Orange Nation Army
Written by: Adrienne Yeardye; Immersion Coaching
It was a big week in my world – all roads leading to what I never thought possible. Most of the details in my personal life lined up brilliantly, exactly as I had hoped and planned – maybe even better. Learning that everything I feared for First Nations in Canada is actually true? Well I never really thought that was possible either. It has certainly let 30 years of hope and faith in humanity out of my tires. It’s been a lot to process, and it’s been really necessary for me to process it on my own, and then show up as I have been asked by those who need my support.
So… I was ever so freaking grateful for The Artist Date this week! It kept my head on my shoulders and my heart afloat.
Sunday night I saw a post on Facebook about how Niagara Falls was lighting the falls orange for 2 eves, which meant I could go on Monday. Monday rolls out and I didn’t finish work until about 9:30 pm. Planned, but not ideal of course. I was pretty punked, but… the falls. I really wanted to go, and I’m not sure I would have, if I weren’t inspired by The Artist Date. It was apropos also, because it challenged me to find the deeper gift in the experience, beyond the grief and the rage I am feeling.
It was a very cool experience, and probably one of a lifetime. I was one of about 20 people at the falls on Monday at 11 pm, and definitely the only one in an orange shirt. It felt so good to be physically present for the hearts I know wanted to be there too. It was impossibly beautiful, and so healing to be with this giant gracious beast of a land feature. The sound was a proper smudge, and I let the water cleanse my feelings.
I remembered my very first experience of the falls. I stood right in the crook of the metal fencing, and leaned out as far as I could between the rails. It’s as close as you can get without falling into the river. If you’ve been there, you know that exact spot in the guardrail. It’s hard to imagine the exposure in such a public place. You can see the rocks at the lip of the horseshoe formation, and you can see through the mass of water. It’s just always the way the light is there, and the water is almost levitating, it it moving so fast.
When I was that little kid there for the first time, my Grandpa came to the rail as well, and leaned out over the top rail to speak closely to me. He always did that, even as an adult. He would stop whatever we were doing, and lean in to tell me a story, a teaching. He was the most beautiful teacher. Kind. That day – when I was maybe 4 or 5 – he told me the story of the Maid of the Mist. He told me that the Chief’s daughter lives in the falls, and if anyone goes over the falls, she catches them and makes sure they get home safely.
I think of this every time I go to the falls, it is as real now as it was when I was 4 – the age of some of those children in the grave – and I feel so loved. I feel him lean in and teach me that life is wonderous and beautiful, that there is someone caring for us all of the time. I feel safe.
Standing there at the falls on Monday, I was soothed and peaceful. I found that space within myself where I truly believe it is possible for those wee souls to find their way along the river, get scooped up by the rushing water, and be carried home to safety by the Maid of the Mist. I believe it is possible for them to feel so very loved, because they are, by no less than an Orange Nation Army.
This is why we have stories, to give care and order to life when there is no good reason. How incredible that it is a First Nations story that cared for me in that moment? That is The Great Mystery, I am sure.