The American Indian poet Joy Harjo told Bill Moyers
I don’t see time as linear. I don’t see things as beginning or ending. A lot of people have a hard time understanding native people and native patience – they wonder why we aren’t out marching to accomplish something. There is no question that we have an incredible history, but I think to understand Indian people and the native mind you have to understand that we experience the world very differently. For us, there is not just this world, there’s also a layering of others. Time is not divided by minutes and hours, and everything has presence and meaning within this landscape of timelessness.
I’m presently in France, ambling this morning along a perfectly beautiful riverbank, loving the tranquil presence here of the cimetiere de bateaux de la rivière du Bono – in the quiet backwater where venerable painted-oak fishing boats have come to their rest and where, over years and years, their once bright colours fade as the waters cover the sea.
Here too along the riverbank are earthenware remains of the defunct oyster industry, closed in the 1980’s by a spell of river pollution. Morning dew shimmers on cobwebs in a gentle breeze. Sea birds shout with raucous authority. Petit dejeuner is laid ready at table. The sun is warm on my back, and is the gladness in the harbour. My heart is full of happy anticipation for the day.
This afternoon we cycled to the Basilica de Sainte Anne d’Auray, Phare spirituel de la Bretagne depuis 400 ans – (Spiritual Lighthouse of Brittany for 400 years), twenty years almost to the day since the late Pope St John Paul II arrived here. Ancient faith and art meets modernity here too. Craftsmen’s art in the great basilica, as in the modern boulangerie across the road.
This evening I reflect on these things, and upon many more, and recognise a timelessness, a great and awe-inspiring Patience, a vast and wonderful landscape, and have little or no need to be ‘out marching to accomplish something’. Bound to past, present and future undivided, I sense that I am – that we are – here or anywhere, home from home.