"We are as children on this land, a shadow on the still life of time.
"We measure our presence in generations; we cannot dig down ten thousand years and find our bones. Our arrival is scribed upon the line of history; it does not drift upon the winds of story, or float upon the shrouds of myth. We are still explorers and discoverers, seeking meaning through movement and examination.
"But we are coming to a time of listening. Our sweat and breath are now upon this land. Voices rise up, and we begin to hear the echoes in the stones.
"I come before you to speak of these echoes. I do so with humility and trepidation, for these are things not easily expressed. They live on the far margin of the spirit, where one hears the voice of winter on an autumn wind, or the chant of remembered lives rising from a plot of barren ground.
"We have all heard this voice. It comes, like a phantom, in the play of sunfall on a summer hillside or in the haunted still before a storm, or in some moment so fleeting and ineffable that we cannot catch as it passes, but find it now lodged deep within our spirit, where it dances with the colors of a dream.
"I have heard this voice for years, now. And I have listened carefully, as one listens to the breathing of an infant, or the rattle of the very old.
"At first, in my youth, it was only a whisper, an intimation, that beneath our knowing there was something fundamental; that children born on mountaintops spoke the languages of heights, and children born in forests knew the meaning of disclosure, and that we shaped our gods to fit the forces of our lands.
"Then, as I grew, it spoke more clearly still, as I followed the paths of wanderers, and Jesus, Lao Tzu, Black Elk, lit fires in the landscape of the night.
"As a sculptor it would call me, as I would stand for hours, days, months, before a single tree, cutting, removing, seeking the shape of an idea, until the tree itself spoke back to me, commanding my chisel, mocking the sufficiency of my concept, giving its own life and meaning to the form.
"And finally, as I shared bread and stories at the tables of the Ojibwe, it burst forth, full throated, into song. There, among a people untainted by the celebration of the individuated self, who could find a message in a thunderstorm or a promise in the passage of an eagle overhead, it filled my ears like the roaring of the sea, and would no longer be denied.
"Now I hear it clearly. It is the voice of the land, as powerful as shadow, as haunting as the moon.
"I kneel in this place. The past blows through me like an ancient breath. Hills rise up. Sunsets laugh with tongues of fire. Thought turns liquid, releases into reverie, and ascends. Time floats, instantaneous and eternal, like a hawk upon the wind."