Measuring Up

Living in this age with the world brought into our living rooms via Television, it has lately left me with a few little thoughts about life and what value we attach to or describe as a successful life. I feel like society in general is slipping away from being grounded, like everything gets bigger and bigger and we don’t know how or where to stop it, so we just ride it I suppose until it throws us off ! I saw a new article on a Florida couple that is building a 20,ooo sq ft. house. I don’t know about you, but that kind of stuff grosses me out. I find no admiration or envy in that. I do try to mind my own affairs and keeping my own life between the ditches is a full time job, but really, 20,000 sq ft house ?

When I lose my footing and perspective, I think back on my Grandparents. When I look for a model of success, I look to them. When I look for a model of contentment and belonging in the world, I look to their life. They weren’t perfect (thank God) and I know I look at them through somewhat rose colored glasses of a Grandson, but I saw their life as humble, simple, peaceful, spiritual and grounded. Grounded in a connection with the earth and with their faith. If our Creator does look down and would tip his hat to a life well lived, I cannot imagine them being one the hat not being tipped to. I’m not saying that folks that aspire to become leaders, doctors, politicians (well maybe not politicians), and such aren’t worthy of the tip of the hat, I’m just saying it isn’t a better way to live.

I surely have a heart for the forgotten ones, the unhip and disfavored. I believe every man, color, creed, and character were created equal. My Grandfather was an 8th grade educated cotton picker from south Alabama, who spent his work life in Pensacola Florida with Frisco Railroad. He and my Grandmother raised 2 children in a small house that was the only one they ever lived in. He made enough money for them to “move up”, but that house was their home. They bought what they needed and went where they needed or wanted to go. They shared their joys and their tears in a little kitchen that was about the size of some people’s closets these days. The humble approach to a life of integrity left them knowing that stuff wasn’t important.

So I’ve danced in circles and not sure I made my point very well. With Sports superstars, music and movie stars and people with 20,000 sq ft houses it can be easy to feel we don’t measure up sometimes. But what is the measure of a man anyway, whose ruler do we use? Any thoughts?

Walking with Their Ancestors

In a world where the squeaky wheel always gets the grease and negative thinking through scare tactics inspired by end times fanaticism can feel like “the truth”, that approach to life isn’t the only one out there !

I wanted to shine a light of love and respect on two Native American men that as of this past week are now walking with their ancestors. Quiet, gentle men with a vision of love and unity in this world. Men whose ears worked better than their tounges. Men with a deep connection to Mother Earth, balance, harmony and justice.

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The Meeko of my Perdido Bay Lower Muskogee Tribe, Bobby Bearheart Johns, quietly crossed over on a beautiful Pensacola Morning. Less than 48 hours earlier, my wife and I among many others were with Bearheart as he released a rehabilitated Red Tail Hawk back to Mother Earth. Watching the joy and connection of freedom on Bearhearts face as the Hawk soared high above the Gulf Coast Pines was a fitting flight that Bearheart himself was set to take. Pictured is Bearheart with his son, Cedarbear. The Native way of honoring elders was never, ever more apparent than in the lives of these two men. I am honored to be a member of Tribe. Cedarbear will lead us on the path of love and unity that his Father set. I was proud to know Bearheart. He was my friend and in the highest of compliments, he was a true human being.

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With the crossing of these two men I have seen an outpouring of love and respect shared on-line. Comments that make me think that the world is by and large in good hands. Hands of care, and honor. Hands of thought and heart. While humans will always be humans and are capable of the darkest of deeds, we are also capable of great light.

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Richard Twiss, activist, author, speaker, and co-founder of Wiconi International, went to walk among his ancestors this past weekend. Gone way too soon, Twiss for over 35 years has been a wonderful, solid voice for Native American rights. Wiconi’s mission as a Christian belief-based organization is to let Native people s know that they don’t have to give up their heritage to be a follower of Christ. That Christ can be experienced through all cultures.

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I saw Richard Twiss speak at Belmont University in Nashville and was really affected by his message. A message that had lived too long dormant and in the bottom of my heart.

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I read a quote by Bearheart one time that said “Take pride in your culture and self. Surround yourself with like friends. Refuse to be coerced into joining habits and events that would harm your mind, body and welfare. You and only you can make life good”. I could camp out in those few words for a lifetime and I know many of my troubles and worries would fade away.

So to all of my relations, be good to yourselves and one another. Is it really as simple as do unto others……………………

Open To Change?

I heard someone say one time that they had “a deathgrip on their ideals and beliefs”. I understand that they were trying to say how deeply the believed in something and that they could never be persuaded to see it differently, but the irony of the statement has always made me think. For if someone has a deathgrip on something, it usually means at least a couple of things. One that maybe they are afraid of change and also that with a deathgrip they will likely kill it !

So when do we examine our ideals and beliefs? I tend to see them as gardens that have to be maintained almost constantly. Easier to say than to do and I have been a “go down with the ship” kind of guy plenty of times. I did realize in myself that if my ideals and beliefs caused division and exclusion that they needed to be re examined. That if I was so sure I was right that I didn’t have the space to engage in dialog, then I needed to re-examine. I’ve been wrong so many times that you’d think it would be easy, but it isn’t. I think it is tough for us as a people, to be naturally inclusive. It seems that it has to be an intentional practice. Does love have a beginning or end?

We all share this earth. We are all brothers and sisters of the same Creation. I really believe that there are many, many people out there yearning for dialog; longing for peace in their world, their country, their community, their homes and especially within themselves. I am one of them. I welcome comments and reflections. Where do you find yourself in the midst of holding to your beliefs in this ever-changing world of politics, racism, religion, exclusion, love and longing?

Peace to you my friends !