Taos Pueblo, a Native American village, is considered by many to be the oldest continuously inhabited community in the U.S. Located in Taos, New Mexico; it has been inhabited for over 1,000 years. This last week-end, my husband and I attended a celebration at the pueblo encouraging and honoring the ritual of growing corn on the pueblo. It was a humbling and inspiring experience.
The growing of corn by pueblo members historically has been central to being able to feed one’s family sustainably, to sharing food with others, to bartering for other needed supplies, and, just as important, to Native American spiritual beliefs and ceremonies. But over the last 40 years of so, the growing of corn waned as the distractions and confusion of living between the two worlds of native and the western culture became magnified.
Internationally known Native flute-player, Robert Mirabel who is from the Taos Pueblo, recently found that his constant touring to perform had taken a devastating toll on his life. He had lost a vital connection to the land and to his people. Working with two friends from the Taos area, he decided to turn his attention to growing corn—yes, to growing corn. He reluctantly has become the spiritual leader of an effort to reclaim and reintroduce this ancient practice. His call to his people has been “Believe in the corn.,” warning that “without corn, there is no song/Without song there is no dance/Without dance there is no rain/Without rain there is no corn. If corn dies, we die.”(1)
Having grown up on a farm where we grew corn, I was struck by the impact of both losing a fundamental spiritual and cultural practice on the very well-being of this ancient community and by the courage and fearless determination it took on one person’s part to reclaim his own life while inspiring his community to turn their attention to the earth, and specifically, to growing corn, as a basis for life.
Of course, this lesson is one for all of us. What is your version of corn? What is the ground, the foundation for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being that has been ignored? What has become more important than your spiritual health?
Now is the time to reclaim your own corn—that which will sustain you and what’s important to you. There’s no time to waste.
(1)From Po Pay Speaks