A good day’s work…

Posted in gardening, gratitude, Spirituality, sweat lodge, yard work on April 14, 2016 by Standing West

Canvas tarp cleaned and patched,  blankets washed, rose bush planted, yard mulched, fence posts chain-sawed and chucked, post office run complete….It’s been a productive day.

Guess I’ll back up to the tarp and blankets for a minute.  Yesterday I went to Maryland to do some yardwork for Grandmother Martha, the widow of Grandfather Eddie, our Elder who recently walked on.  After I weed-whacked the Medicine Wheel, I fired up the walk-behind and the cable that engages the cutting-blade snapped.

I looked around for something else to work on and saw that the sweat lodge had partially collapsed.  I talked with Grandmother about the lodge and she said she’d rather I laid it to rest privately. Rather than recount the ceremony, I’ll just say that the tarp and blankets came from Eddie’s sweat lodge and will serve as the covering and doors of the healing lodge we’re putting up in the backyard later this year.

Finances have been a bit dodgy since leaving my day job, but Spirit always seems to provide what’s needed.  Unexpected tax refund, tarp and blankets for the lodge; these are just a couple of examples.

My hands are dirty from pulling weeds as I type this.  The need to write came upon me unexpectedly; sort of a “Eureka!” moment, and so I went with it.  There’ve been a lot of those lately.  It’s good to get off my ass and hit the keys again…

So…life stuff…

Posted in gratitude, Healing, prayer, Spirituality on April 8, 2016 by Standing West

I’ve been spending a lot more time outside lately.  Replaced some old fence panels, and set up a small grape arbor.  Mulched and weeded.  Cleaned up the herb bed, and fine-tuned the Sweetgum tree in the front yard.

It’s taken a little while for me to fall into this lifestyle – or perhaps just to realize that I’ve fallen into it.

Sometimes the tightrope seems as wide as a two-lane; sometimes it’s narrow as a thread.  But truth be told, it’s wonderful being here.  I’ve let go of some things, and glimpsed the depths of my faith.

There’s been sadness along the way. We recently lost an Elder (the man who taught me most about the sweat lodge and the sacred pipe; and married us in the Medicine Wheel on his property).  We loved him dearly, and came to look upon him and his wife as our parents.  We’ve dealt with family health issues and the challenges of our own spiritual work; but there’s also been some joy bubbling up between the cracks.

In short, it’s been a time of moving balance.

If I say that my prayers have been answered, that would imply that I’ve imposed an outcome upon the things I’ve prayed for.  Instead, let me just say that allowing things to be as they are and being grateful for that has taught me how to become a contented man.

My teacher asked me something the other day that blew me out of the water.  Towards the end of our session, he sat back in his chair with a grin on his face and said, “Are you really ready to let go completely, or do you need a bigger God?”  After I chewed on the question a bit, I heard myself answer, “Yeah…” as if something deep within me had already resigned itself to the prospect.

Doors have closed, and doors have opened.  I’m certain of little other than the fact that they’re not the last to do so. Regrets have vanished like smoke on a morning breeze.  And the earth feels cold but yielding in my hands.

Although recent weather may try to fool us into believing otherwise, green things stir from their slumber in the soil.  They push their curious faces skyward, perhaps shivering a bit, and stretch to greet the sunlight of another season…

Yo, Lazarus!

Posted in Compassion, Forgiveness, Healing, Initiation on February 12, 2016 by Standing West

Well, after nearly 4 weeks down with what had to be the worst head cold I’ve ever been hit with, I’m finally back on the beam. I’ll be the second to admit I can be a sonofabitch of the first order when I’m under the weather (second, that is, after everyone who knows me!)

Felt pretty damn good to be able to throw some iron around this morning without feeling like Meatloaf after a back-flip.

From what I’ve heard from other people who’ve had this thing, it’s a real beast. Nothing you can do but lay low, whack it with your remedy of choice, and ride it out; which, typically, I’m only good at for about two days before I start acting like a shithouse rat.

The lesson here – for me, anyway – is to learn to become a patient patient; bed down when I need to and let my body take care of itself.

Hope I learn that before I’m wearing six feet of earth as a blanket…

A line from the cave…

Posted in Compassion, Healing, Inspirational, Media, Spirituality on November 16, 2015 by Standing West

As some may have noticed, I haven’t been posting a whole lot lately. To be honest, it hasn’t really dawned on me that I’ve had anything worthwhile to say. Not because I’m down on myself or don’t value my own opinion; those of you who know me personally know that I happen to value my own opinion a great deal and generally don’t mind sharing when the opportunity arises.

Lately however, things have been moving along at an increasingly intense clip. Since my job folded some six months ago I’ve been focused primarily on the workings of my own household: spending time with my wife, developing my healing practice, fostering my students, playing in the dirt…

Paring down financially and socially has really begun to help me see what’s important in my life. And this has led to an almost complete unplugging from mass media and all that goes along with it. Yes, I’m aware of the situation in Paris. I’m also aware, depending on what you choose to read, that aliens walk among us, Monsanto is the devil, chemtrails are dumbing us down, and that the Georgia Guide Stones spell out the directives by which some uber-secret organization plans to almost completely depopulate the world and control the survivors.

Oh, and then there’s the Masons…

At any rate, my official awakening some years back was something very akin to that of Neo in the matrix. (”They had good noodles…”) The main difference being, however, that while Neo went on to fight the system, I, like many I’ve seen, chose instead to bitch about it under the guise of “waking people up”. This has led me on a deeply introspective journey. And it has also shown me that one can either wage some type of war against the things one hates, or one can serve the greater good by promoting the things one loves.

And therein lies the tricky part.

As a teacher of mine once put it, “every time you make a purchase your foot is on the throat of someone else.” Wear cotton clothing to protect the environment? Somebody picked it. Buy running shoes? Chances are a child labored in a sweatshop to make them. Use a plastic toothbrush? Petroleum products and their pollution made it possible. The list goes on and on.

So what do we do? How do we continue to exist in the world without bringing pain and suffering to others? How do we wander through the hall of mirrors without becoming blinded and yet still interact compassionately with those who have?

I don’t claim to have an answer to this yet. I do, however believe that there’s a good chance that answer might be found in a life of service. Not in some arbitrarily adopted lifestyle chosen simply because someone you’ve been trained to worship has done the same. I’m talking about a life based upon the realization and utilization of whatever gifts one possesses for the greater good of others. Not everyone can be Gandhi, Mother Theresa, or Jesus Christ. Yet the volunteer who holds the hand of a dying hospice patient is no less important.

I’ll tip my hat to the mad prophets of the world. The David Ickes, Alex Joneses, et al who scream from their mountain tops about the evils lurking among us. They serve, in a way, as alarm clocks, stirring those who’ll listen from their socially ingrained slumber and sending them on their way. Yet, like with the nagging wail of an alarm clock, those who refuse to listen can simply ignore it or turn it off. And those who are awake no longer need it.

There are many out there whose paths of service are multilane highways paved in prominence: earthshaking individuals meeting with heads of state and boards of directors, deciding policies with global repercussions. For my own part, I‘ve no desire to, and seen no indication that I’ll ever become one of them. So I’ve backed away from the global issues and chosen instead to serve in my own small way; one person at a time.

It’s a much simpler path, and allows me to throw my efforts into places where they’re more effective. . .

Checking In…

Posted in Autumn, gratitude, Healing, Shamanism, Spirituality on October 2, 2015 by Standing West

The rains have gotten colder. The tomatoes are putting out the last of their fruit, but the mums are having hell of a good time for themselves. Even though we’re busier than we have been for quite some time, the hours and minutes don’t seem to carry as much weight as they used to.

I spent the morning painting miniatures and listening to the rain come down…a nice reward after a week of appointments and last night’s talk on shamanism at a local studio.

Tonight my wife and I will be catching up with some friends we haven’t seen for many months. And tomorrow afternoon we’re off to lunch with a dear friend who’s visiting from Ireland. She’s an amazing harpist and a powerful healer. We’ve worked together a couple of times, combining the harp and the frame drum; but tomorrow it’s bar food, a couple of pints, and some well-anticipated laughter.

I’ll round out the weekend with a day of teaching for a couple of advanced students on Sunday.

I like this life.

In between the healing and the ceremonial work, there’s time for a home life and all the things that go with it. We’re learning to live on faith these days, and allowing the path to shape us – instead of the other way around. Bits and pieces fall away; opening space for new things.

We head into Autumn not really knowing what it’ll bring. More and more our focus is on the present. It’s been a struggle to get to this place. And while there’s still a good deal of work to be done, it’s also good to take stock of how far we’ve come and to sit with that for a while, breathing it in…breathing it out…simply letting the current carry us forward…

So lately…

Posted in gratitude, Healing, Initiation on August 19, 2015 by Standing West

…life has been very, very good to me. Most particularly so since my day job went tets-up in May and left me free to throw myself completely into my practice. There’s a calling here, and straddling both that and the nine to five world had left me feeling like I was standing on two drifting logs in the middle of a river and needing to leap firmly to one or drown.

Then, with little input from yours truly, Spirit made the decision, and that was that.

Soon afterwards, we set the home office up and two studios jumped in to offer use of their space at a very reasonable rate… In short, the fuse was lit and there was no blowing it out. Nor, to be honest, is there even a desire to.

Money’s a little tighter these days, but the Spiritual abundance is amazing; and Obamacare and savings spackle the cracks.

I’ll also add that entirely absent from the equation is a sense of worry about the future which, given the way things were, would’ve absolutely crippled me had these circumstances arisen a couple of years ago.

As I sit here typing this in my office at 11:24 on a Wednesday morning listening to Van Morrison, the joy of that fact is not lost on me. My wife has taken her mother out for the day and soon I’ll be up to my armpits in paperwork…my paperwork. There’s filing to do and preparations to make for a 7 o’clock appointment. Should time permit, I might even go a couple of rounds with the crab grass…or throw myself into a video game and chill out for a while until my wife comes home.

It seems these days the possibilities are endless…

Posted in Healing, Initiation, Inspirational, Spirituality on August 12, 2015 by Standing West

As we wrapped up the Medicine Wheel the other night, people started thanking me.  Rolling through my mind came the question, “What have I done?”

Without hesitation, in words clear as day came the simple answer, “You said ‘Yes’…”

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