Posted tagged ‘Hiawatha’

GITCHE MANITO: ONE OF TWO WORLDS

August 21, 2016

Sometimes when I hear an idea,  it strikes deep inside me like a heavy gong –  and then comes an explosion of ideas – like fireworks going off every which way .

And as the “fireworks”  settle down they sort themselves out into something resembling a beautiful Bach harpsichord concerto.

Harpsi

A beautiful experience.   I had a friend once who built harpsichords . . .     —   but   I need to rein in some of those fireworks.

Har Music

I’m trying to  capture some of my thoughts and bring them to a point – or  at least some kind of whole, like a conductor’s score, bringing together the many voices into one theme around which many thoughts rotate.

Our brains do work like this.   we just need to take the time to let our thoughts “rattle around” against each other, like the finale in a fireworks show, and then wait until we can catch echoes of the concerto – or sometimes,   the fugue!

The Two Worlds:    One world offers us Time and the development of a concert.    In the other world,  we stuff too many things into Time,  and what develops is dis-concert-ing

So, today is Sunday:

Har mass in

I didn’t go there!  But after the Ancient and Time-Tested  Prayers,  the Readings,  the Sermon, and the (re)presentation of the One Sacrifice,  it felt like I had been there – and I was filled with . . .   lively thoughts,  from what I had heard and seen.

“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all these other things will be added unto you. . . ,”   we heard today.     Ancient  time-tested words of wisdom from our Master.     We have two worlds presented to us:   a world in which God is first,  and we seek Him  in His Kingdom;  and a world in which we seek all kinds of “these other things.”

Actually, as  a historian  (non-professional!)  I can tell you:  Thus has it ever been so.  The two worlds.     In our computer age, surely we can understand bits and bytes,  ones and zeroes . . .

har bits

. . . .  yes or no,  this world or that world.

Oh, we have Time to stumble around a bit,  but in the end even our stumbling  evidences  a choice of one world or the other.    Even in the pre-Christian religions men understood the choice that has been given us.

Remember the movie Apocalypto?    Gentle, peaceful dwellers of the jungles of Central America, living at ease and in harmony with their surroundings.    Then come the violent “Mayans,”   a sophisticated, advanced culture which had descended over time into a stratified caste society of the humans who were  powerful, wealthy Rulers;  the humans who were obedient workers;  and the humans who were slated for bloody and horrific sacrifice,  in order, the Rulers thought,  to keep their society powerful.     They sought the things of a world that was other than the Creator’s world.

(I’ve just purchased, in order to re-read,  Columbus’s Log Book, with an added journal from one of the sailors in a later voyage who was one of the hundreds captured by these Mayans.  He tells his harrowing tale of being in a line of captives advancing towards the place of sacrifice . . .  It is the stuff of nightmares.)

Well, there you have it.  Again:  two worlds.

And so this morning I remembered my vacation to Hiawatha’s land of  Gitche Gumme:

Har GG

(My priest would be quite surprised if he knew he had flung me into Gitche Gumme this morning…)

In Hiawatha’s land the two worlds manifest themselves.   Gitche Manito, our Father, in pre-Christian thought, looks down upon His human creations:

Gitche Manito, the Mighty,
The Creator of the nations,
Looked upon them with compassion,
With paternal love and pity;
Looked upon their wrath and wrangling,
But as quarrels among children,
But as feuds and fights of children!

Over them He stretched His right hand
To subdue their stubborn natures,
To allay their thirst and fever .  . .

Har G Manito in clouds

But Man can resist the paternal hand of his Creator.    And he does, quite easily and quite often.       So we must choose the Creator’s world, one at a time, one by one, each setting his mind on our Creator’s world and not on “all these things” of this world which causes our “thirst and fevers.”

Sometimes a brave young man responds to the good teachings of Gitche Manito,  even if he doesn’t at first know what the source is.    It is the search for Truth that brings rewards:  “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.”

The seeking starts with serious and sober attention to becoming skilled and educated:

Out of childhood into manhood
Now had grown my Hiawatha,
Skilled in all the craft of hunters
Learned in all the lore of old men,
In all youthful sports and pastimes,
In all manly arts and labors.

With all this training Hiawatha still sought after Truth.    He wanted the truth from his father, Mudjekeewis,  now dead,   now dwelling in the land of the West-Wind,  among all the old fathers,  who now had Truth.

Har hia

Although warned not to go  on such a quest,  Hiawatha set off and “traveled”  far past many  known boundaries, poetically and beautifully told by the pen of H.W. Longfellow.   Then at last “Filled with joy was Mudjekeewis when he looked on Hiawatha.”

 

But it is not an easy time for Hiawatha,  this seeker of the Creator’s Truth, and he’s put to many dangerous tests and learns many disappointing, dismaying,  terrible, tragic Truths and is eventually brought to the point of attempting to kill this “father” of his.

(Oh – back to  Bach’s harpsichord  for a moment:   the dramatic, discordant movements of a concerto speak to the truth of the Theme also.)

How deadly and dramatic is our life’s fighting for the Truth!!   All nature depends upon mankind’s search for Truth in the Kingdom of God.

Here is a fight worth witnessing!

Then began the deadly conflict
Hand to hand among the mountains.
From his eyry screamed the eagle,
The Keneu, the great war-eagle
Sat upon the crags around them,
Wheeling, flapped his wings above them.

 

The Bible, also poetically,  says that the whole Earth is groaning and in travail,  waiting for the Kingdom of God:  (Romans 8:22)

Till the Earth shook with the tumult
And confusion of the battle,
And the air was full of shoutings,
And the thunder of the mountains . .  ..

Well, that’s Longfellow again,  but he’s saying the same thing as the Bible.

At last Hiawatha prevails!   He is about to strike the death-blow when Mudjekeewis calls out:

Hold!  at length cries Mudjekeewis.
Hold my son, my Hiawatha!
‘Tis impossible to kill me,
For you cannot kill the immortal.

I have put you to this trial
So to know and prove your courage;
 Now receive the prize of valor:
Go back to your home and people.
Live among them, toil among them,
Cleanse the Earth from all that harms it . . .

With courage and perseverance,  Hiawatha has prevailed  in his life-and-death quest for Truth.     He sought the Other World,  he has seen the Other World,  and he has received his command to “cleanse”  the Earth.

I hope, I wish,  I want us in our times to be as brave and manly as Hiawatha was in his times,   because there are still two worlds;   two worlds to choose and to develop.    “Seek first the Kingdom of God . . .”   then – but only then –  all the other “good things”   will come to you.   It’s an orientation of primacy:  bits and bytes,  this or that,   God’s things or “the other things.”

In the quietness and stillness inside our church today,   there I was,  watching the mighty battle of Hiawatha while the harpsichord  played a Bach concerto in my ears . . . .

 

 

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HIAWATHA’S PEOPLE – TWO TRUE THINGS

July 21, 2016

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow explains that “Hiawatha”  is a composite man,  made of true descriptions of the Native American Indians.   That is a useful thing to do in the world of literature because more truths can be told than if the author had focused on just one man.

And so I have two true things to tell you about all of Hiawatha’s people spread throughout North America.

GG Map where 400

TRUE THINGS # 1

I know dozens of people who have some Indian heritage in their background, but I know four people who are full-blooded Chippewa and Ojibway.   Their people lived in or near Gitche Gumme – the yellow and the beige areas.

All  four are hard-working professional women;  three, perhaps all four,  are university graduates, one of them from Harvard;  all came from large families;   all are Catholic with traditional values;  and all have told me stories of their fathers and grandfathers telling them to NEVER take money from the government;  never take special privileges from the government;  never be treated as though you need extra help just because you are Native American.

They’ve worked hard;  achieved a lot;  and are glad to be American citizens.  They are descendants of the noble Hiawatha.

TRUE THINGS # 2

I will let Hiawatha tell you how these people came to be living good lives.

“Canoe with wings” —

CANOE with wings

Well, in the 1600’s, 1700’s, and 1800’s the Native American Indians didn’t put sails on their canoes.    They never thought about doing it.

But sit around a campfire and listen to a strange tale told by the traveler Iagoo:

From his wanderings far to eastward,
From the regions of the morning,
From the shining land of Wabun,
Homeward now returned Iagoo.
The great traveler, the great boaster,
Full of new and strange adventures,
Marvels many, and many wonders.

And the people of the village
Listened to him as he told them
Of his marvelous adventures. . .
He had seen, he said, a water
Bigger than the Big-Sea-Water,
Broader than the Gitche Gumee,
Bitter so that none could drink it.

The great salt-water oceans?     (Gitche Gumme is, of course,  fresh water.)

At each other looked the warriors,
Looked the women at each other,
Smiled and said,  “It cannot be so!
Kaw!”  they said,  “It cannot be so!”

O’er it, said Iagoo, o’er this water
Came a great canoe with pinions
A canoe with wings came flying,
Bigger than a grove of pine trees!

pine trees

Pine trees like masts of great ships.

There were strange-looking people  on board these great ships with wings.  The world was changing for Hiawatha’s people in North America;  as the world perhaps is changing for us.

In it, said he, came a people
In the great canoe with pinions
Came, he said,  a hundred warriors
Painted white were all their faces
And with hair their chins were covered!!

Warriors who “painted” their faces white and grew hair on their chins?!

But imagine, around this campfire,  as the people are laughing with amusement,  Hiawatha stands up and speaks now.

True is all Iagoo tells us;
I have seen it in a Vision.
Seen the great canoe with pinions,
Seen the people with white faces. . .
People of this wooden vessel
From the regions of the morning.

Gitche Manito, the Mighty,
The Great Spirit, the Creator,
Sends them hither on His errand,
Sends them to us with His message.
Wheresoe’er they tread,  beneath them
Springs a flower unknown among us,
Springs the White-Man’s Foot in blossom.

Let us welcome, then, the strangers,
Hail them as our friends and brothers;
And the heart’s right hand of friendship
Give them when they come to see us.

Gitche Manito, the Mighty,
Said this to me in my Vision.

Later,  it all came true:

Caoe with bl robe

Through the shining mist of morning,
O’er the water floating, flying,
Came a birch canoe with paddles,
Rising, sinking on the water
Dripping, flashing in the sunshine;

And within it came a people
From the distant land of Wabun,
From the farthest realms of morning
Came the Black-Robe chief, the Prophet,
He the Priest of Prayer, the Pale-Face,
With his guides and his companions.

Hiawatha was there to welcome them.

Then the noble Hiawatha
With his  hands aloft extended
Held aloft in sign of welcome
Waited, full of exultation,
Till the birch canoe with paddles
Grated on the shining pebbles
Stranded on the sandy margin,
Till the Black Robe chief, the Pale-Face,
With the Cross upon his bosom,
Landed on the sandy margin.

canoe people hearing

Then the joyous Hiawatha
Cried aloud and spake in this wise:
“Beautiful is the sun, O Strangers,
When you come so far to see us!
All our town in peace awaits you,
All our doors stand open for you.
You shall enter all our wigwams.
For the heart’s right-hand we give you.

And the Black-Robe chief made answer,
Stammered in his speech a little,
Speaking words yet unfamiliar:
“Peace be with you, Hiawatha,
Peace to you and to your people,
Peace of prayer, and peace of pardon,
Peace of Christ, and joy of Mary.”

You know the Gospel story,  you can learn it, just as the Black-Robe told it to the people:

Then the Black-Robe chief, the Prophet,
Told his message to the people,
Told the purpose of his mission,
Told them of the Virgin Mary,
And her Blessed Son, the Savior . . .

This is the second true thing.   The “Black-Robes”  brought the knowledge of Christ to North America,   men, these black-Robes, whom they had seen in visions,  and who were promised to come to them to tell them more of the Great Spirit.

If you saw the movie The Revenant,  you will see evidences of these Black-Robes;  Father De Smet, for instance, who lived among the plains Indians.   You will see evidence of Catholic teaching in the lovely young wife, whose spirit instructed the man after he was left for dead,  and who led him away from the vengeance he so longed for.  You would see in that movie some ruins of the many chapels that Father De Smet had built.

Before a different kind of missionary came . . .

And Sitting Bull wore a crucifix only as a trinket, from a faded memory of Christianity.

Sitting Bull

Hiawatha saw this sad development too, in a Vision.

 

 

 

 

DESTINATION – WHERE HIAWATHA LIVES

July 21, 2016

The Spruce Tunnel has reported many times that our Land,  this USA, is so empty.  One can drive for hours without seeing anyone, and many times during this past week I’ve been the only car in my lane for a half hour, sometimes  an hour at a time:

Hour W out cars

HIAWATHA’S LAND:

But it  is  beautiful in the Far Far North where Hiawatha lived (lives).

GG Driving Island  Sunlight through the forest,  Nature speaks deep within you with concepts of Beauty:   colors, pleasing proportions,  compositions, contrasts, harmony . . .  all the classic elements of Beauty, which testifies to its Creator.

GG Driving 2 400

Curve after curve,  Hiawatha’s forest views.

But of course he didn’t have a car to ride in!  So I went into the forest –

GG Forest floor 400

Ferns on the forest floor.    Easy walking, because ferns aren’t really thick underbrush.  They’re very soft when you walk through them.

GG Forest path and wild 400I found pathways.   I’ve walked miles along these pathways during this past week.   All the time I was thinking about Hiawatha’s small village,  one of many, many, maybe countless villages that existed throughout this Land.    Many millions of people lived in this Land, long before the Vikings and the Italian exploreres came to it.

I kept “seeing”  these villages:

BR new goods

And wondering who was “seeing” me:

BR coming

Hiawatha’s forest was not only a location, of course,  an “address” for his home;  it also gave to them everything needed to sustain life.

GG Forest Deer 400I drove by these deer one afternoon.   Probably descendants of the 17th, 18th, and 19th century deer that provided many necessities for Hiawatha and his people.

I couldn’t help taking a picture of this:

GG Forest Birch

We all know that the white birch  has bark that is stripped off to make canoes.  What I learned this time is that each strip of bark has five, six, or seven layers, and each thin layer is waterproof and very strong,  perfect for making  a lake or river canoe, among other things.

GG Canoes from Birch When I was a child I tried making a small toy boat with birch bark.  I also tried making “paper”  with the birch bark.   I failed.   I really didn’t know about the “layers”  in a strip of birch.

But it was important to know these things for Hiawatha because his land borders the Great Gitche Gumme,  and I walked many pathways to get to that Lake.

GG Forest Edge Path 400

If you could see across that Lake,  you would see the shores of Canada.

Gitche Gumme claims the land, in a constant tussle between land and water.

GG Forest Edgge Dropoff 400

The pathway along the edge seemed to be about a half mile long.  Finally,  I got to my destination,  the destination for this whole week-long, more-than-400-mile journey:

Black Rocks 400

It’s here.  This was my destination.    It’s an area called Black Rocks,  a singularly unromantic name for an outcropping of “rock”  that is estimated to be 1.3 billion years old.  This is some of the oldest known rocks on the surface of the earth.

On the shores of Gitche Gumme
By the shining Big-Sea-Waters

Yeah,  here is where I needed to be,  I thought.    These were the first waters I saw at the very beginning of my life . . .  and now,  with the end in view,   I needed to see these waters again.

Black Rocks into lake.

It was the end of land of the Far Far North in view, anyway.

Black Rocks far 400I climbed all around Black Rocks,  and finally looked for a place to sit.

Black Rocks Seat

And I did it.   I found a good rock ledge to sit on and I put my camera away, and then I began to . . .  well,  brood.   I divided my life into five-year segments . . . .

And, well . . .  with each and every scene from my memory huge wounds of negative emotions leapt out at me.    Private, powerful emotions.

It would have been tough that day . . .  it would have been a tough whole life . . .  but for one thing.     With each sudden emotional blow,  I asked myself,   “Well,  what did God want me to learn from this hardness?”     And why is it that each emotional “blow” I felt seemed really rather feeble in my memory?    And how is it that I’m not unhappy,  but indeed,  full of hope and joy and love for those whom I know?

“What did God want me to learn…?”    There was a lesson in each stage of my life.   I suppose.    But I wasn’t that broody, actually.   I probably was taught something during each stage, and then incorporated the learning into my assurance that God was in control.

And so I don’t need to know any “answers.”  I don’t need to come to any conclusions.

What I learned from my brief three hours of “brooding”  sitting on those rather hard rocks is that,  in a big way,  I’m not that baby,  that toddler, that child,   that adolescent,  that young adult . . .  anymore.

I am “me”  only in this Present Moment.  That’s all I ever can be:  Me  Now.     I am identified by what I am Now.

In a big way,   what matters is what kind of person I am Now.

Forgiveness  and Forgetfulness available for the past;   hope and healing available for the future.

That’s the way Gitche Manito works.   Ever Present- Ever Now.     What’s NOT to be joyful about?!

I think I actually did reach my “destination.”

Deo gratias.

 

(Next post:  Why Hiawatha knew this too.)

GITCHE MANITO SPEAKS TO US

July 18, 2016

In the spirit of the inspiring speeches that give us purpose in this current presidential election season,  I understand better the words of Gitche Manito –  who of course is our Great Spirit,  Creator of All Peoples,  the God who revealed Himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob . . .   and only many centuries later, to the Native Americans who were looking for the Black Robes of  their legends.

The words of Gitche Manito,  to Hiawatha,  and to us, at our sunrise or at our sunset, for we all live together on one small island world:

3 sea gull island 400

From our Creator, Bountiful and Good,    “. . .with Voice majestic as the sound of far-off waters falling into deep abysses. . .

O My children!  My poor children!
Listen to the words of wisdom
Listen to the words of warning
From the lips of the Great Spirit
From the Master of Life, who made you!

I have given you lands to hunt in,
I have given you streams to fish in,
I have given you bear and bison,
I have given you roe and reindeer,
I have given you brant and beaver,
Filled the marshes full of wild-fowl
Filled the river s full of fishes;

Such bountiful,  loving care from the One  True God!

My camera caught great beauty  in the skies of Hiawatha’s land,   but within those pink clouds was lightning!   Lightning flashes,  forks of lightning!   I wouldn’t want to be directly under their wrath.

Cloud broad view

 

The Great Father above continues:

Why then are you not contented?
Why then will you hunt each other?

I am weary of your quarrels
Weary of your wars and bloodshed,
Weary of your prayers for vengeance,
Of your wranglings and dissensions.

Cloud Pinker

 

All your strength is in your union;
All your danger is in discord.
Therefore be at peace henceforward,
And as brothers live together.

Live at Peace,  contented where you are:

Cloud Duck Enjoy

 

I will send a Prophet to you,
A Deliverer of the Nations
Who shall guide you and shall teach you.
Who shall toil and suffer with you.

Gitche Manito speaks to His children.  He spoke to Abraham,  to Isaac, to Jacob,  to Elijah, whose life, along with John the Baptist’s prepared the way for this Great Prophet,  and at last,  the Woman was created, prepared to be the Mother of the Prophet, reflecting the light of her Son’s glory as the moon reflects its sun’s light:

Cloud Pink Moon Alone

 

If you listen to his counsels,
You will multiply and prosper;
If His warnings pass unheeded,
You will fade away and perish.

If . . .

If . . .

That means it’s up to us.

Tomorrow I walk the surprisingly pleasant forests that Hiawatha walked.  They still exist.    Hiawatha’s society still exists, with all its complexities and problems.   Hiawatha’s  Great Father Above still exists.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“BY THE SHORES . . .”

July 16, 2016

  Just for my own record,  I made it.

 

3 Shores whited 350

“By the shores of Gitche Gumme . . .”

3 shores of gg 400

By the Shining Big-Sea-Waters –

3 ShiningWaters

It  might look like all “water” to you,  but I spent the day flitting from this spot along the Lake to that spot,  like a butterfly,  sipping in sweet experiences; all varied, all blues,  all waters.

The shores were different from place to place –

3 red shores 400

I climbed down to these red  shelf-rocks,  and then I walked way out onto a breakwater to get more views –

3 out into waters 400

The forest back there covers a partial island,  a “presque isle” in French,  and it holds the grave of  an Indian chief who lives there.    I’m  in   Hiawatha’s native land.

Doesn’t that passageway just seem to beckon a canoe to travel forward into it?

3 canoe there 400

Forth upon the Gitch Gumme
On the shining Big-Sea-Water
With his fishing-line of cedar
Of the twisted bark of cedar
Forth to catch the mighty sturgeon
Mishe-Nahma, King of fishes
In his birch canoe exulting
All alone went Hiawatha.

‘Though Hiawatha can exult as his canoe speeds along,  he must be skillfully aware of hidden dangers.   The lake holds many  hidden boulders, sandbars,  floating  tangled logs,  shipwrecks, shoals,  islands,  and snaggy inlets.

Here’s one very noisy seagull island.   At times it is covered in white (seagulls)  as though there were snow on it  –

3 sea gull island 380

He looks like he has many tales to tell –

3 Ready to Tell380

And, as I said a few posts ago,  I’m here to tell myself my own tales.  Tales of my own life.  Tales that will make sense of my own life.

This is the Lake that I first saw when I was a newborn baby.    I come back to sit by its shores.

Ah, my son, exclaimed the Old Man
Happy are my eyes to see you!
Sit here on the mat beside me
Sit here by the dying embers
Let us pass the night together
Tell me of your strange adventures
Of the lands where you have traveled;
Then I’ll tell you of my prowess
Of my many deeds of wonder . . .

 

 

EN ROUTE TO GITCH GUMME

July 15, 2016

They say “getting there is half the fun.”    Remember that when you’re doing the tedious activity of actually “getting there.”

Still, there is the reward of stunning beauty along the way.

Lk MI Overlk island

It’s the deep blues that speak to me.

I counted six different and distinct blues in this view:  navy blue,  deep blue,  powder blue,  aquamarine, turquoise,   and blues I don’t even have a name for but my grandma, whose first language was Finnish,  says there are many, many names for blue. As a little girl she was surprised that we, in this country, didn’t know them all!

Hope my camera is up to the challenge.

Lk MI Overlook

At the top left of the picture is the tip of that island and a surf or shallow point that had stunning robin’s egg blue water.

I can “feel” why blue is one of the colors associated with Heaven.   Remember, classically,  our forefathers teach us that there are three heavens seen from Earth:

  1.   the heavens where the birds fly
  2.   the heavens where the stars (and galaxies and all the heavenly bodies)  exist
  3.  the Heaven where God is, as well as all those holy beings which are fit to be with Him

Poets, artists,  scientists,  parents, theologians, and revelations from Heavenly beings all speak of one or the other of these heavens.   It’s good to be smart enough to distinguish the various meaning of “heaven.”

It’s also good to enjoy all the Blues we are given – and to thank our Creator for the ability to see and enjoy Blue!

Here is a painting of “Hiawatha”:

Hiawatha in canoe

And here is a picture of his “creator,”  the poet,  Longfellow,  one of those Poets who wrote of the heavens.

HW Longfellow

 

I’m on their trail.