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The Great Spirit This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

I grew up with my mother having no religion, and my father believing in the “Native American Spirits.” My whole life, I believed that there was a possibility of having something out there, but it may or may not be for us to know. Today, I believe that there are things; supernatural beings, but there is a choice to have them in your life.

As my father drove with my brother next to him in the front, and me in the back, we had gotten lost. First off, we were in California, second off, we couldn’t find the map, we were winging it. My father takes out his prayer kit. In a foreign language, my father sings and I can pick up one Cherokee word: wanagi, which means spirit.

When my father is lost, he lights up white sage and lavender-soothing and guidance leafs-and places them on a large shell. He wafts the smoke with a small branch of mint leaves and quietly prays to the Great Spirit. The Great Spirit is kind of like the Christian’s God, but able to date back farther in time. There are other spirits that stand for everything: the sky, the war, the water, the fire, the wind, etc. But, the Great Spirit is the ultimate ‘ruler’ of them.

When I was a child, I believed that my father was making up these words, that he was creating a language all his own. In my head, I would do this too. I would sing along with him, twisting letters and sounds so that it sounded like this ancient, tribal language. No one knew of this, just my own mind. I wanted to be like my father, but on that day in California, when I was fifteen and slowly allowed to morph my own life, I asked him what he was doing. For the first time, I asked him why he was doing it. He said: I am praying to the Great Spirit. I asked: Who is that? He replied: Our God. Who’s God? I asked. Ours. You and me; us.

I did not believe that a God could be owned. We would be owned, right? So, at that moment, I realized that all of my beliefs weren’t really there. There never had been a possibility. I told him this epiphany, and he shook his head sadly, just as my grandparents had when I’d told them I hadn’t believed in their God.

Us, it’s a strange word. You may work with someone or know someone, but until they tell you what they believe in, it never truly exists.



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