Sometimes there is Risk

Bird Droppings December 27, 2014
Sometimes there is Risk

It has been nearly a year since I drove my wife to work and while heading back caught sight of a glorious sunrise beginning. By the time I got to the house I had a few minutes to run in side and get a decent camera and shoot some more photos. What a great end to a year. On another thought how more appropriate to end the year especially in light of our politicians and their facing the edge of “the fiscal cliff”, than to look at risk and what is ahead for a new year. Risk is a driving force of who we are and why we are and what we do. How we take chances and avoid risk are defining pieces of our personality. Our willingness to take risk and avoid risk is what determines to what point in life we go and or attain.

“Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.” Lou Holtz

I think you could possibly argue numbers but Coach Holtz has a good point. Life is a combination of pieces sort of a tossed salad of sorts thrown together and the end result well that is what we live with. One thing however that Coach Holtz left out is what makes you respond the way you do.

“In my own experience, the period of greatest gain in knowledge and experience is the most difficult period in one’s life. …Through a difficult period, you can learn, you can develop inner strength, determination, and courage to face the problem.” Dalai Lama

We learn as we walk through life by experience how to respond to a given stimulus such as how to choose from choices presented. I often use the example of crossing a stream stepping rock to rock, as you step each time you see the stones, some are slick or wet, others covered in moss and slippery when you step on them. You learn to avoid certain situations in order to not fall in the stream. However it may be a warm day and the fall is worth it since a cool dip may be worth the risk of a shorter journey across the stream.
As I sit writing I recall a term from many years ago in my industry days, Risk Management. In Risk Management Training an acronym has been used for many years in industry and it could apply in life, the four T’s.

1. Terminate the risk – do not do it avoid and or eliminate the risk: you do not need to cross the stream
2. Tolerate the risk – in crossing the stream there is a chance you may get wet you are willing to risk it
3. Treat the risk – build a bridge across the stream true a mighty storm may wash it away but in one hundred years there have not been any
4. Transfer the risk – let someone else cross for you or buy stream crossing insurance – borrowed idea from my father Frank E Bird Jr. and his book Loss Control Management

But unless you actually are involved you may never really know which way to go in terms of which T you will pick.

“Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.” Warren Buffett

Life is about experience and the roads we take it is ours to choose and to make a mistake or succeed with.

“It is not the critic who counts. Not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strive valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause. Who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat?” Theodore Roosevelt

Take the day by the horns as the cowboys among us would say and try to do your best, carpe diem, and stride across the stream believe it is summer and you will not succumb to hypothermia if you do fall in and as always especially in these days of increasing violence in the middle east keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and be sure to always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

Where is the passion?

Bird Droppings December 26, 2014
Where is the passion?

I was sitting facing a rising sun thankful for a new day earlier today. It was ironic as I was sitting on an overturned five gallon plastic bucket next to a small circle of smooth river rocks facing east, listening to mockingbird chattering away in the dawn light thinking about the day ahead and offering thanks prior to the day starting. Behind me to the west was a bit of a smiling moon was sneaking away. I could still imagine it as the sun rose and moon set behind a slight cover of clouds. For my amazement reds and oranges were streaking the gray lines of morning. The ambient temperature was too low and no crickets or tree frogs were chirping in the near freezing morning air. To my left a squirrel made its way through the hedge row of sumac, wild cherry trees and assorted brush always wary of the red-tailed hawk that hunts our backyard. My medicine circle of river stones is almost covered with pine needles. The sycamore trees leaves have all fallen and the white bark peeling offers interesting images in the morning faint light. Beside me to the right a young live oak is still green always it seems foregoing winter’s loss. As I watched in almost a trance the band of orange wanders into the day widening and stretching across the horizon. I often wonder how many others sit and watch the day being born. If only, my father used the term often in his teachings and I in mine. So I am being thankful to witness the wonder of this sunrise and to praise the day yet to come and in Cherokee Wa de (Skee).

As I begin to think about my writing today so many ideas and thoughts sitting beside in books and on the internet waiting to use ad expound on. Every day during school hours I hear the simple phrase from at least one student of, “I hate school” and matter of fact I usually hear it numerous times across the day. What I find amusing is that very seldom do you hear this in kindergarten or elementary school which is interesting. When and where does the attitude towards school change?

“How do preschool children, full of natural inquisitiveness and a passion for learning, turn into apathetic or angry teens with a profound dislike of school?” Robert L. Fried, The passionate Learner

I remember my own early grades although that is now nearly fifty six years ago. I remember a second grade teacher who inspired us. I recall a teacher who each day amazing and made it special and you wanted to be there tomorrow to see what was next. But I also recall teachers who presented an image of a different sort one where we did not want to be in school where it was more fun to stay home and be “sick”. Recent reading of Henry David Thoreau added to Dana’s statement as Henry David Thoreau quit teaching to be a learner and found he was a far better teacher then.

“The real difficulty, the difficulty which has baffled the sages of all times, is rather this: how can we make our teaching so potent in the motional life of man, that its influence should withstand the pressure of the elemental psychic forces in the individual?” Albert Einstein

“Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.” John Cotton Dana

For a number of years I had ended my emails with this thought from Einstein. Just the other day I mentioned to a fellow teacher Einstein was equally a philosopher as well a scientist and most never will take the time to see that side of him. So I come back to how can teachers bring the “passion” to their teaching as Robert Fried writes about? How can we make teaching so potent as Einstein states? I have come to find the past few weeks that teacher attitude is crucial to this process. It is not so much about approach as attitude. How a teacher interacts and responds to students in their class is far more important than the material taught. For if a teacher is not getting through to the students the material is inconsequential.

“The most important part of education,” once wrote William Ernest Hocking, the distinguished Harvard philosopher ‘is this instruction of a man in what he has inside of him.’” Sydney J. Harris

Artificially we draw out great schemes and plans and build a fabulous curriculum. In education classes teachers to be learn how to do lesson plans and study the ins and outs of lesson plans and learn various curriculum philosophical theories and rationales and get credits for this. This is a major portion of the structure of teaching teachers. State education departments have as an example in various Curriculum guidelines and standards which determines what content needs to be covered in this course or grade. Of course in Georgia we even have the notorious End of Course Tests. I have seen teachers agonize over not covering the standards in the time given daily to meet demands of the test.

“WHEN most people think of the word “education,” they think of a pupil as a sort of animate sausage casing. Into this empty casing, the teachers are supposed to stuff ‘education.’” Sydney J. Harris

It is the teacher that teaches by stuffing that adds to the dilemma we face when we encounter students who do not care and are disinterested in school. I remember a teacher a year or so ago so frustrated because they could not cover from page 1 through 546 in the time given. This teacher was near a nervous breakdown and really what if those students were not able to get through the material what if they were functionally having difficulty? How and why should we teach beyond what they already do not know?

“But genuine education, as Socrates knew more than two thousand years ago, is not inserting the stuffing’s of information into a person, but rather eliciting knowledge from him; it is the drawing out of what is in the mind” Sydney J, harries

How do we become the teacher who draws out rather than simply stuffs in?

“The man who can make hard things easy is the educator.” Ralph Waldo Emerson –

“Those who know how to think need no teachers.” Mahatma Gandhi

“Teaching becomes more showing how to think and process than content. Education, to have any meaning beyond the purpose of creating well-informed dunces, must elicit from the pupil what is latent in every human being – the rules of reason, the inner knowledge of what is proper for men to be and do, the ability to sift evidence and come to conclusions that can generally be assented to by all open minds and warm hearts.” Sydney J. Harris

Over the past few years that I have come back to teaching I have found a hierarchy in teachers. There are three types of teachers it seems. There are parasites this is those who use such great statements as “this is my class room” and “you will respect me”. As we evolve if we do as teachers we become symbiotic this is where both the teacher and student are independent of each other yet need each other to coexist and teachers now say things like “How can I help you”. In any progression there is always room for growth for several years I thought this was where teaching’s endpoint was in a symbiotic relationship. However I was sitting in a class and another idea, an epiphany hit me. Osmosis is taking down walls and then learning becomes as it should fluid, it moves and reacts in that fluid manner and both the teacher and student are learning and teaching in a reciprocating way. John Dewey talked about this over a hundred years ago and was considered progressive interestingly enough I should say sadly enough he still is considered progressive.

“Pupils are more like oysters than sausages. The job of teaching is not to stuff them and then seal them up, but to help them open and reveal the riches within. There are pearls in each of us, if only we knew how to cultivate them with ardor and persistence.” Sydney J. Harris

It is difficult to get to this point few colleges for teachers teach in this manner. Those that do are few and far between. In my educational travels I have met several University professors who believe this and teach this. Hopefully as the future rolls around more teachers will rise up and take notice how many students hate school and maybe try and do something. Sitting here on a beautiful morning in Georgia wondering about the day I am excited as questions flow in and new teachers ask for guidance. Please as the day rolls on keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and please always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

It is the small pieces that seriously matter not how many presents

Bird Droppings December 25, 2014
It is the small pieces that seriously matter not how many presents

I was driving around and read a holiday post or two one caught my attention arguing the idea of Santa’s gifts. Santa is first a legend contrived over the years and developed sadly to be more of a marketing tool than anything resembling the original St. Nicolaus who would simply give gifts on Christmas. I have become callous in terms of the holiday shopping frenzy. As a scholar of theology the first Christian tradition Christmas gifts were symbolic representations of life, not that they weren’t precious or have value but the symbolism was more significant at the time of writing of the scriptures. I read about competition at Christmas time who can give the most sort of thing. I grew up in a household where every Christmas there was a pile not because we were wealthy and or well to do but because my parents would give freely. My dad would give literally all the time. In my teaching days many the time I will bring donuts or food in the morning which has led to a room full nearly every day. I try to give of myself every day.

“Until you can clearly see each piece of the puzzle you will never be able to understand the whole.” Frank Bird, grandfather, teacher and ponderer

So I am sitting here on Christmas morning 2014 in Between Georgia a long way from my birth place and even where I spent my youth in Pennsylvania. I have traveled many pathways, spiritually, educationally, emotionally and physically as I journeyed. It has been many years since a vision of a jig saw puzzle woke me from my sleep. Over the years I have used that image of puzzle pieces and a while puzzle in explaining life and its intricacies. My son added to my collection of ideas along the way nearly eleven years ago with a line from an Aerosmith song. “Life is about the journey not the destination.” Steven Tyler and Aerosmith I went outside to get a few shots of the sunrise and battling a sinus cold may have been moving slow and thinking slower but got at least one or two good images to post later.

As I drove about for a few minutes several ideas kept hitting me in the head and with my sinus cold right now that hurts. Literally every day I hear from a person could be a former student, a total stranger who read something I have written, a friend I have not seen in fifty years, maybe a member of a group I am in on Facebook, a cohort member from graduate school offering a thank you for a thought I shared or idea given. It is not about major successes but the small one at a time pieces that often float by unnoticed.

I find as I listed my somewhat ambiguous titles with the quote above grandfather first and at first that seemed just the right thing to do. As I sat back and pondered as I tend to do often it became the not only right thing but job one. It is we elders who provide wisdom and understanding even if in small ways to those who come after. In today’s hectic and helter skelter world moments get lost just like pieces to the puzzle.

So today as I do every day please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and all give thanks Namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

Setting the example is such a simple lesson plan

Bird Droppings December 23, 2014
Setting the example is such a simple lesson plan

“We taught our children by both example and instruction, but with an emphasis on example, because all learning is a dead language to one who gets it second hand.” Kent Nerburn, The Wisdom of the Native Americans

I have over the years looked to the wisdom contained in Kent Nerburn’s writings many times. In a recently completed graduate school project I used a similar wording, we teach by example and using Dr. Laura Nolte’s words “children learn what they live”. They learn not only subject matter but attitude and character from teachers as they observe and watch the ebb and flow of life about them.

”One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.” Carl G Jung

I have been a Carl G. Jung fan for many years. As I was reading through several of his ideas earlier this morning I found that this thought stuck out. Perhaps it is being a grandpa and watching a little one absorb every element around her. Perhaps it is as a father watching my sons now all grown each choosing pathways in life and wondering at times if we at least gave decent directions along the way. I am finding as I grow older it is the example we set that is the most powerful educational tool available. Better than any curriculum or text series, better than the greatest speaker, and much better than anything that can be planned for. It is about the warmth of our souls and passing this to our children and grandchildren.

“Knowledge was inherent in all things. The world was a library.” Luther Standing Bear

“Learning how to learn is life’s most important skill.” Tony Buzan

As so often happens when several educators get together the discussion on differing views and philosophies of education does come up and with me often at family gatherings as many of my immediate family are in education the topic will become education and learning. Yesterday afternoon sitting in my mother in laws house we were talking about teaching and working with special needs children. In a society so filled with appliances and contrivances that aid us in doing every little detail sometimes we forget that simple things can aid in how to learn, how to study, and how to open our eyes to that which is around us.

“Learning hath gained most by those books by which the printers have lost.” Thomas Fuller

There has been much research done on learning and on how the mind works. Many are the great thinkers that have built entire schools of knowledge named after them based on ideas of learning. Developmentalists have written and been written about, numerous other philosophies constructivism, modernism, and many other isms make it an interesting field.
“Learning is constructed by the learner and must be a social experience before it is a cognitive experience” Max Thompson, Learning Concepts

“Being ignorant is not so much a shame as being unwilling to learn.” Benjamin Franklin

We have to want to learn and I have found that apathy is a really hard part of our society today in education to deal with. So many students are apathetic toward life, learning, and even their own existence. It is difficult to learn if you chose not too and conversely it is ever more difficult to try and teach a person who chooses not to learn.

“Research shows that you begin learning in the womb and go right on learning until the moment you pass on. Your brain has a capacity for learning that is virtually limitless, which makes every human a potential genius.” Michael J. Gelb

Sitting in a group of students who deliberately chose to be ignorant is an interesting situation and I find myself often in that situation with the particular students I work with. Asking why is even more interesting.
“Whatever”
“What good is it?”
“Ain’t gonna do me no good outside of school”
These answers are always so eloquent and thought out that I am sometimes amazed. Students think about why they shouldn’t have to learn and they actually put effort into coming up with reasons why education is stupid and or not needed.

“The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” Wayne Dyer

Several years ago in YAHOO news, an article caught my attention and as I read I realized I too have used similar analogies. In some dictionaries McJob has been described as a meaningless job, a job with no direction and very little in requirements and McDonald’s has sued to have it removed stating that jobs at McDonalds are meaningful and do have direction. I do know of a young man who started working at McDonald’s and is in Business School now and owns his own Starbucks. Ray Kroc many years ago before he passed away got his start selling milkshake machines to restaurants when he met the McDonald brothers who had a restaurant selling hamburgers. Ray Kroc’s widow in her will did leave, one and a half billion dollars to charity all based on working in McDonald’s.

Ray Kroc founded the McDonalds franchise with literally nothing but an idea and hard work. It was not apathy that built McDonalds and it was not ignorance and lack of learning that contributed. I often wonder if the self-empowered ignorance of modern man is boredom.

“Observation was certain to have its rewards. Interest wonder, admiration grew, and the fact was appreciated that life was more than mere human manifestations; it was expressed in a multitude of form. This appreciation enriched Lakota existence. Life was vivid and pulsing; nothing was causal and commonplace. The Indian lived in every sense of the word from his first to his last breath.” Chief Luther Standing Bear, Teton Sioux

Each day as I observe students and teachers existing for lack of a better word, I see people who often are not experiencing life. They are simply occupying space as I say. I use a testing tool in my room, the Miller Analogy Test which is used often in graduate school programs for entrance. I explained how difficult the test is and how some graduate schools and I had data showing scores for acceptance and I made it very clear this was hard. Within every class I do this with one or two heed my warnings and quit right off the bat several who actually have difficulty reading the test I will read the questions to. Some completed the test. The actual grades on recent semester report cards were very bad yet in a class where the average reading level is extremely low over half the class had scores of 30 or higher. Granted this was not a valid test in the manner I gave it and only for fun. However imagine the self-esteem building when I explain several local universities use 30 as a minimum for acceptance into a master’s program and 45 for their Specialists programs and I had three students go over a score of 45.

I am always amazed when challenges are thrown out how some people except some dodge it and some quit. Earlier in my writing a passage from Kent Nerburn’s book The Wisdom of The Native Americans. “We taught our children by both example and instruction, but with an emphasis on example,…”, and as I thought back to my assignment of a test far beyond most capabilities they had taken the MAT it was in how it was approached no pressure applied you could or could not take it. I casually mentioned how hard and difficult but continually also mentioned I thought they could do it.

SUCCESS is more than simply doing something success is Seeing, Understanding, Commitment, Consideration, Education, and Satisfaction and of course Self. A simple concept but so difficult to teach when students have been beaten down all their educational lives and careers. Children Learn what they live is on my wall every day a giant black light poster from 1972. Keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your hearts as our efforts to bring peace in the Middle East become more difficult with each moment it seems. With sunrise only hours away please always give thanks for what you have namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

Understanding the symbols of life

Bird Droppings December 22, 2014
Understanding the symbols of life

“Symbols express and represent meaning. Meaning helps provide purpose and understanding in the lives of human beings. Indeed to live without symbols is to experience existence far short of its full meaning. Ways of expressing and representing meaning include the symbol systems of mathematics, spoke and writing language and the arts.” The Sacred Tree
For several days I have been pondering this simple paragraph. It has bothered me in more than a spiritual way. What if a human being does not understand symbols sitting thinking in terms of education the inability to move through existence without understanding? I see this as a significant issue in education. We tend to facilitate achievement in a given subject not based on understanding but based on acknowledge of symbols not understood. I recall a comment from a math teacher as I questioned a certain problem. We do not need them to know why simply know this equation creates this graph. That was several years ago. Math curriculum and testing has become a joke in many parts of the country. Numbers of failures have increased. I started thinking especially in math if at an early age we simply want the correct answer and not why it is correct when the math becomes more difficult how will a student solve the problem without someone showing an answer. We are teaching math wrong was my corresponding thought. We need to go back and teach the symbols.
I more often than not find my discussion on a spiritual level more so than on an educational curriculum subject although the bulk of my education has been in curriculum and education. Understanding the symbols is a key component of understanding our existence and place in the world. This applies to reading to art, and to written language. Teach the symbols first when children can understand the symbols they can piece together the parts of the whole. Without the pieces the whole is insignificant. I watch students graduate frustrates because they know little of what has been taught. They have simply been doing the minimum to get to next level and the next and out of school. They are missing the pieces along the way and can never truly see the whole puzzle presented.
So today just a thought for more thought how do we really teach the symbols. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts as you proceed through this weed and weekend ahead and always give thanks namaste.
My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

Sitting, wondering, pondering and dishwashing

Bird Droppings December 21, 2014
Sitting, wondering, pondering and dishwashing

In a roundabout way several earlier readings on the internet got me thinking and pondering as I do. So often we take our technology for granted. It has been about seven years since we moved into this house and a new dishwasher. About a year ago the drain pump went out and it decided to die on us. In thirty four years of marriage we have had only four dish washers not counting rental houses along the way you might say they become a part of the family. We waited on Frigidaire to send a repairman, we need our dishwasher and you now have to make appointments usually several weeks in advance. I recall my trips to various supply and parts places and new numbers of more places to call they were always eventful even synchronistic so to say. I find interesting people every time I go anywhere for that matter. After a week or two we did go get a new dish washer and after six months it decided to breakdown which was covered by warranty. It too nearly six months of wrangling to get a repairman out to inform us there was water damage in switchboard. It seems in a dishwasher that uses steam heat as a component a vapor barrier was not initially installed. While it was fixed and did no cost a penny you become quickly aware of how we depend on simple technology.

Thinking back to that first repair and the fellow after a brief computer check of circuits and such and a screen and using his manuals it seemed to be showing the culprit was a main drive motor. After calculating labor and parts we would have to spend nearly three hundred dollars to fix our dishwasher but if we choose to get a new one, we get this visit off our purchase. Essentially it cost sixty five dollars to tell us our washer is broke. Of course if we buy from Frigidaire essentially we would get a rebate. I need to get my mind off of spending money on dish washers and write.

“Where love reigns, there is no will to power; and where the will to power is paramount, love is lacking. The one is but the shadow of the other.” Carl G. Jung

It is often easy for me to pull out Jung thoughts and ideas and get motivated for the writing ahead. As I went out to sit and think earlier, this all rolled through my mind. I am amazed at how carefully planned and developed our technology is. No matter how good you take care of or do not take care of machines last a certain amount of time regardless. The term planned obsolescence is often bantered about. We are a throwaway society.
In an issue of National Geographic a few months back they were on one of the far flung Hawaiian Islands cleaning up. Sadly literally tons of debris washes in ranging from fishing nets, trash, TV’s, all sorts of stuff and sadly tons of it. Animals get caught up in the muck and often perish. One photo was of the contents of a baby albatross that had starved to death with a full stomach. The baby’s parents fishing in the currents had picked up numerous bits of trash either mixed in with the tiny fish they catch or that had been eaten by the fish and the babies stomach was full of plastic pieces that did not pass through literally full of trash that kept its stomach full and it would not or could not eat enough to live.

It was nearly fifty years ago Lady Bird Johnson, the first lady at the time started a cleanup campaign on our roads and highways. There were signs against littering and signs posted showing the fines for littering which were imposed and slowly we started cleaning up. But still we trash our environment.

But as I thought about it there is another side, as I look at this in a spiritual manner. People who live off the land hold their lands sacred honoring and revering the world about them do not seem to have this issue. Often using each aspect of a given animal or plant harvested for use while we discard so much. I have seen dumpsters in Georgia with deer carcasses all but the head thrown in. A few months back a deer was dumped at the high school antlers sawn off. There is a scene in the beginning of the movie “Last of the Mohicans” where Uncus, Nathaniel (Hawkeye) and Chingachgook shoot a deer. They honor the deer with prayers and ask forgiveness for killing the deer and say it will sustain them in the days ahead; there were no reality cameras filming and no bragging about eating what they kill. (Granted it was in a movie)

I watch churches locally in a similar manner. A situation I am very familiar with goes like this. Years ago members of a particular church were major donors to the growth and support of that church and were visited often by the pastors. As the days went by and illness befell these members and new pastor came to be the money was not flowing as it was previously and the family was never even visited. Where the money was, not where the need was, became the calling card of the church. I look a few lines up to Jung’s words of how different love and power are. Who do we look to as great so often in society any more sadly it is those with wealth and power? Wisdom, love and honor seldom play a part any more.

“To understand reality is not the same as to know about outward events. It is to perceive the essential nature of things. The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential. But on the other hand, knowledge of an apparently trivial detail quite often makes it possible to see into the depth of things. And so the wise man will seek to acquire the best possible knowledge about events, but always without becoming dependent upon this knowledge. To recognize the significant in the factual is wisdom.”Dietrich Bonheoffer

As a people we have lost so much. We take as we need from each other and from others. So often we subsist only in that world immediately around us. WE ARE focusing only on that which we can see feel and touch, even in this world of instantaneous news and views. We have made ourselves disposable. How many times have you heard the phrase at work or in a workplace “no one is indispensable” essentially we are all disposable. As I ponder it used to be we learned a craft through apprenticeship and years of experience and you became a master craftsman.

Yesterday I was looking on the internet at Native American art. A plains survival kit made by Black Eagle an Osage medicine man eighty years old was selling for $2,200.00 it consisted of several pieces of bone and sinew. Essentially it was a primitive kit for a hunter in the prairies of ancient North America. The various pieces included several scrappers, needles and sinew and they were stored in a fringed elk skin bag. Back in the day Black Eagle would have given it to you if you needed it. Now it is a collector’s item being sold by an art store. I am wandering today perhaps caught still in the fifty percent off and buy one get one free and the throwaway society we live in. It is so sad we have become spiritually and physically disposable.

One of my favorite disposable sayings is “once saved always saved” regardless of what you do after that point you are ok. Searching for words and meaning in a world so intent on camouflage. I have kids who wear it to school daily and you can even get camo underwear. Although I haven’t quite figured that one out yet wearing camo underwear that is. When you go to the store is it oak tree or standard or tree bark and that depends on your quarry. We have grown so much in so many ways yet our capacity for others seems to lag behind.

“The perfection of wisdom, and the end of true philosophy is to proportion our wants to our possessions, our ambitions to our capacities, we will then be a happy and a virtuous people.” Mark Twain

Over the years I have read many quotes books and papers. There is a passage from a website on Native American quotes and stories I have thought about many times and it is so true.

“Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors; we borrow it from our Children. “Ancient Indian Proverb

I happened by a Barnes and Nobles bookstore yesterday and as I do often when there have certain shelves I check and found a small book in the Native American section. It was a book written in 1984 to work with rekindling the spiritual side of Native youth. I read the book as I sat in the bookstore and this one passage stuck with me. I was looking for a book to read to my grandchildren and this little red book was sort of sticking out. I did take it home with and so I share a passage from The Sacred Tree.

Respect:
Respect means “to feel or show esteem for someone or something; to consider the well-being of, or to treat someone or something with deference or courtesy”. Showing respect is a basic law of life.

• Treat every person, from the tiniest child to the oldest elder with respect at all times.
• Special respect should be given to elders, parents, teachers and community leader.
• No person should be made to feel “put down” by you; avoid hurting others hearts as you would avoid a deadly poison.
• Touch nothing that belongs to someone else (especially sacred objects) without permission, or an understanding between you.
• Respect the privacy of every person. Never intrude on a person’s quiet moments or personal space.
• Never walk between people who are conversing.
• Never interrupt people who are conversing.
• Speak in a soft voice, especially when you are in the presence of elders, strangers or others whom special respect is due.
• Do not speak unless invited to do so at gathering where elders are present (except to ask what is expected of you, should you be in doubt).
• Never speak about others in a negative way, whether they are present or not.
• Treat the earth and all of her aspects as your mother. Show deep respect for the mineral world, plant world and animal world. Do nothing to pollute the air or soil. If others destroy our other, rise up with wisdom to defend her.
• Show deep respect for the beliefs and religions of others.
• Listen with courtesy to what others say, even if you feel that what they say is worthless. Listen with your heart.

The Sacred Tree
Produced by Judith Bopp, Michael Bopp, Lee Brown and Phil Lane Jr.
Four Worlds International Institute
1984

I wish we could live each of these honestly and openly and remember there will be leave a place for those after us why not leave the world and people better than we found them. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and peace my friends and be sure to always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

Waiting for a miracle

Bird Droppings December 19, 2014
Waiting for a miracle

Miracle is a word used often by people of faith. It is an explanation for things that happen with no apparent cause and or rationale. It seems we all sit waiting for miracles perhaps waiting for that solution to pop up, to show its self and poof all will be better. So many times through history events have happened that provide for the concept of miracles and again so many provide based on a lack of proof. Perhaps it is simply a matter of semantics or within a language of need. Each of us has found the bottom of the well on occasion and for each many times a ladder has come. It has been for some a hand built one from within the well piece by piece. For some others they simply climbed out under their own strength.

I recall a story of a farmer and his donkey I have seen somewhere in my readings. It seems the farmer was so tired of the stubborn donkey he threw it in the well and invited neighbors over to bury this mean stubborn donkey. As the neighbors shoveled, shovel by shovel the well was filled in. Amazingly there towards the final few shovels a dirty donkey that had simply climbed a bit higher with each shovel of dirt jumped out and ran off. The farmer was left with a filled in well and no donkey. Was that a miracle for the donkey? Perhaps, yet we can also rationalize quick thinking and patience with the donkey and who knows maybe stubborn was the wrong word.

I recall a few months back when I spoke with several mothers some by chance or synchronicity as Jung calls it. Our washing machine died and the repairman could not come till after the holiday so I loaded a pile of teenage dirty laundry into my car and proceeded to wash or attempt to wash clothes at a launder mat. Since this was my second sojourn the first thing was finding my book from the other day and I asked the woman in charge and she immediately went to her office and pulled my book out with a note attached. “Someone left this book and I am sure will come back for it”. The book was “Teaching from the heart” by Sarah Day Hatton. Perhaps it was a small miracle that my book was still there may be so or was it more a Jungian sort of thing leading to another step another conversation.

It seems the woman who runs the Laundromat has an autistic son and when she found the book felt this was a book most people would not be reading and it must be special to someone. We talked for nearly an hour as my clothes washed and dried discussing how her seventeen year old son was progressing. As I sat another mother came in this time a former student’s mother her washer had died as well. We talked about how her daughter was doing and progressing. Then I received phone call on my cell phone from another mother who lost a son many years ago and is still looking and finding the pieces to her puzzle daily.
As she talked about a story of a rope, scripture, devotion and finding peace within her and in others for nearly thirty minutes we talked. I use James Redfield’s term coincidence quite often and was corrected, not coincidences I was told. I offered then synchronicity perhaps as Jung says and that word was more acceptable.

Timely meaningful happenings seemingly by chance all in a short span of hours amazing how my family does not like to take me any where I always end up meeting people and talking. I went looking this morning for one author and stumbled on another. It has been several years since I first read, Care of the soul, by Thomas Moore. Moore was a monk for thirteen years. He is an avid student and learner gaining a PhD in religion, and in psychology along with a master in music and philosophy. Moore is a teacher, psychotherapist and writer he has a unique introspection on faith and life.

What amazes me each morning as I start is so often I really am not sure where it is ending.
Not necessarily a good lesson for teaching creative writing but since I don’t do that I am okay. I started looking for a course in miracles and several lecturers who feature miracles in their writing. As I looked on a favorite site Thomas Moore is now a featured columnist and I looked at his site. Thinking over the past day and events another idea emerged and within miracles there is a sense of belonging of community for lack of better wording and pondering. I was caught in a paragraph from Moore’s site. I highly recommend a look at his website when time allows. Within the context of miracles and the world in general, so often teenagers get confused by all the horror and death. Moore was addressing this in previous paragraphs and lead into this thought.

“We could ask the same question about the thousands of children being killed and horribly wounded in wars across the globe. This horror exists because we have not matured enough to create a world community that genuinely serves the welfare of our children. Again, it’s a theological matter. We operate under an infantile illusion that the religions are in competition with each other, and we battle our anxious beliefs with literal weapons. We profess religions that are ninety percent ideology, full of ego, and, in the face of this pseudo religion, create a secularist society, which by definition is incapable of genuine community.” Thomas Moore

I was looking at Yahoo news today and three of ten articles or so were religious related granted it is a holiday season in several different religions. One that catches my attention is a court over turning intelligent design which some school systems and politicians are pushing. The Iranian President declares a ban on western music, clothing, ideas, morals, and who knows what else. In Bethlehem this time of year always conflict between various denominations and religions.

As I sit thinking the term genuine community is an interesting one. Could we even consider this, that might truly be construed a miracle considering wars have been fought over religion for thousands of years. When you get down and dirty however it is never ideology but actually more over money but religion was easier to accept. Can we become a community each step in its place. As I talked with my friend who had lost a son and for her the story unraveled over years not instantaneously there was not a blinding flash of light but pieces falling in place one by one leading to that day in the laundermat and our talk. It may be a long term miracle perhaps? My miracle would be to no longer have to ask my friends to keep all in harm’s way on their minds and in their hearts that would be the miracle I seek and perhaps if we can chip away piece by piece at building community at building relationships at climbing up each shovel full of dirt up one at a time what seemingly is getting hit in the face with a shovel full of dirt could in effect be freedom and maybe even peace someday and always give thanks namaste.
My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird