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"Why You?"

There are two questions in the past 16 years that have stuck with me. The first was God’s, from 2008: “How will you define yourself?” I had a saucy response back then but I think about it often, mostly because I don’t know how to: for myself or others. My “I’m just Ingrid,” still seems right to me but the Others in my world remind me that's not the case with some frequency.

The second question was from a DDA I worked with last year: “Why you?” Bless him. He's one of the few people who can hold space for whateverthisis (because it also remains undefined) and it was entirely acceptable, even expected that it would be incorporated in our work discussions. It helped that he's Native American, has had decades of his own unusual life-paths and experiences including a role as a federal prosecutor, is fully aware of different iterations of the medicine way, and only blinked once when I began sharing my experience with the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women phenomenon.

I’ve had a couple uninterrupted weeks to sit with his question and thought maybe answering his would also help me answer God’s. Annoyingly enough, however, the two don’t actually meet in the convenient way I’d hoped for.

The truth is, I’ve never asked, “Why me?“ I have asked, “WHY?!?,” more times than can be counted, but ‘why me’ hasn’t been part of my processes as an adult or child. His question has intersected now with a host of Old Ones saying it’s time for action, for speaking and I figured if I could define myself through ‘why me’, it could help me know how to speak to others, it might offer an understandable foundation for them to open into me, for me. I’m going to try not to ramble as I answer the best I can but there’s inherent in this a bit of storytelling.

I didn’t know I heard prayers until October 2013. When I followed my first directional’ vision to Connecticut and the woman whose doorstep (and guest bedroom) I landed on said, “I just prayed for this three weeks ago! I prayed for you but didn’t know it!” In the early days there were several of these conversations, enough that I began to trust what I was in as divinely guided. However, in the travels between Oct 2013 and January ’19, I pretty much forgot about them.

I ‘saw’, I went and I did ‘the thing’; rinse and repeat, mile after mile. I forgot the hearing of prayers because outside of that initial experiences, when I appeared to whomever I was sent (which was mostly in Indian Country), they didn’t want what I had or wanted what I had but were confused, angry and frightened because I was white and a woman moving in the man's way, the man's Medicine Way. It also never occurred to me back then that the ground or beings connected to it could pray—or would.

Because I forgot the fact that I hear prayers, I forgot the sanctity of it; what it really means to literally hear or have delivered the fear, rage, honest vulnerability, desperation and exquisite beauty of someone else's faith and hope for a future that's saved for God's ears only. My travels were such a hard road, such a hard road, and one that wasn’t ever one I considered not doing that I couldn't see past my nose. Like the painting now, I couldn't not go and do. I bitched, I cursed, I cried, and I marveled but it wasn’t in me to say I ‘no’. The internal pull, the propulsion, to trust and follow and do could not be denied or ignored. pushed through each time praying my own prayers and mostly believing they’d never be answered, feeling that I, too, had been forgotten. Forgetting.

However, my first striking reminder of the power of the prayer-thing was in February 2018. By then I’d become fully enmeshed in the hot-mess of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in the American desert. Clumps of hair were falling out, visions were exacting and exact, and I’d had so many practical-world encounters of asshattery from the Feds and other law enforcement, that I was just done. Thoroughly, to the bone done. I'd told All Things three years before, "Use me or take me because this is killing me!" and I was ready to assist in the process the winter of 2018. I’ve described to a few people that I thought if I died in the midst of all of it maybe someone would pay attention. Though that did cross my mind, it’s more honest to say that, for so many reasons, I’d become suicidal. I was just.fucking.done. I made a plan, was settled into it, grateful for it and went to bed.

I lay down, closed my eyes and She, The Mother, His Mother, Our Lady, showed up; front and center, halo and entire Being beaming like nothing I’d ever seen. She’d been a regular visitor for three years by then but I’d never seen anything like it, the Emanation of Her. In this experience, She was more than any idea of ‘lightness’ or light itself within form. She stood in front of me, Her hands together, and Her wide-open eyes not asking but pleading, beseeching me, praying to stay and, ‘Don’t give up. Please don’t give up. Don't go yet.' And behind Her were hundreds of other female figures, also haloed, hands together, repeating, “Please.” I just laid there. I couldn’t cry, so numb that I wasn’t even capable of awe. I did the only things I knew to do in that moment: I nodded to them, said ‘Fuck me’ to myself, and rolled over to sleep. Already knowing that I could not say to Her, to every iteration of Her that stood before me in that honest vulnerability, desperation and exquisite beauty of faith and hope for a future.

It took me months of being out of the thick of danger, to settle back into Montana to connect that experience of The Lady en masse to the singular visions I’d been receiving since 2015 in which a female figure without defined facial features—though always brown-skinned—walked to me with an infant or toddler in her arms, lifting and offering the child up with the message of, “Save her.” Once every few months, each from a different place, the two would come. The ‘normal’ appearance was in human form, one woman, one child. The not-so-normal was in tree-form; one trunk holding, across two branches, a smaller one. “Please save my daughter.” And, for years, I connected those visions with the practical world. In my head, I’d think, “Oh, you’re going to see a sick child,” except that wasn’t always the case.

Since I’ve been sitting with "Why you?," I’ve realized that the above isn’t merely part of the answer, it’s the answer. Someone, somewhen, I’m presuming God, of course, decided that it was time to ‘save my daughters’. And, at some point—perhaps before I was born, perhaps since—He/She decided it was going to be me that does that. I’ve been created in this way to answer the universal prayer of, “Save my Daughter”. The same question that individual mothers, particularly those with brown skin, have asked millions of times around the globe has been brought to me as a seat of faith and hope in the prayer being answered.

There’s no obvious label to slap on my forehead to make it all make sense to anyone, let alone myself. To me, I’m still ‘just Ingrid’ who happens to experience and express the world in a unique way. These Old Ones have called me The Messenger or Voice of the Mother since 2009. I’ve known since Feb 2012 that my idea of ‘just Ingrid’ wasn’t true but have felt as confined by those definitions, any definition, just as I feel confined by most labels and societal boundaries since all of this began unfolding.

This is also what I’ve been told: that the ‘second-coming’ has come and gone, many times. And had nothing to do with Jesus himself (other than his courage to go where others wouldn't) but the Consciousness that guided and moved through Him. There were thousands before him who we’ll never know of and a couple hundred since Him. Mohammed was one, Shams was one, Sakyamuni, and Tenskwatawa, and many others: preachers, teachers, warriors, weavers, healers, farmers, fathers, farriers—those who we’ll never know of because their communities were small, words weren’t written, and their teachings were for then, for them, and their kin; not the future.

Some of us were born into it in supportive families or communities that could ‘see’ us or that knew ahead of time we’re coming. I wasn’t fortunate enough to experience the former but many of those Old Ones in my world say They knew I was coming long before I was born. I was in their dreams and visions, announced by Creator and often believed to be something else, someone else. Wovoka knew, Pat Kennedy knew, Big Bear knew, Crowfoot knew, Nick Black Elk, Poundmaker and others. Some couldn’t reconcile that I’d show up as a woman, some saw me as brown-skinned, not White, but each knew my heart, the heart of the matter, long ago and stay with me now because of that.

There’s a school of thought that says we humans chose to be this way in between lives, that we have signed a contract to do whatever we’re sent to do, I don’t subscribe to that. The idea that the universe conforms to ideas of bureaucracy boggles me. I think, though, those of us who are this way only agree to be God’s tool, The Mechanism for Him/Her, when we are alive and breathing and kicking and screaming in the midst of life and must consciously and consistently make the choice to give ourselves over to something larger than our ideas of self, our ideas of control, no matter our faith or doubt.

Though most of my conversations with Jesus and Shams and a couple of the Others lean toward more practical matters; where’s the money coming from, what is true, where is the breathing help, it’s clear that the conscious choice to engage in the work—whatever it was meant to be for each One of us, was The Sacrifice. It’s the choice to live outside of social norms and relationships, mostly alone, with a singular focus on the work we’re called to do.

There’s a thing within me that ‘just knows’ that I work for God, that I can’t deny it or Him or Her and that I, as an individuated being, am not in control— though He’s shared in more than one way, “No one can tell you how to do it”, I can call Him a m****fucking asshat, knowing that I’m not judged for it all while knowing that I cannot say No. There’s not a cell within my body or process within my psyche that can deny Him (though, interestingly enough, when He shows up as Her, there’s not a hint of foul language or frustration or acquiescence involved).

It took me until September 2017, when I was sent to the desert, to begin understanding into how I was going to be used. I’d had in my head that it was going to be as The Healer. I’d spent seven years curing illness with my hands, bleeding The Medicine into the ground, and breathing calm into chaos in the Biblical way and thought that was the way it was to be, should be.

I wasn’t born into this like some of the others were. But I was born for it. All these Old Ones and other spiritual beings knew it and watched me grow into it, being forged into a hardness (or strength, perhaps) by my mother. Every kick to the head, punch in the gut, burn on the skin, attempt to save my brother was watched from a distance. I didn’t know it then and there’s a separate story to share about how I learned all that but somewhere in the being born, being molded and now, I was created specifically to address a single aspect of MMIW and create the ripple effect that ends the sexual trafficking of women and girls (and their murders tied to it) globally.

I used to be confused by the idea of being ‘The Messenger’ because I didn’t have a ‘message’. When God yelled, “SPEAK” back in 2015, I had nothing nice to say in response. I was pissed that someone would demand me speak to the shooting at the Charleston AME Church and responded in the same tone with a, “What do you want me to do?! Tell them not to kill each other?!”

It was only in the summer of 2022, when I was sent to the National Cathedral that I learned the ‘message’ is “whatever your heart leads you to.” He said to me, “The power of your truth is hope that the greatest love is real.” Can you imagine?! He dropped that bomb in my lap along with other things that made all this whatever-it-is feel real, solid, meaningful in the long-haul way:

“Go to the lightness when appropriate; go to the fight when appropriate; Always in presence, always in peace. Allow yourself to be held, guided. Direction is not confinement; it’s where freedom lies.

You are the presence of God and need not ever feel pain again but what you have inside you must be felt.

Humility and confidence aren’t far from each other.

Take nothing for granted. Take it all as a gift.. Paint like you mean it, move like each step is new. Allow, receive, see the gifts, the glory of trust, faith and freedom…Hold your own loosely.”

And so here we are. I’m only working with what I’ve got: an internal sense of not being ‘my own’, 15 years worth of spiritual and gnarly-human experiences that would make anyone else crap their pants, a full knowing of both my True North and capacities, and an understanding that I could be wrong.

Why me? Because it’s time. Because I’m stronger than most, more sensitive and perceptive than most, can carve through gobs of bullshit, hear and answer prayers, fight with the best of them, trust the absolute goodness of the earth and God, and know—just know—this focus on MMIW —and what comes from it—creates a ripple effect that saves Her daughters.

How all this intersects with belief systems is something I may never fully understand. I can’t understand why Nayenezgani sees me as his Brother and why Those Old Ones from other traditions hold also me as “Child of Water”; why He will shout in my ear a 0500, “BRO!!” like I’m some dude. I don’t know why part of this unfolding is being The Memory Keeper or how I get the memories to where and to whom they belong.

I never asked for or sought any of this and didn’t want it when it showed up and now can’t get out of it. I say that given a choice at any stage, I’d have said, “No, thanks,” but the truth is in addition to other qualities, I'm also a curious force of nature and, even if I'd known the exhaustion and danger were part of the package, I may well have said, "Oh, heck yeah! Let's do it!" I deeply regret that I didn’t come into this way of being by being loved or having a community that supports it. It’s also never been within me to try to capitalize on any of it or manipulate it to create a means or an end and, if I’m honest, I somewhat regret that, too.

I can’t know for certain if my interpretations of this are entirely whole or incorrect. I do know that I’m not ‘just Ingrid’, that like the thousands before me, I'm the Being through which a universal consciousness uses to create change and remind us of the power of the greatest love. I know that I was created and molded for this specifically. And I don’t know how to be it. I don’t know how to actually Be, except to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I have no center in the way that others understand it and any attempts to contain the bigness, the expansive nature of Me, results in immediate and dramatic physical and mental decompensation. The overstimulation of the world’s noise is too much for my tender and tough parts. I have tried, I keep trying to live, to stay alive in a space that cannot hold me and a lot of the time I don’t want to do this anymore. Yet here we are, here I am. The exhaustion and need to constantly fight through for rent buries curiosity and yet...

My questions now are far from ‘why me’; they are much more basic. I feel like I live life so far outside of imaginations, beyond the limits of other’s, into the ‘miraculous’ that no one can connect with except in rare circumstances. How do I express this uncontainable thing when it doesn’t meet the expectations, appearance, definitions and other the guard rails that keep people from accepting what they see and feel? Am I supposed to? Or is this a ‘quiet’ visitation, seen by few?

How do I live being tied to the physical world without belonging to it, to no one; with no one in the practical world? How does one live without belonging to anyone but God? How does one express need when it can’t be met by others? How does one live without really living in the way they were meant or is this the way I’m meant to? How do I earn a living when ‘out there’ pummels every aspect of me? Is it possible to walk away from whatever this is?

And since I can’t really answer those questions, I keep putting one foot in front of the other while hoping I don’t screw it all up. These days, I send info where it needs to go, duck when I need to and trust that it’s real and true, paint like a madwoman, and try to figure out how to bring in income in a way that won’t beat me up.

History will create a story around all this, I’m sure. It’ll create a ‘why’ that’s either more grandiose, more aligned with the comfort that comes from maintaining myth and archetype or something else that sounds ‘more true’. Until then, left foot, right foot. Breath in, breath out. We move without a convenient definition, no 'special' name or other way to keep people comfortable (including myself), with a purpose grounded in the deepest love, as an instrument of change.

I'm sharing all of this now because She told me to, She told me when, and told me how. She told me these things because now is the time that I will begin speaking publicly about the aspect of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women that I've been focused on for over six years, how it effects Indigenous communities and it's relationship to how we define the value--or lack thereof--of women in society, and I begin making a public effort to change systems that perpetuate the disappearance of women and girls for the purposes of sexual exploitation and their murder when they are no longer deemed useful for that purpose.

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