Sunday, Hompa Wakonta

Hydra

Listening to Osage language tapes I hear that Sunday is called God Day: hompa Wakonta. I lack training in linguistics, but my best guess is that names for days-of-the-week were introduced to the Osage people by non-Indians.

I am doubtful the Osage would single out one day for God.

I always thought of Sunday as Church Day. We attended Sunday School intermittently. My mother sloughed off religion like a pair of slippers but my father was quite contemplative and found church meditative. He bundled us off to church whenever he could.

He concentrated deeply on sermons and discussions.

After church we gathered in Southern California coffee shops with a coterie of his friends from church, where he wanted to discuss the sermon over coffee and pancakes. The women would be happy if their church outfits matched the naugahyde in the café booths.

I would be happy if the café had real hot chocolate rather than the just-add-water powder. I hoped the waitress would bring me that tiny pitcher of hot maple syrup for the pancakes.

Church sermons became my introduction to tuning out. I learned how to sit still in a church and allow my mind to wander into territories far removed from the pews and stained glass.

My practice in the skill of tuning out allowed me to operate on several tracks. One track for swimming through school or work, another for conversation, another for the inner journeys, and still others. My mind is like a hydra carrying out multiple tasks simultaneously.

Taking improv classes forced me to be in the moment and concentrate on the present. I force myself to listen or see or hear. I’ve even taken meditation classes to learn to be in the moment because I’m distractible and easily bored.

I pretend my mind has hydra tentacles that latch onto the person or conversation or activity. My mind chants: pay attention, pay attention. I can hone into a conversation and ignore my surroundings in my effort to travel on one track at a time.

Problem is that my sober mind is explosive, traveling at light speed on multiple tracks.

I have to resist the drink or drug that dulls my mind and quiets the chatter.

Instead I grab my bike and head off to the farmer’s market to commune with the fruits and vegetables.

Happy Sunday.

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About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. She is enrolled with the Osage tribe.
This entry was posted in authenticity, journalism, Osage. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Sunday, Hompa Wakonta

  1. westwood says:

    I went to one meditation class, which was very interesting. Us newcomers shared our experiences and difficulties with the teacher after, who said that the first (and most important) step was observing how often the mind naturally wanders, grabbing it, and bringing it back to centre without judgement.

    Like

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