Stick With Your Mission in Life

A woman was referred to me because of my work with Aboriginal communities.  I will call the woman Nancy.  She represented an Indigenous community in Panama.  The Chief in Panama had directed Nancy to seek assistance in Canada.  He said that it was time for Panama and Canada to connect.  The Aboriginal community were fearful of losing their land rights, having their sacred knowledge of herbal remedies exploited, and their means of prosperity completely devastated by powerful corporations.  They had given-up on finding help locally and were now seeking assistance from the outside world.  At the time, I connected them to a Canadian politician who had a very good relationship with the First Nations in Canada.

In addition to seeking political assistance, Nancy told me she was also selling baskets made by the Panamanian community.   We decided to meet at a local pub on the waterfront and after a delicious fried-fish lunch, Nancy started pulling out the baskets from an enormous cloth bag.   They were unlike anything I had seen before.  Beautifully hand-woven with intricate designs, the colours and shapes of these creations were quite spectacular.  The weaving was extremely fine, with grassy fibre that was almost thread-like.

I decided to purchase a basket but had a difficult time deciding which one to buy because they were all so beautiful.  Finally, I chose a pink, white and black basket with a butterfly design.  At the same time, I thought of purchasing another basket as a gift for one of the Grand Chiefs I had worked with on an economic development project.  It was to be a small thank-you gift, but also a way to raise awareness on behalf of the Panamanian community.  Again, I had a tough time selecting a basket but finally picked a brown, black and white design as a gift.  Admiring my choices, I held the pink basket in my left hand and the brown basket in my right.  As I studied each basket, I had a change of heart and didn’t want to part with the brown one so I said to Nancy, “I really love each of these baskets.  Maybe I’ll just keep them both!”

Suddenly I screamed.  It felt as if a sharp needle stabbed the finger of my hand that was holding the brown basket.  I looked at my finger expecting to see blood, but there was no mark.  In pain, I said to Nancy, “I feel like I was just stabbed by a needle!  What kind of baskets are these?”  Nancy looked at me without any surprise and said, “They’re spirit baskets.  Each basket is woven using a long sharp needle and there’s a spirit in each one.”

This made me laugh out loud.  Without a doubt, the spirit in the brown basket had let me know that keeping that particular basket for myself was the wrong choice.   At that moment in time, my mission in life was to give the basket to the Chief!