May 29

0815The careful student says what she knows and not more than that.

She listens for what she seeks to understand

My name is Devon Frances Riley. I identify as a woman; a white, cis, queer mother. Pronouns: she, her. They is fine, too. I have a student who’s been using ‘they’ all year for me, and they’re not wrong. 

I am where dare and Rebecca are, which I repeat here in chorus, a chant: the watershed/ ancestral lands of the Chinook people – Kathlamet, Kalapuya, Clatsop-Nehelem, Multnomah, Clackamas, and more, including the Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde. For me that is NE Portland, which has more recently been a homeland for large parts of the African American community of Portland, whose togetherness is being actively displaced and decentralized by ongoing gentrification in which I have participated. 

My ancestors are Irish, Scottish, English. On my father’s side, they are for now mostly forgotten. On my mother’s, the Bible’s record goes back to County Cork. It is my intention this summer to do deeper research through my parents, who have lived on many unceeded lands, including the place of my birth and strongly land-based upbringing, on ancestral lands of the Shoshone Bannock people in what I call Idaho. 

I appreciated so much what Tada said in the first session, naming that they are trying to figure out how to say what I do. Yes. I work and play with words and am always attending to the slippery space where language can both clarify and obscure. I read all of your typed offerings in this living language handed down through colonization – and am grateful. Thank you for sharing. 

I owe a debt of responsibility to the chosen spiritual traditions that have raised me: Westernized Raja and Hatha Yoga and Westernized Zen Buddhism. I hold myself able and capable of contributing to the trajectories of these evolving praxis in a way that includes more. In this I have been privileged to study with angel Kyodo williams and Lama Rod Owens, as well as Michael Stone and Michelle Cassandra Johnson. 

Including more for me has been made possible by practices and teachers from Body Mind Centering, Cranial Sacral Therapy, Alexander technique, Psycho-spiritual parenting (Marion Rose), interpersonal neurobiology, training and embodied engagement with trauma and chronic pain, the work of Judith Blackstone, the HAES model, reading so many stories, being with people (mostly women) who have been interested and willing to share their experiences, and spending years of long, tender days in my garden with my children. 

Currently, I am spending long, tender days with youth in an alternative high school, talking about race, breath, words, and the mystery. 

 

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