Whose Side Am I On?

A couple years ago I was at Allegawaho Kaw Nation Park near Council Grove, Kansas with my wife Lisa and a Kaw elder named Curtis and a few other friends.  We were standing as a group on the edge of a flat field of restored tallgrass prairie full of prairie grasses and wildflowers about head high. As is my habit, I wandered off into the field to be in the prairie and take photos of grasses, flowers or and insects. There was no path, no trail, just thick prairie. It is also my habit to never use sprays to protect myself from insects such as ticks or mosquitoes.  While I was out wandering, Lisa asked Curtis why can Glenn do that kind of walking in wild places with no protection against insect bites.  Later she told me his answer and the answer was, because Glenn is a friend.  I liked that answer.  I had  not thought about it that way, but I liked the idea of it.

So, I was intrigued by a teaching I read recently in a book entitled What I’ve Always Known by Tom Harmon.  Tom describes a time he was visiting with an Indian elder in a remote wild area.  It was the Indian elder said that intrigued me:  “There’s a war going on. A war against the earth, against mother earth. I wonder whose side you are on? Ever since your people come here. But now, everybody in on it. Not many left to be on the earth’s side. Just the few. You either on the earth’s side, or you not. One or the other.  If you are, everything in the world knows it, eh? Every animal, every tree, they know it. And they show themself to you. Open things to you, watch over you, make things happen for you. Whisper in your ear so you feel in your heart what to do. But if not on earth’s side, why, the earth don’t even know you here. Don’t even see you, feel your steps, know you breathin’.   Just like you don’t mean nothin’ to her, ain’t it? “

I think you can see why his teaching intrigued me, especially considering the insects I choose not to spray to protect myself from, are animals.  After reading this teaching my thoughts turned to my backyard where I have planted native grasses and wildflowers and added small pools of water creating a wildlife habitat.  I wander it often, explore it, sit in it.  I wrote down my thoughts and here is what they were: This yard, in this yard, what am I to learn, what am I to see, who am I to know? Who is to know me? Who am I to be? When I walk its paths, past grasses and flowers, when I sit in its shade, and mosquitoes hover, what are they saying? The insects come to the blooms. The rabbits, mice and birds hide in the cover of the plants. They come here to live and I live here too.  Then when I leave my yard to go to a wild and I wander and I sit, I ask myself, what am I there for? What am I looking for? Do I see it? Am I welcome? Whose side am I on?

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