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WARRIOR OF THE HEART

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My adopted Lakota brother, Phil Lane, Jr., told me a story at a gathering of young Native Americans I have never forgotten, and I feel certain that I never will. A rancher on the plains often saw a sweat lodge near his range. A sweat lodge is a low dome-shaped tent made of bent young trees. In the old days they were covered with buffalo skins. Now they are covered with tarps that are covered with old blankets. The lodge cannot be entered except through a small door that makes people crawl to enter. It is difficult not to be humble while crawling into a sacred space to pray.
It is hot in the lodge. Water is thrown onto red-hot rocks from a fire outside, and the steam makes the lodge feel like a sauna. Between each round of prayer, people go outside to lie on the ground or walk and breath the fresh air. Then they go back into the lodge to pray some more.

During one of the times between rounds, the rancher rode up to the people on the ground and asked, in a rough voice because he was frightened, “What are you doin’ in there?” The short conversation between him and the Lodge Master went like this: “We are prayin’. What are you prayin’ for? We are prayin’ for you.” I knew the story was true because that is what the people in my sweat lodges did, also. They prayed for everyone, not only themselves.

Phil Lane, Jr., is a hereditary Chief, and he received much criticism and anger from other Native Americans of many different tribes for his gatherings that included white people. “How can you do such a thing!” they demanded. “How can you give white people our sacred rituals? They have taken everything from us. They have taken our land. They have taken our homes. And now you want to give them the only thing we have left – our culture!”

Phil patiently explained again and again, “Now is the time of the coming of the prophecies. The Great Spring has arrived. Now is coming the Day That Will Not Be Followed By Night. We must share our wisdom with our Brothers and Sisters.” The elders agreed with Phil, and they taught him and supported him

This was almost thirty years ago. Now we are blessed to hear these healthy, grounded, life-affirming teachings of a shared Humanity, of one family of Life, and of our Responsibilities to it and to one another from many voices, young as well as elder. You can hear these voices at Standing Rock. They are sharing with us what Native American elders taught them and their ancestors for thousands of years. They are showing us what we need to do to heal the damage that we have caused, and how to soften a self-created climate disruption that now threatens all life.

Native wisdom around the world can teach us more about how to relate to Mother Earth than even the most heart-felt scientists. We have ignored this wisdom, disdained it, and killed those who carry it for five hundred years.

Now is a good time to listen, and to pray with our Native American sons and daughters and brothers and sisters – for water protectors and police, for people we agree with and people we don’t, for the one family of Life that we are and all our relatives in it.

Here is a link to a delightful modern expression of this wisdom from a young Native American. I recommend her videos and words for your consideration.

https://youtu.be/PqeKe7u9iwM

Love.
Linda & Gary
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DON’T LOSE YOUR COMPASSION

DON’T LOSE YOUR COMPASSION

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When I first arrived on Okinawa more than fifty years ago almost everyone told me that I would not want to leave at the end of my tour of duty. They were right. Okinawa’s white sand beaches and turquoise waters were breathtakingly beautiful. Lush green covered the island, and I slowly discovered how much I liked it. I was mostly surrounded by Americans. I saw only Americans where I lived, ate, and shopped. Even the beaches were filled with Americans.

The largest Air Force base abutted the downtown area of the largest city. It was busy and noisy, as was the other Air Base. Okinawans disliked all the American installations on their island. They disliked the Japanese, also, for putting them there.
I was in our barracks when an order came for personnel to participate in “crowd control.” A large protest had begun outside the downtown Air Base. All my enlisted men were conscripted. They had no training for this – we were guerrilla warfare experts – but they did their best to follow their orders. I discovered later that most of them generally felt neither hostility nor sympathy for the demonstrators. They merely did the best they could without preparation, experience, or knowledge of the situation.
The North Dakota highway patrolmen, small town police officers, sheriffs, and their counterparts from neighboring rural states are in the same position. Most have little, if any, experience of this type. They are dressed for battle, and they are prepared to do battle on the frozen plains of North Dakota, but with whom? Shivering, defenseless, non-violent people?
This is inherently confusing. The nobility of their profession has been betrayed. Frightened parts of every personality refuse to accept possibilities such as this, much less allow emotional experiences of them. It took me decades to realize that the nobility I assumed my Green Beret would give me never existed, except in the distorted perceptions of the parts of my personality that originate in fear, not in love.

The courageous law enforcement officers who risked their jobs and reputations by refusing to return to Standing Rock are much more aware of themselves, their values, and the world than I was on Okinawa. How can we judge their colleagues who are less aware without expecting others to judge us when we also do the best we can? (Jesus asked us this question).

We can instead hold everyone at Standing Rock in our hearts and pray for their health and safety – police officers, pipeline workers, water protectors, veterans, reporters, and guests. We can be compassionate with all of them. Compassion is the medicine that we give to ourselves at the same time that we give it to others. When we become compassionate with others, we become compassionate with ourselves too. The Standing Rock gathering, like every experience in the Earth school, offers us opportunities to give and receive this medicine.

Love.
Linda & Gary
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SYMPHONY OF PEACE PRAYERS

SYMPHONY OF PEACE PRAYERS

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Peace + Prayer + Someone Else’s Country provided me a powerful experience that continues to shape me today. It happened two years ago in Japan at the base of Mt. Fuji. Twelve thousand (12,000!) people come every year to celebrate peace and pray for peace regardless of weather. Every country’s flag is brought to the center of a natural outdoor stage with Mt. Fuji in the background, and all the people pray for peace for the country of their choice and also for the optimal potential of that country to manifest. Everyone is given a laminated plastic flag of their choosing to use during the ceremony. When the flag of their country is brought out, they hold the image over their heads. It was wonderful to see the colors of so many countries held up again and again throughout the ceremony. I wanted to hold up all of them.

Linda and I returned the next year, and I had the same surprising, wonderful experience. I had expected to celebrate my own country’s flag and pray for the peace and potential of my own country, but I had not expected to be thrilled by praying for every country’s flag! They were all so important to me, so rich and so full of promise and potential. The sea of colors in front of us filled me with awe and wonder – at the uniqueness of us, the beauty of us, and the love of us. We were all “us.” I knew that in my thoughts and in my heart, but I felt it and I saw it those days.

Now those days remind me to cultivate my experiences at the base of Mt. Fuji every day. This year Linda and I will attend the ceremony, which is called the Symphony of Peace Prayers, by watching it stream live on the internet. (It is part of the “Fuji Declaration” anniversary celebration). We invite you to join us and our colleagues and the twelve thousand fellow students in the Earth school who will gather again at Mt. Fuji to pray for us and celebrate us – all of us. We will join you there in our hearts.

Love.
Linda & Gary