Wednesday, December 4, 2013

John Pierre Barnaby, my Salish Father took his spirit journey this year…   it seems clich├ęd to say ‘there are no words’ for this man, or my relationship to him… but it is true.  There were never very many words between us, only the most important ones.  Idle chat was not part of the dialog ever.  So many memories of lodges, of songs, of prayers, of stories, of time spent without a sense of time.

It is true that there is an ‘Indian time’, but the definition is not what most people think.  It is the absence of time, no watch or clock will tell the sun to come up or go down… and so it is with the soul of Native people who will not be constrained by artificial means.

I learned never to wear my watch or ask ‘how long will this take’, ‘when will we be back’ or any other ‘nonsense’ question.  He would look blankly at me with no reply… his speechless meaning would be ‘we’ll be done when we’re done’.  

In fact, I had to ‘un-learn’ the white world’s way of always asking questions!  Engaging in curiosity is part of our culture that is helpful and innovative.  But in matters of the spirit… there should be silence.  The only way to learn from spirit is to shut up.  If you are still, you will listen with your ‘other ears’, see with your ‘other eyes’ and learn with your heart.  Experiential learning was a deeper learning for me than any school room or test taken.

Now he is gone, and I’m back to the current culture ‘alone’…   without his reminders to pull me back into his world of natural truths.  I am alone, to recall the lessons learned and see if I can remain true to them on my own.  I will do my best, Father, I will do my best.

My memory traveling
Is all that keeps you with me now
The visions of you
The contrasts of you
Gather in that deep place
Where you and I
Are the only dwellers

I cannot know
Who holds you now
I can only suppose
That those in your midst
Cherish you as I do
And you are cradled in love

And so

The rise and fall
Of the sea
The moon
And my aching chest
Will be my reminder
Of the space
Where once you dwelled
And you
Companion of my soul
Will linger in my beating heart