The Mountain Man in all of us

Do you think there is an inner mountain man in all of us? Is there something about that ‘make it on our own and off the land” thing that resides deep in the spirit of most of us? I think so. It resonates, especially in men. For centuries we were the hunters, providers and protectors of our worlds. However I think it goes deeper than that. Perhaps to a place of lost harmony. Lost skills. We have lost our understanding and connection to things that are true; we have lost our relationship with nature.

I have spent many years at pow wows. Many years traipsing around in the woods, watching wildlife, listening to the birds. I have camped and spent many a year doing primitive camping at various Mountain Man rendezvous. Camping in tipis under buffalo hides dressed in buckskins. Eaten my food cooked from an open fire. All for a week at a time! Yup that’s it. But it lives deep in my soul and the rest of the time there is a quiet longing for that reconnection. Reconnection to simpler times where going back makes that life feel less confusing that the ones we live today.

I’ve been reading a book by Elizabeth Gilbert called “The Last American Man”. It’s the story of Eustace Conway who lives by and large a primitive life in the mountains around Boone, N.C. Not a hermit, Conway’s mission is to help people understand nature and how to live in it. I can’t find a true, constant place in my spirit to want to live like Eustace Conway. Full time he has lived in a tipi for close to 20 years. But I do dream of finding a better balance with this suburban life I lead. A desire to know more about plants, animals and the cycles of nature. The indigenous peoples of all lands see nature as their grocery stores and their pharmacies. Everything they need to live is there. All of that seems like important stuff to know and to pass down. It’s the stuff that grounds me in a world of materialism.

I know there is no going back. America, the world isn’t and shouldn’t give up the many fine things we have to return to an old way of life if it doesn’t call them in that way. I am glad for Eustace, happy he shines a light on things that are so beautiful. I hope I can continue to persue the balance with my natural environments and my man made ones.

What do you think of this? do you find comfort in nature? How important is the natural world to you? Do you ever feel like man thinks he is smarter than nature? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Ain’t Nothin’ Like It Used To Be

So when were the good ole days? I’m guessing they are different for everyone , right? Do we all yearn for the simple times, or do we really dream of our mental picture of simple times? Could we, would we ,go back to pumping water from a well, going outside to go to the bathroom? Would we want to go back to just 3 TV stations, or better yet, when there was no TV? Lets not even bring up the internet, and all of the “communication” devices even the strongest of us are addicted to.

I guess it happens to every generation. Children are always doing things that their parents didn’t and there becomes the place of ” I tell ya, when I was a kid, we didn’t get to …….? Just fill in your own blank. So on and on it goes. It’s the toughest task at hand, but we’re instructed by all of the great religions to live in the moment. To try and live within each breath and to know that each breath is holy and sacred. Easier said than done I think, but in those brief glimpses I’ve had, it’s a wonderfully peaceful moment. Everything seems to fade away so you can bask in the moment right where God is.

I spoke about this with a friend the other day and his thought was maybe we think back on our own”glory days”, when we thought life was just right, and think of them as the good ole days. When we had the perfect job, or perfect mate, or our “greatness” was in sight! Maybe he’s right. but we can’t change the past and we can’t see the future, so all we really have is the moment. It’s hard but I believe the moment is the sweet spot. Thankfully God isn’t expecting any of us to “be there” all the time, just to recognize it and keep trying.

What do you think? Maybe I’m full of it. Do you live too far in the past? Do you like your past? Do you think you can only make the moment good, by thinking of the future. I hope you find peace wherever you are.

Richard Rohr: A Life of Spiritual Contemplation

I was raised in the church or churches I might say. My mother is an Episcopalian, but my grandparents, whom I spent a lot of time with, were Assembly of God. So needless to say I am comfortable with anything from incense to speaking in tongues. I heard my grandfather speak in tongues many times. Through the years, I have swing back and forth between what made me comfortable and what I resisted.

Our pastor, Stan Mitchell, talks about “searching for your own salvation through fear and trembling”. He tells us that the beauty is to dig deep into your spirituality. That is work, but with beautiful rewards. Perhaps some approach their spirituality as a check list, almost like an insurance policy. So then it becomes “salvation:check”, and then they are done.

I fail quite often in where I am versus where I want to be. That’s a human thing: failure. I don’t believe God looks at things like that. I think if we really realized the depth of that love and mercy, we could turn no other way.

Once in a while you find a teacher whose words just seem right. They make sense, and it’s like you’ve always known those thoughts, but now you find someone to validate them. There is a Franciscan Priest of all folks for me named Richard Rohr. He runs The Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque New Mexico. Maybe it’s just where I’m at in life, in a quieter stage. A more reflective side. The contemplative life.  It just seems to make sense for me, and I believe that approach helps filter out much of what isn’t important in this world we are walking through. It leaves more truth and more opportunity to be in the presence of God.

Not everyone is cut out to make a contemplative spiritual life their steady diet, but in our society, it can be so beneficial for us to slow down and be still. So much activity in our lives that being still seems like the oddest thought. Rohr has several great books and I’d suggest “Everything Belongs” first.

Finding balance and beauty in this life takes effort and I find it takes a great deal of effort sometimes to dig deeper looking for God and understanding that I really know nothing. I’m hoping that leaves me open to see God in everything.

Let me know if you check any of Rohr’s work out. A link to his site is below.

Resolutions By The Wayside

Ok, It’s another year gone, another one facing us or offering us the opportunities to do life a little better. Better is probably not the most accurate word. Maybe we are just trying to find more harmony within ourselves and the folks that live in our circle.

To be better Fathers, Husbands, Friends. To rise to the call when it’s called for. To love deeper, react to anger slower and in healthier ways. To be more connected to the needs of the ones we love. I know I could be better in every facet of my life. We can be more diligent in being healthier  Wives, Daughters, Sons, and caretakers of this Earth we have been lent.

I haven’t made a public proclamation of any “New Years Resolution” in a long time. Mostly because I know myself and don’t want the kidding and ridicule when that resolution fades away! I make them privately however all the time. I wake up often and try to be more diligent in performing stronger as a husband, believer and worker.

I strive to worry less, be much much less negative in thought and word. To really acknowledge the gifts of this life. I sure don’t have to look very far to know that my life contains many blessings that are not standard issue, but the secret as I see it is to find and know those gifts without basing it on someone else’s degree of “misfortune” or “lack of”.

As the wise philosopher,  Augustus MaCrae in Lonesome Dove once said “So the only healthy way to live life as I see it is to enjoy all the little everyday things, like a sip of whiskey in the evening or a glass of buttermilk, or say a feisty gentleman like myself”. Well you get the point, it’s the little things.

So I guess I’ll pass again this year on any big public resolutions, but rest assured I will be making and redefining private ones pretty much everyday.

Happy New Year to you all !