Standing Rock: Why I’m glad I went

Standard

turkey vultures

I’m glad I went and am thinking about going back. Yes, I blogged that it can be hard to be a white person at Standing Rock. But I loved every minute of it. Why?

Because it’s a rare and important opportunity to stand with people having the courage to speak truth to power, at great risk to their lives and well being. It’s a skill we all need to exercise, maybe particularly now. I am grateful to have seen it, and honor it in my own prayers.

It’s very scary. To see authority out of control, ruled by some adolescent notion of domination, able to randomly mace senior citizens in the face, is so completely opposite of their standing as law enforcement and peace officers. It’s such a betrayal of the public trust that it could only be described as a monumental selling out to the highest bidder.

And, in the face of it, I’m grateful to see how a people can still live prayer, day in and day out, in all that they do. It’s not something they put on and take off. It’s something they are, because they’re steeped in it.

And there’s a power that comes with living outside most of every day that we forget. That river is an ancient and knowing force in their lives, not an unseen convenience like running water is for most of us. When I would wake up at night, with Mother Earth beneath me and Father Sky above me, and the moon reflecting on the river running just beyond our camp, I felt such a part of all that is most important about our world.

DR jumping
The Native concern for the next seven generations of life always makes me think of my grandson, fearlessly ready to jump into the world.

Advertisements

2015 in review

Standard

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 400 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

“Two coyotes looking for afterbirths…”

Standard

“Two coyotes looking for afterbirths trotted through a pasture to the east, moving through fluid grass, the sun backlighting their fur in such a way that they appeared to have silver linings.”–from Pulitzer Prize winning author Annie Proulx, in That Old Ace in the Hole.
coyote-stalk-by-wildphotons

When people argue about writing for pleasure or writing for profit or writing for the audience, I think about sentences like that. People writing to capture truth, to lay it out to see if it moves you the way it moved them. To see if it leaves you vulnerable.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CAYQjB0&url=https%3A%2F%2Fhoundwelfare.wordpress.com%2Ftag%2Fcoyote-population%2F&ei=avsiVcm9B8PyoASNtoG4CA&psig=AFQjCNH-uTAryliKPWfkhHZL23QbdNOL8A&ust=1428441631301951

We want to know.

Standard

uluru-at-sunset

Taller than the Eiffel Tower, in a flat, desert area in the center of Australia. Eight miles around. More than 600 million years old.

uluru-anangu

Sacred places–unknown forces are at work to activate space with spirit. They hold things we want to know. Some of us believe we are meant to know. Some of us have a passion to know.

Photos:
image: http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/02/49/5d/53/uluru-at-sunset.jpg
artwork: http://sites.coloradocollege.edu/indigenoustraditions/files/2011/11/uluru-anangu.jpg

Turkey Vultures

Standard

One morning, when I was staying up country in a valley of the Manzano Mountains, I got up early to see the sun rise. I went out on the deck, and as I looked across the field, I saw about a dozen turkey vultures, each perched on a fence post.
turkey vultures

They stood with wings outstretched, unmoving, waiting to catch the sun’s rays, to warm their wings. It was a surreal sight, as if they were caught in a moment of worship.

It made me think of turkey vultures differently, to feel a kinship with them. We both were in that moment to appreciate something ancient and foundational that is rejuvenating to something deep within us. For that moment, we were worshiping at the same church.

Now when I see them surrounding road kill, I don’t go, “Ew-w-w!”

Photo from: http://blueridgeblog.blogs.com/blue_ridge_blog/2004/10/taking_flightpa.html

2014 in review–What was I thinking?

Standard

I have no idea what I was thinking. Now I can see that honestly following the course of my book, from my hands out into the world, garnered a few people’s interest. That, along with the tarantula migration I  witnessed. That goes without saying, of course, since who wouldn’t be interested in a tarantula migration?

Anyway, food for thought for the coming year. Here’s to everybody having a great one!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 520 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 9 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Can you teach? Can anybody?

Standard

improvised-shakespeare-company
I used to teach, and for a long time, I tried to do it “their” way–the ones who taught us: construct your lectures from primary sources and the most current research, insert them into the teaching space/arena, repeat. It’s okay not to allow questions.
Look what happens if you allow questions–things can go anywhere. Can you bring them back? Can anybody? What about that point to be made? So why would you ever allow questions?
But there were a few insurrectionists, like the film teacher, and you could find out that some people allowed that kind of pandemonium in their classrooms. Of course, they were labelled kooks or unprepared or just not very smart. And you told yourself only some subjects permitted it.
But my own teaching began to bore me and I felt more and more like a fraud, standing up there delivering “the word.”
So, gradually I couldn’t help myself, and I began to allow questions. Well, all hell broke lose. They had opinions that challenged my “established knowledge,” many of them said the first un-thought thing that popped into their heads, some felt they had “the word” because they were in touch with the media–social and otherwise, some were just full of themselves. But more than a few were about more than themselves and made me think, and for a while I flew by the seat of my pants with them.
That became my definition of teaching–teacher and student flying by the seat of their pants. They begin in the realm of the subject matter at hand and see where it takes them. Both can end up going somewhere neither have been. And it’s fun.
I think it’s how the best writing happens–a conversation with you and your muse/source/etc.
I liken the process to improv, a practice that hands us back ourselves, often through a process of standing up to our own immense fear of exactly that.
The only thing to be nervous about, as one long form improviser said, “is the potential for large-scale humiliation.”

See Patrick Stewart talk about improvising Shakespeare: http://americantheatre.org/2014/11/how-patrick-stewart-learned-to-die-onstage/