Paris Diaries #5: Rediscovering Our Resilience

December 8th, 2015 -- By Christine Castigliano and Denise Henrikson
Photos by Jill MacIntyre Witt

Like the salmon itself, today the Salmon is Life team was stretched to capacity. Not enough sleep, not enough food, very long days. How can we stay grounded, keep our energy up, and not snap at each other?

After falling into bed well after 2am, again, our morning engagement began before sunrise, with no time for breakfast. Half of our team found their way to the sunrise ceremony offered by the Kichwa community of Sarayaku, launching a beautiful Canoe of Life from the Ecuadorian Amazon. They were joined by the Lummi Nation canoe family, our friends from Washington state.

The other half of our team found themselves further downstream on the Bassin de la Villette. We walked for about 30 minutes before we realized we were walking in the wrong direction. (Beautiful walk, along the canal, though…) We converged midmorning; the salmon danced on the canal to Paul Cheoketen Wagner’s flute songs, which carried over the water and drew people in.

Then, we lost our way. We circled amongst differing needs, desires and agendas, hungry and tired and cold. Some of us went to COP21 to support the Lummi. Some of us met with a Parisian choreographer to share visions for a grand salmon dance for the coming days. When we converged later at a cafe, tensions ran high. We felt the palpable emotions of familiar stories: our needs were not being met.

Thank goodness for Cathy Bellew, our fellow traveller and Lummi elder who reminded us of traditional ways that can keep us in harmony and bring out our best. We circled up to share.

Debra D’Angelo offered an indigenous Hawaiian practice she had learned called Hoʻoponopono. We looked into each others' eyes and shared these words: “I love you. I’m sorry. Forgive me.” Saying it, and hearing it in that circle of compassion had an extraordinary effect. Thank goodness for indigenous wisdom that hasn’t been lost. We all felt a profound shift.

With clearer hearts, we circled again and reconnected to our purpose and the higher vision of the salmon: to be of service, to awaken the heart, and to inspire ourselves and others with hope. We went to bed, rested well and woke up into a very different dynamic.

It makes me wonder... what would happen if I would say those words to the Earth, “I love you. I’m sorry. Forgive me.” and really mean it? How might it change me?

What would happen if we all did this?

(These diaries are also being posted by Yes! Magazine under the #ParisDiaries hashtag.)


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