Call in your spirit

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“People get sick because they leave parts of themselves at places.”  Today I listened to a Lakota elder explain that health and wholeness require, among other things, to keep all of our spirit with us.

We were visiting the Atka Lakota Museum and Cultural Center in Chamberlain, South Dakota. The elder, in a video, explained that when we leave a place, whether it’s something we loved or that was difficult, we need to call in our spirit four times.

She shared, with a chuckle, how her grandson responded when she was teaching him this. “He said, ‘Grandmother, you mean I have to call in a ghost?’”  She explained that it was the spirit that lived in his name so he needed to call out his name four times.

I tried it when I left the museum today where I had been inspired by the resilience and wisdom of the Lakota People and, again, horrified by the genocide that people who look like me had inflicted upon them.

“Diane, Diane, Diane, Diane.”

I got into the car and pondered all the times I have left parts of myself elsewhere.  How I have given over my spirit to people and things that diminish what it means to be human. How I left some of my spirit at places of beauty and comfort because I so desperately yearned for them to buoy my daily life. I wanted to stay there instead of facing the change that was needed.

I call my spirit back from those places. The good and the difficult.  Everything is enveloped by what the Lakota People remind us is the circle of life. Alchemy is at work in our lives in ways that often are not visible yet can be transformative.

Tonight I ponder about our country and how it is sick because it has scattered parts of its spirit in some treacherous spaces.  “United States” “United States” “United States” “United States.”  In its weakened state, it will take a strong circle of love to make it whole again. “United” not to act as a single entity but to model a united effort towards peace and justice.

We can start by calling our spirits in to enable us to be more whole and loving in our daily lives. We can encourage others to call back their spirit from places that diminish the sacredness of who they are. It isn’t always an easy thing for there are systems that seek to keep our spirits weak.  Together, we will dismantle systems to stop their destruction.

I don’t know when it will happen. I live each day believing that it will. I call in my spirit to strengthen my commitment to keep going.

 

Post by Diane.

Wilbur and Mole

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I want to spend a moment thinking about two of my favorite authors. E.B. White did not just teach us about punctuation and how best to compose a sentence; he also gave us Wilbur, the pig in Charlotte’s Web.

Diane and I have spent the last few days in Kansas City, Missouri and today in Iowa.

Arthur Bryant probably wrote the Bible on how to slow cook and smoke pork ribs. Kansas City may have another 50 barbecue joints but Bryant’s BBQ is what they are all compared to. As Charlotte might say “Bryant’s is some barbecue!”

Carl Sandburg once said that Chicago is the “hog butcher of the world.” Well, Iowa produces them all.

Wilbur is some pig. Arthur Bryant says so. So does Chicago.

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Bill and Wilbur at Arthur Bryant’s BBQ

E.B. White also, talked, a lot about commas. I never got quite the hang of commas. Except, commas are not something you end a sentence with he said, I think. Sort of like prepositions…

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Tonight Diane and I are parked right next to the Missouri River.

In our travels we have crossed over the Columbia River, the Mississippi, the Arkansas River, and other Rivers too numerous to mention.

In a previous journey we slept right next to the Mississippi, the Big Muddy, in New Orleans. While we were in West Memphis, Arkansas, we slept once again next to the Mississippi.

Kenneth Grahame, in Wind in the Willows, reminds us that Rivers are story bearers; they carry tales of secrets from far away, bring them by you and move them on.

Kenneth Grahame knew of the secret beauty of rivers. He learned about Rivers from Mole.

Kenneth says about Mole,

He thought his happiness was complete when, as he meandered aimlessly along, suddenly he stood by the edge of a full-fed river. Never in his life had he seen a river before—this sleek, sinuous, full-bodied animal, chasing and chuckling, gripping things with a gurgle and leaving them with a laugh, to fling itself on fresh playmates that shook themselves free, and were caught and held again. All was a-shake and a-shiver—glints and gleams and sparkles, rustle and swirl, chatter and bubble. The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated. By the side of the river he trotted as one trots, when very small, by the side of a man who holds one spellbound by exciting stories; and when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.

Diane and I have joined the Mole and Ratty in journeying by such Great and Small Rivers and have pledged to carry the stories that were brought to us from the heart of the world to the great insatiable sea when we arrive back home.

 

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Here’s to Wilbur, here’s to Mole!

 

Post by Bill.

It’s worth the drive . . .

So, the question is, how do we make a sense out of a place? Really, is it worth going all that far to go there?

Example one: we are living in South Everett at Maple Grove RV Resort. If you know the area you might believe that this is not a place for great cuisine. You’d be right, I think. Quarter-mile down the street from where we live there is a very tiny strip mall, maybe five businesses. Between a Pay Day Loan and a Shell gas station Quick Mart is Pasteur’s Noodle Soup. Quite simply the best Pho that I’ve ever had. 

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Worth the drive!

Example two: we spend a week in Moab, Utah. Stunningly beautiful! On the Sunday before we leave Yelp directs us first to a place that is closed on Sundays. Next, to a Mexican restaurant a few blocks away:
El Charro Loco. In, you guessed it, a very small strip mall. We walk in, two tables, out of many, have customers.

We order from what appears to be a generic looking Mexican restaurant menu. If the top rating is four stars, I give it five! The best flavors and presentation I’ve ever had at a Mexican restaurant for straight forward items like tamales and enchiladas.

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It really is worth the drive.

Example three: we are in Memphis, Tennessee, a city I utterly love! I want barbecue before we leave. One of my most frequent Google queries when I’m looking for something good is, “what are the best 10 (fill in the blank).” I do that for barbecue joints in Memphis. Predictably, get 10 choices…

Diane has stopped this morning at a hair salon in downtown Memphis. She is in a conversation with the person working with her regarding the best places for barbecue in Memphis. The woman says “There’s a place a few blocks from where I live and it is simply the best barbecue in Memphis!”  

The Bar-B-Q Shop. Not downtown, not in the top 10 list, in a very non-descript neighborhood; parking is easy.

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Really, it’s worth the drive.

Example four: of course, not everyone likes dessert pies as much as we do.

We are here in Columbia, Missouri. The home of the University of Missouri Tigers as well as several other colleges. The fourth largest city in Missouri. Really, it is a beautiful college town.

In a list we come across of the best 10 places you should see in Columbia, Missouri, is Peggy Jean’s Pies.

Even Google maps has a problem finding this shop. It is in, you guessed it, a mall. Bordered by a young kids’ activity center on one end and Sonic, America’s Drive-In on the other. As with the other establishments you have to look sharply to see the business name.

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We go in. We meet Jean/Rebecca, the mother/daughter, owner/operators of this business. A long conversation follows.

We leave with a small “baby” peanut butter pie and a small “baby” chocolate bourbon pecan pie. They are the best we have ever had!

We go back the next day. We are uncertain if their other pies can possibly be as good. We walk out with a small peach rhubarb pie, and a small White chocolate strawberry pie. So far, I will say, based on the two pies we’ve already had:

it really is worth the drive.

To answer the question; whether it is food or conversations or parks or museums or simply the people you meet while you’re there . . .

it really is worth the drive…

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Post by Bill.

 

 

Where are Diane and Bill?

Goin’ to Kansas City, Kansas City, here we come! Looking forward to BBQ, Jazz & Museums day after tomorrow.

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Left Seattle on July 8th.  Here’s where we’ve been:

Ellensburg, WA; Spokane, WA; Missoula, MT; Dillon, MT;  Brigham City, UT;  Moab, UT; Albuquerque, NM; Amarillo, TX;  Oklahoma City, OK; Fort Smith, AK; Little Rock, AK Memphis, TN; Nashville, TN, Great Smoky Mountains, TN; Greensboro, NC; Goose Point Recreation Area, VA; Flatwoods, WV; Ashland, KY; Louisville, KY; Mt. Vernon, IL; Columbia, MO; Kansas City, MO!

On our way back to Seattle for late fall and the holidays and then on the road again.

 

Vignettes from the road: Church and religion

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 “The Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” off I40 in Texas;    190 feet tall 

The Pacific Northwest where I have lived is not a highly churched area. The difference between Seattle and cities in the South and Midwest is marked as we travel. Gigantic crosses can be seen from the interstate. Some campground offices are closed on Sunday mornings for church; one we visited held services in its community room. Interstate truck stop “stores” offer religious inspirational cards and books.

Depending on the state and county, alcohol is not sold on Sundays or sold only after 11am or only beer can be bought. Billboards ask if you believe in God and announce “Jesus is coming soon” “Hell is real” and “God expects spiritual fruit not religious nuts.”  The main newspaper in Oklahoma has a daily prayer at the bottom of the front page along with the weather forecast. It has a whole section dedicated to “The Spiritual Life.” Our newest neighbors in the campground are from Tennessee. The license plate on the front of their truck says, “Jesus, the heartbeat of the world.”

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I learned yesterday that there is a Trail of Faith in Indiana. It’s a historic church trail featuring 19 churches over 100 years old. I’d like to visit it someday.

Religion in these areas is a visible part of the fabric of life. Religion can be invisible and still be powerful. Religion can also be dangerous. The etymology of religion lies with the Latin word religare, which means “to tie, to bind.”

The most important question is to what do you bind yourself on a daily basis that creates your religion? Being on the road gives me lots of time to ponder that question.

 

Post by Diane

 

Say her name: The lynching of Marie Thompson in Kentucky

Marie Thompson, a young black woman who was murdered in Kentucky, keeps me awake at night with fierce whispering from her grave. She insists I pay attention to the story of her lynching that took place over 100 years ago where I am visiting in Shepherdsville, KY. Every place we stand has a history to tell; often it is a hidden history unless you look for it. I looked for an African American or Civil Rights museum here near Louisville. Many of the places we have visited in the South have them. Not here. Yet I knew there were stories here that needed to be told. This one is about Marie Thompson in 1904. It is one among many of the lynchings that happened in Kentucky.

Marie Thompson was a black sharecropper working in the vegetable garden with her son in June, 1904, when John Irvin, the white farmer who owned the land, accused her son of stealing pliers that he had been lent earlier. The boy stated he had returned them. Irvin berated him for lying and kicked him several times in the back.

Thompson confronted Irvin, protesting his treatment of her son. He told her to get off of his place. Thompson, even knowing she was losing her home and livelihood, turned and intentionally walked away slowly as an act of resistance. This angered Irvin and caused him to attack her from behind with a knife. They struggled. Thompson cut his throat and Irvin died.

Recognizing the danger she was in, Thompson gathered her things and tried to leave town but was arrested before she could flee. When the story of Irvin’s death was reported, a group of about a dozen armed white men came to the jail with the intent to lynch Thompson. A group of African American men arrived and the shoot-out between them caused the white men to leave. The deputies promised the African American group that Thompson would be protected and they went away.

Two hours later a group of 50 white men returned to the jail, put a rope around Thompson, dragged her out and put the rope around a tree. Thompson fought them all along the way. While she was swinging from the tree, she grabbed the collar of a man next to her and then his knife which she used to cut the rope around her neck. She fell to the ground and started to run. The mob fired over 100 bullets at her. She fell to the ground and was left for the dead. She was found alive by the sheriff and taken to the jail where she died the next evening.

Before she died, Thompson confided in her doctor, “I didn’t want him (Irvin) to die but I wanted to pay him back for what he had done to me and my boy.”

Thompson was a fighter and a defender. She was a mom protecting her son. She challenged injustice with fierce resistance. She was murdered for it.

I think of black mothers who have given their all to keeping their sons safe. I think of the disastrous consequences when any black person is perceived as challenging authority. Or how death comes with everyday actions like when a black person drives a car, walks home with a friend, wears a hoodie, holds their wallet, attends a birthday party, holds a fake gun, rides a commuter train, or attends a Bible study.

And I weep. One hundred and twelve years after Marie’s death, it is still not safe to be a black person in this country.

 

Post by Diane

For more information about Marie Thompson, see the following:

From Southern Horrors: Women and the Politics of Rape and Lynching By Crystal Nicole Feimster

University of Kentucky Libraries

Racial Violence in Kentucky, 1865-1940: Lynchings, Mob Rule, and “Legal Lynchings” by George C. Wright.

 

 

 

 

 

Saying “Yes!”

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September 7, 2016

Two years ago today, Bill and I committed to risk a major life change. We were driving on Whidbey Island, immersed in its beauty and peacefulness as we celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary. The last few years had been difficult ones as my aging parents had lived with us and my work life no longer felt enlivening.

I turned to Bill: “What if we bought an RV to live in and traveled around the country? I could quit my job. We could sell the house.”

Bill looked at me. “Do you really mean that?” My words hovered in the air; waiting to see if they would truly be given a landing spot. “Yes, yes, I do” I answered. Everything aligned in me in that moment to say yes even though I had no idea about how such a thing could possibly happen.

Today we are in Louisville, Kentucky celebrating our 14th anniversary. We’ve been on the road since July 8th in our 21-foot trailer, Sophia, that is now our home. Beauty and peacefulness fill our days. Wonder is our constant companion as every day brings newness. I’m doing the work I feel called to do. Bill and I have time together that is precious.

When your body and soul exclaim, “Yes!” – trust that yes. Live into it with passion and the universe will respond. To be sure, you will encounter difficult moments along the way. Significant change requires tenacity and trust. It will be worth it.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!”

― William Hutchison Murray

Fourteen years ago I said, “Yes!” to our marriage. It continues to have magic, boldness and abundant love in it.  Love you, Bill!