Following the path

Bird Droppings June 1, 2012

Following the Path


“In our way of life, with every decision we make, we always keep in mind the Seventh Generation of children to come. When we walk upon Mother Earth, we always plant our feet carefully, because we know that the faces of future generations are looking up at us from beneath the ground. We never forget them.”  Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of The Onondaga Nation


            When I first moved out to Fisherville Road in Caln Township which lies outside of Coatesville Pennsylvania I was in the first grade. The location was one of a country block as we called it. All of the houses surrounded an open area of fields, orchards and pasture and the square itself was a mile or so on each side. All of our neighbors or I should say many had their house area and then a portion of the central block as part of their property. My mother and father owned nine acres or so of apple trees and pear trees. A good friend next door his parents owned maybe fourteen acres and had cherries, peaches, apples and pears. A retired former vice president of the local steel mill had a section in which he planted pine trees actually more for Christmas trees than anything. So we grew up in this at that time vast oasis of hiding places and fruit trees enough that our parents would call for dinner after we had been out all day.

            It was dividing our property and one of my friends that the path ran along. It was worn from carts, tractors, mowers and our continuous walking the path to and from the bus stop on the other road. We all simply called it the path. Over the years there is no telling how many times I walked the path from the bus stop or just going to see my friends. Perhaps today being June first brought it all back from those hidden away memories of childhood. One of my dear friends birthday is today and it seems as I started the day I was a day behind so in much of my paperwork. I always pick on him that I remember his birthday since our former burro Jenny gave birth on June 1st as well. So I remember Roscoe’s birthday and really his is just circumstantial.


Consider people’s fascination with the past. What is this fascination with history, legends, stories, things from the past, and things that remind us of the past? What makes certain pictures or special gifts we received once so important to us? Are we simply burdened with too much free time, or is there a sense of connection that gives our lives meaning? The past and things that tie us to it give us a sense of connection with those things, experiences, people that have gone before us. In order for us to know our place in the universe, we must realize where we stand in relation to all things around us; this is the power of relation. Our connection with the past gives us a sense of continuity, a sense that we are somehow part of the Greater Circle. It gives us a sense of place and a sense of direction. Our connection with the future also gives us a sense of direction and purpose on the path that we walk.” Dr. Michael T. Garrett, Walking on the Wind


            I recall a snow storm in 1958 that kept us out of school for a week and my friend’s older brother carried my younger sister on his back down through the drifts to our house along the path. The snow was drifting nearly ten foot at the time and we made our way through nearly thirty inches of fresh snow. So many memories linked to a simple trail worn by countless footsteps of children and adults over the years. As I have grown older and now symbolically represent life as a pathway a journey I cannot help but recall so fondly that pathway in my childhood.


“I remember once when I was home for my birthday, I noticed that my mother was crying to herself. When I asked her why, thinking that something had happened and maybe she needed my help, she simply responded, “I was having you right now.” At first, I didn’t understand. Then, I suddenly realized that she was reliving the moments leading up to my birth and that this was still such an emotionally powerful experience for her, even all these years later. She looked upon me as a gift and treated me as such. And I, in turn, have always looked upon her gift of life to me as nothing less than sacred.” Dr. Michael T. Garrett, Walking on the Wind


            As I look back on my memories of my childhood and many of which I do recall but only know from my father, mother and grandmother telling me in later years I see my life and all life around me as sacred. Something special to hold and keep close as Dr. Garrett states is a gift. I remember very clearly even in my old age the births of my three sons and how that impacted me. I have been there for many of my brothers, cousins and sisters deliveries of their children and seen their faces and attitude toward their newborns. I watch my brother in law steal babies from strangers, although that does not sound too good, he is a grandpa at heart, only to hold and share his concern and wonderment with newborns. As each birthday rolls around my wife and I reflect back to each of our son’s deliveries each was different and unique, one lasted eighteen hours and one twenty six minutes. 


“I have tried to live my life with this attitude. I live my life this way because I choose to live my life this way. This is my Medicine, and for me it is a Good Medicine Way. It holds power for me, not the power of control, but the power of perspective. To look upon all things as sacred and purposeful is no small task for us human beings, who have been blessed with the intellectual and spiritual capacity to transcend both time and space in a single thought.” Dr. Michael T. Garrett, Walking on the Wind


            My journey in life has had many pathways and many side trails. Each added to who I was both good and bad. Each person I met along the way added to my own person. I have said many times that I looked at life as a puzzle falling into place piece by piece. It has been so many pieces each step along that pathway in Pennsylvania, each mile of highway driven, every word I have heard in graduate school, every student that I have discussed with in my class room each piece has added to who I am.


“Making new memories, is more fun than talking about old ones.” Ashley Holt, International Model, Friend, former swim team member, and culinary artist and now owner of a bakery 

As I read this particular face book status update several things hit me. First the author lives life to the fullest, and secondly each new memory is a culmination of all of the old. Without the old there would not be that specific new memory. Looking back on my own life it is from building on all of those old ones we can truly have a wonderful time with the new. Wandering back to my journey down that path in Pa. thinking back to my first teaching days and even twenty years or more of publishing business before coming back to teaching which actually led to meeting a certain person during a swimming practice and listening to their problems and issues so many years ago.

“I have long wondered what really is at the end of a rainbow. Quite honestly, I have never checked (I’ve chalked that up as one of the many pursuits for later life…). But I do wonder. There have been many stones on my path that I have thus far left unturned, either because I just haven’t gotten around to them or maybe because those stones did not wish to be bothered in the first place (it’s important to know the difference).”Dr. Michael T. Garrett, Walking on the Wind

            It was perhaps six or eight years ago I was driving with my son when we looked over head three rainbows converged and we drove, I actually drove to find the end where they met. The intensity of color could very easily be mistaken for gold. Cars were stopping along the highway to see this brilliant display of nature something I will never forget. As I read Dr. Garrett’s words of sometimes leaving stones unturned as I talk with students there are times to hold back and let the student or person tell the story rather than simply try and pull from them what I believe the answer to be. I have many stories of sitting with students along the way memories and of their life stories being told to me as they uncover and find pieces of who they really are. My own journey has taken many years and still is unraveling as I walk each day. Some laugh when I pull from my old box of quotes that line from Steven Tyler “Life is about the journey” and it is not about where we are going.

“So every time I see a rainbow, I just stand there in awe of its beauty and immensity, and whisper a small prayer thanking the rainbow for being willing to share its beauty with me. And something about the sight of it moves me from within, as if it were touching my spirit, and a deep sense of calm comes over me. I look upon the very sight of the rainbow as a gift, just as I look upon the very sight of the eagle as a gift, and the squirrel, and the ant, and the rock, and the little dandelions, and the rain, and all living beings in the Circle of Life. I know that a rainbow is not a rainbow without all of its colors, just as the Sacred Web of Life cannot exist without every one of its strands in harmony and balance.” Dr. Michael T. Garrett, Walking on the Wind

Dr. Garrett referred to life as a gift which adds a new dimension to our daily existence if we accept this concept. Each moment is special and of importance.

“The point is, when we look upon something as a gift, we tend to accept it as it is, to appreciate it as it is, and it just makes us feel good. There is a sense of connection. It touches something within us and somehow grants us sacred moments of harmony. The journey is not “somewhere over there” or “some other time.” It is with us right here and right now. It is a part of us in everything that we do and everything that we are. What we perceive as our “pot of gold” may in fact be something very different when and if we find the end of the rainbow. What if the rainbow has no end? What if it is a circle that wraps itself gently around Earth in a continuous cycle of energy?” Dr. Michael T. Garrett, Walking on the Wind

For me as I wander this earth and try and become a piece in the puzzle of life I wonder continually about my interactions and those about me. Now, think about yourself. What are you really looking for? Are you looking for something or content with your daily plod. Where is your sense of place? As I think to my friend who once traveled the world modeling and now is studying in culinary school to be a baker. What is it that moves you? Do you have a goal in mind some would say a destination? What are the things you cherish? In today’s world so much is focused on the material and accumulation of things. What are the gifts that you have received, and what are the gifts that you have to give? Now it gets specific as we look at what do we have to give to others. Where is your love? Over the years I have found that love is an integral part of giving be it yourself or just in how you respond to others. Where does your vision lead you? Is it a fixed pathway much like my old trail in the orchards of Pennsylvania or is it more ethereal and philosophical as many of my friends of more recent years seem to find. What will it take for you to follow your vision? Is it education or just practice, is it learning more experiencing more to be able to know that what you do is the direction you should be going. I find myself of lately finding wisdom in Native American thought and understanding.

“Listen, and you will hear your spirit calling upon all our relations, and you will feel their energy. Our spirit is an extension of them and they are an extension of us. Our spirit connects us with the memories of all that has gone before us, all that is, and all that will be. Our spirit connects us with all of our relations in the Circle of Life. Listen, and you will hear Water speaking, Wind dancing, Sun smiling, the heartbeat of Mother Earth pulsing beneath our feet.” Dr. Michael T. Garrett, Walking on the Wind

            Over the past few years now I have read several of Michael Garrett and his father’s, J.T.‘s books. Both men are Native American and from North Carolina. Both men have Doctorates in various fields and work daily counseling others. Both men are considered healers by the Cherokee of North Carolina along with their earned degrees from Universities. Both have found a union of sorts in their meddling of spiritual, physical, emotional and cultural needs and desires. I am using Dr. Garrett’s words today though some might find fault as he resigned from The University of Florida due to some questionable behavior. It is sad that we so often get caught up in the world and lose track of who we are. We allow the power of our position or name to hold over others and this is against what J.T. Garrett taught his son and that his son wrote about and lectured on for so many years. So I am looking today not at what this man may have done but at his words written nearly fifteen years ago that do hold significance.


“Every footstep is the journey. Every sight, every sound, every touch and taste and smell with which we are blessed is the journey. All of the colors before us are the journey, and we are the journey. May we always keep our feet on Mother Earth, our eyes and minds above the treetops, our spirit with the Greater Universal Spirit? And may we always walk the path of Good Medicine in harmony and balance, with a sense of humility, kindness, wonder, and respect for all living things as we follow the sacred trail of those who have come before us and those yet to come.” Dr. Michael T. Garrett, Walking on the Wind

Perhaps it was my dear friend’s birthday yesterday and or my mix up of days and thinking May had only thirty days leading along the way to this effort today. So many the steps we take as we walk the road.  I will go today into a world of materialistic people of people who do not care about one another or the earth they walk. I will try in my writing and thinking to convey a differing view than perhaps the one most see as they leave their home each day. As I have now for so long please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and to always give thanks.



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