Thursday, January 20, 2011

Within the Performance

As I sat that morning by the brook, after washing my face in its cool and crisp water a deep silence descended upon me. It wasn't the absence of thoughts because I didn't feel a void but rather I felt sublimely filled, with what I cannot say. I was just there experiencing the moment.

The sun was rising in its glory. The colors of the sky were resplendent yet I had no adjectives in my mind to describe it. As it rose its rays caught on the ripples of the water flowing in the brook. It appeared as stars twinkling on a clear sky. They were dancing on the water's surface in a beautiful performance, unique, never to be repeated but yet eternally manifesting as long as the sun shone and the water flowed.

I felt within this play as if it was performed just for me, but yet I knew that its players would continue even if I took no cognizance of their display. It was a supreme love that I witnessed. It required no recognition of praise or remuneration. It was innocent like a child at play, enjoying the moment with no ulterior motives or contrived intentions. It was a spontaneous happening and I just happened upon it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Alphabetize Your Soul

To know how to read is more than recognizing the grouping of letters into words and dissecting the structure of a sentence.

To know how to read is to be stirred by the meaning of the words and to flow with the motion of each sentence.

To know how to read is to feel your heart leap as your mind grasps and your soul soars!

A Single Word

A single word can be the door to enter the dimension of the soul.

A single word can close the door of a heart.

A single word can excite - exhilarate!

A single word can extinguish all hope.

A single word well placed and deeply felt can transform the one that receives it.

A single word carelessly thrown is like an eclipse obscuring the light of the sun.

A single word can be the dawn of a new beginning after a dark night of obscurity.

A single word...

Friday, April 2, 2010

Symphonic Synthesis

Herbert and I went for a walk in our old stomping grounds after his work today. We looked over the blackberry bushes and commented how they are all budding. There will be a bountiful crop this summer - lots of jam on its way.

Conversation flowed to our inner yearnings. It's a wonderful moment in our lives to take stock of what we have accomplished and learned in our work, relationships, our inner growth and awareness. What was interesting was the desire to see the link between all these experiences and how they worked together in the kaleidoscope of our lives.

There is a thread that binds all these experiences together - they form the fabric of our lives. Introspection allows us to see this inner weaving and by stepping back we can see the ultimate pattern. Have we created with our choices a beautiful depiction of our history? Have we created a masterpiece that illustrates an evolving, dancing pattern, each thread like the string of a lute and the impressions of our experiences creating a symphony that is a feast for our senses and tickles our soul with delight?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Art of Listening

I listen to my husband as he shares his triumphs and searches for solutions to his challenges and even venting his frustrations.

I listen to my son who is far from home in the military facing different sets of challenges, life decisions and even small matters like how to treat a cold.

I listen to my three daughters who are becoming young women, deciding the direction of their lives. Transforming from dependent children to independent adults - there is a world in between where knots are slowly dissolved. I listen to their pulling away and holding on.

Sometimes listening requires drawing out that which exists within the other that needs to be listened to.

I listen to my mother who is older and still wants to participate in my life, holding on, savoring each moment. I listen to her wisdom and look for venues where she can still be part of my life.

I listen to my sisters, even though we have chosen different paths there are still common links which we try to preserve and enjoy.

I listen to my friends who need to be heard because they listen to me when I need to be listened to.

I listen to the seekers coming my way needing to unravel the knots in their lives that they may be free to experience their spirit.

I listen to the sounds of nature in the needs of my garden, my pet. I listen to the wind caressing the tree tops - giving them a voice in the rustling of their leaves.

I listen to a gust of wind touching down in a forest reverberating like the sound of the ocean meeting a shore. I listen to the sound of the birds, the bark of a dog, the cry of a hawk in the sky and the gurgling of a frolicking creek.

There is still another voice that strains to be heard and that is the still small voice within. It summons amidst the chorus of voices all around me - beckoning.

There is a story waiting to be born within me. It is waiting for me to listen to it - quietly, intently, reverently. It is waiting to be told so that others can listen.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Language Has a Life of Its Own

The Native People didn't rely on paper, books, publicists or even remarkably, speechwriters. They had an Oral Tradition. I take back this word had, once said it made me cringe. One hopes and prays that this tradition will not only not be lost but will encompass the way we of the Western World communicate.

Russell Bohan, Chippewa wrote the following poem:

The spoken word
is creation renewed.
Conceived in the mind
and born with the breath of life,
What I say to you
is sacred.
These words are my creation,
but always they are
My responsibility.
I choose not beauty nor anger,
but truth.

Words, communication, have a life of their own. Words ride on the wave of communication, it is exhaled from the consciousness of the one into the collective pool which is us. We as living beings navigate the air surrounding us and either enrich or pollute this invisible sea with our words.

It begins with our breath, our breath articulates words that possess a spiritual energy which reflects our visions of reality. Words have the virtue to defeat or empower, to kill or to heal, to delude or enlighten. Words are born, they take a life within those that accept them - consume them - and there they grow and take roots.

The spoken word is a sacred principle. When spoken truly they resound and interact in a beautiful dance that can only be felt in the heart. What makes it "truly"? I believe it's when the words we speak reflect the way we are - they resonate from within the other - nurturing, enlightening, enriching, invigorating. It means understanding and expressing our perspective with the correct relationship with our self and our environment.

Simon Ortiz explains, "Our language is the way we create the world...Man exists because of language, consciousness comes about through language, or the world comes about through language. Life - language. Language is life then."

Well, so much for "speaking with a forked-tongue"! When I first heard this remark in some old western, I wondered what it had meant? I thought of a snake, who was sneaky and devious and possibly lethal. As I grew I thought it was about double standards, two faced, hypocritical liars. We need to join and become as one, thereby no longer will there be an other to deceive.

The circle becomes complete with the listener. The one who listens also has a responsibility. Listening is a privilege that is awarded to the one who respects , values and appreciates other peoples differences. Listening is an opportunity to learn a different perspective. Listening without judging, without reacting - it's an act of observance. The words that are offered to the listener needs to observed with eyes that can see into the soul of the other. Then begins the play and the dance. The words of the speaker can be transformed into the enlightened perception of the listener.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Native Heartbeat

Jeffrey French-Begay, Mohawk and Army medic came to us after the Pow-wow in State College Pennsylvania bearing gifts.

He said “I’m so glad you guys didn’t leave, I just ran to my car to bring you this.” He presented to Herbert two red feathers wrapped in soft buckskin at the base.

“I wanted to give you this, they are red hawk feathers. It’s not finished yet – this means that we need to meet again so that I can finish it.”

He turned to me, knowing that my son was a Navy Corpsman, and presented me with his gift. “This is my pin that I wear on my uniform.” Jeffrey is an Army Medic. I took it in my hand it was a small enamel pin shaped like a shield. The design contained two crossing arrows and three flames of fire.

I looked at him incredulously. My son is so proud of his ribbons and the pins he received – each one he had to earn. “This is precious.” He replied, “Yes, I know, that is why I am giving it to you, you and your husband have touched our hearts.”

This was the culmination of our first Pow Wow in State College.

After enjoying a meal of Buffalo burger we entered the hall just as the powwow was starting with the Grand Entry. A procession of dancers were entering the previously blessed dance arena. The procession was led by the Eagle staff representing their Nations, elders and their way of life. The flag bearers were the Native American US Veterans of War. They represented soldiers from as far back as World War II.

Then the Men in traditional costumes entered the circle of dancers followed by the women dancers in traditional attire. The jingle dancers were particularly enthralling .

The Jingle Dress is also called a Prayer Dress...The dress came in a dream to a medicine man who's daughter was gravely ill. The dress is decorated with rolled up snuff can lids that are hung with ribbon close together to jingle as the woman moves creating a beautiful, joyous sound. The jingle dance asks for good health for the people.

The drums sets the rhythm of the powwow. It represents the heartbeat of the Mother Earth. As the circle of men sing their songs and strike the drum in their midst, the drum acts as an agent to bring harmony and balance to all in the powwow. It is the intermediary to the spiritual realm.

The rhythm and the percussion felt like it reached the depth of my soul - there was so much energy in their song and in their drumming. They enjoyed it so much, their faces were beaming!

Just as we were leaving Jeffrey said to me, "As I understand it, Namaste means, the essence in me recognizes the essence in you. In our language we say, mitakuye -oyasin, which means we are all related - we are all one."

This is Sonya French-Begay WIA Program Director of Three Rivers American Indian Center, her son, her husband Jeffrey and yours truly Angela Reininger.

Sonya was recently interviewed by WPSU public television trying to raise awareness about the desecration of Native Indian land by mining companies strip mining for uranium, causing devastating environmental and health problems. Please view this informative interview at A Conversation with Sonya French-Begay.