"Tell them Arroyo sent you."
This is part of the message the Ancestors gave me when I arrived at the tip of Brazil, February 11, 1999. A 17-day sailing trip from Barbados during which I was silent most of the way. Retracing Middle Passage Routes for six weeks will do that to you. The words came in Portuguese, a language I did not speak at the time. In fact, when I returned to the United States, I called the Brazilian consulate to ask someone to translate what I had written in my journal.
In its entirety, the message was a mandate for me to remember the chains that bind us and to help others heal what had wounded them. "Us" being sentient beings. To accomplish this, I would have to excavate what was hidden under the skin, in dreams, in a smile, or a slight turn of a head. And, in turn, those working with me would have to look at what had been found and decide what to keep, let go, throw away, or reconstitute. Together we would have to decide how to create what was important this moment in time and space to do so.
Since 1999 I have been doing what the Ancestors told me to do, but there is more. Always more to do. This blog is to share some of the messages I have received since that day. However, it is also to discuss "the work" that needs to be done - and that gets done - in our communities, neighborhoods, families, classrooms, and our selves to heal the things that remain buried so deeply they do not wake us at night but seep into our lives surreptitiously until they become real, tangible, overwhelming. Like violence and illness, discontentment and anger. And fear.
Three times a year I contemplate these messages and the work from a different perspective when Mercury is retrograde. A perfect time to retreat, seek a haven from doing and relish in being. During this first retrograde of the year, however, I find myself actively doing and being, and finally coming to a consensus with my many selves about how to communicate this mandate, and the type of community that is needed to carry it out in all its many manifestations.
It is hard to believe that almost 15 years have gone by since I took up my pencil and began writing while we approached Fortaleza. It was the first time I had ever seen the huge white windmills that can be found almost every where now. It was the day we were close enough to the equator for me to calculate what time we would cross it.
I remember thinking: how long would the lead last on the paper (all the pens had stopped working) and what would I do with this information I couldn't even read.
Everything in its time.