July 11, 2007

Language is sacred

Learning OjibwayI heard a wise woman talk at a conference. She spoke of being removed from her culture, unplugged from it, disconnected and set aside like an old toaster. But she was always a toaster and the day came when someone plugged her back in and the electricity flowed. She became functional again - and the tool of her reawakening was her language.

She spoke of the struggle to relearn her talk. She spoke of the same embarrassment I felt and the feeling of being an oddity amongst her own. She spoke of the difficulty in getting past the cultural shame and reaching out for her talk with every fiber of her being. And she spoke of the warm wash of the language on the hurts she'd carried all her life, how the soft roll of the talk was like a balm for her spirit. Then she spoke of prayer.

Praying in her language was like having the ear of Creator for the first time. She felt heard and blessed and healed. It wasn't much, she said. Just a few words of gratitude, like prayers should be; but the words went outward from her and became a part of the whole, a portion of the great sacred breath of Creation again. She understood then, she said, that our talk is sacred and to speak it is the way we reconnect to our sacredness.

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