by Chris Rundblad, Dharma Teacher
This poem made me regard memory in a new way. I had spent months fighting the grief of loss, the end of good times, good places, good people. Memory became a relentless reminder of loss, and no end of sitting and cajoling, “Let it go” helped. And then, this, hanging framed on the wall of an art gallery:
“Remember” by Joy Harjo
Remember the sky you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving way to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and her’s.
Remember your father. He is your life also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people are you.
Remember you are this universe and this universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance that language is, that life is.
It hit me then that memory was not just a scab to be picked and wept over, but a way to honor and connect with the whole world, past and present, the three worlds of the Buddha. Swallow our pain, one of our teachers said at a retreat here, swallow it so you can digest it and it becomes transformed into fuel. Then we can be open to the dance that life is and know how to live in a universe where all is in motion, the strongest point of time at dawn and then the giving way to night. I find this poem by our national Poet Laureate such a sweet reminder of what we know to be true from our practice, but sometimes discover anew in different language. I hope you are moved by it too.