Physicality and spirituality are more than just connected – they are one, nə́c̓aʔmat. When I talk about nə́c̓aʔmat, it's everything.
For example, the first action within my family and within the greater community each morning was to bathe. Hygiene is of the utmost importance.
Each family member, from pregnant mom to great grandparents, as a household went to bathe. Physical cleanliness was part of it, but not the only part. Before the sun came up at the place along the river, the ocean, the lake, the creek, they would bathe and pray.
So, before the sun comes up, physically let's take care of ourselves. Wash our hair, wash our bodies, wash everybody, wash babies, make sure we are clean. But at that very same moment, we are praying. Praying for the good health of not only everyone within the family but also the community and all things that we are connected to through spirit.
Spirit is what we can't see but we know exists. Spirit is a part of everything. Human beings. All living entities on Mother Earth, which is the land. All living beings and entities within the sea. Everything has spirit. Rocks have spirit, trees have spirit, our older relatives, all animals, have spirit.
All of my life I've been told, not only by my parents, but my many aunts, uncles, grandads, grand uncles and older cousins, that I was to be a champion. A champion of soccer, a champion of lacrosse, a champion of canoe pulling, a champion of football, a champion sea cadet. Whatever it was I was going to do, I was to be a champion, which meant I needed to be physically fit and that I needed to adhere to all of the teachings handed to me by all of those above. I needed to not only to train my body, but to train my spirit through prayer.
Pray, pray, pray. Always pray for strength: strength of intellect, strength of emotion, strength of physicality, strength of spirit. Pray for those things. Pray to be a humble human being. Pray to be a humanitarian. Pray to be of use to family and community.
I was told by my older male cousins that when I'm training, when I'm running up the mountain, I'm not merely running. I'm praying. Praying for the strength I need to be a champion. Bathing in the creek, praying for strength.
What I learned from bathing in the creek is physical and spiritual connectedness. This is the most beautiful example I have.
When I'm in the creek and it's running at full force, it's doing two things simultaneously. It's cleaning my body and it's giving me strength right away. Clean strength. All at the same time. That means that my spirit as well as my body is being cleansed and strengthened. Simultaneously. Physical and spiritual interconnectedness. There it is. In the bath before the sun comes up, to pray not only for myself, but for my family and all living beings.
So, when I'm out walking now, in this time frame that I'm in, I stop and I marvel at the beauty of all that I see because all that I see is not merely the physical, but the spirit of the flower, of the ladybug, of the cedar tree, of the rocks, of the squirrels, of the skunks, the raccoons, the bears – all that I see, I marvel at their beauty, their physical strength, and their spirit.
So, let's get up this morning, before the sun comes up, as a family. Let's go bathe, get clean, so that when we enter the world as a whole, we're clean. We're not only physically clean, we are spiritually clean because we said our prayers to the infinite, to Mother Earth, and to our ancestors.
Each one of us has a responsibility to self. Self-care, for thousands and thousands and thousands of years, has always been of the utmost importance. We know you cannot separate physical and spiritual, spiritual and physical are inseparable. They are one. They are nə́c̓aʔmat.
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