“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” ~ Woodrow Wilson
I’ve spent my day piecing together footage, images, and audio from last week’s gathering with Lori-Lyn Hurley while bouncing back and forth to more March Madness basketball. I’ve learned a lot today about doing two camera shoots and audio from a third source doesn’t match one camera. I’m still not sure if that’s due to echo or a difference in film speed versus audio speed (somebody smarter than me knows, I’m sure). It’s all very strange, but I don’t think I’ve ever learned anything worth learning that was easy. In the end, I think we’ll have something presentable. Hopefully there will be some funny bits, too. Gotta keep it light I always say. Otherwise, people just get bored (usually me). I chalk this up to a good day.
“Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and start being positive about what could go right.”
Meet Pam Kingfisher. She spent the day with me and Angie running the dirt roads of Cherokee County. We found a multitude of stunningly beautiful places; places even they had never seen before. I’ve talked to Pam at length about Native American spirituality. Long ago she made a conscious decision to embrace her Cherokee heritage, and carry on its traditions as much as possible. The sanctity of water is at the top of the list, and not just for Cherokee but many other tribes as well. All water is sacred. Prayers for the water – our life force as human beings – is one way to thank The Creator. But prayers at water’s edge aren’t always about the water itself. Prayers can be about anything one feels the need to pray for, or about, or perhaps to just give thanks. Pam allowed me to be part of such a prayer ceremony at the edge of the Illinois River; The Creator’s cathedral if ever there was one. To say I was honored would be an understatement.
Our day was filled with many a happy moment. One of those was meeting the new Cherokee Nation Principle Chief Bill John Baker at breakfast (pictured here with Diane Rickey, Pam Kingfisher, and Angie Bliss Fanning). He’s super kind, and wouldn’t you know it, he’s been to West Liberty, KY! In fact, his parents were professors at Morehead State University, so he actually lived in Morehead. It is a small, small world, and I really enjoyed talking with him.
A small world, and our spiritual connections in it, was sort of the theme of the day. Before our prayer at the Illinois, Pam told me that Gurney Norman – yes, that Gurney Norman – had said something powerful to her a long time ago that has stuck with her all these years. He said, I’m paraphrasing of course, that “we are part of the water around us. The water we come from, wherever that might be, that’s who we are.” No wonder Eastern Kentucky is such a strong pull for me. Those are the waters I come from, just as the waters of Oklahoma and Washington State helped make Pam who she is. It is, indeed, a powerful thought. One other thing that helps shape us is the company we keep. There is no finer company than the women who gave me such a hilarious, blessed, special day. My gratitude for them is endless.
“Give a buried dream a second chance.” ~ Dr. SunWolf
UK’s Army and Air Force ROTC place American flags on the campus’ front lawn in observance of 9/11 – one flag for every life lost that day. This morning, there was something horribly real in those thousands of drenched flags; like a flashback, even though the weather in Kentucky on September 11, 2001 was just the opposite of today’s three-inch downpour. The sky so blue it hurt; the most perfect morning one could ever imagine. This year’s freshman class was only five years old back then. This young man in prayer was one of those children. He certainly wasn’t much older. He may have lost a loved one that day, or perhaps he’s lost someone fighting in the wars that have raged since. He, himself, may be the next casualty as, ironically, the President announced new combat strategies in the Middle East just last night. The flags are a wonderful tribute. Kudos to the ROTC for their dedication to plant them faithfully, and for standing eight hours in torrential rain reading the names of the dead on 9/11, as well as those killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. The cadets made me proud, of course. But when I saw this young man down on one knee, it was all I could do not to cry. I wish I could give him back a world before 9/11. 13 years have passed and I still don’t have the right words.