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For You, Dad...

Something I wrote a while back, that I enjoyed becoming reacquainted with...

How do I link arms with you after all these years and walk down the long gravel road lit by the bright summer moon, the Snake River rushing by. You implored me to always remember that night; my tiny hand, a miniature of yours, snuggled tightly in your grasp as we stargazed, as you spoke from your heart to mine.

Perhaps you were planting a tiny seed from your soul for later on, for a time when age was on our faces, on our graceful, long-fingered hands, in our beautiful tangled minds; when you might need a kindred soul to show you your reflection with warmth...

When my ear had sprung a telephone and my world had shrunk, you took the time to neatly cut out that newspaper cartoon and tape it to my bedroom door; the one with the father who tells the Encyclopedia salesman that he has no need for any, because he has a teenage daughter who knows everything. You believed we were worlds apart, coexisting on time-lines too displaced for us to really have a meeting of the minds. You were right. It isn't our minds that will ever meet. Our souls, on the other hand, have.

For years you stirred the pot, lit firecrackers under their feet in priesthood meeting, so much so, that they kicked you out of your cherished calling. Fashioned from the same fabric, I led our official exodus out of our Mormon roots. Both of us unable to stomach the blatant hypocrisy of a church that taught love and then paid hard cash to choose the right brand to be solemnized. But it left holes in us. It took courage to renounce our blessings of eternal salvation, along with access to the singular true happiness reserved only for the chosen.

We toddled out trusting something too new to recognize as our intuition. But, we made it to the other side. We quit before they'd found a way to fire us.

It is no wonder then, that you wound your way back to the stars and saw the mighty animal spirits weaving a web of powerful medicine for your soul. You dreamed you were a wolf; power packing your muscular four-legged body. You navigated the thickness of the forest, becoming the hunter by night, feeling the freedom from a human world, feeling the power of being free from the human mind.You turned your skin inside out. You chose red. You became the ex-Mormon, Native American Shaman, white-man apprentice. You ceremoniously opened your bandanna revealing the sacred tools fashioned and gifted to you by modern-day Native Americans.

You danced with them, unfazed that they had replaced their moccasins with Nikes. You shared a peace pipe from lawn chairs in the Ti pi. You threw down greenbacks, accepted all the disparities.

Then at Christmas dinner, you lit your sage and invoked the spirits of the animals and that of the healing spirit of Wonka Tonka. (We laughed at you. For this, I am deeply sorry, but it was funny).

I wanted to change my skin too, just like you. All the colors swirling about me, but I didn’t know which one to choose.

You say your mission to Tahiti finished all too soon. You had served your time, valiantly, earning your salvation, arresting two years of your youth in the name of Christ. But you were dismayed at leaving. The Tahitian on your tongue was still outside of you. If only you’d had more time to taste it.

And you feel this way about your life; too many things realized too late.

In the final inning, you don't have enough time, with death lurking and all. He’s at my heels too, and we wrangle to stop inviting him, but we are soft. We rely on these thoughts to keep us from that precarious wrong step, to keep us hiding safely under the covers. We protect this exchange within, harbor the relationship with our mind, a relationship more difficult than any human one-- even the impossible ones.

And now suffering weighs heavily upon you, and your stories sit inside you collecting dust. You resist spilling them out on paper, perhaps afraid of losing part of yourself there.

I want to give you a little borrowed magic from the great spirits in the sky. I want to saddle up your wild horse with plush leather interior, and take you to the desert to find solace in a place where life has become self-sufficient, powered from within under the harshest conditions; where flowers last for longer than they can even be appreciated, unique and even a little prickly.

I want to sit with you in a place where our minds can become still as the night, where sorrows can rise up and away on the smoke from the fire burning within our spirits, and we can return, hand in hand, to that gravel lane, and speak of love, and remembrance of the preciousness of our time together, and of possibilities as vast as the landscape.

Of this, I want to remind you.


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