Thursday, September 22, 2011

Grandfather, Tell Me About Spirit - A Native North American Fable

Photograph by Maggie Steber
In Big Cove, North Carolina, Cherokee Indian Walker Calhoun and grandson, Patrick, collect witch hazel bark for brewing medicinal tea. Calhoun is knowledgeable in the Indian ways of medicine, dance, and language, and he teaches the practices to area schoolchildren.
Grandfather, Tell Me About Spirit

“Grandfather, tell me about Spirit,” said the young boy with crow-black hair.

“What is it you wish to know, grandson?”

“How do we know Spirit is with us?”

“Close your eyes, grandson,” the old man with long gray hair said. “Breathe deeply and focus on the sounds of nature. What do you hear?”

“I hear birds–blue jays squawking and some chickadees singing.”

“What else do you hear?”

“Nothing—“ the boy said.

“Breathe deeply, grandson. Quiet your mind. Listen again; can you hear the wind in the brush?”

“I can! But I didn’t hear it before.” He opened his eyes.

“You weren’t listening with your Spirit ears, grandson. All living things are made of Spirit. To know that Spirit is with us, we must use our Spirit heart and our Spirit eyes and our Spirit ears. Now, close your eyes again. Listen with your Spirit ears. What do you hear?”

“I hear more birds singing. I hear a whitetail somewhere behind us! I hear a jack rabbit. Grandfather, I think I hear some ants crawling. That’s impossible!” The boy’s eyes flew open.

Grandfather chuckled. “Nothing is impossible, grandson. Everything is connected by Spirit. We are connected to the deer, the rabbits and the ants and they are connected to us. Now, close your eyes again,” the old man said. “Grow quiet; breathe very deeply. When I touch your forehead, slowly open your eyes. Do not be surprised by what you see. This is what Spirit looks like.” When the boy quieted, Grandfather touched the boy’s forehead and he slowly opened his eyes. His jaw dropped and he looked at his grandfather.

“It’s light! Everything is made of light!” He looked down at his body. “I’m made of light! How did you do that, grandfather?”

“Over time and with practice at quieting our minds, we become one with all of life and we can see Spirit in everything. I have shown you this so that you will know Spirit is everywhere, in all things, at all times. You are never alone.” Grandfather touched the boy’s forehead again and the light seemed to disappear. “Now it is your time to learn to quiet your mind, your time to see Spirit in everything.”

“Grandfather?” the boy asked, touching the old man’s knee.

“Yes, grandson?”

“How can I thank you?”

“See, over there,” he said, nodding his head.

“The wood pile?” the boy asked.

“Yes. You can thank me by stacking those logs in the woodshed.”

“Yes, grandfather,” the boy said, shaking his head. “You got me again!” They both laughed and the boy ran off.

“Thank you, Great Spirit. It is time for this old man to nap,” he said. He stood up, observed his grandson for a moment, smiled and headed home.

The text was taken directly from Pam's Notes Along The Path Blog:

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