Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hearts Far from the Earth

A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground. Then it is finished, no matter how brave its warriors or how strong their weapons.
Cheyenne Tsistsistas
Like many others on the Internet, I am repeating the above words without knowing much about their history. I first saw them on a poster about the "Sisters in Spirit" campaign to draw attention and response to the disappearance of hundreds of native women in Canada. The words have haunted me.

They came back to me this week, as I pondered a sad change in the hearts of women here. It goes along with a change in language, I think, where the terms "spring" and "thaw" and "runoff" are now heard less frequently than the term "breakup." What matters to people these days is not when the air is warm, or when the hills get bare, or when it's time to start garden plants, or when the pasture will green up, or how soon the fields might be tilled; instead, it's when the roads "break up" as the frost comes out, so that the heavy equipment in the oilfield grinds to a halt.

Twice in the last couple of weeks, I have heard young women rejoicing that breakup will be short this year. Both times I said I would rather see a couple of feet of new snow before then. In the past, almost anyone would have agreed that we need the moisture, but these women did not. One said she had to support her boyfriend during breakup, and the other said her boyfriend would be around the house too much.

The proverb talks about conquest, but conquest is not the only way for a nation to be finished. It can also be finished when the hearts of its women are too far from the earth.


Tim Hodgens said...


Big Sigh...

and yet even in extremis there is the possibility of hope. Take a look at Rose of Sharon's "offering" to the malnourished man in John Steinbeck's novel: The Grapes of Wrath. (

I had only finished that wiki review an hour or so ago and then I came across this posting.

God bless you, Mother-Prophet. May your words and your milk continue to flow.

Even in the depths of darkest winter, spring is irrepressible.


arcolaura said...

Very interesting review. It has been a long time since I read The Grapes of Wrath; I may have to read it again. My daughter read it a year or so ago, well ahead of the time most students would read it, and I think she found it an eye-opener, but inspiring, too.

One thought: I hear a lot of criticism of "individualism," but there is something individualistic about Rose of Sharon's offering. It was a gift from one human to another, not through a collective (so many of which become bureaucratic and unwieldy or even malevolent) but directly responding to need. That kind of response is where I see the greatest hope.