Although I have never had the opportunity to live and learn among a Native American tribe, their beliefs have always fascinated and comforted me.  The emphasis on Nature and living in harmony with the earth have reinforced my desire to live balanced in nature and feel the stability that such balance brings.  Native American scholar Michael Garrett notes, “Whatever lessons are most needed at the time emerge for the person as the spirit seeks to grow.  As the elders would say, ‘You have to sit with it…’  Something like the love between Sun and Moon, for example, can be better understood as the natural harmony and balance that is needed for us to survive.  It is an energy that exists in and of itself.”[1]

            For harmony and balance to exist, Garrett says there must be acceptance for things as they are.  There it is again—acceptance.  He talks of his own life, noting that while there are many things, he wishes he could change, he acknowledges the learning that took place with each event.  He says, “I cannot go back and undo the threads of the past, and I would not want to…The self-destruction that occurs throughout guilt or blame takes one out of harmony and balance, though these things, too, offer important lessons.”[2]   

            As I learn to live both with these things that I have done and the outcomes of consequences that occurred because of those events, I come to know that I can only be healed by what he calls the “Rule of Acceptance”.  He acknowledges he was sometimes left frustrated and wanting to know more about why things had happened.  When Acceptance was all that surfaced in his quest, he began to understand that acceptance forces each of us to seek our own answers.  Not only that, I know many times, I simply would not have been able to take on someone else’s answers.  Garrett says, “This is another important lesson of the Rule of Acceptance:  Sometimes it is not the right answer that is important but asking the right question and being ready for whatever comes.”[3]    (In fact, I know this happened to me on more than one occasion when a well-meaning friend tried to tell me what I was doing to get myself in trouble and I did not want to hear it.  It was simply too soon for me to hear it, or I was in denial of the truth of the advice.)  He describes the role of Acceptance in life itself.  “Understanding the flow of life allows us to let go of expectations, accept the limitations over which we have no control, and move with this flow.  This way, we focus our “Nuwati” (energies) on making intuitively informed choices about where our path is taking us and learn from the beauty of life—allowing our own spirit to flourish like a small wildflower opening its dewy petals to the bright and orangey morning sunlight.  Expect nothing and appreciate the value of everything; this is the true lesson of the Rule of Acceptance.”

             Native American spirituality emphasizes balance.  Balance, while I heard others speak of it, was almost non-existent in my life.  I could not balance my life with my work, my diet with my lifestyle or my times of sane calmness with my times of spinning into manic places and relationships.  Jim Pathway Ewing speaks profoundly of the Native American’s purpose.  While he may speak of it in the voice of Native American tradition, it makes particular sense to me as I contemplate my own life.  He says, “It is our purpose, each of us, to bring balance to the Earthly Mother.  In doing this, we bring balance to ourselves. …that, then, is the aim, to bring our energies into balance.  That is to recognize the Nuwati (Cherokee), the good medicine in all things. [In the] Native way the world outside reflects the world inside.  They are one.  But we don’t try to manipulate the world to create inner states…that’s backwards.  We achieve an inner state and it reflects in the world, ever outward into The Sacred Hoop of Life where it is reflected back to us… The Great Secret is that we always carry The Sacred Hoop of Life within us all the time.  It is up to us to use it, keep it whole. …It is the soul connection that resides within each of us, the “true” path we walk, that knows no time or place.  For we carry it from lifetime to lifetime like underwater divers, their air hoses connecting them to above.”[5]             


[1] Garrett, Michael T., Walking on the Wind: Cherokee Teaching for Harmony and Balance, (Sante Fe, NM: Bear & Company, 1998), 16.

[2] Garrett, Michael T., Walking on the Wind, 18.

[3] Garrett, Michael T., Walking on the Wind, 18.

[4] Michael T. Garrett, Walking on the Wind, 23, 26

[5] Jim Pathfinder Ewing,

Native American "Medicine"

copyright Carol L. Chambers 2015-2020

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