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

 

55

Well I’m sitting here on the eve of my 55th birthday. A drop in the bucket some say. But I’ve been around long enough to know some folks’ buckets are smaller, and a single drop can take up more of that bucket. Nothing promised. But I’m not pensive, I’m thankful.

As with anyone’s life much has happened. The journey has been and continues to be rich and blessed. Many moons since I breathed my first breaths just off of Palafox St in the heart of my hometown. In the town that still holds my heart and my connection to everything that helps me make sense of this world.

I was thinking about peace and contentment earlier and while I still greet each day with thankfulness. I know many of my brothers and sisters in this world do not feel that way. Some have been dealt hard cards, some have chosen poor companions and some just seem to have inherited a DNA that they let dictate their outlook. I feel for them and to a big degree, I am the kind that may never be totally happy until the whole world is happy !

But as I sit here this April 7th evening in Nashville Tennessee, I am thankful for love. The one’s that have loved me despite it being a difficult task at times. The ones that chose to love me as well as the ones that had no choice. I am also extremely thankful for my children, one who’s 22nd birthday is today. Happy Birthday Dylan ! I love you !

So I think I’d just end by saying that we really , really need to love one another. Think maybe on the elements that we have in common as opposed to our differences. One Creator one Love. The  ability to draw breath really is a good thing, so to help someone else believe that in their soul id a big gift. We all need that gift to give and to be given to.

As usual, I’ve not edited this at all. As I’ve jotted this down, I’ve been listening to Tom Waits “Ol 55″ and The Staple Singers ” Touch A Hand”.

Go be someone’s light !

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.

New Day New Hope

Morning Prayers

In the traditional way of the Muscogee as well as many other peoples of the world, morning prayers facing the East are the start of the new day. To the East, to Grandfather Sun. To a new day. To a healthier way. As Kris Kristofferson said under another context, but still relevant, “yesterday is dead and gone”. Today is new with each sunrise peaking up over the eastern horizon. New opportunities, new paths and new words. It is hope, one of the biggest gifts of all.

Addictions, moods, poor perspectives of life can all be shaped a little different with the new day. That we don’t have to keep carrying the things we don’t like about ourselves. We don’t have to repeat the same actions and say the same words that keep our balance so, well, out of balance.

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The medicine wheel takes us through the seasons of  a day as well as the seasons of a life. It begins in the East, but it makes the full circle, but where we begin each day is likely where we end the day or the life.

Prayer is a funny thing. We never know if we should just listen or ask. Perhaps in our better moments we listen, but when the times are grave and our pain is intense, at least for me my philosophies give way to asking. Not for a job or millions of dollars or any other small thing like that, but the big stuff. Peace and understanding. Harmony. for pain given and received to dissipate. Those are the big things ! To be better, to see and feel my poorer choices like those that have felt them feel.

This sense of peace mostly not for me but for my children, my family. That the spirit of  things bigger will connect to them, giving them a reason other than themselves to be in this world. For the universe to touch deep in  their soul. For our friends, community and the world.

So as the sun rises on a new day, and as I reach out and watch the smoke from the symbolic cedar and sage rise to the heavens, I pray for all beings. I hope this is your prayer too. Thanks for this new day, I hope you see a difference in me !

Listening to Learn

dream1If we took time, I wonder how much of what we pass every day of our lives,  would we find interesting. If we heard the stories of the people we pass and  the places we go. If we really tried to listen. Not just waiting to respond with our own version of the story that is being told to us. If we really took a deep breath and said to ourselves, “I’m just going to listen and try my best to put myself in the storytellers shoes”. I have a friend in Texas and  if you start telling him a story of one of your friends or relatives, he will politely interrupt you to ask the name of the person in the story. He is trying to place himself there to understand with heart and compassion as best he can. He is listening.

But we generally aren’t interested in or don’t have…oops that’s wrong, we don’t take the time to listen. The world is about us personally, socially, economically and geographically. Do we learn more by talking or listening? Do we open up and have more compassion and understanding when we re- realize that ours isn’t the only point of view. Oh and just how similar we all really are. We may have different customs and traditions, and some of those might startle people but it’s mostly because they don’t really understand them.

This is no new news, but it sure isn’t very well practiced. This art of listening. This way of being in the world, where you can appreciate others customs and realize many of the things you hold sacred are right there in theirs.

Pictured here is a dreamcatcher. We’ve all seen them and maybe we even know the general thought behind them. First Peoples also used stories to grow their children. They were no more practical than Jonah and the whale, but were used to tell a bigger story. This dreamcather that I’ve made tells many stories. It talks in ways that keep me grounded and connected to the Creator. To life and family.

The hoop is a circle. Everything in life is a circle. Seasons go in circles, one following another. Seasons of life. Circles like dreams and life cycles of a person can’t be broken. The buckskin used is to honor the 4 legged creatures that provide clothing and food. The hoop itself is partially dyed green for the earth and partially blue for the sky or heavens. A balance between the two. The shell in the middle represents the journey of life. The searching, examining, rejecting and accepting of your own way of understand this universe.  the 4 holes in the shell represent the 4 seasons, winds and directions. Finally, the feathers represent the winged ones. The ones that carry our thoughts, reflections and prayers high up to the Creator.

As I completed this dreamcatcher, I burned sage and cedar below it so the smoke also would carry the hope that whomever receives this will do so in good spirit. In the spirit of understanding our First Peoples culture more as well as a good road in finding balance and harmony in this life.

So this isn’t simply decoration. It is a tool for reflection and teaching. Of connecting and caring. Of family and tradition.

Personalized dreamcatchers are also available. This one is 40.00.

 

 

Story

Have you ever told your story? Did you realize that you even have one? Everyone does. They are all fascinating, full of uniqueness to the teller and enough strains for us all  to identify with each other. We are the family of man. I met a guy probably 11 years ago for coffee one day and one of the first questions he asked me was “what’s my story”? That threw me off a little. I had never talked about or of myself in that way. I never consciously thought about me even having a story. I managed to piece together some sort of guarded outline, careful not to be too transparent ! Even after I realized I had a story, I couldn’t think of any reason that it needed to be shared. After all I was just an average Gulf Coast guy. Not rich or particularly talented or gifted in any apparent way. “Just a fella” as Clint Eastwood famously said in “Unforgiven”.

I confess, I still have a shyness in thinking my story could touch, move or be of any value to anyone else. But I think, not from an egotistical point, that is where we are all mistaken. Just someone else coming to the understanding that they are not the only ones that think a certain way. It can be a lonely world if turn our attention away from the things that really matter. If we get caught up in the shininess of the world and forget about the beauty that surrounds us. The feel of the wind on our faces, the sunshine on our shoulders and the touch of a strangers hand. Our children, parents, family and friends all bring beauty into our lives if we let them. The four and three legged animals in my world bring so much centeredness that it amazes me. Other friends words in songs and blogs sharing the moments that stir their lives. IT’s rich stuff ya’ll, I’m telling ya, it’s rich stuff.

A few years ago I was asked to participate in an interview setting to share my story as it related to my faith. My church was trying to let folks know that the person sitting right next to you has a story and it just might not be what you were thinking ! I cringe still as I see myself on a video, but maybe there will be one word or phrase that you will connect to. Use the password ” story ”

I encourage you to think about your story. Share it. Own it, it’s yours. Encourage others to share theirs with you. It brings us all closer to understand. It helps break down the walls and we all know we are way too divided today.

Prayer: This Is Just My Way

Morning Prayers

It is said that my Great Grandfather opened his windows in the morning and prayed to the East. While my ritual of reflection or prayer time is not known by those that I knew or by the ones that they knew, I can see the seeds as they fall through the generations. My way would be closer known to the ancients way. As most family lore, the story of my great Grandfather is highly contested. Perhaps it is contested for the very reason my prayer time would be contested. Because it veers away from the tradition that a person feels comfortable in. To me that is one of the great keys to our spirituality: to constantly evolve and push the walls wider and wider to somehow catch a glimpse of the bigger dream.

My prayer time is like walking a symbolic path or labyrinth. As my ancient Muscogee / Catawba people would have done I begin facing east to Grandfather Sun. I listen to the Creator in his many voices of wind, birds and my inner spirit as he reminds me of each new sun, new day, new possibilities. Opportunities to be new again. Then turning South; this is the strength of the day as I am reminded of youth and the drive to bring thoughts to life. Facing West are the voices of reflection, wisdom and satisfaction. It is the sweetest direction for me when I find myself in its harmony. The last of the four is North, where we and everything returns full circle. Thoughts return full circle; acts return full circle; days and lives all have their returning to completion. Finally to be reminded of Father Sky and Mother Earth, before finally acknowledging the last direction with is within. My spirit. This is but one of many facets of the medicine wheel.

The symbolism comes from my choices of earth. The handle is made from shed deer antler. Shed to make way for new life, new circles. The abalone shell is a reminder of my body, my shell and the life it holds. The Hawk feathers because he is one of the highest flying birds, flying closest to the heavens as a messenger. Those feathers fan the sage, cedar and sweet grass that my prayers rise on to the sky.

I get that this might appear strange to many, but really it doesn’t matter. And it shouldn’t matter to me how anyone else attempts to connect with what the Muscogee called The Master of Breath. Why should there be only one way? Why should we concern ourselves with another’s path of spirituality. One Creator, many traditions. This is just my way. It’s not meant to be mystical or paint me as a deep thinker, believe me that’s not the case. It is just a way of understanding my path in this world. A way of navigating that makes sense to my spirit. I don’t think of right or wrong, better or worse. I just do what feels right from an honest reflection of something I will never fully grasp nor am I meant to. I am simply meant to experience, that’s all. The Great Mystery !!!

I hope these words ring true for someone out there. I hope it helps to release someone from their spiritual bondage of having to be right. Having to figure God out, and let them just experience. Lastly I hope it casts a simple, gentle light on our human desire to connect with this wonderful, Great Mystery !