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In a world of artifice, we long to feel vital and energized. Many of us are caught up in the insular life of the bourgeoisie. From the metallic heat of closed cars in the morning commute to the carpeted comfort of our homes at night, we lead sheltered lives. Culling from online dictionaries, I learn that “to emerge” may mean invariably to surface, to become apparent, to manifest oneself, or to become prominent. Truthfully, I feel somnambulant a good deal of the time. How, then, can I pull off the miracle of emergence?

“To surface” suggests coming up for air. Having had past lives as a cabin boy and pirate who drowned at sea, this one commands my respect. In this chemical environment, I forget to breathe. Deep breathing restores a sense of calm and peace. I resolve to substitute a long, sustained breath for the kind of staccato, shallow breathing familiar to me. Immediately, a sense of tranquility replaces my troubled ruminations.

This next definition — to become apparent — challenges me to clear the haze that obscures my true nature. I am of the light. In meditation, I imagine myself radiating gentle beams of white light outward into the Universe. Emitting light overwhelms the darkness and other more negative emanations so abundant in the world.

Another denotation is “to manifest” oneself. This is problematic, because it begs the question: “Who and what am I?” At this point, I begin to panic a bit, hoping what my beloved editor really intended was a tidy “how to” article about spring clearing and cleaning…or else, perhaps, a poetic nature treatise chronicling the melting of a long winter into a sparkling spring awakening. I then get a grip, realizing he’s introspective like me and likes a good philosophic excavation every now and then. It’s simple: thoughts create our world. I must decide in every waking moment what I wish to project. The inside must match the outside harmoniously.

The final definition implores that we “become prominent.” It’s taken sixty winters to identify my authentic self. In emerging, I will not shrink from nor apologize for who I am. I am here to clear karma, and to cultivate an affinity with all beings. I’m grateful to all those who taught me, but I am a child of the Holy Ones. I determine to assume with confidence my rightful place in the world, perhaps offering a little ray of light by virtue of all I have learned and experienced.

If we each emerge, we will no longer revere only a select few as gurus and teachers. Each of us will be “guru” for the other. An Iroquois woman I met in California used to say to us, “You never know where you will find a Medicine Man or Woman. He or she could be the person sitting next to you.” She wanted us to regard all people as Sacred and Holy.

A wise one could be a vendor in a mall concession booth. I was loafing in one of those coin-operated shiatsu chairs at the mall, when Cedric called me over to look at a concession booth. Amid knitted and crocheted scarves, hats and accessories was a younger man with a rounded face and quiet demeanor. I learned he was from Tibet. I said, “Tibet — that’s a very Holy place.” He spoke of the Chinese invasion, and I affirmed, “Such a sad time in history.”

He smiled warmly and said, “It’s still a beautiful place; it’s a beautiful world. Yes, we like to be alone, but we are also social beings. We must learn to live with others. If you have a peaceful heart, then you can live anywhere. You will be happy wherever you are.”

I knew I was in the presence of an enlightened person. He wasn’t just repeating things he had heard. Exiled from his beloved homeland, he did not become bitter but had instead emerged with light to offer others.

This, to me, is the deeper nature of emergence: it is the best part of ourselves projecting outward into the world.

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Janet Michele Red Feather
Janet Michele Red Feather, J.D., M.A., has taught literature and composition for 18 years at the university, state, tribal and community college levels. She is currently a tenured English Faculty member at Normandale Community College. Janet enjoys her role as Ceremonial Singer for Native American ceremonies, singing traditional songs in Mandan and Lakota. She made a career shift into teaching after serving nearly eight years as a defense litigator in California. Her life changed significantly after she traveled to North Dakota in 1993 to fast and pray for a way of life. She welcomes correspondence at JanetRedFeather77@gmail.com.

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