Just to know

manhattan flags.jpgFor many years now, I’ve had a loop of the song “City of New Orleans” finding it’s way into the front of my memory. The fact that it’s resurfaced for so many years now tells me that it has found a home in my subconscious and just raises its hand from time to time as some type of release or reflection for my soul. I hear Willie Nelsons version for which I am thankful for. I like Emmylou Harris’ comment one time that if America had a voice it would be Willie’s. “Good Morning America, how are ya?, don’t ya know me, I’m your native son!”

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In these days where it’s easier than ever to find heartaches, sadness, division and every other adjective that makes us feel like the good fibers of our world are frayed and thinning, the opening line to City of New Orleans feels like an internal barometer for me. I hear that line as the eternal optimist reaching out with his open heart saying ” hey everyone, what’s going on, you doing ok?” . I also hear him saying, “me too, I know it’s tough. But we really are in this crazy thing together”. There is a common road and everyone is traveling by his own light, culture and accumulated experiences. I think we need to remember our commonalities, those threads that hold us together. Love is an eternal language and it slides in and out of music, art, 4 legged creatures. Yes 3 legged too. The winged ones, the trees, the landscapes all speak in their own ways to us. Bringing us a sense of belonging, balance and peace.

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The natural world will bring us more truth than CNN or Fox, believe me ! There are the eternal truths, the one the Creator passes along through everything that he made. And there is the nonsense that the news brings us. Headlines of fact, but that’s where it all ends and where the big spin begins. The spin of misdirection, confusion and doubt reigns supreme.

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I wish you peace my friends. I wish for you a balance based in the deeper truths of the universe. Not to sounds crazy full of double talk and new age yak yak. This is simple stuff. Look to what the Creator made. Find the good stuff in your loved ones. Watch their smiles and how they love each other. Listen to the trees and the birds. Know you are loved. Know you matter.

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Know we all hold the same doubts. Know you are not alone.

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I hope the reminder to you and me that we all share the same stuff is comforting to your spirit. If you are hurting, know the continuum of life keeps going. The new reality will present it’s own gifts. Know our hearts beat and grieve with you. For we are all a thin veil from each other. Aloha, Peace, Blessing, Aho, and any other kind cultural gesture you wanna pass along, I’ll take it !

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Joshua Tree, California

Flags, Brooklyn NY

Glenn Simmons and Josey, Nashville TN

Paden Simmons and Dylan Simmons, Amtrak Train NY state

Tamra Simmons Nashville TN

Cross, Pensacola Beach

 

Many Voices

Upon following Native news and especially the situation and devastation at Standing Rock, I’ve written this lyric as a partial response. Music to follow. Aho

Many Voices

We are the Native skin-  your long forgotten kin

But brothers to the four winds that blow- Navajo

 

We’ve come to share a word- one we’ve said but not been heard

And the time is now to listen and see- Shawnee

 

Our earth is crying out- as she shakes and shouts

There’s no doubt- you know this is true – Standing Rock Sioux

 

We all have to stand together- hand n’ hand here forever

To save what you seem determined to kill

The wind and the water and every flower on the hill

 

Tomorrow is paid for by today- so we must choose the better way

This is what our old ones say and the wisdom of the age- Ojibway

 

She’s been too long in her tears- ravaged by your money and the years

And we fear soon she will just let go- Arapaho

 

We must teach our children to listen- to the voice that’s been missing

It’s the one that’s true and can’t be sold- Seminole

RPT Chorus

Bridge

Come on brother Choctaw- come on brother Kickapoo

Muscogee and Cheyenne

For the children we must protect the land

Repeat Chorus

Seasons Change

In the past few days Fall has tapped us on the shoulder reminding us of cycles and circles. The heat of Summer will take a few more swings at us here in middle Tennessee but it’s veracity is waning. It is time to let go.

In the culture that I was raised in and what is probably true for most of us is when the season changes, we always respond  by how they make us feel. That seems fairly natural to most of us. But I think that there were cultures back when people lived closer to the Earth, that weren’t quite as self-centered as we are today. They understood the Earth as a teaching tool and they saw themselves as part of the whole. All life journeyed in continual cycles and circles. 

To get outside of ourselves for a moment to let nature and the universe become the true teachers that they are, is a forced action for us. Not one we’ve been taught but one we respond well to, once our ancient spirits are reminded. 

The old ones that lived closer to the earth, the great teacher, understood the harmony needed to live a centered, balanced and healthy life. 

I’ve heard for years how the Fall is a time of clearing our spirits before the earth goes to sleep, so once the renewal of Spring arrives we are not carrying our past burdens.  That even the trees which have great wisdom let go of thier leaves so they can grow again. It’s a season of reflection and quiet easing into our own personal hibernations.

I like these words from the Ojibway….. “In traditional cultures, the cycle of seasons was and often still is recognized and celebrated with ceremonies. These ceremonies are a way of obtaining and maintaining harmony with the natural world. For humans to live with happiness Harmony and health they must be in tune with the continually changing world around them.”

So along side campfires, football and sweaters remember the symbolism found in creation used to teach us. Remember the tree letting go of its leaves as we let go of anger and jealousy. Sometimes we are letting go of a loved one. Remember the snake as we shed old habits that keep us from harmony. 

Everything in the circle does the same thing in it’s own way. I wish you a good season change and for your spirit to fly higher without the baggage it has accumulated this past year. Aho, good travels on good roads to you all…

Journey on

I used to have a distant thought that there were two events that really connected us as humans. We were all born and we all must pass. The “dash on the tombstone dates” as Kevin Welch calls it, is where we all went our own way. While some similarities and parallel roads occurred, we didn’t reconvene on the big stuff till the end.

Now I’m beginning to shape the idea that while it looks different for us all, the “dash” is the thread that connects those two events for us as individuals of course but also as the family of man. The children of one Creator/ Creation.

I think that “thread” is answering in our spirits, the questions of the big mystery, or thinking we need to have the answer. When Richard Rohr talks about the impossibility of successful dualism, I think of how we understand it in our minds but our hearts refuse to get on board. But our heart, our spirit, is the Creator talking and in that there is no duality. The duality comes from the Creator, our spirit wanting us to progress and grow but our humanity, our culture, religion, fear and shame tell us we don’t really deserve it.

Those that dare to step into the dance of the unknown, to trust the Creator have never said they have all the answers. In reality the deeper they step into the unknown it’s understood that answers aren’t the interesting part. Answers are no longer the desire. Reality and connection, then relationship comes from the journey. The ebb and flow, the tides of the spiral. That’s where the meat is.

If not having the answers keeps us questioning and trying to connect everyday then that is a much better spirituality than thinking you have the answers. Because if you do think you have the answers, then the tendency is to camp out there and also to begin telling others what the answers are. Even reading that back to myself seems ludicrous, yet we all have participated in that. But hopefully we will trust that the Creator is bigger than religion, bigger than culture and that answers were never meant to be the goal.

If you don’t agree and you want to hold onto your traditions as though they are the holy part, then that’s fine. I just hope you give others the grace to hold onto what they feel in their hearts is the breath of the divine. If you get too far away from your brothers and sisters you will only see what separates you, not the thread of hunger to connect with the wonder and holy that lives in all of us.

Many Native people believe that those closest to the Creator are the infants that just came from God and the old ones who are about to return. They have a peace about them. I hope I can live in that peace with enough time to enjoy it and for my children to see it.

Peace to you all. Aho

 

Cherokee

I had been doing some reading on the Cherokee and I suppose it had a hand in giving birth to these words. I have re written it several times and the subject focus has shifted as well. Right now it’s a poem. It may grow to a song one day but maybe not.

Cherokee

I am the dark skin….long forgotten kin

ancient as the four winds….blowin’ again

I bring strong words to you….but in your heart you know are true

oh won’t you hear me now

The earth is cryin’ for us to treat her better

it’s gettin’ late if we don’t get it together

our future’s in the balance of now or never

 this is where we can help you see

we’re as old as these hills- Cherokee

this is our homeland…right where we stand

and we may shake hands…. but I don’t understand

how you kill the water and the trees.. clear cut Mother Nature at her knees

oh won’t you hear me now

the earth is cryin’ for us to treat her better

it’s gettin’ late if we don’t get it together

our future’s in the balance of now or never

this is where we can help you see

we’re as old as the hills- Cherokee

@glenn simmons music 2015

The Girl Who Sang To The Buffalo

Buffalo

While I’ve read each of Nerburn’s books many times before, recently I read all three in the “Neither Wolf Nor Dog” series. I hate to even use the word “series” for a writing that has shifted my life in such a strong way. Using the word “series” makes it sound like “Little House on the Prairie”.

I’m positive there is no written word from me that could capture the essence of these books. And while each one was progressively moving, The Girl That Sang To The Buffalo” was most so in the way that it reflected a light on the connection of man and nature in a fashion that I’ve never experienced.

I’ve never read it because I and probably most of us, haven’t had the fortune of meeting a people that are so far removed from the noise of this society and all it holds important. People so far removed, that silence and the conversations of nature are as clear as our Mothers voices. We don’t meet them mostly because we don’t value them. We say we do, but we hold high and in esteem many of the things that really matter least, and are without a clue on most of the things that do.

These are glimpses of what I found fascinating in this book. The old Ojibway man, Benais, living in a natural world that would scare the crap out of most of us. The young child that white doctors want to medicate because they can’t understand her. If freaks them out that she can communicate with the natural world as effortlessly as breathing.

These lives on the fringes. These quiet ones. These ones that feel no need to validate themselves to anyone. These ones so connected to the Creator and Creation that their lives are a effortless flow of Zen. Always in a circle. Always with meaning and purpose. With truth.

If you have an interest in seeing the world through eyes that perceive differently or wish to have your circle of understanding stretched, all I can say is read this book. Begin with “Neither Wolf Nor Dog”, then “The Wolf At Twilight” and close out your reading journey with “The Girl Who Sang To The Buffalo”.

They are powerful, but then again truth usually is.

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.