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Mildred and Woody
The Quest
Off On A Medicine Walk
Martha Frisoli Gibson


Last week I went out to the land to find what I am churning from. Something, surely, was generating my ever-gnawing anxiety. My chronic no-time, no-breath sensation. The never-caught-up sensibility in which I'd been ensnared.

I wanted to divine the source of my imbalance.

Because I was tired of tolerating tightness in my chest.

So I braided my hair and pulled on a handwoven skirt and out from the closet I drew my mud boots. And like our Native Ancestors did when they sought answers, off to the land with my pup I went, lead in my hand, hope in my heart.

Not that I expected to find fortune cookie messages, or wisdom scrawled on paper in a seabottle, or even a winning lottery ticket, in that blessed Vermont meadow. No. What I sought was a sign from Great Mystery, some kind of knowing, to skillfully steer me in my quest.

No sooner had I meandered down the drive and stepped upon Bliss Road, soaking in the wonder live around me, that my mind awakened. And before Inga and I had picked our way along the sunny, silent, mucky dirt road, and come upon our favorite meadow on this planet, I realized when and how imbalance had put its roots in me.

I got married. And money became paramount.

And I -- artist, writer, thinker--was reeling from the stress.

Because for years I'd never thought much about money. I never thought much of it. A life of the intellect was what I'd sought, rewarding in its discoveries, its friends, its pleasures.

But once I was married, suddenly there was the push to buy a house. To keep up with other couples. To have, have, have. Because the shaming truth is: that's how we not-so-Native Americans interact. What we have defines who we are.

Spirit Vessel 1

And once you're thrust into the race, by virtue of now being married, how do you not compete?

As my feet and Inga's pleasantly mooshed through the meadow's muddy brush, I thought about all these things, and how affected I'd become. And my head grew heavy with realization.

Because when it comes right down to it, the truly best feelings I've ever felt have come from life's fundamental pleasures. Good air. Good food. Good company. Love. Crafts and art. Intellectual stirrings.

None of which have much to do with money.

And I thought about that foolish, poisonous lyric, "money makes the world go round." And how foolish we Two-leggeds have been to fall under money's spell.

As I watched some peppermint push up beside a post, I thought:

If only I had a vegetable garden, and a simple house structure.

If only I had no credit card or utility payments, no loans, car payments, or insurance.

If only I hadn't stopped writing with paper and pen--

I would be free to live a blessed life. A life of self-discovery, of discovery of all the marvelous creature-beings about me.

If I were free from money's entrapment, each day I could sit on the porch and welcome the sunrise; then at night, put down my head with the rise of the moon. Like our Native Ancestors I could take the Time to walk where I please. To visit with whomever, and stay as long as I like. No longer would I have to watch a watch, breathlessly panting as minutes clicked on.

If I were free from money's spell, the calendar would cease to mean bill cycles, and once again mark the cycles of nature.

And I chuckled, thinking: if money weren't invented, there'd be no such thing as taxes!

As I scanned the meadow, I pictured our Ancestors, living in community, without the need for medical insurance, retirement income, or assisted living plans.

And I stared into Inga's young golden eyes, thinking about love. Abundance. Security. Basics we in our distorted culture feel we have to "buy."

And I wondered when the taste of imported caviar ever had felt better than a bite of a homegrown tomato.

And I pictured the woodcut in bankruptcy attorney Gleb Glinka's office: ' When The World Wearies And Ceases To Satisfy, There Is Always The Garden.'

As I studied the tips of dozens of plants peeking through last fall's brush in that stunning meadow, I pondered what the Human Tribe would "need," if each of us had the time, and the leisure, and yes, the permission, to access the wonder within us.

All these things I thought, as I walked that timeless meadow with my beautiful puppy-girl Inga, and drew in the early-Spring warmth of Grandfather Sun.

I paused to take in the beauty -- the bountiful bordering trees, the splendid expanse of land and sky, the quintessential peace--and I wondered what it is that is enough. How much does one really need?

For what seemed like forever, I listened to the Silence.

Then my brain felt bathed in golden light. In its midst appeared a vision of Native life. Down through my bones I felt the warmth of Native community. Its wisdom of bartering. Its loving means of nourishing with local harvests.

And it struck me: this is the sacred, powerful way we, the Human Tribe, can disenchant our selves of Money's spell.

I let this stir within me, as long as it wanted to stir. And my churning ceased and my breath came freely, and finally, about money, I came to peace.

Then Inga and I retraced our steps, and got back on Bliss Road. Singing my Native Song, I headed home, rejoicing in the richness within me, within each of the life forms thriving about me. I bid good day to all the Stone People, Standing People, Plant People, Cloud People, Winged-Ones, and Four-Leggeds with whom we came into contact. Then we were home, and up the winding drive we climbed, onto the flat culled out of the land's exquisite slopes. Eager to record my Medicine Walk, into the house I hurried, tugging Inga along. Without so much as removing my mud boots, I went to my desk. And blissfully lifted my pen.

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"Off On A Medicine Walk" is from Native Song, Martha Gibson's memoir about her spiritual evolution from stressed city-bred Two-legged to enlightened country woman, who joyfully embraces Native American environmental and spiritual perspectives.

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Artwork "Spirit Vessel 1" by Patse Hemsley
See more of her work in Moondance Arts at /arts/

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