The next generation at the Indian Trail, our grandchildren, seeing for the first time the new sign dedicating the trail, honoring its history and stories for future generations; stories kept alive partially through the efforts of their Grandma's 3rd/4th grade classroom.
“We’re going to play on the Indian trail,” I heard my children say many times as they set off to play in the park across the street and disappear into the ridge of woods along the edge, out of sight of parental eyes; a place for kids to build forts, play and have the privacy of their own secret worlds. The park had all the usual amenities of swings, slides, playing fields and even a good sledding hill, but West Park also contained the remnants of what at one time was part of the extensive foot trails that connected the Native American communities of the area; a trail connecting to other trails that over time became the roads and eventually the highways of today. They all began centuries ago with a foot trail like ours in our little park, but this small tributary path still remains as a small footpath. It remained because of the feet of children who still played on it over the years. It remained because the Boy Scouts in 1929 dedicated the trail with a rock landmark honoring the Anishinabae people, the Three Fires Confederacy of the Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi people who lived here long before the white settlers arrived to this land. It remained as all paths remain: by its use.
Years ago when it was used as a trading route for several different local tribes - a common greeting heard on the trail in the local language of the Ojibwe was, “Aani ezbi-bimaadiziyin?” How is your path in life? A powerful greeting, that to answer, says a lot. It speaks to where you’ve been and where you hope to go; what you’ve encountered and what perhaps lies ahead. This is helpful information shared between travelers on the same road - not only about the road itself, but also about life. How is YOUR path IN LIFE? That’s deep. Both practical and deep -- and helpful information.
Sometimes we find ourselves in shock, dropped suddenly into a remote jungle where there seems to be no path, just choking vines and tangled forest all around. A sudden diagnosis of cancer, 9 years ago this Autumn equinox, was a time like that for me. I felt lost in the dark, dense jungle - alone. Turns out, that’s pretty normal. Everyone feels that way initially, but upon closer look we find a path left by those who've gone before. Their many feet mark the way with a well-worn path. The quicker we see clearly that not only is there a path through the jungle, but that others are holding lamps that light the way, the quicker we realize that we are not alone. We become the living link, a landmark between those who have walked before and those who will come after.
Perhaps the jungle is a sudden loss of health, or perhaps it's a divorce, or the loss of a loved one - any of the sudden veers in life -- and veer it will. Just keep your feet true to the path. Literally, just one footstep at a time. That’s all that is needed. No need to clear a new path with a machete; just find the one others have walked, step on it, and follow.... leaving your footsteps for others to follow you.
How is my path in life?
It's good. After a dense patch that was filled with mice, medicine, and mystery, the path is rising up over the clearing here. I can see far, farther than perhaps ever before. I can see far back into time, memories, and generations before with gratitude. I can see today’s path with clarity - and it’s beautiful - each day appreciated like the chance to start new that it is; something so simple, to make the most of this stretch of the path; showing up, fully. Ahead, it vanishes into the clouds same as for all of us, hidden by the Unknown and Unknowable; waiting with tomorrow’s surprises, both magical and challenging, the mysterious unknown that keeps the whole adventure interesting. So how is my path in life today? Solid. Grounded to the earth. This lovely earth. Thank you for asking.
And how is your path in life?
Remember the Path
Sometimes the way home is long
Old earth; still here; now.