16 Dec, 2013

Questions to Live By

16 Dec, 2013

Mighty Questions to Live By

In June, I attended a week-long Healers’ Intensive, hosted by poet, novelist, storyteller, teacher, healer and medicine woman Deena Metzger.  The experience takes one back to the ancient tribal ways of listening and being together in council. Of being so inextricably woven into the fabric of all life and all of creation that one begins to ask “What is it I am being called to do?” for the purpose of healing the brokenness that exists in myself, my home, my community, my nation, my planet.

And from each of our own unique places or contexts, we begin to see ourselves as instruments of healing. Healing in the greatest possible context. From my world of business, it might look like, “How do we commit to engaging the whole heartedness of our employees” in achieving our goals AND nurturing our connection to each other?”  In the context of medicine, the question will be utterly different, as with counseling, clergy, or activist work.

From this powerful and life changing experience, I began to ask myself a Question, one I called Mighty for its ability to move me to a new way of seeing and being:


Mighty Question 1: “In this moment/situation/circumstance, what would a HEALER do?”

Asking this question has shaped my decisions, my attitude, and the way in which I meet the circumstances of an unjust, corrupt, violent, suffering but still hopeful, and often kind, world.

And so it was that while driving home from church last Sunday, I was awake to a holy moment in which a second Mighty Question arose.

During service, the children’s story, “Christmas Moccasins” was fresh on my mind, with the Native American grandmother’s words to her puzzled grandson, “We are doing the Creator’s work” reverberating in my ears.

It is a story of forgiveness – of making offerings, of being the woman who made three pair of resplendent Christmas Moccasins for the three boys who beat and robbed her and her grandson.

On the radio, 92.5 “The River, Boston’s Independent Music Channel” is playing a South-African tribute song for Nelson Mandela, now four-days gone. A chorus of rich and lush voices is raised in harmonious and joyful song.

Along Milestretch road, I witness the ruddy low tide of “The Pool” – a huge tidal pool that lies to the northwest — and catch glimpses of an energetic ocean that lies to the southeast, adorned by large beach homes. Suddenly, I am aware of cars pulled over willy-nilly along the side of the road. Dozens of bundled-up photographers stand with two foot long telephoto lenses resting atop tripods pointing skyward. And up on the roof of a home overlooking the marsh sits a majestic Snowy Owl. Looking at me; looking at us; looking mostly out over the marsh for signs of activity that could mean a next meal. My eyes well up at the sight.

I am told that there are at least two in the area, and that more are expected to migrate south as their food supply (predominantly lemmings) is under siege in the Arctic. I don’t know if this is true and I fervently hope it is not.

And on this day, when South Texas reels from a horrific winter storm and is many degrees colder than Alaska; on this day, when hundreds of thousands are mourning the loss of a truly special human being; on this day when “doing the Creator’s work” echoes in my ears, and the great Snowy Owl spins his head to make eye contact, I am thinking: What now is the question that can open us up to invite a new conversation?  What is the story that when told and retold can harness and inspire the human spirit to “see differently” and begin to heal?

There is none better than Nelson Mandela’s story. There is none better than the true story of Ray Buckley’s grandmother in “Christmas Moccasins”.  Thus, the second Mighty Question for me is:

Mighty Question 2: “How am I doing the Creator’s Work?”

And I must remind myself that there are no enemies; there are only different hues and shapes and shades of the Creator’s work.


P.S. “Christmas Moccasins” is now out of print and is available for prices that reflect the value of the book — $59.99 from Amazon (used), so if you can find one at a local book store, do so! And I, for one, will be writing to Ray Buckley, urging him to reprint this amazing story.


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