White Ash

9 03 2018

Image

Blonde leaves,

Yellow and gray

In the darkling mist,

Whisper in the Wind

Still and small,

Calm and cool.

Clearly the mist

May not apprehend,

Cannot comprehend the

Coming shimmer, glimmer and

Gleam of this new autumn day.

Despite sight of ice and

Knowledge of night,

Light labors with Sky

Calling and christening,

Flaming and freeing,

Enchanting before winter’s chill.

A graceful blonde forever

Bright, white and beaming

Calm and cool:

Clearly.

D. Raymond-Wryhte

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Steeds 36

31 05 2017

“One day in the unknown distant past Catamount came upon the sleeping Trickster. The Trickster had earlier duped some of the Squirrel people into roasting themselves by a fire used in a game they had been playing. Trickster had eaten some of the Squirrels and had saved some of them on a willow plate. Catamount was hungry, too, so he stole the remaining Squirrels from the dozing Trickster.

“Upon awakening, Trickster became angry at learning his snacks had been filched. He tracked Catamount and found him well-fed and sleeping comfortably on a stone. Trickster awakened Catamount by seizing his stubby tail and lifting him upside down. ‘I’ll teach you not to steal from me, your better,’ Trickster said. He put a foot on Catamount’s head and pulled and pulled, stretching Catamount into a caricature of himself. Then Trickster put a foot on Catamount’s rump and pulled and pulled, stretching his tale nearly to match the length of his body. ‘There!’ said Trickster. ‘No matter how well you eat, from now on you’ll always look lean.’

“And then Trickster dragged Catamount all the way back to what remained of the Squirrels’ fire. Trickster threw Catamount into the smoldering ashes. Catamount jumped out as quickly as he could, his red fur singed and tinged gray … as it is to this day. His vindictiveness not yet satiated, Trickster grabbed Catamount and shoved his snout into a burnt log and blackened part of his face … as it is to this day. ‘There!’ said Trickster. ‘You will remember what you did to me every time you see yourself in a pool of water.’ And so it was.”

“You mentioned a pool of water,” Lee said. “Does that somehow relate to this concept of Panther being a Water Spirit? I thought cats generally don’t like water.”

“If you had been thrown into a fire pit, perhaps you would thereafter like having a closer association with water.”

“Ah. That is a story you heard from Indian elders?”

“It is,” said Richard. “We traded stories. I listened to as many of theirs as they would tell, and they listened to stories I told from the Bible.”

“What did they think?”

“In my experience, they were quite fond of the story of Samson. They appreciate his warrior skills, his strength, and especially his power. They also see him as a kind of trickster. They were impressed with how he as a trickster was himself tricked.

“They like the story of Balaam and his donkey. They have no trouble believing, you see, that a donkey can speak like a man and to a man. Donkeys, like men and all living creatures, have spirits.”

Lee said, “I have thought that the donkey did not actually speak, since it doesn’t have the physiological equipment to do so. Rather, I have thought that God gave Balaam the ability to understand what the donkey was thinking as it was braying.”

“If the Spirit of God is able to discern the thoughts and intents of the human heart, He can also discern the thoughts and intents of a donkey’s mind. If the Word of the Lord can come to one prophet after another, so the Lord can bring the word of a donkey to a prophet, such as he was. Is that it?”

“Yes.”

Richard continued, “The Indians have no problem accepting the story of the serpent in the Garden of Eden, as written. Serpent spirits, like all animal spirits, can act and speak exactly as described. By contrast, Indians have had little or no concept of Satan … not prior to the ministry of Jesuit, Franciscan, and Dominican missionaries, that is. A being totally depraved is incomprehensible. A being who can even dare contest the Lord God Almighty―Manitou is the rarely spoken name known by the Indians I know―a being who is willing and able to rebel against Him is unbelievable. That seems as absurd as a house cat going into combat against Panther, or a puppy dog going against Wolf.

“Particularly intriguing to them were the stories of Ezekiel’s vision of the Lord God Almighty as attended by the four spirit creatures, of John’s similar vision, and of Isaiah’s encounter with and calling by the Lord God Almighty to be a prophet. Indians have high regard for prophets. That a prophet can engage with God without intermediaries is striking. Angel spirits standing between God and man makes sense, as do animal spirits such as Thunderbirds.”

“And what of Christ Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the Lamb of God? What of His mediation?” Lee asked.

“Yes,” said Richard. “That was the focus of my missionary endeavor. The serpent, that old dragon, the Devil: he has been able repeatedly to thwart such endeavors through the deceptions and depravations he has wrought on Europeans who profess Christianity. My parents were missionaries before me. They accompanied the Eeyamquittoowauconnuck, Christian Indians otherwise known as the Brotherton, in their migration to Wisconsin from persecution and expulsion from their ancestral lands back east by nominal Christians.”

Both men sat silent for a time. They looked at the peony flowers they smelled. They watched the robins as they sang.

“What shall I say to Quentin?” Lee eventually asked.

“Have you noticed this in our own myths and legends and folklore?” Richard asked. “The farther back in time you look, the bigger such beings as elves and fairies become. That is a backward way of noticing this: as time has gone by, such beings as elves and fairies have become smaller and smaller. Today, they can’t be seen at all. So it goes with Indian animal spirits. Perhaps not in my lifetime yet, but I suspect by the end of yours, they won’t be seen at all.”

Richard then asked, “Do you remember the story of what happened when Jesus visited the country of the Gergesenes?”

“Yes, sir. Jesus cast demons out of two savage men who lived amid tombs.”

“And what happened to those demons?”

“They pleaded not to be judged and executed before their time was up. They asked indulgence to enter a herd of swine.”

“And then what happened?”

“The demons entered the swine. My reading of the story suggests that those unclean pigs had more goodness than the humans who had earlier entertained the demons. The pigs would not allow themselves to become porcine demon-spirits. After the demons entered them, the pigs entered the Sea of Galilee, drowning themselves.”

“Whether the pigs did that at the behest of the demons, or in resistance, they were destroyed. Demons do that: they induce destruction. Did the demons drown?”

“I doubt it.”

“Where did they go next?”

“Do we know?”

“We know only that they did not go to the Abyss. They probably went on to make trouble elsewhere. So I fear it is among the American Indians. Animal spirits are being replaced by distilled spirits, among others on their way. As for Panther, tell Quentin you are looking for him in any number of diabolical disguises.”

steeds-2





Steeds 35

30 05 2017

“Mr. Richard A. Whitmore: good morning. I am pleased to make your acquaintance.”

“I understand you are the county sheriff. I see your badge, but I’m not sure I caught the name when my sister-in-law announced your presence. Neal, is it? Beal?”

“Llewellyn Elias Leall, sir.”

“Leall. Thank you. My hearing isn’t what it once was.” Richard, who had stood to greet his visitor, held a hand out to his right and then resumed his seat.

“I shall endeavor to speak clearly and with sufficient volume, sir.”

“Why are you still standing?”

“It is written, ‘Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord.’ ”

“Well, now. I am familiar with that passage, but I daresay you are the first in my life actually to apply it. I thank you, sir. Now do sit down.” Richard pointed at a captain’s chair not far from his rocker. Both were located on the back porch of the elderly man’s home in Metomen. “Do you like peonies, Sheriff Leall?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Do you like the scent of peonies?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Not too feminine?”

“No, sir, though I do prefer the scent of all our grasses at this time of year. I did not know how distinctive their scent is, not until I spent a couple years away from them in the Deep South. Coming back to the Middle West in the early summer of ‘65 was an epiphany of sorts.”

“Have you been farther west, Sheriff?”

“Beyond the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers, no.”

“Ah, at this time of year, there is something to be said for seeing the sun rise over vast prairie grassland to the east, and seeing the early morning sunlight emblazon majestic mountains to the west, this while listening to a chorus of birds sing their matins.”

The two men sat quietly for a time and listened to the songs of robins.

“So tell me, Sheriff Leall, how may I be of service to you?”

“Well, sir, I understand from your brother that you served for many years as a missionary among the Indians.”

“Forty years, yes. And how do you know my brother, David?”

“I have seen him in court a number of times.”

“But of course,” said Richard. “He is an attorney at law, while you are an officer of the law.”

“As an officer of the law, I am working on solving a number of related crimes. That is, I believe them to be related.”

“What crimes?”

“Horse thefts. Perhaps you’ve heard or read some news.”

“There may have been something in a newspaper. David hasn’t mentioned it.”

“Your brother practices law here. As far as I know, no horses have been stolen from within the municipality, so there would be no natter. Nothing has gone to court, never mind anyone being arraigned. Earlier, we arrested a man whom I thought to be a perpetrator, but I since disenfranchised myself of the suspicion. That man has been extradited to Wood County for a crime committed there. Sheriff Whelchel has not learned anything helpful since. I have received other leads, however. One I bring to you today for your advice.”

“Oh? What? You have indication that Indians have been raiding farmers?” Richard asked with a measure of incredulity in his voice.

“That would be much easier to investigate.”

“So let’s have it, sir.”

Lee handed Richard a piece of paper.

“This looks like a child’s writing,” said the old man.

“It is,” said Lee. “It is that of a boy named Quentin, who is ten years of age.”

Richard read the letter. “This is addressed to you, employing a presentation obviously taught to him. He endeavors to be correct in his correspondence, even formal.”

“You smile, sir. You see he is not quite yet proficient.”

“He does, however, make it clear that he believes you should lead a posse in search of one Panther, the Water Spirit.”

“Indeed.”

“Is this lad of American Indian parentage?”

“No, sir. Dutch and British. According to his aunt, who is a school teacher in Pleasant Valley, he has become something of a student of Indian lore.”

“And how does he come by this interest?”

“His family lives on and works a farm outside Amherst, in the Tomorrow River country. Indians from time to time pass through, and Quentin’s father allows them to camp on their property.”

“On what used to be the Indians’ property, I imagine … though territory is a better word than property. They don’t think of real estate as we do.”

“Quentin has been allowed to listen to stories.”

“Ah.”

“One of my deputies, Philip Redman, is of American Indian parentage,” said Lee, “but he has no idea of tribal identity. He was reared since infancy in an orphanage, a Roman Catholic orphanage. I would ask Philip for assistance in this, but he knows little of his ethnicity. As for myths, legends, and folklore, he is much more familiar with Archbishop Jacobus da Voragine’s Golden Legend.”

“I’ve heard of it. Now that you mention it, I believe I heard a few of those stories when I was a child.”

“Jesus said, ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not…”. The lad is sincere in his endeavor to render assistance. I believe I should give him some kind of gracious response.”

“I, too, believe you should,” said Richard. “And you are here because you don’t quite know what to say or do.”

“Yes, sir. I could begin with a reply stating that we have discerned absolutely no indication of a predatory animal attacking any of the horses in question … or any of all the horses in Tuscumbia County, for that matter. These days, our horses are more subject to injury inflicted by other horses, and maybe by the rare bull and ox. If you ask me, our horses suffer more at the hands of people than animals. As for the missing horses, we have found no blood, no bones, no offal. One would think that a hunting cat would leave such evidence.”

“But a spirit cat is no mere cat,” said Richard. “Such a panther could be expected to be more cunning, more shrewd, more devious … and certainly more capable. Indians―at least those with whom I have lived―consider Panther to be, shall we say, a less than welcome presence. Think bad news and bad luck both. To see a real wildcat, be it bobcat or lynx or cougar, is to be informed you are being stalked by an enemy. This enemy may be natural or supernatural, corporeal or spiritual, and you don’t want an enemy after you who has the power of Panther. You would rather elicit such power for use against an enemy. Did you know, by the way, that the panther was not originally long and lank?”

“No, sir.’

“Yes. The cougar, or puma, or mountain lion … which do you prefer, sir?”

“How about catamount?”

“Catamount! Your ethnicity is showing, I gather. Well, then: the catamount was originally much more like the lynx, except bigger and without those distinctive tufts of fur at the tips of the ears.”





Holy Water

16 08 2015
Holy Water

Holy Water

 

“Truly, truly I say to you, unless someone is born of water and spirit, he is not able to enter into the kingdom of God.”

Jesus the Nazarene





Light Is Come

10 12 2014

glory streaks

Pleasant for eyes to see, truly sweet is the light.      1

But when whitened skies are brushed blue by the breathing breeze,      2

None can gaze e’en with longing at the sun’s star white.      3

Longing fails to linger strong in Light’s awesome feeze;      4

Blindness of blackness comes preferred in our dis-ease.      5

Yet the Sky’s Wind conceived the living, gleaming Word;      6

The shadow of death out to Light it then averred.      7

 

Whence, where, and whither it wills soars and sounds the Breeze      8

Circling one and then another, each to gird      9

With truth revealed, recalled, retold in congeries.     10

Esteem, embrace the wisdom of the Word adjured;     11

Prefer the halo, the crown of glory conferred.     12

The way of the right is a route evermore bright,     13

Enlightening perfectly with dawning daylight.     14

 

Before beginning, beyond ending, is the Word,     15

Commanding out of chaos, “Let there be light!”     16

Shining in darkness what darkness never immured:     17

Grace for grace, full of truth.  Because, despite the night,     18

Love and joy and peace, faith and hope and love unite     19

In one chivalrous, glorious Spirit imprese.     20

This with these announce Life, pronounce death’s obsequies.     21

 

Day dawns; the day star shines white.    22

Glory has risen aright.    23

Arise!  Shine!  It’s come, thy Light!    24

Excerpted from the novel entitled No Shadow of Turning: A Sojourner’s Tale, which is available as an e-book on Amazon.





White Ash

1 10 2014

Image

Blonde leaves,

Yellow and gray

In the darkling mist,

Whisper in the Wind

Still and small,

Calm and cool.

Clearly the mist

May not apprehend,

Cannot comprehend the

Coming shimmer, glimmer and

Gleam of this new autumn day.

Despite sight of ice and

Knowledge of night,

Light labors with Sky

Calling and christening,

Flaming and freeing,

Enchanting before winter’s chill.

A graceful blonde forever

Bright, white and beaming

Calm and cool:

Clearly.

D. Raymond-Wryhte





Woodcraft 9: Shop Rules

8 08 2014

No Blood on or in the Machinery. 

No Blood on the Tools or on the Woodwork. 

No Blood on the Tables, the Benches, or the Floor.

 

That was my father’s way of saying, “Be careful.  Observe all the safety protocols.”

He asked me, “What does the Bible say about blood?”

“Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins,” I answered, as though I were reciting the catechism at school.

“And why is blood so important?”

“The life is in the blood,” I recited.

“And what does that mean?”

I thought about it.  That one, I couldn’t answer.

“You probably haven’t gotten that far in school yet,” my father said.  “Listen.  You know that you breathe, right?”

“Right.”  I didn’t think much about it since breathing is automatic, but of course I knew I did it.

“Air goes into your lungs.  Your heart pumps blood to your lungs to pick up air.  Oxygen, to be more specific.  Your heart then pumps the air-loaded blood to all the other parts of your body.  All those parts, down to the smallest cells, need air.  That’s why you need air.  Right?”

“Right.”

“What does the Bible say about the creation of man?”

“It says that God made Adam from the dust of the ground, and then He breathed life into him.”

“Right.  Man’s body is made from the elements of the earth.  Man’s spirit is made from the Breath of Heaven.  From the Divine Wind, as the Japanese might say.  The old English said the Holy Ghost.  The writers of the Bible, whether using Hebrew or Greek, used words made like plywood for the Spirit.  The words had many meanings glued together to try to make the concept work well in human language: air, wind, breath, even ghost.”

I wondered whether they might have thought of fog.  I was getting confused.

My father asked, “What did Jesus say about God?  How did He describe Him in short?”

“Jesus said God is Spirit.”

“And has anyone seen God?”

“No one has seen God at any time.  No one can see God and live,” I recited.

“Right.  No one except…”

I had to think for a moment.  “Oh.  Well, no one except Jesus Christ, the Son of Man and the Son of God.”

“Right.  As He said; as it is written.  And Jesus also said, ‘He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father’.”  My father looked me in the eye.  “Have you seen Jesus?”

Again, I paused.  I didn’t quite know how to answer that, so I decided to be strictly honest.  “No.”

“Neither have I,” my father said.  “That’s why Jesus said, ‘If ye love Me, keep My commandments.  And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him.  But ye know Him, for He dwelleth with you and shall be in you.  I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.’ 

“There is that within us,” my father said, “that makes us living souls.  It comes not from within ourselves.  It comes from without.  It comes not from within the earth.  It comes from heaven.  As Elihu told Job, if God were to ‘gather unto Himself His spirit and His breath, all flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust.’  That spirit, that breath is, as the French might say, élan vitale: a vital, enthusing vigor.  Quickening is the old English word you’ve seen in the Scripture: an enlivening.  It’s something God breathes into us to make us alive.  It’s Something we breath in from God in order to live.”

“That’s the life that’s in the blood?” I asked.

“Yes, in a manner of speaking. The air carried in the blood is a symbol of the spirit given us.  It is that spirit that makes us among all creatures special: the image of God.  It is that Holy Spirit of God, spilling in the blood from the Son of God onto the woodwork of the cross, that kills sin and re-creates us to be what we were meant to be.  ‘But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord’.”

woodcraft 8