Today, I am taking up a difficult project after a long time away.
I feel a little prayer pushing up from my dry heart, like the tentative seep of an old spring coming back to life.
Sitting in this office built on the land between Big House and Little House Mountains in the place now called Virginia, I’m grateful to the Ancestors of the Indigenous peoples who sprang from this earth. Thank you for letting me do my work here in the shade of these oaks, hickories, pines, tulip poplars, black walnuts; thank you for the moist red clay beneath this thick blanket of leaves. Thank you for this space to take into my hands these books, articles, photographs, shards of a mosaic, aching to become newly shaped. Thank you for allowing me to make a space for my Ancestors here in this small cabin.
Cholom, Yunisyunis, Estefana, Teodosia, Josefa, Isabel, I am diving back into a dark, dark pool, but it is a place that needs exploration and sensing and shaping into thought. Far from our homeland, I carry that place in my teeth and bones, blood and memory, in your names and actions.
I’m asking for strength, Ancestors, for companionship on this dive, for your accumulated wisdom, questions and ideas to guide me.
What do you need me to know? What do you need me to discover, uncover, recover? What can I do to help you rest more peacefully, what can I voice for you? Lead me to those places and help me dig, brush away, put together, make into a story those pieces which honor your struggles and pain. Guide me through those places and I will take on as much as I can, filter it into this language of necessity the best that I can.
I have put down this work for a long time now, out of fear, out of exhaustion, but today I return. Uncertain, unsure of my sense of direction. I have a job to finish, though. No way around it. I’m taking some deep breaths. I’m opening my mind to the task. We tell women laboring in childbirth, “Push towards the pain” even though that is the exact opposite of what we have learnt about pain.
I am pushing towards the pain, Ancestors, because that is the only way through it. You are my promise that there is light on the other side. Nimasianexelpasaleki. Here we go!