I have to take a moment to express my deepest and sincerest gratitude. Somehow, this week before I travel 1700 miles to sleep four nights in subzero temperatures has been one of the busiest, crazy weeks I’ve had in a long time. And that’s saying a lot because I’m a busy New Yorker, gosh darn it, and all of my weeks are crazy. I still have a million and one things to do in the next 36 hours before Leo and I leave. So when I say I have to take a moment, I really mean it.
Leo and I and our housemate, Rose, are fortunate enough to be able to take our bodies and hearts to Standing Rock. We are able-bodied, in our mid-twenties, and have flexible enough schedules to make this trek halfway across the country to give whatever support we can to the courageous Water Protectors.
But, friends, NONE of this would be possible without the support of SO many kind souls who have donated money (in about a week, we’ve raised 68% more than our $1000 goal): Lainie, Rebekah, Sonia, Mary, Kate, Linda, Bob, Danielle, Lena, Brenda, Laurene, Ann, Debby, Joyce, Becca, Emily, Caitlin, Michelle, Jon, Keir (hey, Dad!),Brendan, Courtney, Ty, Kathy, Karen, Judythe, Emily, Lee and Gulshan, and three anonymous donors.
NONE of this would be possible without Sharon and Stefan, whom WE’VE NEVER EVEN MET, who donated frequent flier miles and booked us plane tickets. Thank you. Thank you to Therese for donating camping gear, delivered by Sonia, as well as advice on camping. Thank you to Jess and Clay for rummaging through their gear and so cheerfully lending clothing and boots and blankets and more. Thank you to Ali who dug through her packed-to-the-gills car (one of those driving-cross-country-and-packed-her-life-in-her-car kinda things) to lend me whatever she could find that we might need. Thank you to Amanda for going all the way to storage to get a backpack to lend us when I had forgotten to tell her we didn’t even need it.
Thank you to all of the One Spirit community who sent me prayers. Wanna know a funny thing? I kept wondering why all of these people emailed prayers for me. I thought, “Don’t they know I asked for prayers for the Water Protectors?” It wasn’t until I reread the newsletter I wrote that I realized that the language did make it sound like I was personally asking for prayers! My intention was and is to write the prayers onto little slips of paper to carry them with me, in hopes of offering them in some ceremonial way with the native peoples at the camp.
I will definitely still do that, but I heard a little voice inside say that perhaps it wasn’t really an accident that I inadvertently asked for prayers for myself. I do not take this upcoming trip lightly. I feel like sort of a newbie – this is definitely the riskiest protest I’ve ever joined, not to mention the little camping experience I have. And I have slowly been becoming more emotionally, mentally, and spiritually intimate with the seriousness of the situation. I’ve felt a powerful calling and can hardly describe the way it’s almost knocked me off my feet at times (literally) and cracked open my chest (thankfully, not literally). So, as with the way things go sometimes with big, heart-opening decisions, some fear and doubt has arisen. I’m used to powering ahead, busting through fear – sometimes blindly – and the amazing thing is, I don’t have to do that this time. I am held by the support of so many.
These prayers and blessings – in the form of spoken words, emails, monetary donations, and supply donations – I have received have blown me away and, somehow at the same time, grounded me in a beautiful realization of interconnection. See, I’ve gotten the part of acting upon the interconnection I feel with others. In other words, my activism comes from a deep sense of knowing my oneness with the planet. When I see the suffering of other creatures (human, plant, or animal), I feel it and am driven to doing anything I can to ease that pain. But, this time, I’m feeling the interconnection in the form of the tremendous support given toward this trip. I’m not going to Standing Rock with just the people in our travel caravan. I’m going with all of you. I feel your hands at my back, I hear your prayers echoing in my ears, and I feel your wide-open hearts beating next to mine.
I spend a lot of time thinking about what I want my activism to rise from rather than toward. Love, oneness, radical nonviolence, community, beauty, true equity… These aren’t unattainable, faraway visions. They are right here, right now. And, the more I can navigate from these knowings in myself, the more they will become manifest in my actions. Thank you for being part of that.