When I sketched this bear, I asked her what she wanted to hear. She said, "James Peshlakai." So I put on his wonderful cd, Songs of the Navajo. Every time I worked on this bear painting, I listened to it, enjoying a power & harmony.
Yesterday I shared this on James Peshlakai's Facebook page, & he posted some very beautiful comments on the role of the bear in his own life & in the spiritual life of the Navajo people."They teach us how to live w/them here w/in the 4 mtns, they us how to keep our children healthty & well fed, they teach us how to guide our children on the course of the Beauty Way of Life. It's in our Songs."
Sometimes happiness simply arises while paying attention to the subtle scents & drifts of nature, the way they infuse creative process, the way they support every moment of our lives. One moment I was working on this painting, listening to Navajo songs, I felt Bear whispering:
I am an animal spirit. I bring the power of the sky to the land through my dreaming. I heal the land & I heal you. I bring the pleasure of my strong body as a healing to the land & to you. You need me & I give to you freely.
James Peshlakai lives in the mountains with the bear people. I live in a place once populated by bears. They are missing now, driven away by civilized excess. Yet the trees have grown up & simple painters can hear their spirits, still moving over the land. As we restore harmony, their descendants may one day return.