of bark and bone….

of bark and bone

A recent trip to the water for a very special ceremony found me carrying home some sea-soaked bark and a sea-bleached bone. There is great synchronicity in life, when one is disciplined and able to pay attention.

This morning’s meditation was a lesson in perseverance. Because I have been working so much, I haven’t been carving out the time to sit. I still do some form of meditation and prayer, even if the sage and candles aren’t lit. Kind of a continual conversation, when I find myself stressed or anxious. It’s a good back up plan, but I know real growth comes from being able to sit, intentionally, in quiet and with discipline. This morning, discipline was in short supply.

**need more coffee, go downstairs for a cup**oh, i was going to reply to this person’s email, grab the phone**i left my medicine bag in my purse, gotta go downstairs and bring that up here for a REAL meditation**snapchat with the kids so they have a little bit of this peace** (oh the irony) on and on and on….

Eventually, I settled down. I was able to sit in stillness and focus. I read a piece from “The Mandala of Being: Discovering the Power of Awareness” by Richard Moss, M.D.

“Only in the present moment do we have any true power over the future, for if we experience ourselves as full and whole now, we intrinsically trust whatever the future may bring. We do not exercise this power with thought alone, but with the full strength of our awareness and the whole of our beings. True change comes about through the non-reactive gaze of attention that deepens us into the present and thereby opens us to a new vision of life.” p. 270

This wisdom seems to me to be particularly relevant now. We are in a season of concern for the future, some of us looking at the past through very distorted lenses, and we aren’t fully engaging in what we are creating in the present moment, which to me feels like a lot of fear, anxiety and anger. That’s not to say it’s not real or deserved….but I do believe that we must shift our attentions and intentions to focus on what we desire and not so much on what we fear. It’s not easy  to do (reference comments above) but I actually believe it is an innate skill we possess; we are just out of the habit.

So, after having sat with Dr. Moss’s words and captured the essence and spirit in words in my personal journal, I wandered downstairs and started looking at other books, for other pieces of wisdom that might be timely. My spirit landed on two other books: “The Essene Gospel of Peace” and “Chippewa Customs”. Yeah, that’s how I roll. 🙂 It might not seem so random once I’m done writing the words…

From the “Essene Gospel of Peace”:

“And Jesus answered, ‘Seek not the law in your scriptures for the law is life, whereas the scripture is dead. I tell you truly, Moses received not his laws from God in writing, but through the living word. The law is living word of living God to living prophets for living men. In everything that is life is the law written. You find it in the grass, in the tree, in the river, in the mountain, in the birds of heaven, in the fishes of the sea; but seek it chiefly in yourselves. For I tell you truly, all living things are nearer to God than the scripture which is without life. God so made life and all living things that they might by the everlasting word teach the laws of the true God to man. God wrote not the laws in the pages of books, but in your heart and in your spirit. They are in your breath, your blood, your bone; in your flesh, your bowels, your eyes, your ears, and in every little part of your body. They are in the sunbeams, in the depths and in the heights. They all speak to you that you may understand the tongue and the will of the living God.'”

That’s really as far as I could get in that book. But as I read that, I thought about my Ojibwe and Scottish ancestors. The pagans, so-called. Their education and their spirituality, their understanding of the world, wrapped up in the stories that they told and passed on….because the word, in the heart, is alive. More alive than even the words I’m writing. What was created, not just in the telling of the stories, but in the tools and bundles and artwork crafted while the stories were told…was an aliveness that far exceeds what we currently allow ourselves to experience, penned up in concrete boxes and wagons made of metal. We move from one confined space to another, saying, writing, speaking words but what are we creating? What piece of being alive are we missing when we don’t have that conversation with birds, water, tree, grass, mountain, with the hearts of our neighbors? What piece of true mutual understanding are we denying ourselves and each other?

So, then I put my attention on the words in the book “Chippewa Customs”. I don’t have words from that book to share right here. Mostly this book, written by an ethnologist during the first half of this century, tries to capture some of the ‘nuts and bolts’ of Chippewa customs. For whatever reason, I opened the book to the section on dreams, but then went back a few pages and read intently about the customs around death. I paged through the plates to see the artwork which brings a joy to my heart and soul that I can’t explain in words. And it reminded me….there is a basket full with opportunity to learn in a meaningful way, sitting out in the garage, waiting for you to remember.

As I approach the 1200 word mark on this post (good lord), I’m keenly aware of the irony. And hey, I’m kind of a nerdy, scholarly girl with way more books than she probably really needs, so i TOTALLY get the allure and the power of reading/writing/having written words at hand. At the same time, again, my ancestors remind me that the other day they gifted me with some sea-soaked bark and a sea-soaked bone, and there is a great deal of learning and mutual understanding to be had putting them in my hands. So, on that note, I’m out. Find yourself some space in the woods, on the water, or even just in your backyard. That is where life and learning live.



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Twylia (the 'i' is silent)

~ I am Anishinaabe-kwe with Scottish heritage and Sami DNA. I speak on the behalf of no one but myself. My ancestors inform and guide me. My voice is but one of many who are calling for change. We have much work to do to create a good space for the real human beings who are waiting to be born.

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