Hey-a-a-hey! Hey-a-a-hey! Hey-a-a-hey! Hey-a-a-hey!
Grandfather, Great Spirit, once more behold me on earth
and lean to hear my feeble voice.
You lived first, and you are older than all need, older than all prayer.
All things belong to you – the two-leggeds,
the four-leggeds, the wings of the air
and all green things that live.
You have set the powers of the four quarters
to cross each other.
The good road and road of difficulties
you have made to cross;
and where they cross, the place is holy.
Day in and day out, forever, you are the life of things.
Therefore I am sending a voice, Great Spirit,
my Grandfather, forgetting nothing you have made, the stars of the universe
and the grasses of the earth.
You have said to me,
when I was still young and could hope,
that in difficulty I should send a voice four times,
once for each quarter of the earth,
and you would hear me.
Today I send a voice for a people in despair.
You have given me a sacred pipe,
and through this I should make my offering.
You see it now.
From the west, you have given me the cup
of living water and the sacred bow, the power to make life and to destroy.
You have given me a sacred wind and the herb
from where the white giant lives –
the cleansing power and the healing.
The daybreak star and the pipe,
you have given from the east;
and from the south, the nation’s sacred hoop
and the tree that was to bloom.
To the center of the world you have taken me
and showed the goodness and the beauty
and the strangeness of the greening earth, the only mother –
and there the spirit shapes of things,
as they should be,
you have shown to me and I have seen.
At the center of this sacred hoop you have said
that I should make the tree to bloom.
With tears running, O Great Spirit, Great Spirit, my Grandfather –
with running tears I must say now that
the tree has never bloomed.
A pitiful old man, you see me here,
and I have fallen away and have done nothing.
Here at the center of the world,
where you took me when I was young and taught me;
here, old, I stand, and the tree is withered,
Grandfather, my Grandfather!
Again, and maybe the last time on this earth,
I recall the great vision you sent me.
It may be that some little root of the sacred tree still lives.
Nourish it then, that it may leaf and bloom
and fill with singing birds.
Hear me, not for myself, but for my people; I am old.
Hear me that they may once more go back into the sacred hoop
and find the good red road, the shielding tree!
In sorrow I am sending a feeble voice,
O Six Powers of the World.
Hear me in my sorrow, for I may never call again.
O make my people live!
Black Elk, 1930
This post is an excerpt from Prayers for Hard Times by Becca Anderson, which can be found at Amazon and Mango Media.