Who am I on this Independence Day?

I was born a white woman, born and raised in America. Some of my ancestors were Native Americans who, in their time, were not counted as real people. They were shamed, changed their names to try to fit in, and their birth records were destroyed. They were locked away in asylums because they protected their land, restricted to reservations, and many were massacred. As many females, I’ve been raped and afraid to tell. I lived in a family with mental illness from PTSD, and turned to drugs while searching for acceptance and peace. I was a runaway, once left for dead in a ditch. Climbing out, I walked for miles to safety. I was in an abusive marriage, kicked and spit on. Yes, I have suffered.

And I have had the opportunity to know much joy and great beauty, the privilege of parents who cared, and finances to live with shelter and safety.  I know a land filled with mountains, lakes, the Atlantic Ocean and sea breezes. Nature soothes and washes over me. Determined, I made it through college as a single Mom, lived in subsidized housing until  receiving my degrees and the ability to make a living for myself and my children. Now, I have wonderful work and much to share. I have a beautiful family, sweet dog Shanti, and kind partner with whom I raised amazing children, and who is now by my side. I have friends with whom to laugh and cry. I am profoundly grateful for abundance and beauty of nature. I’m able to watch my children grow. I watch the gentle deer in my yard. Well, they are eating all my plants, but that’s another story.

Today I choose to celebrate Independence Day!

I am grateful to be an American and to have the freedom, though not always easy, to pursue a better way, to shift and to change. I am sorry for those that have not fully shared in this. I am grateful for a Civil War that ended slavery in the US, for Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement, for Rosa Parks who “sat” for what was right. I am grateful that Juneteenth is now honored, celebrating the freedoms and victories of black people in our country. I am grateful for the Women’s Right’s Movement, to all the women who spoke and marched bravely. I am grateful for so many freedoms and for the work and movement toward a greater way of living.  

I am grateful to my forefathers and mothers who had the courage to leave Britain, but it is hard to accept the ignorance they had of the Native Americans who were slaughtered and lied to. It is heart wrenching and unthinkable that humans could perpetuate slavery and that this was part of our country’s beginnings. 

I cannot erase history, cannot change it. Yet, as Mother Theresa said, I “can do small things with great love.”

So, I offer this prayer:
May humanity create freedom, a just society, food, shelter, medicine, compassion, education, and dignity for all.

May we eradicate racism, sexism, climate destruction, warfare, and violence.
May we hold our earth, all beings, animals and plants with respect, kindness, gentleness, and love.

And And I pray for:
the freedom to walk, dance, and move on this earth.

the ability to use my life and creativity to help aspire towards peace.
the strength and power to listen, question, be curious, offer something better, make changes.
the ability to open my heart to acceptance, tenderness, and forgiveness of past wrongs.
the voice to speak my truth and to speak up for myself and others in need.
the clarity of mind to live with integrity.
the gift of grace and the mystery of life to accompany me through this journey, to be part of creating a brighter future for our children and all generations to come.
the earth and its renewal.
the animals and their survival.
all people everywhere, no exceptions.

Remember what Ram Das was told by Neem Karoli Baba,
“Love Everyone!”