Chickasaw writer Linda Hogan gives us both these things in her essays and poetry and novels—the dark and the sweet. Today is a good day to honor the gift of Linda’s words—the insight that enables us to take that which is bitter and find sweetness.
Send white lightning prayers of gratitude shooting through the heavens to her today, and tomorrow, and yesterday, and each day that you feel her presence, each day that you count your blessings as you read her words.
Today is a good day to buy at least one of Linda’s books. Perhaps Dark. Sweet. filled with "forty years of life." Or People of the Whale. Or The Woman Who Watches Over the World. Or Power or Dwellings or Solar Storms. Or Rounding the Human Corners.
And then do just that—round any sharp edges from the words that find their way from your tongue, to the world. Begin again to dwell in that place where you are the best you can be - for Linda, for her great-granddaughter Jayla, bring a deeper way of knowing into all that you do.
These things will honor Linda at a time when we need to be the ones to watch over her, the ones to hold to the light all that Linda holds dear - family, earth, animals, truth, spirit. Reach out - to an elder, to a child, to a grandchild, to a great-grandchild.
Send love to Jayla as she travels to the spirit world. Believe in the mystery, in the ecosystem of the heart. Linda's poems often start outward - with a larger but intimate vision - and then she moves inward, Once, I was... It is from this place, I believe, that our compassion takes root, from knowing and loving ourselves.
At West Side Books a few weeks ago, when Linda greeted John and me, we spoke about our grandchildren, and her return to Colorado, and the mountains we love, even about tribal issues back in Oklahoma. "I have been working with Indigenous knowledge and Native science," she told the audience, "working with people who are returning to an older knowledge about their own ecosystems."
Linda reminded us that, "History is the word that always leads ... now another country is breaking this holy vessel... we are so used to a country that does not love enough. History has continued to open the veins of the world."
I am reminded that the current of love that travels through our veins connects our hearts to the world - that our families and our own backyards are merely microcosms of the larger ecosystem that sustains us all. In Linda's poem "The Eyes of the Animals," Linda tells us that the eyes of the universe look back at us with the true knowledge of who we are.
this world even your self
you must learn to love.
NOTES: Read about Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) at National Geographic. Read Linda Hogan's bio and more about her work with TEK. Read less about the tragic story of Jayla's death, and more about the family's story of her life in Last Real Indians. DONATIONS for Jayla's family may be sent to P.O. Box 392, Pine Ridge, SD 57770.