle bin, and curiously there was also a pen that had been left on the porch. In the dim light of the street lamp, sitting on the porch in my pajamas, I grabbed the pen to write down the dream. I furiously filled all sides of the cardboard box. I wanted to capture all of it, as it seemed of great importance.

After I had scribbled the dream on the box, I went into the house, got back into bed, and fell asleep. When I awoke in the morning, I had no memory of the dream or of having written it down. However, I was grateful for my scrawling on the cardboard box to remind me of my nocturnal message, which continues to be one of the most profound dreams that I’ve ever had in my life.

My dream took place in the future. I was floating high above the earth, and as I looked down at our planet, something terrible seemed to have happened. I didn’t know what it was, but there was heat and fire . . . and so much suffering. As I floated closer to the earth, I could see through the ceiling of a house with two children in it. They seemed to be aware of me, and they both looked up pleadingly, as if to say, Please do something. There was more to the dream, but the overall sense was of despair and urgency. The dream felt like a plea to do whatever we could to avert this possible future.

I was also aware, in my dream, that what I saw was a strong possibility for our collective future, but it wasn’t carved in stone. I knew that our planet’s potential destiny could change, but it would take a shift in consciousness. It would take living in “right relation.” And I knew that each of us could make that difference.


Here’s what I know: At this moment, we stand at the advent of the most exciting time in the history of our planet. We hold in our hands the opportunity to shape planetary destiny through our actions, our thoughts, and our dreams. The potential for momentous change has never been greater, yet the accompanying responsibility can feel overwhelming. It’s easy to feel hopeless in the onslaught of discouraging facts and slide into fear, apathy, and inaction. But these attitudes, although understandable, are a luxury we can no longer afford.

In the 24 hours since this time yesterday, over 200,000 acres of rain forest have been destroyed in our world. Thirteen million tons of toxic chemicals have been released into our environment. More than 21,000 people have died from starvation, most of them children. And 150 to 200 plant and animal species have been driven to extinction by the actions of humans; this is 1,000 times the natural rate, say biologists. And all of this since yesterday.

The ecological disintegration that is occurring in the environments around us is echoed in the inner landscape of the soul. Many of us sense that our inner life has become impoverished. We hunger to once again feel connected to the forces of nature and the sacredness of life. We yearn for a viable connection to the mountains, the trees, and the sky. In the deepest crevice of our being, the soul is searching for this connection, listening for it, and sending out tentative tendrils of energy to find it.

In spite of our apparent disconnection, however, there still exists a link intimately connecting our soul to the natural world. But this umbilical cord connecting us to the lifeblood of the earth is stretched so thin that it’s in danger of severing. It’s now more urgent than ever that we strengthen this cord so that vital energy can once again surge through it from the earth to us and back again.

Most people in Western cultures see the world as containing separate and unrelated things. They don’t view themselves as a part of nature; rather, they view themselves as something greater than it. Hence, as a culture, we don’t usually consider the ecological impacts of our actions. We don’t realize that every action has a filament that connects it to the rest of the world. There’s no doubt that the challenges facing us are real. The problems that threaten the well-being of our species and our entire planet are large and immediate.

The news media daily presents us with information that’s both frightening and true. Pollution, wars, environmental destruction, global warming, nuclear fallout, oil fracking, pandemic flu, Frankenfoods, invasion of privacy, overpopulation, GMOs, the decimation of endangered lands and animals . . . we’re constantly confronted with evidence of current and impending crises. However, less frequently are we reminded of the inspiring efforts that are being made to turn the tide. It’s important to honor these successes because they encourage faith and belief in the future, and our beliefs will be a powerful force in determining whether we move forward into a bright future or one filled with global devastation.

The inner beliefs that we hold individually (and as a culture) dramatically affect our lives. Our current Western view of the world is laying waste to the environment as well as to the relationships that we have with each other and with the land. But beliefs can change. Kindling the native spirit within you means that you live in right relationship with the forces of nature as well as with other human beings. It’s not always easy in a world that is increasingly separating us from the organic and natural flow of the universe, but it’s worth the effort; even one person can make a difference. It only takes one lighthouse to safely guide ships to shore, and just one candle to illuminate a dark space. You can be that light for others.

Charlie Soap, who is a Cherokee advocate, producer of the film The Cherokee Word for Water, and husband of former Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller, said this about his tribe’s way of living:

Long before the United States existed, the Cherokee people had a society based on democratic principles. They were guided by the spirit of balance between self and community, elders and youth, and men and woman.

Living in balance and in “right relation” is about being in a respectful relationship and being in balance with all dimensions of life, from people, to plants and animals, to the entire planet and beyond—and you’ll learn ways to practice this in this final chapter. You’ll also discover ways to step into your role as a sacred Earthkeeper, as well as understand the potency of ceremonies and rituals for living in balance. In the deepest sense, you know how to live in right relationship with all aspects of your life. The idea of living in right relation is endemic to the entire native way of life. At its core, living in right relation is about a profound shift of identity . . . it’s about merging and melding with the natural world, rather than feeling separate from it.

When you kindle the native spirit within you, you’ll begin to see the universe as it truly is . . . spiraling, interwoven patterns of energy. Beneath a staid appearance of separateness lies a vibrant, unified field of energies that coalesce in and out of solidity and form. You understand that Earth, in all her facets, is alive. This is not just a romantic notion. Earth has a consciousness and awareness. We are her kinsfolk. In speaking about the traditional Lakota right relationship with the land and animals, the respected Chief Luther Standing Bear said this in 1933:

Kinship with all creatures of the earth, sky and water was a real and active principle. For the animal and bird world there existed a brotherly feeling that kept the Lakotas safe among them, and so close did some of the Lakotas come to their feathered and furred friends, that in true brotherhood they spoke a common tongue.

The old Lakota was wise. He knew that man’s heart away from nature becomes hard; he knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans, too. . . . In the Indian, the spirit of the land is vested; it will be until other men are able to divine and meet its rhythm [Land of the Spotted Eagle. Boston and New York: Houghton-Mifflin, 1933].