August 29, 2016
Bent, New Mexico
The Gift Of The Raven
I saved a raven from sure death yesterday. He was most fortunate that I chose to go to the dump as it is not my usual habit on a Sunday morning but I had some trash in my truck and was headed to the ranch. Even then I might have missed him but I had picked up two pallets that I decided not to use and I was returning them to where the others were. I backed up to dump them off and there he was, fluttering futilely trying to escape the tangle of fish line wrapped around his leg.
As I approached he simply fell over on his side and lay still. I returned to my truck for my jacket and gloves, grateful I had tossed the cheap pair of scissors into my saw box, even though I had thought not to. They are cheap and dull but you never know when you might need them. The raven never moved, exhausted and resigned to his fate or perhaps in some deeper way certain of his salvation? I covered him with my jacket for his sake and mine and removed my gloves and sat for the next two minutes cutting the ties that bound him. They were wrapped tight around the scaly part of his leg and further up cutting into his skin, painfully swollen from his fight.
He lay still even after I was done and had pulled my jacket away. I carefully took him in my hands and stroked his head and back as he panted for air. His beak was gaping in his terror yet he sat calmly in my hands. His eye rolled back to look at me and perhaps I saw a glimmer of appreciation? I spoke to him softly before I set him free, wishing I had my camera for one more picture but not wanting to add any more to his ordeal. He sat for but a moment before he took flight, strong enough to survive and lucky to be alive. I watched him go, grateful for his strength.
I shared the event with a friend and we spoke of how wonderful it is when we can do such good deeds. We had both had a few such opportunities and I have always felt it was a gift to be brought to that perfect place and time to perform them. I have come to view such happenings as divine intervention and to accept the affirmation that I have been given the chance to give back some small part of what has been given to me. Many years ago I prayed for deliverance and was freed from my dilemma and I have never forgotten that. Instead I am devoted to giving back the same at every opportunity, grateful when they are presented to me. My friend agreed.
I didn’t sleep well last night, just too many things on my mind I suppose, even if my life is good right now. I am always restless this time of year and I am too busy to take the time off I need to gather my thoughts. I had to force myself to get up but when I stepped out the door I was greeted by the harsh cackle of a raven, close by. Just above me on the hill there was a large bird teetering on the pinion tree. He sat still as I walked out and I spoke to him in passing before he departed. My heart lifted at the greeting and I paused to wonder if it could be the same bird, or perhaps his kin, there to thank me for my efforts. I believe in such things, that even if so many of our deeds are subtly returned to us sometimes the reward is direct, and I have always had an affinity with the ravens. As if in affirmation two more ravens flew past in the early dawn, sailing as they do on the thermals. One even tipped and spun as he went past and then returned to hover over my head, suspended for a moment in the morning sky. Coincidence? Perhaps, but doubtful all the same and I was so willing to take the gift of his presence. I may not be in danger but I needed a little lift this morning. It was the gift of the raven that offered it to me.
August 26, 2016
Nogal Canyon Road
Bent, New Mexico
The Serenity Returns
The serenity returned to me somewhere late in the night or early morning. It came with the rain, soft and steady and brought a cool wet breeze in through my windows. It sent me back to sleep, snuggled deep into the blankets of my bed with a smile, it was good. It returned again before the dawn, with no flicker of morning light but sang into life on the howls of the coyote. I smiled again, and lay still to savor the peacefulness and then, out of the stillness, came the first high echo of the elks bugle, the song of fall. I didn’t move lest I miss the second whistle, which came shortly after.
I found it again on the edge of dawn, the sliver of the moon and the wing of a cloud. I captured it in my mind before I ever took the picture, but it was there as it so rarely is. We can see such moments, and feel them in our hearts, even capture them in words, but so rarely can a photo do the same, but sometimes it does.
By 6:15 I was feeding the horses as the sun brightened the sky even if I still needed the lights on my truck. The ducks flew in quietly and I found myself whispering as well, softly warning the colts to stay back lest they trample me, unwilling to yell out loud. I caught that too and realized it was because I couldn’t bear to break the stillness, the serenity was too complete. Even the horses sensed it and went about their ordering without voicing their aggression; the air was too quiet for even that.
Something made a subtle shift yesterday, and so did I. I took pause where I might have taken action, and I allowed myself the freedom which my life now requires. I also cried, finally, something I so rarely allow myself to do but also understand that sometimes I must. I let something go yesterday and put behind me that which has too long been in front. By doing so I allowed the serenity to return and realized again that the crisis in someone else’s life does not have to be my own. It isn’t that I don’t care but that I care more about me, as it should be. We all get to choose, I have chosen.
The serenity returned to me somewhere in the night, and it was good. The air cooled just a little more and summer has started to slip away. She hasn’t left quite yet but she is preparing to do so. I can feel the pull of necessity and just last night began to build a wood box. I have put it off for years but if I am to spend another winter here I would like to have one. I will finish it soon, before I cut my wood. I am settling in a little deeper, preparing for the storms that are sure to come, with the knowledge also I can weather them well. I will miss my friend, and the times we have shared but he has chosen a path I cannot follow. The serenity returns, and it will be the comfort I need to move on.
August 19, 2016
Mescalero, New Mexico
It occurs to me again as I take a quick glimpse of past thoughts how I am chronicling my life and will have so many opportunities to reflect on the course of it. Wisdom is such a precious commodity and I am in constant need of the same. I see now the treasure I can hold in my hands and how it will create the balance I so require during the times when my consciousness teeters on the edge of chaos.
I forget sometimes. I have had such a strong routine in my life, at times, of writing, running and prayer. I can look back on the years at the Nogal House when I woke each morning before the dawn, sat to write as I watched the sun take her walk across the mountain peaks, and then burst out the door to run to the summit of those very same slopes. I was healthy then, in mind, body and spirit, much as I am now but far more so and the years seem to be taking their toll, at least for the moment. I left there five years ago next month for the Grand Canyon National Park and except for some brief interludes have not returned there since. It is still my haven, by all means, but I do not live there anymore, I just visit and return here.
Sometimes I forget. In spite of my determination to maintain my clarity, my spirituality and my fitness, in every sense of the word, I languish. I made a promise to myself as a youth to never allow the demands of daily life, of work and responsibility, to distract me from all which is most precious to me, but so I have allowed the same. It has been a constant battle in fact and fortunately I have kept the rail high and only allowed myself some occasional slips. I might gain ten pounds before I go on a diet, I might get slow and lazy for a while, but then get out and walk again, or run if I am so inclined. I might even stop writing, or not make the time to do as I should, but I return. But sometimes I forget.
Now, again, I remember. I can recall the strength in my mind, body and spirit when I take the initiative to replenish them, to honor them with some added effort. Having so recently freed myself of distraction and thus so much of the self imposed crisis in my life I have returned to my routine in the process. If I always try to eat well, I am eating better. If I always try to work hard, I am working harder, and centering my efforts on the things which mean the most. If I have always valued my fitness so I am focused on that again as well. After far too long a time I am running again, and feeling the benefits already. If my body still has so much resilience, so it is returning to me also.
I ran this morning, as I have every day for the past week. It isn’t that I didn’t have the desire to run it was that I could find no place convenient to do so and still be at work on time. Finally, out of desperation, I realized there is a trail just behind my workplace that leads to the lagoon…….I can go there and check the pond and allow myself some leisure also, if you can call it that. My fifteen minute break is an affirmation instead, of all the things I have held so precious. It is my moment in the wind, running through the trees and up the mountainside, and back. I cannot run far, I never have been able to, but I recover fast also, and then run again. I liken myself to a Quarter Horse whose dense muscle requires far more oxygen than that of the lean Arab or Thoroughbred. If I am of the strong Germanic type so the Natives are lean and fast. I have endurance but have to slow on occasion to let my muscles loosen and recover, but I am gaining every day. My Native friends who I have so often hiked with can go all day and never stop, but of course that is inherent also.
I ran this morning, up the two track dirt road to the base of the hillside. Still wanting more exertion, I followed the elk trail and climbed a rocky slope before I stopped. There is a tree on the crest and it is my next goal, though I didn’t quite get there today. I limited myself to the next stopping place where I had to pause and breathe before I went any further, and then I turned back in the interest of time. I will climb further on Monday, and maybe even summit if I am so lucky, or maybe the next day if not. I won’t quit, that is for certain. I am back on task and it has already enriched my life, again.
So it was I turned to walk back to the level ground so I could begin my run back. On the crest of the hillside I took pause to peruse the view, which spreads quickly the higher you climb. From my perch I could see my entire workspace, as well as much of Mescalero proper and the mountains beyond. The cool morning breeze touched my warm skin and I breathed deep of it freshness. Without even thinking I raised my hands as the Natives will do, to greet the day and to say their morning payer. I took a moment to do the same. The power of the moment flowed into my spirit. I suddenly realized the strength in their method of prayer, of how they open themselves up with their arms and hands outspread, welcoming the day and embracing it as well. I stood there for along moment before I departed. As soon as my feet felt level ground I ran again, freely as a Native for a short distance, before my muscles bunched again. Still, I ran farther than I had at the start, warmed to the effort and inspired as well. We can always go a little farther than we think, loosening our legs as we reach for the next step, the next summit. So it is with prayer. When we open ourselves to the possibilities, embracing sun and sky or whatever higher power we wish to allow, we can always reach further than before. It is best not to forget that.
All is well with me today. Now I remember.
August 4, 2016
Bent, New Mexico
Love, Awe, and Serenity
I told my coworker “I am content. I have everything I need.”
He said, “You need love.” Of course in some ways he was being facetious, as men so often are, but he was serious also, in a way the Native Americans seem to be far more than their Anglo counterparts. He was being rather direct also as he knows I have so recently parted from a long term friendship and that I am alone.
I told him, “I do have love! I love my family and my friends.”
He laughed at me and repeated his statement, “You need love.”
I countered; a little defensive perhaps but also playing along as I was meant to do, as it was all in good humor. “I have a lot of love in my life,” I said. “I love my life, myself, the sun and the sky. I wake each morning and say thanks for the beauty which surrounds me. I love the horse I feed each morning and evening and thrill at the way they run to meet me and nicker softly for their grain.”
He replied, smiling; “Now you’re getting it.”
I read an article the other day on the things we can do to maintain good health. In fact I tore it out of the magazine, ‘Time’ or AARP, I can’t recall at this moment so it must have been AARP, right? LOL, I might be aging but I haven’t quite lost it yet and I have mused about such things since my youth! The article, which I can recall, was focused on the need for ‘Green Spaces’ and the benefits they provide to us. The one which truly touched me, reflecting so closely on my own practices, was in regards to “Awe”. The example they used was the physical benefit of standing in the deep forest and gazing upwards to the towering tops of the trees. We can all agree such is awe inspiring but it went even further to explain that trees actually put off a certain smell, and energy if you will, which helps prevent parasites from attacking them. This same essence actually affects humans physically and emotionally and produces a healing, and awe inspiring response.
Huh! A scientific explanation for something I discovered as a young girl seeking solace in the forest, climbing to the peaks of the mountains, galloping across the fields and through the woods on my horse. It is the same I spoke of to my friend this morning and the thrill I seek in my many adventures. We are all drawn to the same and yet we discover it in other things also, those which in the past hindered my own progress, even so recently as a few weeks ago until I set myself free. It is the same thing I write of so often and by doing so retain my focus lest it be lost! Having discovered it in my childhood I made a promise even then, sitting on the lakeside at Lake Welch, that I would never allow anything or anyone to rob me of that sense of awe and the serenity it provided me. If I have stumbled along the way I have yet to fall and even in the worst of times that light has pierced the darkness and reminded me of that pledge.
I am surrounded by my love for all the wonders of my life, my family and friends and the beauty which I find in the sun and the sky, the mountains and the Plains, and I revel in the same. I am in awe of all of those things and every time the breeze moves the clouds across the horizon, or the sun touches the peaks of the mountains I take pause to honor the moment. I find the serenity I require in the same as I allow the peacefulness to soak into my spirit, sitting still for a moment to breath in its grace before I hurry off on some other thought or action. I am so fortunate to have the awareness and the opportunity to recognize this and I say thanks for the same.
It is a Native American custom that if someone asks you for something you should give it to them. My friend told me a while back, in regards to something I had that would be useful to him, that “You should give that to me.” At the time I still needed what I had but promised him I would, which I was able to do this morning. As I was walking out the door I saw a chainsaw carved axe, shaped out of an ideal piece of pine which someone had saw fit to leave at the shop. I picked it up and admired it and told him, “You should let me have this.” He told me, “Take it.” I asked if he was sure as it was a really special creation to my Anglo eyes, the carving so well done as to make the axe head appear as if it has been chipped from stone. It was all the more amazing as it was made by an “Indian”, making it a modern artifact for one such as I who after four and half years in this community is fascinated by the culture, even more so because of the proximity. These people have a belief set which to most of us ‘outsiders’ is just something we wish we could have. I have been so fortunate to have been immersed in that and I have formed some of the most wonderful friendships I have had in my lifetime. I ‘Love’ these people in a manner which I love few others and their genuineness and sincerity is far too absent outside the boundaries of the Reservations.
I told him, “Now I need to give you something in return”, as this is also a part of their custom. He replied, “You already have”. The fact is we exchanged something far more valuable than any material thing. We had, in our brief and casual conversation shared something else. “Love, Awe, and Serenity”. Thank you my friend.
August 2, 2016
Bent, New Mexico
Here’s A Thought
Here’s a thought, and a brilliant reflection of my rational I might add. Some people prefer solitude over company. Some people prefer silence over noise and distraction. I fall into both categories and I spend a lot of time alone and revel in the silence as well. I told my sister that I rarely listen to music and she responded, “Weird.” I laughed, it is just me and I enjoy my own company immensely, which is what inspired this essay.
What better measure is there for a relationship than the degree which we enjoy the company of others above and beyond our own? In retrospect, as I adjust to my newly restored solitude, I am reflecting on what I lost as opposed to what I have gained. Gone is the crisis in my life, first and foremost. The frantic efforts of my yesterdays have given way to a calm contentedness which I have never fully appreciated until now. It took me fifty eight years to discover this even though it is the very thing I have sought from the start. Certainly I found it in bits and pieces along the way but I have never managed to sustain it, there was always something missing. When I was alone I wished for company, when I had company it was never quite complete but rather peppered with the ‘What if’s’ that seem to haunt most relationships.
After this last one, all of that has changed and even if there are still some outstanding desires they are few and far between, and I ‘need’ none of them. Instead, they are the wants I am still working towards. So much of my current happiness stems from that, the realization that I have obtained the things I need to be safe and comfortable. In the end those are all so personal and I am grateful for my determination to be self sustaining because I don’t ‘need’ anyone to provide me with those. Perhaps I am unique in that sense because I can provide for myself, even if it does make me a little ‘weird’, but I am ok with that. The ensuing peace of mind is almost enough!
The solitude leaves much room for introspection and I paused to wonder if I am unique in that as well. I have a smart phone with a headset and I could turn on the music, if I was so inclined, but I don’t. I prefer to allow my thoughts to wander as they will, or to pour them on the page. That in itself is some wonderful substitute for the company and again I must reflect on my choice of the same. For the past four years I entertained a most fascinating companion but he lacked the desire to better his own life but instead allowed me to sustain it in so many ways. I acquiesced, he was entertaining to say the least and he filled a void that has too often been empty, but all at a price as well. The balance tipped two years ago, but I couldn’t bear to desert him, so I stayed the course. In the end it resolved itself and I shed not a tear. What was restored far outweighed what was lost, and I hope he never comes back!
So here’s a thought. Some people prefer solitude over company. Some people prefer silence over noise and distraction. Perhaps it is important for all of us to take pause on occasion and to take stock of what we have as opposed to what we need. Having done so we can then reflect on what we want and also, if we are still in a relationship, how well that person meets our own personal requirements. In so many ways I was better to my friend than I was to myself, and for a long time that was ok, I gained a lot of satisfaction from the agreement. As long as it was in balance, that was ok, but when the scales tipped, and I can recall when that was, and it was time to make a change. I wrote it down too, it said, “Something has to give”. Something did give, and it was a part of me I didn’t really want to relinquish, but I did. Looking back, it was there I learned the lesson, but it took us parting for it to come home. I prefer my own company to that of most others, and I am grateful to have arrived at that understanding. If that makes me a little weird that’s ok too, as long as I am happy!
Here’s a thought…….