Thoughts on the 4th of July

Gardens:_Shelburne_FarmsThe July 4th holiday has past, last night’s fireworks following a torrent of rain from an impressive thunderstorm. For a few days I have been thinking about the strange, or perhaps, not so strange, tension July 4th holds for me. My parents, as far as I know, did not face the holiday with the same discomfort, my father, in particular, taking great pride in his thirty years of military service.

I’ve been puzzling over what it is, exactly, that I find so discomforting. Perhaps I am most concerned by what is absent from the day: the simple fact that the colonists were as motivated by a desire to take more Native land as by their frustration with British taxes. The founding fathers greatly disliked any constraints on westward expansion. Soon after independence, Thomas Jefferson began the militarized acquisition of Native lands. He envisioned an ever-growing America, but needed a constant supply of “empty” land to fuel his dream. Later, Andrew Jackson would follow his lead, ignoring the Supreme Court to carry out the forced dislocation of most of the Native people of the Southeast. I wonder how the ceremonies and other activities that mark the 4th would be different if they included conversations about this history. Continue reading

From Lived Experience Springs Hope

Following_MomAfter another wet day, the sun is again shining, the sky clear and blue.

Over the past few days I’ve found myself in several conversations about the interweaving of the experience of being other, creativity, and social issues. These discussions have proven inspiring and hopeful. This morning I was going through the blogs I follow, and came upon two posts that addressed these themes, and simply demanded to be shared. Although each arises from the experience of the ethnic other, both speak to the human capacity for using life’s challenges as material for inspiration and creativity. Continue reading

Summer

P1080007This morning the sun came out, following another rainy spell. Now, fair weather clouds have blossomed in the cerulean sky.

Vermont is green, those rich early summer hues that saturate the landscape. From here it is very difficult to imagine the cold to come; even so, last evening we gathered with others to acknowledge the Solstice, and thus, the turning year. Truth is, tonight will be a tad longer.

Last week was perplexing, the sort of week that leaves one scratching one’s head, and pondering life’s complexities. The gardens finally showed life, with even a handful of bean plants breaking the surface. (I guess we should replant the beans, again.) Politicians blamed the victims of the Charleston shootings, and surprisingly few people seemed to object. The theft of Native lands continued unabated, as did the cascade of youth suicides on reservations. Continue reading

The Medicine Wheel: Empathy

East:Spring_BlosomsAs I age I am becoming ever more appreciative of the wisdom of the Medicine Wheel teachings. As a result, I find I am increasingly looking for ways to incorporate them into my work, whether that be therapy, teaching, or traditional healing.

This morning Jennie and I awoke very early, and were soon conversing about the spirituality of the four directions. My view of this is ever-changing, and, hopefully, deepening. Today, perhaps because we are both doing ceremonies for others, I find myself focused on the role of empathy in our journeys around the Wheel. Continue reading

Upcoming: Monreal, India, and Hong Kong!

Waterfall,_Hong_KongNext month Jennie and I will be at the International Playback Conference in Montreal. We’ll be presenting a workshop exploring invisible differences and disabling experience. This is an important conversation in the theatre world at the moment, as is the larger issue of accessibility. We will be inviting participants to think about diversity, and some of the ways “business as usual” can be disabling to “persons of difference”. The workshop will focus on being aware that differences can be visible or invisible, and the importance of making a real effort to know who is in the room. Continue reading

Lara/Trace Writes About the Residential Schools

The former St. Joseph Orphanage

The former St. Joseph Orphanage

Today I am sharing a blog post from Lara Trace. Growing up, I was taught that healers must be engaged in the lives of the people. I often think of my beloved teacher, Ipu, who repeatedly risked his life to aid his people in the Amazon. He was a gentle, loving man, with a fierce commitment to social justice, and an acute understanding that social issues lie at the heart of much suffering. When I am asked why I devote so much of my blog to social change, I find myself feeling bewildered; after all, the fates of the Earth, individuals, and whole peoples, are tightly interwoven. There cannot be true healing without justice.

A focus of many Indigenous people these days is the history of the residential schools which were common in the U.S., Canada, and Australia, during the last century. These were institutions designed to “save the person by removing the Indian”. Untold thousands of children were forcibly removed from their homes and placed in residential schools, often many hundreds of miles distant. Once there, the children were subject to harsh treatment, horrific abuse, and, much too often, death. Continue reading

The View From Here

Castle, TurinoWe are two weeks away from the Summer Solstice and the days continue to lengthen. Last evening, as we ate, we were treated to lovely light in the forest canopy, along with bird song. What a fine way to dine with friends!

The tomatoes are growing as we wonder what happened to the reticent to appear pole beans. Over the last few days the weather has turned decidedly wet and chilly, the cold driving everyone inside. Yesterday began with a frigid wind, making our weekly trip to the farmer’s market almost intolerable, yet by afternoon we were comfortably warm as we conducted long overdue garden work in bright sunshine. Actually, I say “we”advisedly, as Jennie does the vast majority of the work. Yesterday Robin dropped by and helped, and I mended the fences and finally put in the potatoes. Continue reading