I didn’t celebrate Christmas for many years, after I left my parent’s home, until I moved in with Brian, my husband. We never bought a big tree, like his family, but we had fun finding perfect little gifts to pile under our small tree. The tiny wooden carving of an African dancer he gave me that first Christmas still dances in front of the window in my room.
This time I’d like to hear from you. Please share your favorite Christmas memories.
Storytelling CD Holiday Sale
In the most ancient of times, when the heavenly gods and goddesses descend to earth, the Mother of Rain, finds her mate in a wise Zulu warrior. And in the land to the west when the Osage people seek to choose their symbol, the Sky Clan Chooses Spider who weaves webs of story and gives other powers. A Wife’s Portrait pushes a humble Japanese man to bravery. A Lion’s Whisker teaches the patience of love to an Ethiopian woman. In England an old woman experiences the magic of the Hedley Cow while an old Russian man share’s wisdom with the simple words, We’ll See. Now in the USA, the daughter who wrote The Ballad of Mama Queen shares with many children the American story of a little boy who proudly wears The Cap My Mother Made Me. The storyteller learns from a West African tale, The Cow Tail Switch, what keeps a person alive. And knowing that secret, she shares the most important knowledge held in The Beautiful Heart.
As you celebrate this holiday season, share these stories with those you love by buying the Skywalker Storyteller CD for the special holiday gift price of $3.50 USA and $4.50 outside of the USA. This price includes shipping. Order today, supply limited. Click the link below to get your CD before Christmas!
The sweet smell of Thanksgiving began early with the delicately fragrant, smooth taste of egg-nog. Mama opened a carton of egg-nog a week before Thanksgiving. I relished the smooth, soft, spicy sweetness of this holiday drink. Slowly I savored each sip of the small cup Mama gave me. Every holiday brought the same special sweet-sour feelings, the warmth of everyone being at home, enjoying ourselves inside against the Minnesota cold outside.
On Thanksgiving day, delightful smells flowed through the house, pumpkin and sweet potato pies, cookies, roasting turkey, dressing, candied yams, greens, and baked bread. The day began as it did every year, everyone sitting in the living room watching Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade on T.V. Now, everyone was watching a football game. I hated football. So I roamed through the house, feeling alone. I returned to the living room and absently looked at the T.V. Men looking like over stuffed bears banged into each other. Every once in a while Daddy shouted. Mama sat next to Daddy, looking like a queen, gracefully holding a cigarette in her long, brown fingers, and listening to Shevawn. Sherri and Lisa sat in a corner playing. I started toward them but my younger sisters were so involved in what they were doing they didn’t notice me. So, I went upstairs to our attic bedroom and played with my dolls for a while. Soon, I became restless, as I often did, wanting to do something, but not knowing what.
I walked to the dining room and sighed, thinking what a mess, as I looked at the table covered with dirty plates, and glasses, and milk spills on the table cloth. I decided to clean off the table. After taking the dirty dishes and silverware into the kitchen, I placed the candles in a chair. Then I put two pies on chairs and the third pie on the floor near the chairs. With a damp cloth I carefully wiped off the tablecloth, scrubbing milk and coffee stains away. While the cloth dried, I washed dishes.
Now, the long, lacy off-white table cloth made the dining table look pretty and the candle holders sparkled. I picked up one pie from a chair and placed it beside one candle. As I stepped to get the second pie, my feelings sank with my foot into a soft ooze. I knew what had happened but couldn’t stop it. My foot was in the middle of a pumpkin pie. Tears rolled down my face as I held onto a chair and slowly lifted my foot out of the pie. I just wanted to make everything look pretty, I thought. And now I’ve ruined a pie. “Why can’t I ever do anything right?” I slid into a chair and pulled off my shoe. I used the dish rag to wipe off the pie mess as more tears rose in my eyes.
Just last week I was playing with Shevawn and caught her finger in the toy truck. The more I tried to get my baby sister’s finger out of the truck, the louder she cried. I said, “Don’t cry Boo-Boo. Don’t cry.” But even calling Shevawn her pet name didn’t stop her tears. Finally, Mama came and showed me how to open the truck so it didn’t hurt Shevawn’s finger. I remembered the time I washed the dishes and broke a knife and was afraid to tell Mama. But, I didn’t have any choice this time. Mama would miss the pie, no one else might, but Mama would.
Suddenly little fairy people appeared. With fluttering wings and graceful gestures they magically cleaned my shoe. Then they flew and sang over the pie and waved their little wands until it looked as if it had just come from the oven. I sighed as I finished wiping off my shoe, picked up the destroyed pie, knowing those fairies weren’t going to come in real life, and carried the crushed pie into the kitchen.
Mama was checking the turkey when I entered. Gently she said, “What happened sweetie?”
Once again tears filled my eyes. “I was cleaning off the dining table and ran out of space on the chairs. So, I put a pie on the floor, but forgot and stepped on it. I just wanted to make the table look pretty.”
Mama smiled and put the pie on the counter, then she gave me a warm hug and said, “Don’t worry, baby, we have plenty of pies. But, next time, don’t put food on the floor.”
“I’ll never do that again.” I said as I hugged her tightly. Then I went back to the dining room.
I placed the two pies on each side of the candles, and the the fruit bowl between the candles. Then I set the table with the napkins and fancy silverware Mama kept in the cabinet.A smile brightened my face as I stood by the window looking at the perfectly laid out table. Just then Mama stepped in with Boo-Boo.
Before I can begin to celebrate Thanksgiving I am compelled to send out a cry for peace, again. Two peoples who share the same God, the same blood lines, and the same land have begun to fire missiles and rockets that kill and wound children, women, and elders who carry no arms. Not only does injustice and violence rise its ugly head between Gaza and Israel, but also in Sudan, Congo, Syria, Pakistan and India, and here in the USA citizens in every state have signed petitions for secession.
When will people recognize that these continuing conflicts serve no purpose? When will those who claim to believe in higher powers recognize that all great spiritual traditions teach that the way to eternal happiness is through compassion, kindness, generosity, humility, and non-violence? The Dalai Lama says repeatedly, every human being shares the same needs and desires for happiness and a peaceful life.
I feel it is very important that those who believe in world peace use every avenue to stem the tide of violence, war, and hatred erupting again in Israel. Already I have seen the number of wounded in Palestine far exceeds those in Israel – and this has been the sad reality in recent years. Please use the tools of prayer, visualization, and political petition to enable this arising conflict to end immediately.
For those who did not listen to “Of the Children of Peace,” by W.E. B. DuBois, I end with his cry.
And you must answer, Children of Peace, you must answer! . . ./”The cause of War is Preparation for War.”/”The cause of Preparation for War is the Hatred and Despising of Men, your and my Brothers.” /”War is murder in a red coat.”/”War is raped mothers and bleeding fathers and strangled children.”/”War is Death, Hate, Hunger and Pain!”/”Hell is War!”/And when you believe this with all your little hearts;/And when you cry it across the seas and across the years with all your little voices –/Then shall the Mothers of all dead Children hear;/Then shall the Sisters of all dead brothers hear;/then shall the Daughters of all dead Fathers hear;/then shall the Women rise and say:/”War is done.”/”Henceforward and forever there shall be no organized murder of men, for the children we bear shall be the Children of Peace, else there shall be no children.”/Amen!/But cry, little Children, cry and cry loud and soon, for until you and the Mothers speak, the men of the world bend stupid and crazed beneath the burden of hate and death.
The Writings of W.E.B. DuBois, edited by Virginia Hamilton, 1975, Thomas Y. Crowell Co., New York
Do you know why Veteran’s Day is observed on November 11th? At 11:00 on November 11, 1918 the Allied Nations and Germany signed an armistice ending World War I.
In its resolution to recognize November 11th, in1926, the U.S. Congress wrote “. . .it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations.”
The group of Veterans who continue to observe the original purpose of remembering November 11th are the Veterans for Peace.
Their statement of purpose is : “To increase public awareness of the costs of war : To restrain our government from intervening, overtly and covertly, in the internal affairs of other nations: To end the arms race and to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons: To seek justice for veterans and victims of war: To abolish war as an instrument of national policy.”
After World War I, W.E. B. DuBois, the civil rights leader and sociologist, wrote a story that reflects the purpose of veterans devoted to achieving peace.
Click on the following link to hear – Of the Children of Peace.
Don’t sit on the fence. If you, like me, stand for a multicultural USA providing economic justice and opportunity; recognize the importance of protecting the environment by changing our consumption of fossil fuels, investing in alternative energy, and preserving our wild places; see health care and education as rights for all citizens; understand a woman’s right to control her own body and to have just health care; and are opposed to perpetual war – our choice is clear and easy.
This video speaks well of why we must vote – This is the March of Our Time
However, if you’ve been seduced by the recent rhetoric of the man who changes his positions the way a model changes her shoes, check out this site – MassKnowsMitt.com . Massachusetts citizens, who made the mistake of trusting the smooth talker, share the truth of his governorship and why the state opposes him.
I end with my utopian vision of what this country can become when all of the so-called “minorities” recognize that by uniting we become the new majority of 21st Century USA.
Grandmama’s Dream – Valiant Ones Transform Events – VOTE!
Once, it is said, in a time when change arose unexpectedly like a rainbow on a sunny day, a storyteller named Windsong made her Grandmama’s dream come true. This is her story. Windsong was also a college professor. She worked at a large university in Pennsylvania. But every year at spring break, she returned home to First Mesa village, in the center of the universe, the Hopi Nation, to visit her Grandmama. Since she was a very little girl Windsong helped Grandmama bake. Today, she washed and peeled fruit while Grandmama’s strong hands kneaded dough.
Grandmama’s wise words guided Windsong as she grew up. “Life is like a pie. You have to take time to gather all of the right ingredients. The people you choose to be with, the actions you choose to do must be mixed with love and care to bake a good life.”
This visit Windsong was going to talk to Grandmama’s students about the history of voting and why it was important for Hopi people, as well as all Americans, to vote. Grandmama said, “So, how are you going to make voting interesting for my students?”
Windsong was quiet for a few seconds, smiled, and said, “I’ll approach it like you say Grandmama, like I’m making a pie. I’ll show them that to make America work and to make Hopiland work,we have to combine all of the ingredients in the right balance. The ingredients for voting are the right to vote, the ability to vote – being able to read and write, being registered, having good people to vote for, and then voting. Right?”
Grandmama said, “Right,” and stretched out the dough to prepare her pie.
Windsong began her presentation by saying. “The Hopi have their own leaders because the Hopi Nation is a separate nation within the United States. The Hopi Nation has sovereignty. Do you know what that means? It means the Hopi people can make decisions about how life is run in the Hopi nation. But, Hopi people are also American citizens and can vote for the state Governor and state and federal representatives who make laws that effect everyone who live in this state and this country. But, was it always this way?
“No, it wasn’t. Even though the Declaration of Independence said all men are created equal, the U.S. government was not set up to allow all men – (women weren’t even mentioned) – to vote or to participate in government. At that time only white men who owned property could vote, but not if you belonged to the Catholic or Quaker religion. So, you see, if you were not a wealthy white man, in this country you had to fight for the right to vote.
“The U.S. is a work in progress, like every country. What is important to remember is that ideals and visions only succeed if people continue to keep those ideal visions alive. We must always remember that our ancient traditions hold that all life is sacred, and that only through the daily practice of kindness, patience, generosity, humility, and courage can any government or people flourish.”
The next morning Windsong woke up and found Grandmama sitting at the table writing quickly. When she finished she said. “I had a very strange dream last night. I was sitting at a round table with a sword in the middle. The sword changed into a pen and paper. Then I was standing at the head of a long table on top of First Mesa beating a drum, chanting, ‘Valiant ones transform events, valiant ones transform events, valiant ones transform events.’ You appeared and stood next to me and began chanting with me. Then one at a time other people appeared, stood around the table, and joined in the chant. Asian-Americans, Latinos, Arab-Americans, black people, white people, and all of our different peoples. We stood around the table chanting, ‘Valiant ones transform events, valiant ones transform events, valiant ones transform events.’ Then the Corn Princess appeared, carrying a tri-colored corn cob, red, white, and blue. She walked up to each of us and touched us on top of our heads with the corn cob. We became beams of light bursting over the mesa in all directions and a double rainbow appeared over the mesa.Then I woke up.”
Windsong said, “That’s a wonderful dream Grandmama, and I have a friend named Penny Cho who can help interpret the dream.” Windsong called Penny and told her about the dream.
After a few hours, Penny called back and said, “The first letters of the phrase Valiant Ones Transform Events spells VOTE. I think the dream is about organizing all of the different groups of people in the U.S. to come together and register all the diverse communities to vote. She had a dream to empower the USA to become a rainbow nation.”
And so it came to be, that Windsong and Penny found all of the people Grandmama dreamed about and they came together to organize their communities. Aisha and Jamal Hafiz organized Arab-Americans. Socorro and Manual Hernandez coordinated Latino communities. Adam Stewart was a paraplegic and aligned the differently abled community. Javon Taylor, a black football player and Francine Bordeaux brought together black communities. Lolana Kaikala, from Hawaii, organized all of the people in the islands who can vote. Hannah Zubinsky empowered women. Amita Jaya organized the East Indian community. Adrian Hughes, coordinated Native American voter registration drives.
That year more women, diverse people, and Native Americans than in history voted. Each year, more and more positive political change evolved from the seeds of Grandmama’s dream. Women and people of color were elected to state and national offices reflecting their percentage of the USA population. The environment improved with a flourishing of alternative energy and conservation of natural resources and habitats. As jobs increased poverty declined significantly. Health care developed into a wellness promotion system available to all citizens. Prisons closed for lack of inmates. The Defense Department became the Peace Department and the USA took the lead in nuclear arms reduction, progressive guns laws, a decrease in sales of arms and the prosecution of illegal arms traffic.
On the tenth anniversary of Grandmama’s dream, all of the community organizers finally met on First Mesa. Grandmama, beamed in the midst of the manifestation of her dream. Once again, she had combined a variety of ingredients and spices mixed with patience and care to bake the perfect American pie.
After celebrating Halloween, it is time to observe Dia de los Muertos on November 1st. This original audio story will allow you to experience its meaningful richness.
Click on the link below and enjoy.
Every day, I pray to achieve enlightenment in order to help others likewise achieve enlightenment by recognizing the illusions caused by hatred, jealousy, greed, and ignorance. Those poisons must be cured, in each person, by the antidotes of compassion, patience, generosity, and love in order to create a peaceful world. These antidotes manifest in action.
Last week, events in Lebanon made headline news and this morning I found a poem I wrote twenty-nine years ago. You can change Lebanon to Afghanistan, Sudan, Palestine, Chicago, or any prison – just a few of the places in the world continuing to suffer the cycle of violence. This poem will not end brutality but it serves to remind me of why I do spiritual practice, sign every petition and letter — to end war, to control guns, to protect the innocent — and support organizations like Amnesty International. My efforts are small but in my lifetime I have seen individuals of conscious – from Nelson Mandala to Aung San Suu Kyi, to Mala Yousafzai – through their courage make millions of lives better. Their examples press me to do more. Now, all I can offer is this poem.
After the Lebanon Reading – March 5, 1983
Not that this is a poem
take the I out of this statement
step into a charade of something else
the smell of you is blood on your hands
you killed my baby.
(Have mercy on these hungry jinns
roaming still this earth
with cunning and destruction?)
I weep no more for your child lost there
than tears beyond grief for my child here
dropped in the gutter.
Could each of these words
give life to those souls
drying before they left the womb?
During that time of war and slaughter
I smoked hashish.
The seller said, “From Lebanon.”
I asked, “How did they get it out?”
Was the slaughter for the drugs?
Who will be bold enough to step forward
“See, the emperor is naked.”
Seagulls glide over the pyramids of the ghetto
poets ponder permitting their breaths to continue
or question turning totally to “their God.”
“May your God go with you,” he said
and we didn’t watch much TV film footage
of that carnage.
Even though one night
in my customary solitude
a flood of tears ripped through my body
draining me like a hurricane wind
battering a wooden house.
Yes, I cried for the deaths of the innocent in Lebanon.
But we, especially I wrapped in the rainbow
of a love as real yet
ephemeral as the pot of gold –
with he – the greatest – concerned ourselves
with the continuing plight of our
African children crying alone
and hungry in the night.
Do not wait for the next massacre manifestation
to cast conscious contemplation
upon current continuing conditions.
Turn inward outward left right
social commune capital
Christ Rasta Jew Muslim
Be as what will be
Eternal welcomed me
on a spring day in ’83.
Yes, tears forever flow
like children born do grow
to die in the embers
of forgotten days
and stolen moments.
again again and again.
No this is not a poem
these are words without end
or maybe words are just
of the life poem
I dedicate this audio story, The Freedom Bird, to 14 year old Pakistani peace campaigner Malala Yousafzai who is now recovering from gunshot wounds. You can read her story by clicking the following link:
Her courage and conviction is a living example of one thing that never dies.
Click on the link below to listen to this story.
Reflections on Wearing the Manta
When I wear Hopi dress
do I take on thousands of
years of spiritual tradition
over 500 years of
Do I become Hopi?
Is Hopi a state of mind
or solely a
Twenty years ago, I lived in Austin Texas and was the director of the Austin Women’s Peace House. That year, 1992, was observed as the Quincentenary, 500th year anniversary, of the “discovery” of the “Americas” by the Spanish explorer, Christopher Columbus. Even though I had little personal experience with Native Americans at that time, as a black woman, I shared a disdain for the observance of October 12th as a national holiday. So, I was excited when I learned that Indigenous nations and peoples throughout North, Central, and South America organized the Coalition of Reconciliation to present their historical and cultural perspective of the devastating effects on their lands and cultures that resulted from the colonialism that Columbus’ discovery initiated and to share their continuing living cultures. Because black people were brought to this country as slaves, we had a story to tell too. I not only joined the Coalition but also created the Cultural Reconciliation Project.
In an editorial about the project I wrote, “Now is the time for us to educate ourselves about the many Indian nations, to learn of their struggles, to benefit from their relationship to the earth and their traditions. Many of us (black people) will never have the opportunity to go to Africa and to experience those still holding on to their ancient traditions. Yet, here in the U.S. we can benefit greatly from learning of Native American traditions, culture, and practices.”
I never imagined then that I would be fortunate enough to live in a Native American nation and receive the benefits I wrote about. But, I am now entering my third year here in the Center of the Universe – the Hopi Nation. Every day I am grateful for being able to live and work in this spacious, spiritual, beautiful land. According to the Hopi Traditions, many of the other indigenous nations are descendants of the travels made by the ancient Hopi peoples. To this day, the Hopi continue to practice their traditional ceremonies and dances which allow their corn and other vegetables to grow in the desert and their children to speak their language.
Two weeks ago we attended the Harvest Festival at First Mesa. It is one of the few events opened to non-Hopi in which we are allowed to take photographs. So, today I observe, what the Latinos call this day, Dia de la Raza – the day of the peoples of many cultures – by sharing a little of the wealth of the Hopi culture.