The expression of love is never lost
February 12, 2021
This blog post is result of a conversation had between Tye Rhyno, Indigenous Liaison at Wood’s Homes, and Elder John Crier from Maskwacis, Samson Cree Nation, around Valentine’s Day. It shares knowledge on self-love, love for your children, love for your partner and love for your community. We acknowledge the impact of colonization on Indigenous families and the loss of traditional teachings, and that finding new pathways requires access to knowledge, with the understanding that we can integrate new teachings at any point along our journey.
The Cree dialect is an action-based language that expresses how we are in relationship with the world around us. As I learn the language, I have been applying the lessons that come with it in my personal life and with those I work with. In this series of little teachings, I, along with Elder John Crier, will explore the words that may inspire descendants – as well as those on their healing journey – to love themselves, their partner, children, family and community in a good way. As Valentine’s Day is the celebration of love and affection in western tradition, the first part of this series will explore the love that we have for ourselves.
When a child is born, one of the first words that they are encouraged to hear and learn is ‘ahmee’, a loving sound and expression of love that means “thank you for coming into our life and welcome to our family.” Creator has gifted our lives with a child. This time is a gift for the parents and guardians to feel the love and joy of raising a child. And when a child is appreciated as such, and feels comforted and loved by the people around them, ahmee is carried throughout their journey in life.
Sakihtowin, or the “act of loving oneself and others”, is the emotional and physical demonstration of love. It can be expressed by embracing someone that you treasure and hold dear in your life.
Kisteyihtowin, or “respecting oneself and others”, is the way in which one holds themselves in value. This is expressed by brushing our hair, dressing up in the morning, or any other way in which we prepare ourselves and others to show our value. It’s a way of creating healthy boundaries and relationships with other people. Kisteyihtowin is the love that manifests as everything we do for ourselves and the things we do to uphold the wellbeing of others.
Ehkihceyihta kipimastisowin is holding ourselves and our lives in high regard and with humility. Ehkihcemiht is holding those we love with the same sense of pride and joy. When you feel sakihtowin and kisteyihtowin, you don’t hold yourself higher than anyone else. When you respect yourself and others, your ego becomes greater in a healthy way.
Sometimes a child is not blessed with ahmee, and they aren’t welcomed or acknowledged in a loving way. Feelings of rejection, abandonment and fear arises, and they do whatever they can to take control of their life, so that they won’t experience abandonment or rejection. Or sometimes, they will give up hope on themselves, unwilling to experience and embody ahmee. But ahmee, the expression of love, is never lost.
In loving yourself and in allowing others to love you, one can experience ahmee. It doesn’t matter how old you are – you can learn. It is always available. One can always grab it, place it in their spirit and live it. If one starts now, no matter where they are in their continuum of healing, they can take this moment of teaching – of “I am seen and I matter, I see you and you matter” – and grow from it. Initiation is about confronting yourself and your obstacles. Through the spirit of initiation, one can open themselves to love and continue their journey in a different way than they began. Hope is never lost, and changes can always happen in meaningful and joyful ways.
This teaching is one of many. Mwestas mihna kihtwahm – “we’re not done yet and we will continue this again.”
Remember that opening yourself to love takes patience and work, and that the words you say have power. Bring words of compassion into your life. Have isahow, or “faith”, that in practicing humble spirituality and embodying sakihtowin and kisteyihtowin, you create the reality of people finding value in you.
Have faith that ahmee will become your reality.