Change is all around us. It never seems to stop, rather it evolves like clouds amassing, shifting shape, and then disappearing before our eyes. The Earth lives through cycles. Seasons come and go, the land transforms from being frozen to being lush and green, from hot and dry to cool and withering, and finally back to frozen again. Everything that lives is bound by these cycles, and so we too are bound by our own cycles. Birth, life, creation, the sharing of wisdom, and of course the inevitable phase of death.
During my years in this world I have seen many loved ones go through this phase. Many that were once here have since left, some of those I’ve seen come have since gone. It is never easy to witness this phase. It can be very difficult for those of us who are left behind to let go, to grieve, and to move on through our stage in life. During these, and other difficult times I go to the water. It’s here that it is again clear to me that within these continuous cycles, some things remain constant. The earth remains at the edge of the water. The sun continues to rise above the mountaintops of the east, shine above the lake and then set below the hills of the west. My feet once again sink into the sand, and it begins to squish between my toes as I transcend the cusp of dry and wet.
Water is medicine. I talk to it. I express my gratitude for it sharing its healing, life-giving energy. I let it know of my hurts, my struggles, and anything that’s bothering me. It is usually in the morning hours just before sunrise, or in the later evening hours into the night. I will crouch down to the water, cup my hands, and gently wash my face. At times, I will strip down to my shorts and go for a swim, regardless of the season. The moonlight shines across the surface of the lake and once in a while you can see bats fluttering about. I often get visited here by ducks, geese, and even swans. Sometimes a muskrat will come swimming by. All of this life moving around while the rest of the world sleeps.
This reminds me that there is no end to these cycles, that just as night becomes day, from death comes rebirth, and everyone carries on through their next phase. With this thought I look over and see a trail of ducklings following their mother. They are a hopeful sign of renewal, of re-growth, of a continuation of this cycle we call life.
All my relations
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Grouse Barnes is a syilx knowledge keeper, fluent nsyilxcn speaker and teacher. He is an adjunct professor at UBCO School of Nursing and an Okanagan College Honorary Fellow.
Jasmine Peone practices and works in the revitalization of syilx language and culture.