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From the book Spiritual Ecology:The Cry of the Earth

Hozho by Lyla June Johnston


It is dawn
The sun conquering the sky
and my grandmother and I
are singing prayers to the horizon.

This morning she is
teaching me the meaning
of hozhó.

Although there is no direct
translation from Diné Bizaad
(the Navajo language)
into English
every living being knows
what hozhó means.

For hozhó is
every drop of rain.
It is every eyelash.
Every leaf on every tree.
Every feather on the bluebird's wing.

Hozhó is undeniable beauty.

It is every breath we give to the trees.
And every breath they give us in return.

Hozhó is reciprocity.
And my grandmother knows this well
for she speaks a language that
grew out of the desert floors
like red stone monoliths.

A language like arms
out of the earth
reaching into the sky,
praising creation for all
of its brilliance.

Hozhó is remembering that we are a part
of this brilliance.

It is finally accepting that
you are a sacred song that brings the Diyin Diné'é
(the gods)
to their knees in an almost
unbearable ecstasy.

Hozhó is re-membering our own beauty.

And my grandmother knows this well
for she speaks the language of a
Lók'aa' ch'égai snowsstorm.

She speaks the language
of hooves hitting the dirt
for she was a midwife and would
gallop to the women in labor.

She is fluent in the language
of suffering mothers;
fluent in the language of
joyful mothers;
fluent in the language
of handing a glowing newborn
to its creator.

Hozhó is an experience.

But it is not something
you can experience

the eagles tell us

as they lock talons
in the stratosphere
and fall to the earth as one.

Hozhó is inter-beauty.

And my grandmother knows this well
for she speaks the language of the Male Rain
which shoots Lightening Boys through the sky,
pummels the Green Corn Children
and huddles the horses against cliff sides in the
early afternoon.

She also speaks the language of the Female Rain
which sends the scent of dust and sage
into our hoghans
and casts rainbows in the sky.

Us Diné, we know what hozhó means!

And deep down I think we know what hozhó
does not mean.
Like the days we walk in sadness.
Like the days we live for money.
Like the days we live for fame.

Like the day the conquistadors came,
climbed down from their horses
and asked us
if they could buy
the mountains.

We knew this was not hozhó
because we knew
you could not own a mountain.

But we knew we could make it hozhó once again.

So we took their silver swords
and we took their silver
and we melted them
with fire and buffalo hide bellows
and recast them into beautiful
squash blossom necklaces
and placed it around their necks.

We took the silver helmets
straight off their heads
and transformed it into
a fearless beauty.

We made jewelry:

Hozhó is the prayer that carries us
through genocide and disease.

It is the prayer that will carry us through
global warming;
through this global fear
that dances like a shadow
in our minds.

This morning my grandmother is
teaching me something important.
She is teaching me that the
easiest (and most elegant) way
to defeat an army of hatred
is to sing to it beautiful songs

until it falls to its knees

and surrenders.

'It will do this,' she says, 'because it has finally
found a sweeter fire than revenge.
It has found Heaven.

It has found Hozhó.'

And so my grandmother is talking
to the colors of the sky at dawn
and she is saying:
(beauty is restored again...)

It is dawn my friends.

Wake up.

The night

is over.

-Lyla June Johnston.

from the book, Spiritual Ecology.

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