Same Theme Different Thought

A relative of mine recently visited the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles California. Without question it is an amazing space created to tell a horrible story. A story that was genocidal then and has had lingering affect on the generations that followed. It’s truly an amazing what we can do to our fellow man. This relative was so moved by her experience there, and spoke with such genuine emotion about her experience that it was hard to not feel a small part of that pain and injustice.

As she spoke about these atrocities I couldn’t help but think of how most of our culture doesn’t even realize that much of this same thing happened to our own First Peoples of this land. It seems like Indian people are just thought of as Hollywood stereotypes or museum artifacts. There is such an out cry for the Holocaust people and rightly so but also so imbalanced by the same massacring and stripping of culture to the ones here before us. It just doesn’t even register in the minds of most Americans.

I read a piece by a Native elder one time that said with respects to our culture that ” We could somewhat make it right with African Americans, because we could give them back what we stole from them; their freedom, but we can give back what we took from the Indian people; their land and culture. We’re not giving back the Black Hills, Vermont, Oregon, Alabama or any of the land. So is that where the guilt remains? That there seems to be no way to make the wrong right. I might also add that we took way more than just freedom from black people. They also lost identity and culture among many other things. Do we unconsciously feel that if we don’t acknowledge it that it doesn’t exist. And it does seem like a wrong that can’t be fixed. Although we could do much to keep the continued oppression and hunger for what’s under their land now.

I guess it also feels like the Holocaust wasn’t something we had a hand in, so does that make it easier to shine the light? Just wondering out loud. Many of us that are mixed races also have a Native heritage, so there is even more spiritual conflict going on. But right is right. Wrong is wrong and human beings are human beings. And it’s never too late to stand up and be a human being !

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Two Dogs

Ok, I’ve tampered around with this idea on a couple of other posts but don’t think I got it. There’s probably an easy and concise way to say it, as I’m sure many of you readers can, but it isn’t easy for me.
Maybe the question boils down to this. Do we live a life following what we intrinsically feel in our spirit (ha if we even know what that is) or if it’s different do we live our lives governed by what we’ve been taught and experienced?
I was riding home the other day listening to Jack Johnson’s song “Sleeping Through The Static”. I’ve heard this song many times, but it hit me enough to strike the thought I’m trying so hard to flesh out. Here is the part of the lyric that I’m speaking of:

Who needs sleep when we’ve got love?
Who needs keys when we’ve got clubs?
Who needs please when we’ve got guns?
Who needs peace when we’ve gone above
But beyond where we should have gone?
We went beyond where we should have gone

…..and then it goes into this part……
Shock and awful thing to make somebody think
That they have to choose pushing for peace supporting the troops
And either you’re weak or you’ll use brut force-feed the truth
The truth is we say not as we do

Now it is obvious that Jack is speaking to the Iraq war, but that isn’t the part I’m interested in. When I heard this and when I hear other personal truths, they just feel right way deep down in my soul or DNA or physic memory or whatever you want to label it as, but it says “this is who I am”. Even if isn’t something that I consciously, socially or morally agree with. Maybe the tension comes from not feeling like I can stand up for what I feel when I’m in a crowd that sees the world differently.

When fear is spoke, I understand it, and part of me wants to cover my ass and err on the side of me and mine. Forget everyone else.
These really are complex issues and I would like to think that in the quiet conversations we’d find most folk lean a little this way on one issue and a little the other way on another issue. Maybe we shouldn’t care what others think about where we stand, but hey this is the land and age of telling everyone in the world every thought we have !!

I like Abraham Lincolns quote “I’d rather be fooled a thousand times than develop the heart of a cynic”. So maybe I’ll be fooled, taken advantage of from time to time. Maybe I won’t win or climb the ladder to wherever they think it goes. But maybe, just maybe I’ll journey on with a smile and look at the people I met as a friend. We’ll see. Does this make sense at all? Still not sure I have the question right, but I think I’m closer. Liberal might not be the worst description of me; I’m liberal in love and gentleness; liberal in forgiveness and patience. That’s not a bad start.
Kind of like the old story of two dogs living inside a person. One is liberal and one is conservative (adjectives mine). Which one grows the strongest?- answer of course is the one we feed..

From Minnesota to Martin Luther King

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I hear it all the time. I have even been known to say it. For generations it has been echoed. It is mostly said by older folks. Maybe they feel left behind. The world moves faster and at some point we all can feel a little out of the loop. It seems that when our frustrations rise we default to those dang kids ! The youth have lost their mind ! All they do is XCVT#$%, spend all their time #DT%^*(!!!!
Is the world going to hell in a handbasket? Have morals declined, reverence declined, manners gone by the wayside? I have a friend that is frustrated my our hometown of Pensacola. This could be any town USA. He always says “Pensacola isn’t like it used to be”. Of course it isn’t and it never has been. When was its golden age? When was it ideal? We tend to hold that belief of when we were in our prime and we thought we had this ole world by its tail and we had nothing else to do but swing it around !! For us it was in the 80’s ! I’m sure my Father would say it was in the 60’s and my Grandfather would have found Pensacola to be the best in the 50’s ! I’m just saying every generation sees the world from its own perspective.
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I recently hosted a group of high school students and chaperones at my house for supper and a campfire. These 9 students from Minnesota Chose to spend their Spring Break, not at the beach or wherever folks from Minnestoa go, but of all things to embark on a Civil rights tour of the South ! I know, crazy right?! These kids sat around our fire sharing rich, life changing experiences from this once n a lifetime journey.
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They shared stories from Memphis, Jackson TN, Montgomery and Birmingham. They shared their refelcetions with such passion and richness. Teenagers in 2013 from Minnesota trying their best to wrap their minds around what will never be fully understood by any one person. Complexities so overwhelming and so countless. For any and everyone living through those days, there is a story. There is an angle and perspective.

Man has always done terrible things to man. We can look at all stages of history from Biblical times, to treatment of Native Americans to Civil Rights as well as human rights concerning the Gay community. It is sad that we can't find a connection in our differences. That some have chose to respond to the differences with hate and violence.

If we are all children of the same Creator, I fail to understand it totally. But that is coming from a 53 year old person. I don’t think I was always seeing it the way I do now. I am thankful to have remaied open to letting myself evolve and to listen to the voices of the gentle, bridge building world. I believe those are the voices of the Creator, the Master of Breath. It was especially in those voices of each and every one of those wonderful students who have chosen a different path. I was honored to have you.

Thanks not only to the students and chaperones, but to Paul Jeager the trip organizer for leading the charge and bringing these young lives on the journey from Minnesota to Martin Luther King. From interest to engagement. From heart to healing.

The Parking Lot

Wednesday morning. Early. Open parking lot. Traffic humming by on the street. One car pulls up and waits. A second car pulls in a few minutes later and a small boy emerges. As the man from the first car is making his way towards the second car, the boy is running. Arms wide open, excited and hungry for the arms of his Father. Hugs of a broken heart, of feeling what he doesn’t understand. Hugs with no concepts concerning time, where a week feels like a lifetime. Hugs of maybe not enough time to ever heal this pain and heartache.

The Mother from the second car gets out and patiently waits; giving the Father and Son their moment. No smiles or frowns from behind her big sunglasses. She just watches and waits. Part of her broken heart is in those tear-stained hugs of this sad weekly ritual.

The man and the woman talk. She points out how slim he looks. He pulls open his jacket to verify. He may be flattered but he also knows firsthand how sorrow can strip a person’s weight in a hurry. They speak briefly, exchange a few papers. Hand gestures but no anger from my silenced point of view. No waves goodbye, they just walk away ….again. They thought the first time they walked away would be the toughest, but now with the little boy getting older and clinging more, it becomes apparent that this new life is tougher. Heavy stuff. Sad stuff to witness and sadder still to be the one involved.

They have chosen this parking lot to make their weekly exchange. Half way I guess from the old place to whomever had to move out. They exchange the boy, the best thing they ever had in their world. The most loved. She tussles his hair and watches him get into the Fathers car.

I have chosen a parking lot such as this in past years. I have pulled up with degrees of resentment, pain and confusion. Blame for the other and just as much blame for myself. I have hugged so tight as if to never let go. I still don’t want to let go. It can still draw tears. Divorce doesn’t have to be the worst event of someones life but I will say without a doubt that when our children are involved it will be a wound that never totally heals. Perhaps we learn to live with our regrets and pains. We learn to mask and cope, but make no mistake, these sorrows shape us.

I hope you or I never have to choose a parking lot somewhere in between what should have been forever and what will never be again. I hope we can see the beauty of tending our gardens, and giving our children the best of ourselves. And if we do, I hope forgiveness begins on our own tongue and ends with the ones we’ve hurt. I will be looking for this family again next Wednesday. To see them is to see myself and to see myself is a reminder that hope and forgiveness loom large and are sometimes brought down to a single hug. A clutching moment in time where love is all that really matters, and the wish that this hug would never end.

Three Legged Dog: A Story of Thankfulness

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Some of you may know this story. For those of you that don’t, I will share the impetus behind the Three Legged Dog. I have a Blue Healer / Catahoula mix named Josey. When he was about 5 years old he got hit on the street in front of our house. Having never been through something like that I was beyond freaked out. Once the doctors assured me that he had no internal injuries, they said I’d be amazed at how fast he’d recover and would live a full life on just three legs.

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Josey’s recovery was quick. Mine however took a little longer. With all of the usual guilt and sadness for him, secretly wondering if his life quality would suffer, I soon realized it was me who needed healing and teaching. Josey is our store dog and travels to and from work with me each day. His main goal is to be pet by as many customers as possible. I thought he’d be ashamed of his” new look”. I learned quickly he wasn’t ashamed at all and the one secretly harbouring the insecurities was me. In the course of time, Josey taught me and our family about thankfulness. About being thankful for what you have, not what you wish you had, or worse yet, what you think you deserve. He didn’t suffer from any vanity or ego issues, but I did. For years now he has shared in his own way how greatful I should be everyday for life.

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Our little company is called Three Legged Dog and every piece is made with that spirit of thankfulness. Our trademark Three Legged Dog image is on each piece. It’s a good reminder for me and I hope anyone else that wears a Three Legged Dog piece. We all have much to be thankful for, wouldn’t you agree?

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Pictured above is “spirit face”. The one above that is “journey” and the line markings symbolize two people walkng thru life together, through the four stages, represented by the four dots. Josey of course is pictured and the top picture is “back to the land”. The ones shown have sand from my personal touchstone, Pensacola Beach. The one on the left has sand from Haiti where our daughter recently returned from a mission trip. You can send sand from your own touchstone and we will incorporate it into a necklace for you. We can be found on Facebook at Three Legged Dogg.

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Not Currently !

I will speak for me here, but I wonder if to some degree it isn’t true for many of us. When I was a young man, I was trying to create who I was. I was doing this by sort a sculptors approach. I was defining myself or my image by what I didn’t like. I used a lot of “nevers” and “not in a million years”, and “I wouldn’t be caught dead” type of language. Like most young people I thought I was chiseling these things I stood against out of  stone, and they would carry me through my years. As anyone with some years on them that is reading this, you know how this doesn’t really hold true for the long road.

I was talking with someone the other day and they asked if I read the Bible. Well, I’m not a big Bible reader, in fact very rarely. In my younger years I would have felt compelled to state my case strongly and adamantly. Giving all of my reasons why, and if they read between my lines they would sense from me why they shouldn’t either. Fill in the blanks, I would have said I hate _____, I would never do ______. Again trying to project my image by defining what I’m against. In this situation I found myself just saying, , not currently. It kind of surprised me, but it felt good that finally at 51 I was realizing that I should be sculpting out of soft clay instead of granite. That life is soft clay, full redefinition, re learning, second chances and forgiveness. Now I’m thankful I have lived long enough to let go of “nevers”. I find great warmth and value in things that I couldn’t have in my youth.

It kind of opens life up and allows so many avenues of learning and understanding. It takes pressure off. So you may find me one day doing things I never thought I’d do ! You may see me with a Bible in hand, watching a musical, driving through Massachusetts, saying no to an island trip (ok , maybe not that), but I’m open to whichever the winds of growth and expansion are blowing. I might even wrap a fork around sushi !! There’s hope for us all. Maybe “not currently” is the way to go.

Does this resonate with any of you? Any value here? I must confess, I write this just days before an island trip, and I’m listening to Jimmy Buffett’s “Trying to reason with hurricane season”, a song I loved for 30 years. Did I forget to mention, I love traditions !!

The Expectation you have is the result you’ll get

Results usually follow anticipation. Is that kind of like “be careful what you ask for?”. I’ve been thinking a little about expectations, about how if they are misguided then my outcome is probably going to be something I don’t like.

This thought has been rattled around in relationships through the years. In my marriage, at times, I’ve somehow unconsciously and non vocally expected things. Then when they don’t happen, the disappointment appears. The first bump is that others aren’t supposed to read your mind. Second bump is considering if that expectation was a reality on the other persons side.

Lately I’ve had the thread of this idea in my head concerning Bible reading. I have tried and tried, but I’m just not a Bible reader. It’s great if I want to get more confused or if I can’t sleep, but to read hoping some vibrant clear message that will clarify my life will drop out, well then, that’s just never happened. Now other people have interpreted something from the Bible and that is great. I always wonder if they have been reading the same thing I was. So there goes that expectation thing again. I’m beginning to see that my expectations of the Bible needed tweaking if I was ever going to have a shot of finding it a good read. I’m learning. Not a Bible reader yet, but I am understanding the sense in which it was written and what it was meant to be.

The same view of God holds true. I held a childlike view way too long. A simple good vs bad thing. I used God as an insurance policy, and at the very least a “get out of jail free” card. You know, we’ve all done it, “God if you just get me out of this mess, I will ___”. I’ve found He/She is no genie, no puppeteer . So as my expectations change my outlook and my journey changes. I look within as much as I can, and I stumble often. I’m still busy being human, but I think God is just thinking “Well, what ya gonna do with them, they are only human”. I’m learning to lean on mercy, grace and love, not damnation, hellfire and discouragement. Learning to except that we are all loved, every life on this planet, loved just the same by the one Creator, giver of life. What an astonishing thought. Makes me reach to be more inclusive. Like folks have said about Jesus “never saw him build a wall, just a bridge”.

.It’s a little early and not enough coffee in the bloodstream yet, so I hope this post has made some sense and touches you somewhere on your path.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on these things, it’s the best way for me to grow and you never know how your thoughts can touch someone else.