Tag Archives: Earth Day

An Earth Day Question: Is It Possible to Walk in Beauty?

Earth Day was set as a time for human beings to reflect on their relationship to the natural world.  In my fifth Booker Series novel (as yet unpublished)  the character Booker summarizes what he has learned about the Earth Mother from Joseph, the Pueblo Indian Wisdom Keeper.  From Psalm Maker: The Journal of Booker Jones, herein is shared the lesson.

          If you take from Mother Earth, you need more than permission.  If you honor the relationship, you need to give back an offering.  There has got to be mutual consent and mutual exchange.  The act of honor must be central to awareness.  A potter takes clay and leaves something of value behind.  A painter takes pigments and leaves an offering.  A sculptor selects stone and removes it to his workplace, but he must leave behind something to fill the void.  He must balance one gift with another.  What will he put in place to honor the stone or the tree that he seeks to sculpt?  Will he sacrifice blue corn or his favorite shirt or blanket?  What will he give to be an honorable human being?

          How do we live with respect for all life so that all is safe and secure?  Who is responsible for the beauty of being?  Why must any people be made to beg for human rights?  When did respect fade from consciousness?  Power sacrifices respect to desire.  Respect is as gentle on the peoplescape as it is on the landscape.

         

          If everyone is aware, no one needs to shout.  Respect has a voice that speaks quietly.  When one culture, race, or religion dominates the Earth, respect for difference disappears, and within this loss is also the demise of humanity.

          What is indigenous should never be abrogated.  Do not remove dignity off the face of any people.  Dignity is the body language of respect.  A tree has dignity until it is chopped down.  A mountain has dignity until it is exploited.  A bear has dignity in its habitat.  A human being has dignity in the space of freedom.  Dignity is a right of natural law.  Where there is no dignity, nature itself has been violated.

         

Photo by Pat Joynes

     The man’s Indian brothers and sisters believe that the Earth is already in transition to another world, another great cycle of Earth habitation.  If the Earth is cleansed again, as the Hopi prophecies foretell, life will emerge into its fourth re-creation, the Fourth World.  For many people this bitter medicine is best taken with averted eyes and held breath.

         

          

         As Anglos, the writer’s people are perceived by the Indians as having no natural manners.  We have lost respect for our Earth Mother, and thus we cannot walk in beauty or in dignity.  All right behavior for Indians begins with honoring Creation in the metaphors of Father Sky and the Earth as Mother.

         

         There are Indian records that are sacred to Native Americans.  These documentary artifacts have been safeguarded and preserved for thousands of years, back to the dawn of consciousness.  These records say that human beings are star-born, that our origins are in a cluster of seven stars, the seven sisters. 

NASA Photo of the Pleiades

Eurocentric rational minds found this concept to be absurd, even contemptuous, so the Indians put their cosmic views back into the box.  In 21st century contemplation, the possibility does not seem so far fetched.  And yet, anthropologists and evolutionists continue to ignore the knowledge of indigenous, land-based peoples, pre-supposing their science to be superior to native superstitions.  The attitude allows them to walk in poverty among great treasures that they cannot see. 

        The Anglos ponder and speculate for their lifetimes on things that have been known to Indian medicine men for centuries. The Indians have waited patiently for the white men to ask serious questions, but Anglo pride has always prevented the humility required of wise men.  If a person comes in humility to an Indian holy man—a wisdom keeper—and demonstrates devotion to understanding, the knowledge of the ages will be shared.  This is the writer’s experience.  He, a white man, ignorant and without resources, defenseless in mind and purpose, came into the tribal circle and was given the great gifts of new sight and new hearing.

         

      

Photo by Pat Joynes

        To walk with awareness and insight in the natural world of Creation is the walk-in-beauty that Indians sing about.  Perhaps it was also the experience of Whitman and Emerson and the poets and psalm makers of history.  Certainly, no world teacher could be apart from the experience and still be able to demonstrate Truth.

          On this day, in this journal, this man wants to affirm that all people have the capacity to walk in beauty.  If a man like himself, born in pride and affluence, and trained to objectify Creation, can be re-created in one body over one lifetime, the same is possible for anyone.  The question, for this man, and for each individual, is whether or not we will surrender our sense of separate self in each and every moment of existence.

        In the kiva with Joseph, my Pueblo brother and mentor, there is no meeting of minds.  We do not connect through an association of ideas or concepts.  The practice is that we come together in the space of the quiet mind and enjoy communion on a level of awareness beyond the mind.  Vision is not dependent on magic.  Ritual and ceremony are only disciplines designed to disengage the mind so that true awareness is possible.  To meet in this holy place beyond the references of the conditioned mind is pure joy, pure satisfaction, pure love, pure release.  In this experience is sacred bonding and real relationship.  Peace is the original gift of Creation, and it is inherent within us all.

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We Are Water

After the first three novels in the Booker Series were published, I thought the series had run its course, and so I moved on to write another different kind of book.  Then, without provocation, I had a very lucid dream where I came upon Pueblo tribal friends from the Booker novels in full regalia doing ceremony on the edge of what seemed to be a dried-up lakebed.  I awoke with an intense desire to know what they were doing, and so I began to write titles to explain the scene.  I know that I wrote and rejected nearly fifty titles until the words Dead Water Rites fell into place.  My Indian family was conducting a funeral ceremony for a former living-water source!  That realization led me on research trips back to the Southwest and a year-long devotion to writing the novel.

Every Earth Day in April, my wife Pat and I are reminded of our American Indian inspired relationship to water as spoken by Joseph, Pueblo Indian Holy Man, in the novel Dead Water Rites (2000).  Let us share these words with you.

 “By spirit, we are inwardly connected and reciprocally related.  We are flowing into each other like water within a stream, our individual surfaces mere sense organs of the passage.  Knowing this, our joy in the moments of the flow should be boundless.  We are a rhythmical process in time and space; and because of the sensitivity of our boundary surfaces, we are Earth’s cosmic sense organ.

 

 We are water—formed into embryo out of water; first fed by liquids; nourished because water dissolves solids; existing because no chemical process can occur without water as the neutral, mediating and dissolving element.  Water absorbs energy and transports it.  It creates climate.  It balances.  It harmonizes.

 

 

Let us honor the virtues of our substance.  Man is baptized of water to receive its nature, to arise clean and pure as Creation intended.  Like water, man should be the great healer in striving for a living balance.  Like water, he should be a mediator between substances, a peacemaker in regard to hostility.  Like water, man should desire nothing for himself.  His function is to refresh, heal, strengthen, revive, and clarify.  Like water, man should be open to light, transparent in motivation, eyes to the visible world and ears to what is audible.  Like water, man should be in eternal circulation between Earth and the cosmos.

 

 

Now Brother and Sister, look at your fingertips, the means by which you touch the world.  Your fingerprint is the pattern of an individual vortex just as your voice has its unique patterns.  These are the vibrations of identity.  Our words are the flowing out of creative recognition.  The stream of meaning crosses the void between one realized life to another in an attempt at unity and cooperation.  Water and speech flow with equal purpose.  We must believe that, in the end, all life comes together in peace and harmony.”

 

 

 Three of the most important mentors in my life read Dead Water Rites and were kind enough to comment on it.

Dead Water Rites strikes like a lightning bolt at the heart of an issue critical to our survival.  Monty Joynes’s work is Spirit driven.” 

Red Leaf, Cherokee Choctaw Elder

 

 

 

 

 

 “As an Indian reader of Dead Water Rites, I am left with the feeling of having been well instructed not only to the potential catastrophe of a waterless West from the environmentalist point of view, but by one whose joint characters ‘Booker’ and ‘Anglo’ look with great insight into the real threat posed by thoughtless ‘progressives’ to the sacredness of water and life in general.” 

 Cherokee Elder Lloyd Kiva New

 

 

 

“What Monty Joynes has accomplished in Dead Water Rites, his fourth book in the remarkable Booker Series, is the rare joining of a page-turning story line, lively with action and memorable characters, together with a sustained poetic meditation on the power and glory of water in the world.  The spiritual vision, the outward and inner lives of the invincible Southwestern Indians, are beautifully summoned up and celebrated.   Dead Water Rites is a powerful story and a pure pleasure to read.”  George Garrett

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