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I just got back from a five day Indigenous retreat near Canada’s Rocky mountains. I listened to knowledge keepers speak about plants, known as the Standing People, which give us all the nourishment and medicine we need; I learned about animals and forged a relationship with a gentle horse (a species I was previously heart-thumpingly terrified of); I studied the stars and I took off my wool socks to walk in the forest and commune with the earth, known by many as “that which sustains us”.
We talked about the seasons and, remembering that seasons differ from place to place and from people to people, I asked if the Ojibway, Cree and Mohawk marked time with the four seasons of spring, summer, fall and winter. Tracey, my teacher, chuckled softly and shook her head. She explained that seasons are not heralded by dates on a calendar. Seasons are a lived experience: each is delineated and indicated by what the earth, the sky, the plants, and the animals are telling us. You know it’s spring when you’re a part of spring.
I was disappointed. I despaired that no matter how immersive the retreat was, I would never be able to understand this way of living, that I would never be able to unshackle myself from the Gregorian calendar and the 24 hour clock and understand time as it is lived with the earth.
And then, from deep in my gut, I remembered.
I remembered that I know intimately what it means to live a calendar. Ever since I was a junior youth, my time on this planet has followed the rhythm of a 28 day cycle in which there are seasons of rest and slowness, and times of renewal and energy. For the majority of my life I have been a living breathing calendar.
Over the course of the retreat, I not only strengthened my connection with the earth, I also fortified my relationship with my body as part of creation. It is oddly synchronous that at this time Baha’i Blog celebrated Women’s Health Week. Among other things, we explored normalizing menstruation and period poverty. We highlighted how the powers of the feminine are gaining ascendency. Several Australian women shared what they do for their health on our TikTok channel. And I wrote a somewhat embarrassingly personal piece about what I’ve learned about encouragement from at-home workout videos.
In light of my recent experience, there are some nature related resources on Baha’i Blog that I’ve been rediscovering, such as how wind is a metaphor for the Will of God (which is very apropos for the month we are entering!), Abdu’l-Baha’s connection to the natural world, and how Baha’i Holy Days can create a schedule for working on a garden.
The retreat also made me ponder on the Baha’i (or Badi) calendar and how Baha’is and their friends all over the world are charting history as we living it. In the last week, we shared an incredible talk by Paul Lample about the launch of the Nine Year Plan, what we have achieved, and where we are going. I highly recommend listening to it.
These are a few of my musings as we enter the month of Mashiyyat.
Thanks for joining me and we’ll see you in nineteen days!
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