The Art of Thankfulness

josey1How do I begin to speak of thankfulness? I know the language. I am pretty good at talking about how thankful I am. I even think I am thankful. But that is usually when things are going well. When they aren’t going well, I have the inclination to think of that first.

Many years ago a member of our family, Josey was hit by a car. He lost a leg. This was not only traumatic for him but really traumatic for me because I attached much more to that loss than Josey did. I thought about him looking different. not being able to run as fast as he once could. The accident made him different visually and in our culture different isn’t as openly accepted.

For Native cultures, animals have always been teachers. They studied the animal ways to learn everything from hunting to how to be in the world. Sadly these days we don’t think we have much to learn from animals these days as we see ourselves on the top of the ladder and not viewing life as a circle. In a circle everything is dependent on each other, and everything is equal.

Josey showed the rest of our family how to be thankful for what we have. Not what we think we should have. Not what we assume we deserve. His stitches, his limp, his “imperfectness” didn’t effect him at all as far as his worth of himself or his worth in the eyes of others. He is thankful and lives that thankfulness everyday. He accepts everything as a part of how life is. That everything happens for a reason. That everything belongs. We have now talked for years and viewed Josey as a great teacher in our house and life.

Josey has a story much like all of ours. He’s been wounded. Life has full of surprises and paths not chosen but accepted. In his teaching it’s like “so this has happened, now what?”. For all of us wounded brothers and sisters, how thankful are we for what remains? Do we view it as enough to create happiness from ? I hope my journey continues here for many more years. Apparently I’ll need them to close out my circle as full as I hope it to be.

I am

I am American. A Southerner and Floridian. I am English, Czech and Indian. I am perfectly imperfect and imperfectly perfect. Significant beyond measure and yet a speck of sand in the great deserts.

I am lost and found. A believer in the goodness of mankind and scared to death of my own dark possibilities.

A seeker and deep wanderer. Complacent and moved by selfishness.

I am moved by ceremony and many times untouched by beauties and graces that surround me.

I am thankful yet much of my life shows no sign of that.

Many times I can’t say what I mean and I wonder if it’s a lack of command for words or if deep down it’s my heart.

I know there is something bigger than me but can rarely define it.

I am insecure and yet completely comfortable with who I am and the journey I’m on.

I am full of the world. Full of love and many times full of shit. Sometimes I have a hard time knowing the difference.

I am here and I am gone. I reach out and hold close.

I am you and you are me.

Do you know me? Does any of this ring a bell?

Thank you for lending me your ear. I have written this straight and from stream of conciousness. No editing.

Connect Me

It seems to me that our lives are lead by what we think is important. Would you agree? We can say many things, but at any given moment our lives are driven by what we want. That seems to be true from the superficial level all the way down to our core. And what is down there driving us at our core? I read a book many years ago that said absolutely everything we do is a response to either love or fear. I would agree with that and I think everything has a healthy and an unhealthy component to it, kind of like our enneagram numbers.

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This morning I saw a story on a Canadian photographer that has a series on, at first glance, would seem like twins. Except the people are not related at all. He gets tons of emails from people asking him to find their “twin”. Once Asian girl asking so she wouldn’t feel all alone. There it was. The primary motivator for us. Being connected. Don’t we all want to feel connected and in turn be understood? To find our people? Our place?

We are and always have been connecting. Religious groups. Armed Forces, Tribal, Gay/Straight, Cowboy, Surfer, Artist.. Whatever, we are circling around and around trying to connect. As a traditional Navajo belief maintains, everything, absolutely everything is connected. The breeze moving on the wing of a bird, brings scents to a wolf that invokes him to take a path, etc, etc…The circle is never broken.

As I enter into a season of life that is setting up to bring the big changes that aging brings, it makes me think of those connections and what peace comes from them. In my daily prayers, I really try to not ask for anything, but to just feel that connection. That brief breath across my face of the Big Mystery. The Master of Breath. The Presence. The Lakota would say “Mitakuye Oyasin”.. We are all related, connected. And if this is so, why aren’t we treating each other better. Why do Fergusons happen after Selma’s? If we could see how we are all connected and dependent, I .can’t understand how we keep acting the same.

In the photograph, each stone touches the one next to it, to make the circle. If any of the stones are disturbed the entire circle is broken. When the circle is broken , harmony is out of balance. Connectedness is lost, and we feel the effects in our hearts.

Thanks a lot Mr. Media

This morning  I saw the latest installment on the Ray Rive video collection. How many more videos of this awful night are out there? The question and frustration that hit me right off is why we aren’t seeing everything at the same time? Who is controlling the release and what is their motive or agenda for piece mealing this out to us?

This was a horrible incident and one that deserves attention, conversation and a reconstruction in our society. But if I’m to have a full opinion on this night, if I’m to understand it comprehensively then I need to see all of the evidence. It wouldn’t take away any desired punishment for the violence, but it would allow me to see it from all sides.

The media wants to be the bringer of news. The informer and creator of conversation, but I can only feel like someone has an agenda, either politically or monetarily to show us a video, we make a opinion, then they show us more, we reshape our opinion, and still another video and another shaping of our thought.

Maybe they could treat us like adults, show us the whole thing and let us talk about it then. A lot of you are probably thinking this is how it’s always been done and what rock have I been living under. That’s all probably true, but there is a moment in all of our lives that everything we’ve been told and every thought that has lived in the back of our minds, finds a way to freedom and the light of day.

Maybe this was mine ! Nobody likes being a puppet. And maybe I shouldn’t really expect more from morning news shows.

Free To Say ?

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Let me get a few things out of the way up front. I write an occasional blog. Not even a full time blogger, far below professional standard, and even more below good, true  journalism !! I may even be a part of the problem of too many people talking. I’d like to, and it is my intention to evoke thought, mostly within myself.

So is anything free? Has it ever been? In thinking about freedom of speech, is there a cost. I suppose if you said to someone “I love you”, that there isn’t a “price to pay”. But when you say controversial things, should we consider the price? I am a  Patriot, and a full believer in freedom of speech. I’m very thankful to be living in a country that allows and revels in freedom of speech. At the same time I can’t get out of my head the words of my raising “If there is any doubt or if  hurting someone is a possibility then you probably shouldn’t say it”.

So this leads me to the film “The Interview”. While they have every “right” to say and make a movie about whatever they want it just seemed like a bad idea. How many people had to sign off on the movie as “yes, this seems funny and great”. They don’t even altar the name and country. They go for one of the most volatile places and leaders in the world. Perhaps I’m missing the point, but while I’d expect everyone to back our right to free speech, I wish I’d have seen at least one Hollywood person, say, even in hindsight, this was a bad idea from the start.

My Mother used to say “how would you feel if it were done to you”, and this rings true for me in this case. If they had made a big movie about us and any of our Presidents, we would be really mad and offended.

Any thoughts? What am I missing? Are we thinking about it from a full scope or a narrow lens?

New Day New Hope

Morning Prayers

In the traditional way of the Muscogee as well as many other peoples of the world, morning prayers facing the East are the start of the new day. To the East, to Grandfather Sun. To a new day. To a healthier way. As Kris Kristofferson said under another context, but still relevant, “yesterday is dead and gone”. Today is new with each sunrise peaking up over the eastern horizon. New opportunities, new paths and new words. It is hope, one of the biggest gifts of all.

Addictions, moods, poor perspectives of life can all be shaped a little different with the new day. That we don’t have to keep carrying the things we don’t like about ourselves. We don’t have to repeat the same actions and say the same words that keep our balance so, well, out of balance.

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The medicine wheel takes us through the seasons of  a day as well as the seasons of a life. It begins in the East, but it makes the full circle, but where we begin each day is likely where we end the day or the life.

Prayer is a funny thing. We never know if we should just listen or ask. Perhaps in our better moments we listen, but when the times are grave and our pain is intense, at least for me my philosophies give way to asking. Not for a job or millions of dollars or any other small thing like that, but the big stuff. Peace and understanding. Harmony. for pain given and received to dissipate. Those are the big things ! To be better, to see and feel my poorer choices like those that have felt them feel.

This sense of peace mostly not for me but for my children, my family. That the spirit of  things bigger will connect to them, giving them a reason other than themselves to be in this world. For the universe to touch deep in  their soul. For our friends, community and the world.

So as the sun rises on a new day, and as I reach out and watch the smoke from the symbolic cedar and sage rise to the heavens, I pray for all beings. I hope this is your prayer too. Thanks for this new day, I hope you see a difference in me !

Conciously Connected

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In my morning prayer time, I have tried to say a bunch of things to the Creator to make me feel better. To put a band aid on my fears or things in my life I wasn’t ready to deal with. I know my connection is more true and I find more peace when I lose my self centeredness,  “speech voice” and just ramble on.

I believe we are all connected to the Creator and I don’t know if I believe that that connectedness can really ever be broken. I think what can be broken is our consciousness of connectedness. That we don’t live and breathe as if the Creator is inside of us. For me it works best when I begin my day off acknowledging that I am eternally connected.

Most peoples of the land begin their day like this. Like my friend Walt Wilkins once wrote “I’ve tried my best to crawl out of Gods hands”, but you can’t, you can only be unaware of that presence. Most of us were taught that when we were “misbehaving” we were without God. When in fact we were just being selfish and our thoughts only on what we wanted. We were busy being human !

We have a choice to acknowledge or not. I don’t think the Creator is as worried about the little falls from grace that we incur daily, but if we are consciously connected. If so, everything else takes care of itself.

This is no high theology and I’m surely no deep well, but I think that’s the key anyway. That it really is pretty simple. Love for starters and being conscious in this world to all around us and within us, and that all of that is holy or sacred.

Morning Prayers