Barefoot Zen?

Barefoot Zen?
Namaste, Y'all...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Christmas in July...

So, I'm finally writing again.  Actual stories, which will likely take me away from the cavernous confines of writing blog entries, for the most part.  I know this will devastate my half-dozen readers.  

One of my favorite things about writing is how much I learn along the way.  My favorite writer, TC Boyle, says that he feels he can write about anything, because if he doesn't know about it, he'll learn it well as he goes through the process of researching and writing about it.

Given that, I try to pick subject matter that will open up some avenues for me.  Even though I'm no Tom Wolfe when it comes to factual detail, I try not to miss anything glaring.  For example, the story I'm working on now centers on a Lakota father and son in modern day America.  As I started to make a reference to Christmas, I wondered, "Do Native Americans traditionally celebrate Christmas as we know it?"  I looked it up and stumbled upon this lovely overview of how Native Americans honor Christmas, and I found it quite moving.  So, even though it's July, I thought this was worth sharing, because it's about how to live every day, not just when struck by a Northern Star.  

"Everyday is our Christmas. Every meal is our Christmas. At every meal we take a little portion of the food we are eating, and we offer it to the spirit world on behalf of the four legged, and the winged, and the two legged. We pray--not the way most Christians pray-- but we thank the Grandfathers, the Spirit, and the Guardian Angel."

"The Indian Culture is actually grounded in the traditions of a Roving Angel. The life-ways of Roving Angels are actually the way Indian People live. They hold out their hands and help the sick and the needy. They feed and clothe the poor. We have high respect for the avatar because we believe that it is in giving that we receive."

"We are taught as Traditional children that we have abundance. The Creator has given us everything: the water, the air we breathe, the earth as our flesh, and our energy force: our heart. We are thankful every day. We pray early in the morning, before sunrise, to the morning star, and the evening star. We pray for our relatives who are in the universe that someday they will come. We also pray that the Great Spirit's son will live again." "To the Indian People Christmas is everyday and they don't believe in taking without asking. Herbs are prayed over before being gathered by asking the plant for permission to take some cuttings. An offer of tobacco is made to the plant in gratitude. We do not pull the herb out by its roots, but cut the plant even with the surface of the earth, so that another generation will be born its place."

"It is really important that these ways never be lost. And to this day we feed the elders, we feed the family on Christmas day, we honor Saint Nicholas. We explain to the little children that to receive a gift is to enjoy it, and when the enjoyment is gone, they are pass it on to the another child, so that they, too, can enjoy it. If a child gets a doll, that doll will change hands about eight times in a year, from one child to another."

"Everyday is Christmas in Indian Country. Daily living is centered around the spirit of giving and walking the Red Road. Walking the Red Road means making everything you do a spiritual act. If your neighbor, John Running Deer, needs a potato masher; and you have one that you are not using, you offer him yours in the spirit of giving. It doesn't matter if it is Christmas or not."

"If neighbors or strangers stop over to visit at your house, we offer them dinner. We bring out the T-Bone steak, not the cabbage. If we don't have enough, we send someone in the family out to get some more and mention nothing of the inconvenience to our guests. The more one gives, the more spiritual we become. The Christ Consciousness, the same spirit of giving that is present at Christmas, is present everyday in Indian Country."