by Geno Gallegos
Listen to the Earth. It speaks.
Listen to the Fire. It speaks.
Listen to the Wind. It speaks.
Listen to the Water. It speaks.
Listen to your Heart. It knows.
Remember, we are meant to be human – we are not meant to be perfect…as perfectly imperfect humans, we easily get stuck; thinking in terms of who or what we need to control, or who or what we need to exploit for our personal gain or how we want others to see us. The Sacred Hoop of Life already has natural cycles that we can observe just by intentionally connecting with nature and doing so helps us merge into the powerful rhythm of life itself. Allowing is just getting out of our own way and allowing the rhythm of life to help co-create our life with us. The Creator is more clever and creative than we could ever be and allowing the Creator to just go forth and create will bring results and experiences we could never have imagined or created by pursuing them with our human desire for control, personal gain or ego satisfaction.
—Doug Good Feather, Think Indigenous (1)
This ordinary leaf, this sacred leaf, found me during a walk on a hot summer’s day. I looked down, and the leaf was gazing back from the ground. Before the walk, I had a lot of long-term plans and short-term tasks running through my mind. The mixture of thoughts felt overwhelming. So, I went for a barefoot walk to connect with Creator, Spirit, Higher Power. My intention was simply to observe what is and find relief from the daily grind of thinking.
And there it was, this sacred leaf. It offered a profound “micro-blessing” in both its present patina, blue-green state, and its heart-like shape. In its vulnerable state, it also offered a transparent image of the cosmic, sacred web of life in the network of veins running through the changing embodiment of its very being.
As I held the leaf toward the Sun, it became a translucent teaching, a visible web of light, reminding me that our non-human and human lives are interwoven by and through the Earth and cosmos. It conveyed a message to stay heart-centered, to not become attached to just one way, one approach to life. There are many leaves on a single tree. There are so many forests to explore. We can learn something from each. How? By staying humble, staying close to the earth. By learning, growing, letting go, and then learning some more, from everyone and everything.
This requires embracing the “H” word: Humility.
Yet, what I am learning is that humility offers us a path and tool toward growth, if we look at the past and learn from it without getting mired in morbid reflection. The grace of humility allows us to get honest with ourselves—about ourselves. Honest about our past ways of thinking that lead to disasters in our relationships. Honest about our attitudes and our actions.
This might require a willingness to change our thinking, perhaps about “everything” and especially those things we “think” we already “know.” What an excellent opportunity to invite the Divine into our minds, our lives, our actions. We do this so our generation of Illuman men can do the courageous work of healing in the world. We don’t do this work alone but in “Cosmic Companionship,” as Martin Luther King Jr. has spoken of. (2)
Similar to the saying, “there is no “I” in “TEAM,” there is no shame or blame in authentic humility. We are human. We are not meant to be perfect. However, we can accept the grace to change. We can stop shaming or blaming ourselves and others. Then, suddenly, it seems too self-centered to magnify the power of our faults and failures as if they were the center of the universe. We can love-up our small section of the world.
Our work at Illuman’s annual gathering, AWAKEN 2023, will be to continue to connect with the wisdom traditions we strive to honor in Illuman. It’s a new location (East coast), yes, but perhaps with a “back-to-basics” attitude as we lean into the Indigenous wisdom offered by Doug Good Feather, our keynote facilitator for the weekend. During AWAKEN, we will come together, from the four directions, to spiritually “marinate” or “reset” in the message Doug has to share with us, a message about humility and connection—to the Creator and to the more-than-human world…even to an ordinary leaf.
I encourage everyone to read or listen to Good Feather’s book, Think Indigenous: Native American Spirituality for a Modern World, prior to AWAKEN and contemplate his message ahead of time. I personally found the wisdom of Doug Good Feather to be a valuable offering and a challenging message. It invites us to move through the world we live in with a different mindset and a deeper commitment, to actions based in love. Together, we might Awaken to the possibility that at individual and collective levels, every micro and macro relationship provides the opportunity to find loving-kindness. Every encounter is an opportunity to share who you are, at the soul level, and what you embody for the world.
As I’ve continued to spend time with the ordinary leaf, I’ve reflected on what AWAKEN could mean to those who actively choose to participate:
A – Awareness as an attitude to revitalize the divinity of the cosmos and revitalize Earth as our priority—living a life of honor and awe at the sacredness of creation and the cycles and circles of creation.
W – Wholeness IS the Foundational Wisdom Tradition. The world is whole, and humans are temporary pilgrims on the sacred and wild planet. The sacred web of life is evident in earth-based relationships and the mysteries of the cosmos.
A – Accepting that all my Authentic Actions of being and doing hinder or acknowledge the sacred.
K – Kindness – Knowing that loving-kindness IS the path and the destination.
E – Encourage an Embodied and Ever-Expanding Engagement of Entwined Ecology as students of Earth’s Elements. Exploring how the sacred is Emerging within us, between us, and among us. Evolve and avoid complacency. Work for Equality among all so that future generations are grateful for our pivotal contribution.
N – Nurture a way of being, of healing in the world that knows that now is always the time to love.
- Doug Good Feather, Think Indigenous: Native American Spirituality for a Modern World (Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, 2021), 114–115.
- Martin Luther King Jr., Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story (Boston: Beacon Press, 1958), 95.