Welcoming Our Grandfathers
This is the time of year when people in the Northeast become excited about the return of warmer weather and longer daylight hours. The robins and the geese are returning from their winter get-away vacation spots down south. Gardeners are looking longingly through seed catalogues and making their selections. Farmers are waiting patiently for the last of the snow to melt, so they can prepare their fields for planting. Female horses, cows and the other four-leggeds are growing larger with new life. The first shoots of crocus and hyacinth are peeking up and winking at us. Sweet water, the sap from the sugar maple, is running and we rejoice in the knowledge that all of the other trees will soon follow and each will wake up in turn. The people are feeling re-energized and hopeful. There is birth, growth and renewal. The cycle of life continues as it should and as was planned.
It is also the season when our Grandfathers, the Thunder Beings, come back to visit us. They will stay with us through late spring, summer and early fall until they leave again for the winter months. When they call to us with their loud, deep, rumbling voices to announce their arrival, we celebrate. We stop everything, look for our sacred Indian tobacco and our pipes (and other prayer tools) and go outside to welcome them. We smoke our pipes and send our greetings, thankfulness and love to the Grandfathers. We extend to the Grandfathers our most sincere greetings to let them know that we are happy to see them and that we are honored by their desire to visit us. We express our great appreciation to them for they bring the rain that replenishes the water in the rivers, lakes, ponds, streams and oceans. Those waters provide a home for the fish and water animals. The rain that falls bathes and refreshes Mother Earth. The rain and lightning purify the air. The rain revitalizes the plants and trees. The water quenches our thirst, helps the animals to live and the plants to grow. What a wonderful gift. Our grandfathers are so generous.
It is estimated that 60 to 75 percent of the human body consists of water. The human brain consists of 70 percent water. Our blood is made up of 83 percent water. Our lungs are 90 percent water. We can’t exist without water. We need water to aid in blood circulation, respiration and to help produce energy. Under ideal conditions and without too much exertion, a human might survive without water for three to five days. In extreme heat, one person might need to drink a gallon or more of water a day in order to live. Water is essential. Water is life.
It is the Thunder Beings who have been instructed to replenish our water supply. That is why we shouldn’t complain when they come to visit us. We shouldn’t say, “What a miserable day it is because of the weather.” Rather we should feel relieved and grateful that the Grandfather Thunderers have come to see us.
We love our Grandfathers the Thunder Beings for bringing that water to us. But what are we doing with that precious gift of life that they give to us? 70 percent of Mother Earth is covered with water. Ninety-seven percent of our water is salt water. Only 1 percent of the water is drinkable. We have been given a wondrous gift by our relatives, but are we showing our appreciation of that gift or are we wasting it, spoiling it and throwing it away? How are we treating that gift that is so essential to our very existence? How can we even consider hydro-fracking and possibly causing the disruption and destruction of our waters? How is it possible that we would consider risking the loss or contamination of even one drop of water when our very lives depend on it? If we don’t care about ourselves, then why aren’t we considering the quality of life for our children, our nieces, our nephews and our friend’s children? What about the seven generations to come? What will they drink? What will they eat, if there is no clean water for the plants and the animals to drink? What kind of lives will they have, especially considering that there are more and more people every day? Will there be enough food and clean water for them?
When someone gives me a gift, I say, “Thank you.” Then, my friend knows the gift is appreciated. When our Grandfathers bring the rain, we need to remember to say “Thank you.” But we also need to demonstrate our appreciation by wisely using the water that they bring. In so doing, hopefully, our Grandfathers will continue to visit us. We need to honor them and the future generations.
Kay Olan (Ionataie:was) is a member of the Mohawk, Wolf Clan.
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