BE CLEAN, BOTH SELF AND THE PLACE YOU DWELL IN.
Told to me in meditation by CALLING HORSE an ancient Chief.
When my people moved into a new place each family would be allocated a certain part of the camp to look after. They would set up their tipi or tipis. They would construct their own fire for cooking. They would have to care for the entire area under their control.
On one occasion I remember an argument between two families. It was about a certain bush. One said it was in their territory and so they could use it to hang their washing on, and the other said no, it was theirs. It was indeed a petty argument. However, there were deeper causes for this argument. In the past these people had argued amongst themselves over other things. One of the families was very clean and tidy. They would always be first at the river for morning ablutions. There would never be loose stones lying around their tipi. Their drying plants would be arranged in tidy rows, hanging on ropes. Their tipi would never be torn or dirty looking. The other family, on the other hand, was very different. They would be last for ablutions, if they were there at all. They would never all have a wash on the same day. Some days two out of the five members would wash, other days, none. They were a foul smelling bunch. People used to castigate them for their bad habits and every so often one of them would get hurled into the river. Their ground around the tipi was never swept so that stones would hurt people’s feet if they walked by.
At the time when the two families were arguing about the bush for drying their clothes, we were in a camp where there was not really enough space for everyone to spread and to have their own privacy. People were irritating each other. The chief was having a hard time keeping the peace. The main reason that the clean family objected to the dirty ones was not on account of the small tree, but because they smelled so bad. Their tipi smelled bad too and the clean family was just down wind of the offending tent.
The argument grew heated. The chief had to come and mediate. When he had heard both sides of the story and had inspected both the tipis and the surroundings of the two families, he sat down half way between the two tents.
“I shall let my senses be the judge of this argument.” he said.
“As I sit here, I am aware of the tent over there even if I close my eyes. I can smell it. I am aware of the tent over there if I walk round it with my eyes closed, because I stumble on the stones scattered around it. I am aware of the family which lives in that tipi over there, because even with my back turned upon them I can smell them. They are clearly not following the laws of the Great Spirit with regard to cleanliness.
I ask myself how I can help these people to tread on the correct path, the proper way, the Way of The Great Spirit. The answer is this. I feel that if only they had a little bush to hang their dirty clothes upon, they would be able to wash their bodies and their clothes. They would also able to clean the tent and wash the cleaning skins and hang them out to dry. It is clearly because they do not have this bush to dry their washed clothes upon, that they are such a smelly, dirty family. So I think they should have the bush. The clean family will have to set up a rope and some sticks to dry their clothes upon. I expect they will arrange their washing in a very beautiful design.”
With that the chief stood up, the dirty family looking very embarrassed and the clean family looking rather bemused.
“Carry on, my Children,” said the old man. “The Great Spirit enjoys the sweet smell of cleanliness. See what you can do to provide it for Him!”