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“Hozho’dooleel!” My grandmother begins her prayer of gratitude. With a gentle caress of her forefingers, the white coarse cornmeal sacred to the Holy People disburses into the evening breeze. She continues her prayer for a good plentiful day, as my siblings and I follow suit, each of us delicately releasing our cornmeal. We quietly murmur prayers of our own of all that was good that touched our lives that day.

“Ahee’hee!” we proclaim into the completing day.

This ritual occurred evenings and mornings when I was a little girl growing up on the Diné (Navajo) reservation.

Showing gratitude to the Creator and the spirits was one practice that my grandmother, a medicine woman, encouraged us to implement into our daily lives so that we continue to travel the beauty way by focusing our attention on the abundance that is already present in our lives over the things that we feel we lack. The repetitive actions of showing gratitude to these spiritual beings who make our lives possible enable us to grasp the understanding of achieving hozho — balance, respect, harmony, beauty, kinship and joy.

A Diné Blessingway prayer of being surrounded by beauty taught us that the Universe holds vast amounts of beauty, and that our inner beauty is just as limitless in its own splendor. The daily practice aligns the two together where our blessings become immeasurable and phenomenal.

In the last couple of years, life decided to drop a few unexpected moments into my lap where my true alignment of the beauty within me and outwardly found itself at a grave imbalance. I was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer at the age of 57! Frankly, I was taken aback! This, just when I thought I had finally found grounding after an arduous journey of a failed 30-year marriage that ended in a divorce. The beauty in me was shaken. Surgery and chemotherapy followed. During the course of 12 chemotherapy treatments, I realized that I was on that vision quest that I had always wanted. Instead of nestled somewhere in the crevice of my mother the Earth with plants and animal relations waiting to offer help, I had chemical substances intravenously pumping into my veins twice a month. Clearly, something deep inside me had other ideas.

When my grandmother prayed with us, we directed our prayers to the Universe. There was a reason for that. “The Universe is immense with nothing but goodness and that the Holy People, the Creator, and our ancestors are there waiting to help!” She said. “We, as two-legged humans, hold the imbalances.”

This recollection brought a turning point in my “vision quest.” I had to realign my inner beauty to the Universe. The key to that doorway is any reverence of gratitude. So, I began prayers of gratitude for everything: the surgeon, oncologist, nurses, the port placed on my body and the chemical substances that entered my body through it, the blood-thinning medicine, the filter in my veins that helped prevent clots, and so on. But something was missing. I felt that there was someone I was not thanking as I went through my list over and over. I quickly found out who.

In preparation for a bath one night, I saw this person. She looked right back at me. She was drawn, thinning hair, tired eyes as she stood with a nakedness that exposed a six inch scar from her belly button on up. Purple bruises dotted her midsection from blood-thinning shots. In her right arm, she held a pump, the size of a lemon that contained the chemical substances streaming into a port right above her right breast. After a longing and loving eye contact, we wept into each others arms.

“I am so sorry!” I repeated over and over for a good while. A deep gratitude overcame me as I uttered, “Ahee’hee!” (thank you) to this brave woman looking at me with love that was new and different.

I love thanking myself now. It’s one of my most prized pastimes! Recently, I underwent a CT scan and a colonoscopy that produced normal results with no signs of cancer! I thanked my colon and the chest area where the port was. Beauty has been restored! Ahee’hee Creator!

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Lini Wilkins grew up on the Dine (Navajo) reservation in Arizona, an hour north of the Grand Canyon. She attended boarding school on the reservation. After graduating from the University of Arizona in Tucson, Lini moved about a dozen times all over this country. She homeschooled her three children -- Sion, Niltooli and Nazhone (two of which have already graduated from university with the youngest in his third year). She has lived in Minnesota since 1999. Now, Lini is being called to share the beauty way with others as her grandmother did. She can be reached at linibimaii03@yahoo.com.

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