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.

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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.