“Is there any other way?”
The voice is a little anxious, searching, maybe expecting a compromise. But there is no other way.
“To be reborn means leaving behind all that was, to give up the old life, to forget.”
“Forget everything, even the good things?”
“Even the good things: renewal is a new start, the dead leaves are left behind, returned to dust.”
“But how do I know…”
“You cannot know, you won’t know before you really start, your new life.”
“Can I go back then?”
I have to smile. You see all sorts in this job!
Sarah could not sleep, never did when she was flying.
Most passengers had abandoned their films or books, next to her, the beloved husband was deep in dreams, the attractive and cherished face twitching from time to time.
They were now over Greenland, the icy landscape, far below, lit by a frigid moonlight through scattered clouds.
It would take them another seven hours to reach home, and they would face a new day – for her, without sleep.
But in her mind, there was only the girl, who’d shown her the Path of Life, near the volcano, at the foot of the Sunset crater, and Sarah loved her, for eternity.
Image: Edward S. Curtis, Chaiwa, courtesy Arizona State Museum, Tucson
This text is an extract from Nancy J. Parezo’s “Emergence to the Fourth World”, in Paths of Life, American Indians of the Southwest and Northern Mexico, The University of Arizona Press, Tucson.
In the beginning, Tawa, the sun spirit and father, impregnated Mother Earth, who gave birth to living things. These people, animals, and insects lived in the underworld, where they tried to live the Hopi way but were not able to understand the meaning of life and became mired in corruption and strife caused by sorcerers. Upon hearing footsteps above and the words of Hummingbird and Spider Grandmother, a brave group decided to leave the koyaanisqatsi, or “crazy life”, behind. They sent out birds to find a way to ascend and explore the unknown land. Catbird finally succeeded in reaching the sipapuni, a hole in the sky, and found Masauwu.
Masauwu, the Spirit of the Dead, gave the people fire and permitted them to settle on his land. The Fire People, who have a special relationship with Masauwu, emerged first, because they agreed to assume the responsibility of leading the others to their final destination. Chipmunk helped the good people climb to the sipapuni through a tall reed. As the people were resting before their journey, Spider Grandmother said, “The journey will be long and difficult. When we reach the Upper World, that will be only a beginning. Things are not like things here. You will discover new ways of doing things. During the journey you must try to discover the meaning of life and learn to distinguish good from evil. Tawa did not intend for you to live in the midst of chaos and dissension.”
Maria II, Kate Russell photographer, Freyr Marie and Rose B. Simpson, models – Arizona State Museum