Appeal To the Great Spirit – my favorite prayer.
To date, this is my favorite prayer. I first encountered it many years ago in the bulletin of the Church of the Epiphany in South Miami, Florida. I am uncertain as to its author. The church bulletin linked it to the Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. I have also seen it attributed to Lakota Sioux Chief Yellow Lark who is said to have translated it in 1887.
Every single day when I went to school and returned home from both McKinley Junior High and Muncie Central High (in the 50’s in Muncie, Indiana) I passed and admired a replica of the “Appeal to the Great Spirit” cast in bronze, and erected on a site just east of the Ball family homes on the north side of the White River in Muncie. The original sculpture was created by Cyrus Dallin in Paris in 1909. The statue in Muncie is one of three full-sized replicas.
I love this poem for many reasons but mostly because of the emphasis upon our being a part of Nature along with the notion of which I am convinced – our most formidable enemy is seen each time we look in a mirror.
This is it – from memory. Let’s say, it’s paraphrased. A few words and phrases might be altered a bit from the original.
Oh Great Spirit,
Whose voice I hear in the winds,
And whose breath gives life
To all the universe . . . . PLEASE HEAR ME !
I am small and weak;
I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty.
Make my eyes ever behold your red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things that you have made,
And my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I might understand
The things that you have taught my people.
Teach me the lessons that you have hidden
In every leaf and rock.
I seek strength and wisdom,
Not to be greater than my brothers and my sisters,
But to fight my greatest enemy, MYSELF.
Help me to be ready to come to you
With clean hands and straight eyes
So that when life fades, as the fading sunset,
My spirit will come to you without shame.