The Eagles have brought this message..

The whole world is coming,

A nation is coming, a nation is coming

The eagle has brought this message to the tribe

The father says so, the father says so…..

–Sioux Ghost Dance Song

Yesterday I drove over to Angel Fire, New Mexico, taking the back road through the mountains that is often not accessible in winter..ocate-angel fire rdWith spring coming in though, the road was good, angel roadit was a beautiful clear day and I put on some music for my journey, a CD that my friend, Cody Little Hawk Swimmer had recently sent. It’s called Spirit of the Mountains. 

As I drove I thought how perfectly the music fit with everything around me aspens green

For so long now, I have faced one challenge after another, to the point that I have felt that I cannot continue on, maybe I’m not meant to. Maybe I’ve done all I can do?  Knocked down, time after time, every time I have picked myself up, I’ve been knocked down again.

Over and over, I’ve asked for a sign, something to show me what to do but no sign has appeared until yesterday….

As I drove out of the forest into a clearing and then down a hill, there was a large pond very close to the road. Above the pond, very close and flying very low were two huge and beautiful Bald Eagles Eagles.shutterstock_eagle

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing…there are a lot of hawks where I live but until yesterday, I had never seen a Bald Eagle outside of the zoo.Eagle_still

I watched them for a few moments, listening to Cody’s music and I thought, this is the sign I’ve been asking for.

eagle turtle lodgeIn the 7 Sacred Teachings of the Anishnabe People, the Eagle represents Love.  A few days before, I had seemed to hear a message which said “Love is all around you.” Oh sure I thought…some kind of love that puts me through this endless suffering.

“And when the child sees the appearance of the eagle flying in the sky and if they know what that eagle represents, whenever they see the eagle, they will always call upon the eagle for more love in their life or they will ask for more ways they can give love to life.” -Anishnabe Elder, Dave Courchene/Leading Earth Man

8th fire stills grandmother

Anishnabe Elder/Grandmother speaks through eagle feather, ensuring that she will always speak through love

The image of the eagles stayed with me as I drove on and it always will..it was so sudden, beautiful and powerful….an entry into a sacred world..

I was going to the grocery store in Angel Fire and whenever I’m there, I usually talk for a few minutes with one of the checkers, a woman named Doris.

A few weeks before, when I was in the store, there was a loud crash. A young boy had fallen out of a grocery cart and though he wasn’t hurt he was very embarrassed and humiliated. I watched as Doris quickly came to comfort him, picking him up and talking to him in the kindest voice, telling him that this could happen to anyone. How amazing I remember thinking. How many people in this world today, would bother, would even notice.

Doris was there yesterday and I asked her if she ever sees eagles. Yes she said, and she told me that not very long ago, she had been driving home after work and an eagle had flown right in front of her car and then turning abruptly, had guided her toward home. The eagle she said, had flown in front her until 2 cars came up behind her and then it had taken off.. She said that it had made her cry.

Of course I thought, because she represents Love and her life is not an easy one, the Eagle came..

I wanted to let Cody know about the eagles and how his music seemed to be connected to the them, almost as if the sound of his flute had somehow called them forth. So I put up a photo of an eagle and a message on his Facebook page.

Several people commented but one woman’s message in particular was especially meaningful.

She wrote:

Eagle Medicine is the power of the Great Spirit, the connection to the Divine, the ability to live in the realm of spirit and still remain connected and balanced within the realm of Mother Earth – Eagle represents a state of grace achieved through hard work, understanding and a completion of the tests of initiation which result in taking of ones personal powers. Eagle is reminding you to take heart and gather your courage, for the universe is presenting you with an opportunity to soar above the mundane levels of your life.”

How beautiful and hopeful… maybe the eagles did bring a message, maybe Love really is all around me.

The eagle appears in many places it seems. The photo below is from a mural painted by inmates at the Santa Fe Penitentiary….

eagle sf pen

SANTA FE PENITENTIARY, SANTA FE, NM  photo credit: Michelle Line

I’m finishing this post with Cody Little Hawk Swimmer’s Amazing Grace. Please take time to listen to his music…CODY:SPIRITWhen he played his flute at an event we did in Taos a few years ago, three different people,including a young child, told him that they could see the angels around him as he played.CODY FLUTE MYSTICAL

I’ve also included this film clip below of an eagle catching fish because it shows their incredible power, majesty and beauty…

*I did not take the feature image of the eagle flying..it is a Shutterstock stock photo

The Teachings of the Tomatoes and the Swiss chard

Simplicity is the hallmark of this spiritual life; there is nothing complicated about it. If you feel it is complicated, it is of your own making; therefore change your attitude toward it and see what happens. Waste no more time chasing rainbows. All you need is deep within you waiting to unfold and reveal itself. All you have to do is to be still and take time to seek for what is within, and you will surely find it. The answer is there. Be very patient, wait upon Me, and all will be revealed to you at the right time

-Eileen Caddy

Last night I was eating my dinner of Swiss chard and tomatoes from the greenhouse…march greenhouse

A friend had brought over a pork chop and I ate that too though I usually don’t eat pork chops. I have been living mostly on bean and cheese burritos, ignoring the tomatoes, chard and herbs growing in the greenhouse–I  have been in a sort of survival mode.

But as I was eating my dinner, I realized quite suddenly, sort of in a flash of light, how much of what I have around me is freely available and this began with the realization that I was eating a healthy meal that I didn’t have to pay for..more tomatos on steps

For several months now, things have very difficult for me- no money, disappearing friends, one loss after another-a few weeks ago the death of our beloved milk cow, Tilly , a huge and painful sadness.TILLY GATE WAITING Every time I’ve picked myself up, I’ve been knocked down again and it has seemed like nothing that I tried has worked. I’ve looked for a reason for all the suffering, asked for a sign but none has appeared.  My faith is just about gone and  I’ve  been consumed with anger and bitterness.  I haven’t been able to see outside of my ‘problems’.

So suddenly I SAW all that was around me here at my place called Hobbiton,  SAW all that was provided by nature and..hobbiton sign front close…it was like I stepped into another world.those who wander arch The intense anger I had been feeling seemed to dissolve as a lot of thoughts and feelings moved through me:

I thought about my favorite time of day which is actually the evening when I make a fire in my little wood stove and sit in my fur [faux fur] covered rocking chair,phantom:fur rocker drinking a glass of wine [with orange juice] and watching the fire, the only time lately when I’ve been able to feel any peace at all.

fire open door

 “”Fire is the sun..there’s a fire in each and everyone of us and that fire is to be nurtured, that fire is a doorway for the entrance of the spirit..there should be sacred fires that should sweep across the country allowing the entrance of the spirit to come within our presence..that is the power of the sacred fire..to bring healing to bring light into the world..”

-Anishnabe Elder, Dave Courchene/Leading Earth Man

And I thought about the wood which is also free as this land is covered with ponderosa pine and so needs to be thinned often because of fire dangerjody:hobbit tree #1 ?

jody wood 2.jpg

I realized that the batteries for my solar system, which I’ve been stressing out about because they’re getting older and I have no money to replace them… were actually charging pretty well now that there’s more light.

sunrise:11:11:11And I thought about the Sun which provides this free electricity and how the First Nations people recognize it as the most visible sign of the Creator:

“To our people the sun is the clearest physical symbol that there is a higher power of spirit so the sun represents that understanding of where we receive life and of course the sun in its physical manifestation…everything grows

-Anishnabe Elder Dave Courchene/Leading Earth Man

It has never worked for me to do those gratitude exercises and I’ve been too angry to do them anyway. So this was not that, this realization did not come from effort, it just happened. It was like I suddenly stepped into another world where I could see more clearly.sun:snow:rainbows

When I was thinking of these things, I was remembering a passage from one of my favorite books, The Magic of Findhorn written by Paul Hawken in 1975.

The Magic of Findhorn is the story of Eileen and Peter Caddy, an upper middle class, British couple who, after going through many, many tests, trials and hardships, became the founders of The Findhorn Community:

In Findhorn, they grew 40-pound cabbages, 8 foot delphiniums, and roses that bloomed in the snow. What is the source of this spectacular success? Experts have concluded that there must be some vital unknown at work, some extraordinarily powerful Factor X. What is this X? And why has this garden of plants now become a garden of people who-like the plants-flourish and visibly glow? Now, Paul Hawken, who went as a skeptic, tells us why: “Findhorn may be a manifestation of light and power which could transform our planet within a lifetime.”

In the passage I was thinking of, Eileen and Peter Caddy after successfully managing a 4 star hotel for several years..

cluny

CLUNY HILL  FORRES, SCOTLAND

…suddenly and for no apparent reason, lose their jobs. As a result,they are forced to go their separate ways for a while as Peter goes to find work in another part of Scotland and Eileen is sent to live with a relative on the island of Mull. There she lives under extremely poor conditions, becoming more and more miserable and angry as her life becomes increasingly difficult. Her only friend is a man known as the ‘village idiot’ who brings her an egg every few days, which he carries in his pocket and is often a cracked and sticky mess by the time he gives it to her.

 

In the passage I remember, Eileen having reached her lowest point of misery, anger and resentment, suddenly begins to see and appreciate the smallest things without asking anymore for anything to change: her friend who brings her an egg, the beauty of the place,

mull

Isle of Mull  Scotland

…everything that that she has not been able to see in her angry and resentful state. She feels thankful for what she does have and in that moment, the light returns and her life is changed.

I’ve also been thinking of all the guidance that has probably been available to me, right next to me but I’ve been too angry to listen. [years ago, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross taught me a way to contact my spirit guides and I do but I have been mad at them too]

Spirit is free, spirit is unconditional in terms of its love, all around us is the spirit that our great Creator has put there to help us in our individual life..spiritually…one can have the presence of the bear beside them, can have the presence of the spirit of the eagle, one can have an angel beside them one can have the spirit of light which comes from that spiritual reality to guide that individual spiritually, to give that individual inspiration in their spirit and their heart to guide them toward their own greatness in life but we don’t hear it because we’re so fogged with materialism, we’re so clouded by hatred and fear and anger that that is in total opposition of the reality of the essence of spirit

-Anishnabe Elder, Dave Courchene/Leading Earth Man

So  I don’t know if this feeling, this revelation will last..I hope so but if not, I know it’s there somewhere and I can find it again..

Below are 2 film clips on The Findhorn Community because I have tried to do, in a very,  very small way, what the Caddy’s did at Findhorn.

The first one starts out a little slow  but it picks up and is beautiful and worth watching.


When everything collapses are there really footprints in the sand?

 “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Last night I spent hours writing a post which I had titled “Motherless Daughters/Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms, you would never see the beauty of their carvings.”

I had come upon an old photo of my mother in the hospital, taken not long before she died. [1957] andFile_01 bunny and msince in all these years I had never written about her, I thought maybe finding the photo was a sign that it was time. So I spent all day writing, finding photos, film clips etc and then about 8:30 last night, just when I was ready to publish it, the whole post disappeared and I couldn’t retrieve it.

The message of the post was meant to be educational and inspiring; it was about what happens when a young child loses a parent, the good and the bad, how death can be approached differently, the teachings of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross etc.  It was somewhat based on Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s quote “Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms, you would never see the beauty of their carvings.”canyon ekr quote

But it was gone and I couldn’t retrieve it so I went to sleep..

Today though, I don’t want to re create it.  Today another story as my faith and hope are at an all time low, as I’m struggling to understand what’s happening to me and and why..as I’m looking for the courage to continue, to keep going.

When I was looking for film clips for my disappeared post, I found this film clip of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross reading  FOOTPRINTS

I liked it–I remembered that Elisabeth often read it at her workshops and I found it comforting but lately, as everything has been collapsing around me, I have listened to so many words as well as advice, well meaning maybe but not often helpful..

So I decided to do this post, When Everything Collapses, are there really Footprints in the Sand? which maybe some will find meaningful, if not now maybe later: thoughts about what does help [and what doesn’t] when everything is collapsing around you and the faith which you thought you had, is disappearing quickly…I have about 5 percent of my faith left at this point and I’ve always had a lot, I’ve lived by faith alone much of my life.

I try not to write about myself only but if I do sometimes, hopefully there’s something others can relate to.

File_01 chloe pondering copy

THE DISAPPEARING FRIENDS SYNDROME

Something I’ve noticed lately is that when things were good, I had quite a few friends [I thought] but since things have gotten very difficult and I’ve been sinking, I’ve been surprised to find out that I actually have only a few. Some people have dropped me completely and others have offered a few words and then disappeared.  Since it’s very hard for me to ask for help, being rejected over and over again has not only been humiliating but has hurt my feelings deeply or as my Spanish speaking companion would say “it has broken my feelings”.

Apparently though, the ‘disappearing friends syndrome’ is a common occurrence and probably more so now in this increasingly materialistic and self centered world.

Dr. Jackson Rainer, a professor of psychology at Georgia Southern University] describes this kind of distancing as “stiff-arming” — creating as much space as possible from the possibility of trauma. It’s magical thinking in the service of denial: If bad things are happening to you and I stay away from you, then I’ll be safe.

Such people often wind up offering what Dr. Rainer calls pseudo-care, asking vaguely if there’s anything they can do but never following up. Or they might say they’re praying for the family in crisis, a response he dismisses as ineffectual at best. “A more compassionate response,” he said, “is ‘I am praying for myself to have the courage to help you.’ ”

So what to do, how to continue?

Years ago I was in a Life, Death and Transition that Elisabeth Kubler Ross was doing in Kamloops, British Columbia. Elisabeth had her own special way of conducting these workshops which I won’t go into now but her teachings came from the Spirit world and were unique to each person in the workshop…so she was never able to teach others-therapists, counselors etc exactly how she worked with people.File_01 ekr:khamala

Elisabeth worked with each person in the group individually [there were usually 70 people in a workshop] but in front of the group. The purpose of this was to remind all of us that as she put it “We are all brothers and sisters.”

When my turn came, she told me that I would have to go up to every person in the group and ask for a hug. And she instructed the group “Don’t give her one unless she asks for it.” She left the room for a while and when she came back, she said to me, “Did you learn your lesson? Did you learn that you have to ask for what you need?”

So I’m asking….

Between Now and Forever 041

I’ve written about this before but in a nutshell, a large nutshell,the funding for* RITES OF PASSAGE , the non profit I founded in 1988 to provide care for terminally ill people, went away completely after 26 years, April 1rst 2015. It was supposed to return after just a few months but never did. This funding allowed us to provide care for many, many terminally ill patients….File jason aids amb To make 20 educational documentary films which are used by hospitals, nursing schools, bereavement centers, universities etc. throughout the US and Canada.File_02 aahpm 1 It allowed us to create 3 traveling photo/oral history exhibits on AIDS, on Loss & Grief and on Aging File_01 madison:exhibitand it enabled me to do presentations for national hospice conferences throughout the US and Canada.cathedral-me-ttm1 copy Since April 2015,  I’ve used up every bit of my savings, trying to keep things together. I have nothing left and I would be lying if I didn’t say that I am angry, bitter, disgusted, frightened and confused as to how after all this work, I could end up with nothing.

The stress that I feel is enormous and constant and the fear overwhelming. When bill collectors are hounding you non stop, when you realize you may not be able to buy food or the necessities of life, it’s very frightening. If you’re reading this, try to imagine how it feels and if you think it will never happen to you…..it can….no one is immune in these current times.

You can read about RITES OF PASSAGE HERE  and HERE and if you feel you can contribute so we can continue our work and PAY IT FORWARD, you can do so below. IT’S NOT TOO LATE AND THIS IS NOT A SELFISH REQUEST. If you take time to read about our work, I think you’ll understand the many, many contributions we’ve made in the fields of AIDS, Death and Dying, Aging, Native American issues etc. and with a little help, can continue to make. 

* RITES OF PASSAGE, originally named AIDS Care and Assistance is a 501 c [3] not for profit organization founded in 1988.

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So I don’t know…it’s not as if I haven’t had challenges and difficult times in my life….my life has been made up of one after another with hardly a resting place.

Anyway, here’s WHAT HAS HELPED

~Friends who listen without giving advice

~Friends who send true words of encouragement like the following:

Cindy,

You will more than survive; you will emerge stronger and clearer than ever—and all so that the people may live.

I am standing beside you at the fire.

Stewart

~Friends who offer to help and really mean it and follow through

~And of course contributions, even small ones help enormously!

~ Turning more toward the Spiritual, listening to the spiritual teachers, for me Eckhart Tolle [see meditation film clip below] and Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

~Sometimes watching reruns of All in the Family and inspirational films like Field of Dreams and Places in the Heart and a documentary we made called Angels Watch Over Me

~AND I’m fortunate to live with a man who having spent many years early in his life in prison and jail.–I say fortunate because he brings happiness and humor....jody:chuckle:prison film …to almost everything, I think because he has known suffering, extreme deprivation and loss of freedom in a way that most of us can’t conceive of and so has a much greater appreciation of just being alive. [see Jody Armijo’s story and his art HERE ]

 WHAT DOESN’T HELP

I think I’ve already talked about this…Well actually there are a couple of things: telling someone to breathe and telling them to ‘hang in there’ Again well meaning but meaningless at least for me. It’s the same as saying “He went to a better place” Meaningless words, maybe well meant but no one, unless they’ve had a near death experience, really knows that there is a better place…it’s just a belief….maybe a nice belief but again, words that at least to me, are meaningless and actually irritating.

So I am breathing and I’ve been hanging for months now with no positive results.

Below is the Meditation film clip from Eckhart Tolle and also, a film clip of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross which is also relevant because friends often disappear when there is a death, when someone close do you dies….

And maybe, hopefully at some point through all these teachings,  I’ll understand what all this suffering was for…and be able to say “Everything happens for a reason” but right now, at this moment, I’m not seeing the light

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Little Old Fashioned Karma Comin’ Down/Wake up America!

There’s just a little old fashioned karma coming down
Just a little old fashioned justice going round
A little bit of sowing and a little bit of reaping
A little bit of laughing and a little bit of weeping
Just a little old fashioned karma coming down

Coming down, coming down
Just a little old fashioned karma coming down
It really ain’t hard to understand
If you’re gonna dance you gotta pay the band
It’s just a little old fashioned karma coming down

-Willy Nelson

 I never write about politics..don’t see politics as a way to make things better or really change things..no matter who or what, they seem to stay the same..or get worse.
 
I’ve always understood that the way to create change is one person at a time..”becoming conscious” as the spiritual teachers, beginning with the Buddha, would say.
 
So that’s been my focus and it it still is my focus.
 
But there’s something different about this election, more passion, more anger…greater possibilities for PEACE and a very great possibility for DESTRUCTION, destruction I believe, of Everything..
 
Years ago, many years ago, my ex husband railroaded me into voting for Nixon..and really I didn’t care…I didn’t care about anything in those days-my life was so torn apart.
 
But now I see some changes happening..good ones with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and I see the same possibilities with Bernie Sanders..so if Bernie is nominated I will vote again and if not I will, as many people are, consider leaving this country.

AND I CANNOT STAND DONALD TRUMP!

So for Mr Trump [I don’t like to even speak your name] I’m putting up this Willy Nelson song, “A Little Old Fashioned Karma Coming Down”  …seems like it’s comin down now..seems like it came down in Chicago yesterday…it always does no matter how fabulous you think you are, how much money you have..it always does..when you promote hate, it comes back to you a thousandfold!  Didn’t you learn that…I thought you read the Bible??

 And for Bernie, this “Dear America”clip..GREAT!
 
Nothing for Hilary..I can’t stand her either..
 
I mean do we want to at least try for a better world..it’s a possibility…”I saw  a new Heaven and a New Earth”
 
And for all those people who are all worried about socialism…democratic socialism, then educate yourself and look into what that really means and remember The First Nations People, the WISE ONES who lived in Community and never imagined that they owned the land or the water. Chief-Seattle-Earth-does-not-belongHow does anyone imagine they own anything when we’re here on this Earth for such a very, very short time……  have a visit  to the cemetery and it will become crystal clear….. [I think we have a form of democratic socialism here in my community with the water..read The Acequias of Northern New Mexico]
 
And wake up to the fact that a whole lot of Americans are supporting Donald Trump who most certainly has ties to the Nazi philosophy and the Klu Klux Klan and is said to have a book of Hitler’s speeches by his bed…….How does that make sense? The US went to war with the other allies to defeat Nazi Germany and now you’re going to vote for one? Maybe you need to refresh your memory with some of the movies on the Holocaust!
 
Last but not least, I’m putting up John Lennon’s much loved song, IMAGINE [for which he was probably killed as it promotes Peace]kids circle-chinese girl
 

WAKE UP AMERICA..WE’RE ON THE EVE OF DESTRUCTION BUT WE STILL HAVE A CHOICE!



THE LIGHT IN THE SHADOW/my personal experience with prison

What good am I if I’m like all the rest
If I just turn away, when I see how you’re dressed
If I shut myself off so I can’t hear you cry
What good am I?

What good am I if I know and don’t do
If I see and don’t say, if I look right through you
If I turn a deaf ear to the thunderin’ sky
What good am I?

-Bob Dylan/What Good am I

To say the least, I was never interested in PRISON. In the family I grew up in, we didn’t know ANYONE who had been in prison and my attitude was well, if they’re in there that’s where they belong and what they deserve. I felt no compassion and no interest whatsoever; it was a world that didn’t exist for me.

That was when I lived in Texas.

Then I moved to New Mexico and things changed. They changed because I met Jody Armijo.

JODY-close-pastHe came over once the first summer after I moved. I saw him coming and I shut the gate. I live in a small community where there are no secrets and everything is known about everyone and I had been told that he had been in prison. I was afraid of him so I shut my gate and he left.

I based my opinion of him solely on the prison thing [I didn’t know what he had been in for]. And also that he was from a very different culture, was kind of rough looking [I had grown up in an upper middle class all white world] and had several tattoos.

I didn’t see him for a while after that and then he came to do some work at my place-he was part of a small construction crew.willy:jody vigasI no longer felt afraid of him. He was very quiet and shy but he began showing me some of his artwork and I saw that he had a lot of talent. I wanted to help him with his art and I bought him some colored pens, pencils and paints.

He made some things for me..mary_bed and he talked more but it was a long time before he told me that he had been in prison. Slowly, a little at a time, he talked about  it. He had been a drug dealer -mostly cocaine [never heroin] and he had been in a lot of fights. After being out of prison for a while, he had gotten stabbed, nearly losing his life. He told me that he had spent about 7 years total in prison and about 5 years in jail. He came from a different world, one I could not begin to imagine….shutterstock silouette barb wireBut I started to notice things about him that didn’t fit my image of a convicted felon: For one thing, he was extremely devoted to his 90 year old grandma… MACLOVIA-LOVE-CLOSEtaking her on walks, making sure her oxygen was hooked up, carefully putting the drops in her eyes that she needed and  watching her ‘stories’ with her on TV.

And he loved baking cakes. Always for his grandma’s birthday at the end of May, he made her a cake. He told me that when he was about 10, he had baked her a cake and while it was cooling outside, the dog ate it. He had cried so hard but together he and his grandma had baked another. mothers-day-cake 2*easter-cake 2

And he made beautiful drawings on handkerchiefs, something he had learned how to do in prison.* In Spanish these handkerchiefs are called Paños and they often very detailed and beautiful.

handkerchief pen:ink:closer #6

He didn’t look like someone who would do any of these things. I couldn’t fit them together-his extraordinary sensitivity, the cakes and the handkerchiefs- with the image I had of him.redman:jody the way it isAs time went on, I learned more and more about the prison system. I watched The Green Mile and Shashank Redemption with Jody and he told me “Yeah that’s right..that’s how it is” * Jody has been diagnosed with PTSD due to the ‘horrific violence’ he witnessed in prison.

prison interior

Santa Fe Penitentiary Santa Fe, New Mexico  photo credit:Michelle Line

burned body

Image of burned body- Santa Fe Penitentiary Riot  Photo credit: Michelle Line

These are great movies but it’s a very different experience when you’re watching them with someone who has been there, when you understand this is not just a movie, this is real, this is what it’s like inside a prison- the rapes, murders, the violence, the horrendous conditions. Is it any wonder then that many inmates come out much worse than when they went in..more angry, more violent, ready to commit more crimes.

HOLE SF PEN

The ‘HOLE’ /Solitary Confinement Santa Fe Penitentiary Photo Credit: Michelle Line

As my life seems to be filled with synchronicity, I was put in touch with more people who in some way or another, had been involved with the prison system. These included three artists from Taos-a woman who fell in love with and lived with a convicted felon,tony and anita another who had spent a year in prison for shooting a man in a barJim Wagner Overalls and a legendary painter who teaches art to the lifers at San Quentin. David_SanQuentin  GROUP3 2

I filmed interviews with these people and a few others, and my son and I began a documentary on the prison system titled, The Light in the Shadow. The preview is below. *We would very much like to complete this film- we need about $40, 000 to do so. All the interviews have been filmed and what remains is the editing and obtaining licensing for the music.  If you have suggestions, please contact me through this blog.

JODY:SHILOH:LAP2

Jody Armijo and Shiloh -2015

In this life I’ve lived, I have, after being raised in an all Anglo, upper middle class world, been fortunate to have experienced different cultures- primarily Native American and Hispanic and to live with people from very different walks of life. When I founded Rites of Passage to provide care for people with AIDS, it was not something I wanted to do but rather something I knew I would do and what I learned from the patients we took care of, people who at that time were thought of almost like lepers…. what I learned from these patients about life and death was invaluable.  If I were raising a child again or teaching children, I would make sure that these types of experiences were made available ..it’s the way to learning compassion, understanding.. it’s the way to unite the human race…

Below is a song written by Bob Dylan and rerecorded by THE PINES. It’s for all of us living in these times of judgement, hatred, racism and separation. It’s a reminder that there is another choice, a higher choice…

Please check out THE PINES and their haunting and beautiful music. In these times of extreme materialism and selfishness, they allowed us to use some of their music for the preview of THE LIGHT IN THE SHADOW as did  Chet O’Keefe and Woody Russell. These bands/singer songwriters are original, unique and powerful. THANK YOU GUYS, ALL OF YOU

THE LIGHT IN THE SHADOW PREVIEW

 

*Feature image on this post: “Jesus in Prison” Santa Fe Penitentiary  photo credit: Michelle Line

 

It’s time for saying goodbye: Tilly 6/09~3/6/16

 

Saying goodbye, going away
Seems like goodbye’s such a hard thing to say
Touching a hand, wondering why
It’s time for saying goodbye
Saying goodbye, why is it sad?
Makes us remember the good times we’ve had
Much more to say, foolish to try
It’s time for saying goodbye

Don’t want to leave, but we both know
Sometimes it’s better to go
Somehow I know we’ll meet again
Not sure quite where, and I don’t know just when
You’re in my heart, so until then
Wanna smile, wanna cry

It’s time for saying goodbye

from The Muppets Take Manhattan

It seems like I’m so often writing about death in these posts: the deaths in my family that happened early in my life, the deaths of some of the patients that Rites of Passage took care of and just recently I wrote about the burial service for the oldest member of the community that I live in.

Maybe it’s because Death is my teacher. It has seemed to surround me since I was 9 years old…. but in fact, I think Death is everyone’s teacher.

I have heard the spiritual teachers say, “Find Death before Death finds you”

And Elisabeth Kubler-Ross said, “It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth – and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up – that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.”
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Today, here at Hobbiton, we’re meeting death again, this time it’s our milk cow Tilly, the sweetest of beings….eli:tilly who we somehow believed, would be with us for a long, long time.

She laid down a few days ago and no matter what we tried, she couldn’t get up. She would have been 7 years old in June and she was due to have her second calf also in June.

“We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own live within a fragile circle…”

-Irving Townsend

Yesterday I sat with her and begged her not to leave us. After days of lethargy, she had a spurt of energy and what seemed to me like moments of joy, almost as if she were laughing in the way a cow might laugh. Even though she couldn’t get up, for about 30 minutes, she tossed her rubber water bowl high in the air, ate a large amount of hay, drank water and licked her salt block

Then she lay on her side, preparing to die.

I couldn’t believe it—minutes before, we had felt so hopeful and happy thinking she was recovering but then I remembered something Elisabeth Kubler-Ross had said in our film, We’re Almost Home Now. She had been talking about critically injured children and how a few days before they die they often become very calm, very quiet or they wake up out of a coma…and everyone says “Look she’s going to make it” “But”  Elisabeth said,“ they don’t understand, this is like the calm before the transition.”

Also in the same film is an interview with the mother of a 9 year old boy who died of leukemia. Kevin was in the hospital, very weak, very sick, his mom was by his side. Suddenly, she said, he seemed to ‘perk up’ and he sang her a song, Saying Goodbye from The Muppets Take Manhattan. At that moment, she thought “He’s getting better, he’s going to make it.” Only later, looking back, did she understand that he was saying his final goodbye.TILLY:SANTAWhat I will remember about Tilly is her gentleness, her sweetness and her sensitivity. A few weeks ago, I saw her reach her long tongue threw the fence and lick Shiloh, our wolfdog on his mouth.  I saw her do that with our horses too.TILLY GATE WAITING

Above all though, I remember something that happened a few years ago, something that I never would have believed if I hadn’t seen it. My companion, Jody Armijo always milked her faithfully twice a day and we were told that Tilly would come to think of him as her calf.jody milk june '14 Not too long after she came to live with us, Jody was thrown from a horse and badly injured — he was in ICU for a few days.

A friend came to help milk during those days that Jody was in the hospital and as I was feeding Tilly her hay and oats, I saw a big tear fall from her eye and trickle down her furry cheek.tilly bearI’ll miss you Tilly….I wish you didn’t have to go and I’m so sorry for the times we took you for granted, believing there would always be another day. I didn’t realize until now all the things we learned from you…a lot about milking and caring for a milk cow but mostly about unconditional love, the pure unconditional love you brought to us.

love,

Pooh

JODY:SENOR SUNGLASSES

Jody Armijo with El Torro Armijo and Tilly

In her best times, Tilly provided us with between 4 and 6 gallons of milk a day, helping in our efforts to be self sustaining…..

jody-close-pourjody pouringmilk.stilllife2

Below is a beautiful film clip from Eckhart Tolle titled “Death and the Eternal” I never find comfort in the  overly used, maybe well meaning but meaningless words “She’s in a better place.” [how do they know?} but rather in words like these..