We celebrated last night — with a dear friend, an adopted child of the Lakota people. It was a significant birthday for her, and she threw a great party. We each brought something to eat and drink; her friends are a varied group, which assured stimulating conversation as well as delicious food throughout the night.

She was also honored by the presence of the Nimham Mountain Singers, a Unity Drum. These wonderful people are committed to performance and education about our geological forebears — the Native Americans. They live in this bioregion, and each of them is a walking encyclopedia about their history — and ours — in this place.

They are also fabulous drummers and singers. They were kind enough to sing a few songs for the rest of us — a profoundly moving event. If you are anywhere near the Kent area of New York, and want to participate in an extraordinary sound experience, by all means track them down in one of the appearances. If you can’t do that, they have produced two CDs, which are available on their website.

Our friend, Nancy, is considered a grandmother, or unchi, in her adoptive family. She is well-known for being a good storyteller. She is wise and funny, quick-witted and gentle. Above all, she lives in deep reverence and respect for Wakan Tanka, Great Spirit.

Nancy has not lived an easy life, yet she is the most joyous woman I know, filled with gratitude no matter what comes her way. She talks about her relationship to the Sacred One in lightness and yet at the same time with great depth of awe and understanding.

We believe that we continue to learn more as we age, which is true; but we are also tempted to think that we know a lot, maybe even most of what there is to know. That is not true. What we know is but a dust mote in the great cathedral of knowledge. Nancy always seems to live in the rest of the cathedral, roaming in the great space of unknowing.

I think that is why she is truly wise.

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