This morning I was doing my morning pages (three a day) and having some fun with the big picture of why people make war. I know that sounds like a light topic for a Sunday morning, but . . . .
My frustration with such big picture explorations is always how to get my feet back on the ground and be a force for change in this moment. As I was scribbling in my notebook, this wonderful song written by Ben Harper (performed by Jack Jackson) came on. I’d heard the song before but this morning I “heard” it in a new way. The simple verses begin:
I can change the world
With my own two hands
Make it a better place
With my own two hands
Make it a kinder place
With my own two hands
Peace is made up of all the small actions that you and I do with our own two hands. If we spend too much time on the big picture of politics and global scenes of chaos, we lose track of what we can do in the here and now. Here’s an example.
Many years ago I met a Lakota man in a coffee shop who asked me to write a dream into a story. On many levels it made no sense—it was no giant earth-shaking movement–but I responded to my heart and his spirit and together we created a novel, Washaka—The Bear Dreamer, with our own two hands. I still love this story and feel the pure heart of it every time I read it. Last week I got this letter from a man in Butte, MT. His story moved me nearly to tears. I asked him if I could post it here and comment on it. His words seemed like a testimony to believing in what we can all do with our own two hands, the many ways that one life can touch another in a positive way. We just have to do it.
Thanks, Todd, for walking across a street, for sending me a note, for becoming a part of our larger community who want to create peace one piece at a time. Thanks Leon for approaching a perfect stranger in a coffee shop.
Todd’s note to me . . .
On August 2nd, 2011 at 4:30 in the afternoon shots rang out in a quiet neighborhood in Rapid City, South Dakota. In the end two police officers were killed, one police officer was seriously wounded and a young man with a troubled past was dead. Racial tensions in Rapid City were heightened. I was visiting friends and family in the area the following week. My wife and I drove to Rapid City for the funeral procession for the fallen officers. While we waited in the hot sun, I noticed a shaded area across the street. There was a couple and a small child there. We went across the street and asked if we could join them in the shade. That’s when I met Leon Hale. With racial tensions heightened, his wife seemed a little anxious about us joining them, but not Leon. He immediately greeted us and introduced himself. For the next 30 minutes we had a wonderful conversation. We somberly stood side by side as the funeral procession passed and we paid our respects. Leon told m e about a dream that he had had and that it had been written in a book. I finally have been able to read Washaka, the Bear Dreamer. I am changed. This book has rekindled a slumbering spirit within me. I can’t wait to share this life stimulating experience with my friends and family. My sons will read this and we will share the thought provoking life lessons. Thank you Jamie Lee for listening to Leon’s dream and bringing it into print for all to share.
from Todd M, Emergency Medicine Physician Assistant, Butte, Montana (Deadwood native)
We are all related. The Lakota people have this embedded into their traditional culture. I have it embedded into my heart. We want to share this message with others in all the ways that we can and begin to act together to create a world we want to live in. Sometimes I am afraid to write too much in my weekly posts, as if taking too much of your time would be an imposition, would try your patience, but I am going to quit worrying about that and write as much (or as little) as I want. And I’ll ask you very directly to begin to share this with others, to open the lines of communication, to help build a community of people who recognize that we really are all related.
Todd, I decided to add a nice little piece that my husband Milt created for Leon and I—a first ever film added to my own Youtube channel. This is for you and Leon.
Subscribe by adding your email to the box below. Next week I intend to begin posting my long exploration of “Why War.” I’ll do it a piece at a time. Join me. Leave a comment. Leave your beautiful footprint on my blog.
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