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

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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.

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.

IMG_3692

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.

Conciously Connected

sage

 

In my morning prayer time, I have tried to say a bunch of things to the Creator to make me feel better. To put a band aid on my fears or things in my life I wasn’t ready to deal with. I know my connection is more true and I find more peace when I lose my self centeredness,  “speech voice” and just ramble on.

I believe we are all connected to the Creator and I don’t know if I believe that that connectedness can really ever be broken. I think what can be broken is our consciousness of connectedness. That we don’t live and breathe as if the Creator is inside of us. For me it works best when I begin my day off acknowledging that I am eternally connected.

Most peoples of the land begin their day like this. Like my friend Walt Wilkins once wrote “I’ve tried my best to crawl out of Gods hands”, but you can’t, you can only be unaware of that presence. Most of us were taught that when we were “misbehaving” we were without God. When in fact we were just being selfish and our thoughts only on what we wanted. We were busy being human !

We have a choice to acknowledge or not. I don’t think the Creator is as worried about the little falls from grace that we incur daily, but if we are consciously connected. If so, everything else takes care of itself.

This is no high theology and I’m surely no deep well, but I think that’s the key anyway. That it really is pretty simple. Love for starters and being conscious in this world to all around us and within us, and that all of that is holy or sacred.

Morning Prayers

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.

 

 

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 !