Background: Nicole Braithewaite-Hunt, who was a major contributor, to the past two Francis Days, with her sisters and brothers in the Worcester Inter-Tribal Indian Center to the last two Francis Days at Agape is of Blackfoot and Tuscarora Native American lineage. Nicole contacted Suzanne to see if Agape would host a women’s retreat weekend, Women Gather. Suzanne, her daughter Teresa, Agape member, Kathleen Legg and Agape intern, Natalia Luna, all participated in the weekend, full of solidarity and learning for all. What follows are the observations and prayer of one of the women who gathered, Parlee Jones.
by Parlee Jones
I was blessed to be invited to the first Women’s Gathering at the Agape Center in Hardwick, MA in March, a gathering to learn about and to celebrate First Nation culture with a Full Moon Ceremony and other teachings with Grandmother Nancy and Sister Nicole.
Grandmother Nancy is a Sundancer and a Sacred Pipe carrier, acknowledged as an elder and a grandmother in her communities in Canada, where she was given instruction to bring out and share certain teachings. Grandmother Nancy is a well-known storyteller, sharing legends from many different Nations.
Grandmother Nancy assisted us as we remembered that native women traditionally wore skirts, and we spoke on why tradition is so important. It is up to us to help guide our youth and help them see that they are loved and needed. We also remembered our elders and made sure they are loved and are needed to share their knowledge before it is lost.
We started with a sage smudge to cleanse ourselves of negative energies and to start the weekend with a clear mind and heart.
We broke bread together, for there is always plenty of good food when Women Gather. We learned the Algonquin Water Song, and I learned that there are many women’s water songs from different cultures, and all have a deep meaning.
Grandmother Nancy met with elders in Canada and they were unified in agreement that a video of the song should be made to hasten the teaching and widen the circle of women singing it because of the increasingly grave dangers our waters are facing. (www.singthewatersong.com).
Water is our planet’s bloodline and we all need water to survive. It is our duty as stewards of this planet to protect the water. We also learned two other water ceremonies. We also dug a little deeper to check in with ourselves and I have accepted the fact that I am an older … not yet an elder.
Indigenous people all over the world have teaching and foundations on all these principles. I am going to focus on my healing, focus on fine-tuning my superpower, which is coming from a place of love. I will truly become that INSTRUMENT OF PEACE!!!
Thank you for allowing me enlightenment and love this past weekend, and for meeting new sisters.
Thank you for assisting us in acknowledging men and their importance in our lives and for the journey of our Ancestors.
We must protect and love Our Planet, Mother Earth and all the four-legged and two-legged creatures, and those that fly and swim.
It is our duty to protect the water, and all living beings. We must lead with a grateful heart.
Parlee is a community activist in Worcester who enjoys writing.