“On Following Your Vision”
By Nan Citty
I was somewhat naive when I began to dance as perhaps I was supposed to be. The message from our teacher, Beautiful Painted Arrow, was to first receive the vision and then follow its instructions. As the years have passed since that beginning, I have seen my visions come to materialization. Some visions as far back as eight years are only now being recognized.
The vision for Native Nurturing came on my second Dance. The vision was of my sister’s house and I was standing in the room where her children slept. What I saw was that all the beds were empty. It lingered in my mind for several months. I knew what I saw, but what did it mean? Her children had grown and why should I worry about empty beds? I began sharing this vision with my teacher, Brenda Sue Whitmire Taylor. I was more clear about what this vision didn’t mean than what it did. My first year’s vision was so beautiful and so straightforward that I was disappointed to have this unclear idea rattling around in my head. But as I worked with it, more insights came and I knew that I was needed to help fill my “sister’s” beds. There was plenty of room and so much to share. It may seem a roundabout way to interpret one’s vision, but from then on I knew that I was being asked to bring the knowledge that I was learning to the children with whom I had contact. More than that, I was being asked to bring the experience of the Dance to “our” children. And so I did.
I am a therapist and I have worked with children and their families for years. I love children and they tend to love me. It made sense for me to share my talents and inclinations. We, as adults who have taken up the calling and the opportunity to experience the Dance, know how many barriers that we have to tear down, how many wounds we have to heal, how many false concepts we have been taught. In my work as a therapist with children, I always, if possible, work with the parents of the child so as to help the family integrate itself. It also is an unwritten law to me to honor the myths of the family. I do not believe on imposing outside spiritual or intellectual beliefs on children. The beliefs of the family are sacred, even if they may appear scattered and undeveloped. It may be that the undeveloped quality of the family is only a seedbed for openness to newer thought. There are many paths that we choose. It is the parent or guardian of the child who is to also teach the traditions. This is true, even if the “traditions” are recently developed and accepted. It is for this reason that Native Nurturing seeks parents who are seekers themselves. As the parents gain knowledge, they can open the way for their children to be gifted this “old way.” It is most definitely a gift that Beautiful Painted Arrow has brought to us. He is our Grandfather and we are his grandchildren.
Native Nurturing has been an evolution. There is probably a workbook that I could fashion with “best practice methods” to conduct these workshops, but I am not wanting this piece to be instructional. What I do want to be understood is that Spirit will always be our guide, especially when we don’t know what we are doing. There are various forms of Native Nurturing workshops being held around the country. There are adults who are giving their time in this effort. We, in the Knoxville area, have been conducting the Young People”s Dance every year since 2001. We are learning what works for us in our areas and what doesn’t.
The most important thing to remember is that we are teachers of children. Nurturance implies love, a protective structure, an environment that is fun and memorable, and patience from our caretakers. It is a balance that all parents take. I have learned so much from this experience. I have learned that there are special children who astound and amaze us. I learned that there are some who just accept this knowledge as the natural way while still being playful and hanging on to childhood. I learned that some of our children are out testing the limits of their world and won’t be back for a while. But I believe that they will be back. It is a gift that we give to our children. It is a gift that we give to all children who can come. As we dancers take our place as we center closer and closer to Spirit we will be called on to do some kind of work. Sometimes, I have to admit to now being cautious of my visions. What will I be asked to do next? We all have been challenged by Beautiful Painted Arrow to follow our visions and to create ways to share and experience. The joy of the Young People’s Dance has convinced me that it all is worth it. We are a family, a very healthy family.
Native Nurturing was created for our children in order to teach the old way of ceremony and spiritual life. It is based on the teachings of Native American visionary Joseph Rael, Beautiful Painted Arrow. We conduct a variety of special events scheduled at various times throughout the school year, culminating in our Young People’s Dance in August.
These events provide a hands-on experience that includes drumming, chanting, storytelling, and lessons on a variety of ceremonies. These workshops help make these teachings a regular part of the lives of our children-and reinforce them as a regular part of our lives, as well. Nan Citty and Katy Koontz-both Sun/Moon Dancers who have experience in various areas of ceremonial tradition-lead the workshops.
Over the years, we have noticed that these special, beautiful children who Spirit has brought to us are becoming visionaries themselves. It is such a joy to see children who are not fettered with all the chains of ignorance that once held us back.
Consider attending these workshops with your children, grandchildren, or godchildren. Even if you have no children, please feel free to come and give your support. It will renew your faith that God is watching over us and that our world is in Spirit’s hands.
For more information on upcoming Native Nurturing events, please call Nan Citty 865-405-6809.