Waking Up to the Call of the Drum

by Martha Lucier, WOCC/Edge co-founder and circle member

Photo by Martha Lucier

One morning recently, I was awakened very early in the morning by the sound of a loud rhythmic drum call.  The intense sound jolted me out of bed like an alarm as I wondered who was playing the drum so early in the morning.  I went into Points North, our community gathering space and home to many drums, to see if someone was there.  I didn’t see anyone, so I asked my husband who was already awake if he had heard drums.  He had not.  

This particular drum sounded like a djembe drum from Africa, calling out to the community to gather. The call felt imminent, as though there was something very important that needed immediate attention. 

I realized what sounded like a drum, was a wake-up call from my heart and soul, connected to my own heartbeat. 

A few times in my life, drums or songs have awakened me in the magic of the early morning.  When this happens, I listen deeply.   Have I been giving myself enough space and time for what matters most to my heart and soul;  ceremony, dreaming, praying, and healing?  I realized this part of me, my spirit, felt as though it had ‘flatlined’.  How do I bring balance back into my life?  I realized what sounded like a drum, was a wake-up call from my heart and soul, connected to my own heartbeat.  I know this because of how strongly the sound caught my attention, and how urgently the call felt.  

As I asked my heart these questions, I felt tears welling up as grief began to surface.  The feeling was as though something very deep and ancient had been extinguished, not only within myself but within the human spirit.  I connected these feelings to the atrocities that were surfacing around the Indigenous children being discovered who were buried at our residential schools and that each one of us is not immune to the effects of colonization, as both perpetrators and victims.  The surfacing feelings were also connected to the restriction I was feeling surrounding the pandemic with an inability to connect in person with my soul and birth families, friends, and community, for such a long time, as well as not being able to offer my gifts facilitating and tending circle community. 

These feelings and thoughts reminded me of a dream I had in the summer of 2010: 

I am in my hometown, Windsor, dropping my friend off at a hotel to meet other friends. I enter the hotel and look out the big picture window overlooking the Detroit River. I see both sides of the river;  the Canadian and American sides.  

Far off in the distance, I see a dust cloud forming that is gradually coming closer. I notice that the dust cloud is from buildings that are collapsing on the Canadian side of the river. Everything from tall apartment buildings, churches, schools, and universities to factories is collapsing and the dust is coming towards us now. I urge my friends to come with me to find safety.  We manage to find a way to cross over the bridge to the Detroit/American side. On the way, I try calling 911 and my husband but I cannot get through.  At the very top of the Ambassador Bridge, I look out again down the river and see that the dust is now on the American side. The buildings are now collapsing on both sides and the message is that we are all affected by the changes that are coming. There is no escape.

Reflecting on the dream, the buildings represent the collapse of the old ways, structures, and institutions that wielded power, creating imbalance by polluting the earth and disempowering the human spirit.  The collapse of the old power structures is revealing disconnection and the destruction of our collective home, Mother Earth.  

We each have a role to play in reconciling the wounds of the past, through acknowledging, grieving, witnessing, and acting in alignment with our heart.

The message that we are all affected by the coming changes and that there is no escape, means we each have a role to play in reconciling the wounds of the past, through acknowledging, grieving, witnessing, and acting in alignment with our heart.  We, the living, and the land we live on carry the unspoken stories and traumas of the past and have the ability to heal, create, weave a new dream together.     

After reflecting on this dream, I drew a circle in my journal, with four quadrants asking myself what I need:  spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically, to restore a feeling of peace and balance in my life.  How might I reconcile all that is being revealed and discovered?  What is my response going to be?  Spiritually, I need more space and time to pray, cleanse and listen.  Emotionally, I  crave time with kindred spirits and soul friends who can engage in prayer and ceremony together.  Mentally, I need to let go of responsibilities that are not mine, making mental space and room for my own life and work.  Physically, I need more walks in nature, yoga, saunas, bike rides, and deep breathing.   

One of the gifts of the pandemic for me has been the recognition of the importance of community, family, and friends in my life. In the long absence of physical connection during the pandemic, I deepen my appreciation of how vital our connections are, and how we re-inspire and lift one another’s spirit, as we are reminded we are not alone. We are all connected to a vibrant web of life.  Like the drum, our hearts long to beat together, uniting us in vibration and song. 

Inventory of Your Heart Home Practice:

Within your heart, what is being pollinated and wishing to blossom, like the summer blooms in the garden?  What nourishment do you need spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically, to restore peace and balance in your life? 

Focusing on your breath, what is your body sensing?  Where might it be feeling tight, expansive, numb, or painful?  What might you experience when you bring presence to your mind?  Is your mind clear, focused, or scattered? 

Tuning into your emotions, what emotions are surfacing?  How might your spirit, the part of you that observes and witnesses your life, desire to be nourished? 

Listen to Ancestor Song

by Martha Lucier

Sister, sister, don’t be down-hearted
We are with you, showing the way. 
Move with us, listen to us…
Feel with us, you’re not alone.

Brother, brother, don’t be dis-spirited
We are with you, healing each day.
Trust us, Believe in us…
Pray with us, you’re not alone.  

Pieces are coming, coming together
Weaving and connecting,
Coming Back Home…. 
Coming Back Home
Coming Back Home…
Coming Back Home….

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2 thoughts on “Waking Up to the Call of the Drum”

  1. Dear Sister Martha
    Touched by your sharing! I really understand the calling of the ‘drum’. We are all being called to awaken to who we are and that involves who we were. Loved how you are teaching us to listen and see and feel a new way. Thank you so much!
    Blessings and hugs

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