I encountered dozens of Americans of every stripe in the course of researching my book, “Wrestling with God: Stories of Doubt and Faith”– from atheist to Zoroastian, from fundamentalist Christian to progressive Muslim.
Sadly, I couldn’t squeeze everyone I talked to into the book. Much of their wisdom now languishes in a file cabinet, reproaching me from the far side of my writing room. Tori Isner’s is just one of those stories.
An Army vet and a grandmother, Tori is an adopted Lakota Sioux who traces her roots to the Eastern Band of Cherokee of North Carolina. Here’s what she told me about how and where she encounters Spirit. — Barbara Falconer Newhall
Tori Isner: ‘We’re Honored Just to Be’
It’s a family thing, the spiritual world. It’s a connectedness to everything around you, Mother Earth, Grandmother Moon, Grandfather Sun. Everything is part of the family. The buffalo is your brother. The standing people are the trees. They’ve been here a lot longer than you have, they can teach you. With us, it’s Creator who created the food, created the buffalo, created the rocks, the grass, Mother Earth and everything we have. Creator did that. And we’re honored just to walk on it, just to live, just to be. Go stand next to a big rock, see how big you really are. Go look at the ocean. That’s Creator, that’s beauty.
Creator is in everything we do. And in everything we do, we give thanks. If I eat a meal, I make a Spirit plate. I take a little bit of food from everything that I have on my plate and a little bit of tobacco, and put it out on the back porch. That’s giving thanks to Spirit for the food that I have and for the abundance that I have. It’s just a small thing I can do for the gifts that I get. You acknowledge that everything comes from Creator and that none of this is truly yours. You’re just borrowing it. Your body is a vehicle. Like the trees, that’s their form. And the plants, that’s their form. And the buffalo, and the horses and everything, those are their forms. These are all vehicles to carry the Spirit around. Everything that I am is from Creator. The greatest gift I can give is myself back to the one that created me. I am the only one that can authorize the offering of myself. No one else can. And I do that willingly. This post appeared originally on Barbara Falconer Newhall.com, where Barbara posts regularly on the view from the second half of life and her rocky spiritual journey. If you enjoyed this post, you might like “Retired Is a State of Mind — Six Ways to Know If You’re There Yet.” Also “I’m Alive to the Moment — And So Are My Traps.”