The Taos Pueblo is the oldest continuously inhabited dwelling in the United States and a designated World Heritage Site. Upon entering the Pueblo, a sign reads, “The Red Willow People of Taos Pueblo welcome visitors as they have for over 1,000 years. To visit the living village is to walk into a sacred place where life continues from the earliest of human existence. Little has changed here in the high desert village. From the people to the pristine landscape, Taos Pueblo continues to enchant visitors old and new.
The river that flows through the Pueblo, the Rio Pueblo, is a branch of the Rio Grande. Water is truly life here. This tribe and area is named for the red willow, a plant that is nurtured by the Rio’s shores.
We had come together to honor water, the Standing Rock Sioux, and the waters that flow through the Sioux reservation. Old animosities have been buried between ancient enemies, together tribes have come together to honor Mni Wiconi, “Water is Life”.
In dispute is a proposed pipeline that will run underneath the holy waters, a pipeline of oil. One crack, one mistake would pollute the waters and desecrate the holy site of the Sioux Nation. The earth and water is their Church, like the cathedrals of Notre Dame and Montmatre, our Lady, Mother Mountain.
It was cloudy and rainy, unusual in the high plain mesa of Taos. Before we attended the ceremony, Robbie and I went hiking. At 7500 feet, the pinon and junipers had released their fruit. Big eared squirrels, fat with feasting, chattered noisily at us when we got too close under foot.
Robbie said, “Mom, I want you to name the first symbiotic relationship that comes to mind.”
I mumbled something about a fox, the packrat and the piñon tree. My mind was blank. He said, “Look at our feet.” My feet were standing in a dry river bed. Cottonwoods, pine cones, and plants surrounded us. I looked up and we both became very still. He said, “the plants feed the animals, the water feeds the plants, that’s symbiotic Mom”.
I said, “yes, and they all feed us.”
He was quiet. Mom, “If that was true, then why do we treat bathrooms at Mcdonald’s better than workers that work there and the animals we eat there?
I told him I didn’t know. And we stayed quiet, making our way to the car and the water ceremony.
We prayed, we danced, we sang. At the end, a triple rainbow appeared above the mountains.
Robbie and I found friends. He ate chili and gazed at his surroundings in wonder.
We said our goodbyes, meeting up with our friend Silke, a Waldorf teacher.
As we left, Robbie shyly requested to have his picture taken with one of the dancers. Truly a generous and heart warming experience.
As we left, the influences of Christianity were strongly present, prayers were offered here as well in the early morning.
The next morning this prayer came to me in meditation. I offer it now to you:
Water above, water below…all water has memory. The water of the glaciers flow to the Cannonball River in the Sioux nation, the Missouri, the Colorado, and down to this Southern tip of the Rockies. They carry within them the memories of times before into the skies that rained down upon us. The waters that flow at our feet will carry the memory of the dancing prayers to those that go after.
May we in our actions appreciate all life before us.