'But crushing truths perish from being acknowledged.'
I recently finished reading Rudy Wiebe and Yvonne Johnson`s powerful book 'Stolen Life – the journey of a Cree Woman' and am still living in that place. As it is the story of abuse, incest and murder it is not exactly a pleasant place to be. I made myself continue out of respect for the authors and the pain they must have lived in simply getting this down. It is also a transformational story with an ending of hope for all who have been down this road.
What I found interesting was my willingness to enter that place of suffering and my capacity to step deeply into Yvonne's life. Empathy would be one word to describe this human capacity to imagine the lives of others. All stories, all films, all images, require this ability for us to participate in them. It is not unique, is universal and is not confined to human beings only. We all love our dogs and can see things from their point of view and know that somehow they understand us. With practice we feel the thoughts of trees as they sway in the wind, experience the sadness of sunsets, fly out into space and cruise among the stars.
Perhaps it is not our big brain or opposing thumbs that has made us human over time but a steady refinement of relationship, our family, our tribe our environment and eventually the Creator, that final comprehensive understanding of total relationship.
Yvonne`s prayer at the end of the book:
Oh Creator, here I am, Medicine Bear Woman. Forgive my pitifulness. I have shared my pain because I know it is also the pain of my people.
I pray you
Remain with my words, I mean no harm;
May the existence you have chosen for me
Enlighten all people to a better understanding;
That we may have humility and pitifulness, so that no one needs
To suffer alone, but can find spiritual union
With all humankind.
A - Ho
Yvonne Johnson, 1998