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

 

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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.

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.

To Just Be

This probably isn’t so much a post on spirituality as it is on life or getting older. I was raised to think of others or at least care what others think. As I ran that through my life filters, I perhaps created it into something that it wasn’t intended to be. I worried what others thought too much. At some point I had to let that go. For years I tried with effort to let it go but I still felt trapped by those thoughts. As I’ve become older I’ve had little tastes of what letting go really means to me. I couldn’t do it with effort as much as I just had to divest myself from that thinking. Perhaps think of other things and the more I did that the more I just forgot about the other stuff !

I’ve always felt a connection to the Creator. I wouldn’t define that within any religious system, but rather an undeniable sense of something beating in my soul. As I wander along I am feeling that the big truth is in many, many small things, like prisms in glass. Slivers of truths, all equally important for each individual. I can no longer confine the Creator to only my thoughts or anyone else’s thoughts. To no religions, traditions or cultures. None own the truth in its entirety, but we all own a piece of the truth that belongs to our soul. I believe the Creator shows up everywhere in everything.

For now I am still way too hungry to have my voice heard. Too hungry to be right. Too hungry to own all of the truth. I hope my future stages will have me letting go of that hunger, and leave me just basking in the peace and comfort of knowing that my honesty and vulnerability with the Creator is enough.

I’m sure many will disagree with these thoughts. Some will be worried for my soul. Some will think I’ve gone off the deep end. Some will think I am right on track, but really none of it should matter to me. My road is mine, just as yours is yours. I hope we all reach a point where we are so comfortable with our beliefs, that not only do we need to be shouting them but that we also don’t have a desire for the praise or need to defend the criticism.

At some point I hope to just be.

the broadstroke of words

 

I was running through the channels the other night and landed on Bill O’Reilly’s show. I don’t watch Fox much and mostly due to my perception of their arrogance of the only ones being right. And while much of the same is probably said about the other side, I guess it makes for good TV which isn’t reality at all.

At the risk of being another annoying voice in a vast sea of annoying voices of fairly uneducated opinions, I was struck by some terminology Bill was using. In speaking of socially progressive programs, he kept referring to or one could say using bullying verbage to his position that traditional America is gone.

I want to first say, I love this country. It is and always will be my home and my European ancestors have mid here since the mid 1600’s and my Native American ancestors, well for thousands of years ! So I am proud to call America home. I also want to say I choose to listen to as many side of a discussion as I can.

But here’s is the phrase that keep sticking in my craw; Traditional America ! What does that even mean? What does Bill O’Reilly mean by that? Is it the traditional American that came over here in search of religious freedom, yet slaughtered an entire race of people because they deemed them as heathens? Is it the traditional America that wouldn’t let women vote until 1920? Or maybe the traditional America that enslaved Africans. If I thought of traditional America or American values of the 1960’s when I grew up as idyllic, that image soon gets shattered with what it must have been like for Blacks on the cusp of the Civil Rights Movement. To see a human being sprayed with a fire hose, well that doesn’t seem like any tradition I would want to hang my hat on.

We have many a black eye as a Nation, but like individuals, we keep learning and growing. We are a wonderful Nation of neighbors, and when we talk with each other, and see each other trying to make a better life for our children; one of safety and spirit, that’s when America really shines. So in that light it seems only natural that as a country we keep moving and reshaping ourselves to have a view broad enough for all to shine in this country we call home.

I am not commenting on the Right or the Left, on programs or policies, but more on using our language in such broad strokes that it doesn’t include the views of the voiceless and the forgotten. The ones that have not, but really might have more peace and balance. Hard questions, hard answers, but if we begin as “We” like the previous blog post said, instead of “I” and “them”, maybe we could let love and inclusiveness guide us better than rancor and exclusiveness. I hope I have spoke with a kind heart and with a heart that wants to listen and be of peace. Perhaps this will evoke a peaceful conversation about the environment that we share.

A Blessing

Once in a while someone says something that really reflects how you feel. Something you wish you had said ! Such is the case with a blessing that was written and recited by our friend Melissa Greene at church this past Sunday. For me this is high and above religion and politics, and although it brushes against those themes it is more about  choosing a way to live a life. Knowing Melissa, these aren’ just words to evoke an emotion or posture herself in a certain light. These are words she would put up to her own mirror, words not only for us, but for her too. Letting the repeated word “We” settle into your head as you read, reminds us that it’s not an “I” world but a “We” world.

In this loud world full of banter from TV media and where people shout hateful and dividing words behind the veils of social media forums, hearing these words was very moving. My favorite line is “May we get down off of our fences and high posts and come down into the level ground, into the open space where all truly live”. I really believe that we can share with someone in a quiet setting, we find we are much closer than we think, that there is an “open space where all truly live”.

If you find even one line that stirs your soul or sticks to your bones, then the reading will have been worth it. If you find yourself wanting to know more about Melissa’s journey, you can find her at http://melissagreenemusic.com/.

May We Be The Blessing

May we be the blessing today and not the curse.
May we encourage one another towards an abundant life.
May we seek peace and reconciliation in our own hearts and with the hearts of those around us.
May we live humbly.
May we give people, all people; our family, our friends, our neighbors, our communities and our leaders, the benefit of the doubt.
May we let LOVE lead us.
May we let generosity guide our actions.
May we stand for what Christ stood for or rather stand with those whom Christ stands with. ALL.
May we get down off our fences and high posts and come down into the level ground, into the open space where all truly live.
May we dwell in this fertile ground where our lives WILL eventually turn outward toward others.
May we allow our focus to turn from me to them to you and finally to us.
May we live united.
May we seek SHALOM.
May we be reminded of the image of God in all of our lives.
May we seek communion with all.
May we be the blessing not the curse

 

Would They Love Him Down In Shreveport Today ?

I’ve been in a few conversations in the last week or so, where the old saying “why are there more people that don’t claim to be Christian and act in the image of Christ than those that claim to be Christian and don’t act like it”. That’s been going on forever and when I look at my life I am as guilty as the next person. Things I aspouse not to do, I end up doing. It’s in thought as well as word or deed. Today’s message ended up with a reminder for us to “love with His hands and see with His eyes”, to not laugh at the joke you know isn’t right,and to be intentional about your faith or following of those words written in red. Whatever your choice of faith, I would think it would call you to be better everyday, to listen deeper, open your heart wider, and understand we are all trying to navigate the best we can. To build a bridge and not a wall, to pocket a stone, not throw it.

Many moons ago, the Oak Ridge Boys had a hit on one of my favorite songs. Written by fellow Floridian Bobby Braddock, “Would they Love Him Down In Shreveport Today” speaks to this perfectly. Have we built the image of Christ so much after ourselves that we wouldn’t recognize him if he came walking down the street? I’ll leave you with that great lyric. Happy Easter Brothers and Sisters !

If they saw Him riding in, long hair flying in the wind,
Would they love Him down in Shreveport today?
If they heard He was a Jew and a Palestinian too,
Would they love Him down in Nashville today?

If they saw Him talk with ease to the junkies, whores, and thieves,
Would they love Him out in Wichita today?
Would the rich men think it funny if He said give up your money?
Would they love Him up on Wall Street today?

If He made the wine from water, gave it to their sons and daughters,
What would the folks in Salt Lake City say?
If He talked of brotherhood as he walked their neighborhoods,
Would they love Him up in Boston today?

If He said love those who use you, and forgive those who abuse you,
If He turned the other cheek, what would you say?
Would you laugh and call Him crazy, and just send Him on his way,
If Jesus came to your town today?…