My weaving teacher and mentor, the late Jennie Thlunaut recommended that Chilkat weavers pray every morning before they go to their loom. She said real prayer is always about “giving thanks for what we got.” She said give thanks for everything you have in your life, and the gift that was given to you, you were chosen to receive this gift…”(she was referring to the art of Chilkat weaving). I still listen to her words. Every day before I weave, I always say the Lord’s Prayer. (It doesn’t matter what belief you have, as long as you give thanks, you invoke the spirit of goodness to be with you and those around you.) In the past few years I developed a method in which I can focus on giving thanks, a ritual that I learned from growing up in the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church.
Almost every day since my mother’s passing on July 4, 2011, I have burned Russian Orthodox Church resins as part of my morning ritual before I begin my work. And while I walk about my studio home with the incense burning with the gentle fanning by an Eagle feather, I say the Lord’s Prayer with the addition of my own words of gratitude. The calmness and peace I feel when I complete this ritual invokes a blessing to begin my day.
The then priest of the St. Nicholas Church in Juneau presided over my mother’s memorial service. It was one of the last services he had conducted before he relocated to Denver, Colorado. (He gifted me several bags of incense that I recently used up.) He was the last priest of the church. If I am not mistaken, the church is no longer used for services, though I believe the church is open during tourist season. The church was built in 1895 at the request of the Tlingit people living in Juneau. Our mother was one of the last active members of the church until her passing.
My favorite incense to burn is the Russian Amber and the Russian Rose, along with other local resins, the dried sap collected from the Pinon tree of the Southwest and the Spruce resin of Southeast Alaska.
Today would have been the 60th wedding anniversary of my parents; I salute them with a prayer of gratitude…