Honor to the land – snippet from “Happy, I am” by Ron McFarland

To bring favor to a man, the worship of the soul brings honor to the land. For it is well known by the Holy Ones that we were cast into the forth world as Earth People. The essence of red soil, clay and blood. To seek the great spirit is the right way to live. The heart is in harmony when we forward the love of Mother Earth and Father Sky.

The first of four destinations to which I was was led was the Hubbell Trading post. Hubbell stands as an end point, a blank sign post and an exclamation point to the Long Walk. It was at this trading post where trade was expected by the white man as the one best simple solution to infuse economy back into a fractured and weary people of the red Mesa lands following their return back home. But the repatriation from Fort Sumner in New Mexico following the Long Walk to the Bosque Redondo Reservation by the U.S. Military, grappled and irreparably tore the fabric of this once great Nation, well over a century ago. The Nation has not since healed.

The day was blustery. Wind thumped on the sides of the van as I started down a desolate 2-lane road. The road snaked into the vast desert. I recalled that to the Navajo, all snakes are to be avoided. And I was coasting gently on the spine of one. Snakes are the relatives of the lightning people and it is understood that thunder will soon prevail. I looked to the clear sky. In a gentle tone, I began humming a Carlos Nakkai flute tune, as a way of prayer. A thank you to a deity that I did not know. Yet the tapping wind reminded me that it is the certain sacred source of life. It is the essence of our breath.

Shane, my friend, the artist and lover of life, told me often that he did not believe in God.  Not at least in any Western sense. As an artist, he knew love and disappointment. To be an artist is to feel the sweet pulsating scorpion sting of love. Pain and pleasure, wrapped tightly in an addictive sugar nougat. To be an artist is to be inspired by by the breath of many unseen things. This may be the domain from which God must exist. I wondered if Shane knew any differently about the spirit now.

I recollected an incident from a few weeks prior. Shane barged into the office around 8 a.m. and shouted, “I got it. I figured it out! I am an apatheist!”

“What the fuck!” I jerked back in my leather seat as my heart thumped heavily. I’d been at work since 7 a.m. anticipated Shane’s typical groggy arrival. But today was different.

I continued. “You scared the shit out of me. What are you talking about?” I peered at him.

The white parts of his eyes were reddish. Not bloodshot and streaked from booze or pot. His eyes had a tired red tint that colors exhausted eyes. I knew he must have been up all night painting again. He continued, “An apatheist. It a neologism that fuses ‘apathy’ and ‘theism.’ It means someone who has absolutely no interest in the question of God’s existence and is jus as uninterested in telling anyone else what to believe.”

He stood there proudly waiting for my reaction. I smiled, shook my head from side to side, and looked back to my computer screen. It was these small moments, the sparks of  his effervescence, his crazy nature, that I missed.

(c) 2017 by Ron McFarland, All Rights Reserved

The Medicine Man Knows of the Rhythm – excerpt from “Happy, I am” by Ron McFarland

The Medicine Man Knows of the Rhythm – excerpt from “Happy, I am” by Ron McFarland

The Navajo medicine man knows of this rhythm and pulse. It is shared by the subtle song of red-tipped grey northern cardinal, the warble of the thick-billed kingbird or in the other tunes, sounds and stories that many creatures of Northern Arizona tell. It is also in the whisper of the wind coursing through pine needles of the Ponderosa and the slant of the morning sun that the story of interplay between mother earth and father sky is told.

If you listen deeply, time passes in subtle waves. The undulation is barely noticeable to my undeveloped ear. Yet, in each quiet moment in time, a certain shape and definition is given to the pulse of the day. It is the breath that rushes through our lungs. It is in the glow of the sun over the horizon. It is in the chatter of the Albert squirrel scampering up the orange bark. These are the simple signs of the cadence of mother earth’s heart. It’s the rhythm seen by father sky. The tempo is palpable to an open heart.

This is the land where spirit roams between red sandstone and hematite. Whispers from the earth-soul echo from the canyon walls. Each facet of life is reflected in the four seasons. Winter, a season of solace, brings forth contemplation. Crisp winter mornings, barren of active wildlife, will soon be met by heavy spring snowfalls. Blankets of snow muffles the already quiet winter. By noon, after a snowfall, most of the snow has melted away, giving moisture to the dry earth in this barren season, offering hope for the up-coming season.

The snowy springtime yields a green canopy of freshness, ushering in birth in late-spring. Animals, birds and insects begin the annual dance of life. Stances of white aspen leaf-out and flutter in the breeze. They are the accent of green and white against the towering vistas of rusty mesas. Durning late-spring, gentle melodies arise from the waves of purple three-awn and tufted green hair-grass. The bloom of flowers is building to a crescendo. It is a time of blessings.

Summer moves slowly in on late-spring. In the evenings, the mountains soon are accented by the rich glow of orange-painted sunsets. In the sky, the sculptured face of God is in the clouds of the summer monsoons. Daily, an intense burst of heavy rain provides a raging 45 minute rain which provides nourishment to the land. The grace of spirit, in all it’s splendor, is shown by the land.

Fresh summer nights ease into gentle autumn breezes. The fall air fills with the chatter of rustling foliage. Quaking aspen leaves turn from a vibrant green to a brilliant yellow. The subtle green leaves of gamble oak tree transform into several ringing hues of red and red-brown. The colors shape a rich autumn pallet and longer evenings. Thanks is given for a plentiful season.

The full circle of seasons, at last, is completed. The cold of winter arrives once again. In the deep chill of the quiet winter, the love of the land nestles into the mountains. Retrospection is given to past seasons, while prayerful chanting ushers in the future ones. This is the rhythm of this land.

I headed out in my bondo-patched robin blue 1982 VW minivan. The old-lady has served me well during the past thirty-five plus years. It has been my shelter, my lumbering ride, and my co-conspirator in escapes. Flagstaff and the San Francisco peaks are now in the small rearview mirror. I proceed East on I-40. The elevation drops from 7,000 feet to 4,000 feet in a matter of several miles. The tall ponderosa pines of the peaks give way to their scrubbier cousins, the juniper pine. Fields of juniper soon give way to the brown-red sand and dust of the high desert. I head towards the town of Winslow, Arizona.

Streaks of light pink over pale blue skies provide the backdrop for distant mesas. The absence of trees allows wind to pick up strength. Gusts of wind thump occasionally the box-like structure of the van. Snow lays in scattered patches on the desert floor. These were the spitting remnants of the evening snowfall last night in Flagstaff. I finally set off on this journey to honor a friend.

(c) 2017, Ron McFarland, All Rights Reserved

Where spirit roams – snippet from “Happy, I am” by Ron McFarland

This is the land where spirit roams between red sandstone and hematite. Whispers from the earth-soul echo from the canyon walls. Each facet of life is reflected in the four seasons. Winter, a season of solace, brings forth contemplation. Crisp winter mornings, barren of active wildlife, will soon be met by heavy spring snowfalls. Blankets of snow muffles the already quiet winter. By noon, after a snowfall, most of the snow has melted away, giving moisture to the dry earth in this barren season.

The snowy springtime will yield to a green canopy of freshness, ushering in birth in late-spring. Animals, birds and insects begin their annual dance of life. Stances of white aspen trees flutter in the breeze. They deliver an accent of green and white to the towering vistas of rusty mesas. Durning late-spring, gentle melodies arise from waves of purple three-awn and tufted green hair-grass. The bloom of flowers is building towards a crescendo. It is a time of blessings.

Summer moves slowly in on late-spring. The mountains are soon accented in the evening by the rich glow from orange-painted sunsets. In the sky, the sculptured face of God is placed in the clouds of summer monsoons. Daily, an intense burst of heavy rain provides a rapid 45 minute rain that nourishes the land. Grace, in all it’s splendor, is shown on the land.

Fresh summer nights will yield to gentle autumn breezes. The fall air fills with the sound of the rustling leaves.  Quaking aspen leaves turn from bright green to a brilliant yellow. Also, the rich green leaves of Gamble oak tree transform into several hues of red and red-brown. The colors provide a rich autumn pallet. It is a time to welcome in the longer evening. Thanks for a good season is given.

The full circle of seasons is completed. The cold of winter arrives once again. In the deep chill of winter, love of the land nestles quietly into the mountains. Retrospection is given to past seasons, while prayerful chanting ushers in the future. This is the rhythm of this land.

I headed out in my bondo-patched robin blue 1982 VW minivan. The old-lady has served me well during the past thirty-five plus years. It has been my shelter, my lumbering ride, and my escape. Flagstaff and the San Francisco peaks are now in the rearview mirror. I proceed East on I-40. The elevation drops from 7,000 feet to 4,000 feet in a matter of several miles. The tall ponderosa pines of the peaks give way to their scrubbier cousins, the juniper pine. Fields of juniper soon yield to the brown-red sand and dust of the high desert. I head towards the town of Winslow, Arizona.

Streaks of light pink over pale blue skies provide the backdrop for distant mesas. The absence of trees allows wind to pick up strength. Gusts of wind occasionally thump the box-like structure of the van. Snow lays in scattered patches on the desert floor. These were the spitting remnants of the evening snowfall last night in Flagstaff. I finally set off on this journey to honor a friend.

—————————————-

To bring favor to a man, the worship of the soul will bring honor to the land. For it is well known by the Holy Ones that we were cast into the forth world as Earth People. The essence of red soil, clay and blood. To seek the great spirit is the right way to live. The heart is in harmony when we forward the love of Mother Earth and Father Sky.

The first of four destinations to which I was was led was the Hubbell Trading post. Hubbell stands as an end point, a blank sign post and an exclamation point to the Long Walk. It was at this trading post where trade was expected by the white man as the one best simple solution to infuse economy back into a fractured and weary people of the red Mesa lands, following their return back home. But the repatriation from Fort Sumner in New Mexico following the Long Walk to the Bosque Redondo Reservation by the U.S. Military, grappled and irreparably tore the fabric of this once great Nation, well over a century ago. The Nation has not since healed.

(c) 2017, Ron McFarland, all rights reserved

The tempo is palpable to an open heart – from “Happy, I am” by Ron McFarland

I wait for a few minutes. My hands are freezing. I shove them into the pockets of my leather jacket, but the pockets are cold. I look at the saddle that bridges between the two mountain peaks. The rich blue of the vast father sky is cradled by the saddle’s open arms. Deep corridors carve down the rocky face of the mountain. Rich veins of mother earth are exposed in crevices scored down the mountainside. A whip of wind brings me to attention.

In acupuncture, the traditional Chinese medical doctor seeks discovery of the varied aspects hidden in a single pulse. Is the pulse level strong and steady? Does the rhythm show decay? Is the pulse influenced by other factors in the body?

The Navajo medicine man knows of this rhythm and pulse. It is shared by the subtle song of red-tipped grey northern cardinal, the warble of the thick-billed kingbird or in the other tunes, sounds and stories that many creatures of Northern Arizona tell. It is also in the whisper of the wind coursing through pine needles of the Ponderosa and the slant of the morning sun that the story of interplay between mother earth and father sky is told.

If you listen deeply, time passes in subtle waves. The undulation is barely noticeable to my undeveloped ear. Yet, in each quiet moment in time, a certain shape and definition is given to the pulse of the day. It is the breath that rushes through our lungs. It is in the glow of the sun over the horizon. It is in the chatter of the Albert squirrel scampering up the orange bark. These are the simple signs of the cadence of mother earth’s heart. It’s the rhythm seen by father sky. The tempo is palpable to an open heart.

(c) 2017, Ron McFarland, All Rights Reserved

A snippet – Native American – From “Happy, I am” by Ron McFarland

Directly to my north rise the majestic San Francisco peaks. The towering mountain range was named the Dook’o’oosłííd by the Navajo. It is the sacred mountain of the west. Thirteen regional tribes hold Dook’o’oosłííd quietly, in solemn ceremonies and soulful song. Yet, it still suffers as if it is a despoiled innocent, from the activities of generations now long gone. Then, the white man arrived on horses, mantled with silver and gold. The lest conspicuous and most insidious of the group were draped in drab brown robes. Once they huddled around a makeshift wooden cross, built in tribute to an unknown monotheistic deity. Ceremoniously, they attributed the Dook’o’oosłííd, the dear mountain, to one of their many saints — St. Francis. The range, by proclimation, was set forth to be known as the San Francisco peaks. And Dook’o’oosłííd was vanquished and vanished from the lexicon. To conquer the oppressed, necessitates a rapid circumscription followed by an immediate and intentional castration of the subserviant culture. This occurred as if the whites were then certain that the native peoples never really existed. At least, not as humans.

Yet, no man ever expects to be conned. No red man, no person of earthen rust whose soul was pulled from the blue sky, would have seen this trickery coming. I do not find it a shock that the first people refer to whites as the spawn of the devil. With each measured and conniving act over the centuries, the pale devils have used language as one of several certain wedges to intentionally pry the indigenous people from their culture. Without culture, there is no identity. And without the cultural bond to the land, the earth is for the taking. If it were not for St. Francis for which the mountain was renamed, the deed would have been done in the honor of one of many dozens of Saints available. And would each saint agree? But a revival of honor has now begun a slow rumbling. I am now convinced that the true heart of each saint would have rolled over in their collective graves in recoil of the white man’s actions. And so it is now. Pink, orange and fire red streaks in sunsets over the mountains must be the blush of St. Francis for the injustice and continued onslaught on the native peoples. I am certain. For these sins and other unnamed evil misdeeds, as a white man, I hold the shame of my progenies.

(c) 2017, Ron McFarland

Chapter 2: The Whisper

Chapter 2: The Whisper

Do you hear my whisper?

What does the wind whisper to you?
Listen to the song of the manzanita tree and the desert holly,
As we step down this trail,
Towards the late afternoon spring.

There is a lifting up, of an accord to heaven,
On this wash of red sandstone and hematite;
A distant drumming, together of our heartbeats,
One pulse as we walk along the mesa’s edge.

I catch a glimpse into your eyes,
As the peering sun squints between feathered clouds;
On canyon walls, I hear a subtle song reflected,
From a past long shared, in a distant foreign land.

The whisper of times spent wrapped together,
In a blanket near the fire, on a brisk winter’s evening;
And of moments that we danced slowly together,
In the soft hush of the spring morn.

You searched for me in rainbows that color the sky,
You watched for me in the thousand winds that blew,
You met me in diamond glints in the snow;
When you thought, I was gone.

Turn my way and know;
That I am here, and have always been,
With you.

Do you hear the whisper?

(c) 2017, Ron McFarland

—————————————-

There is no shame in being a broken man. Loss fractures time. And, in time, every man will be fractured. With loss, love is recalled. We pass through a long string of days. And search for the mountain. Yet we forget the soft smile, a gentle laugh, and a brief touch. I seek to recall these flecks of life. In distant clouds or over the shimmer of dawn, I sketch your memory. To build a lasting shrine is my heart’s keepsake. I color your grey tomb with red earth, burnt sienna and the blue sky of daylight. To burn sage and hang gold tapestries on temple walls. For you.

—————————————-

Day one. I look to the sky. The clouds of yesterday’s storm have cleared. It’s the way I like it. The heavy silence is interrupted by a wisp of wind that settles back down to dead quite. Silence gives a man the space to believe.

I thought each day would be the same for us. You’d expect nothing to ever happen in Flagstaff. The smell of dust and pine, the wrestling of the trees, and the anchor of the mountains. I anticipated the dozens of years we knew each other would reach kindly in the past to copy another data point onto the road of the future. But there is a secret conviction that life holds for us. And each sentence is a judgement to surely bring the strongest of men to their knees in unheralded times.

I am silhouetted against the bright crisp blue sky of the early daylight. Rays of sun bounce from a crisp 3-inch virgin layer of snow. A draping of white powder over the long sage colored Ponderosa pines reminds me of a southwest Christmas card. Sun glints from the white snow blanket, like a million miniature diamonds. Each sparkle is like an angel’s wink.

Directly to my north are the great San Francisco peaks. The towering mountain range is known as the Dook’o’oosłííd to the Navajo. But the white man, draped in monks garb, once huddled around a makeshift wooden cross of some unknown monotheistic deity attributed the Dook’o’oosłííd to St. Francis, certain that the native peoples never existed. At least, not as humans.

No man ever expects to be conned. No red man, no person of earthen rust skin, whose soul is pulled from the blue sky, would have seen this trickery. I do not find it a shock that the first people refer to whites as the spawn of the devil. With each measured and conniving act, over the centuries, the pale devils have used language as one of several certain wedges to pry the indigenous people from their culture. Without culture, there is no identity. And without a bond to the land, the earth is for the taking. If it were not for St. Francis for which the mountain was renamed, the deed would have been done in the honor of a different Saint. I am now convinced that the true heart of each saint would have rolled over in their collective graves. Pink, orange and fire red streaks in sunsets over the mountains must be the blush of St. Francis for the injustice and continued onslaught against the native peoples. I am certain. For these sins and other unnamed evil misdeed, as a white man, I hold the shame of my progenies.

I wait awhile, my cold hands shoved into my leather jacket pockets. I look between the mountain that bridges the vastness of father sky down to the deep corridors and veins of mother earth. Time passes in subtle waves. Each moment shapes the pulse of the day. It is the cadence of mother earth’s heart and breath of father sky. It is palpable to those who listen.

This land is where spirit roams between red sandstone and hematite of canyon walls. Stances of Aspen stretch far towards vistas of rusty mesas. Crisp winter mornings, paint orange summer sunsets and open to soft evening autumn breezes. In the spring and summer, gentle melodies rise from waves of purple three-awn and tufted green hair-grass. In the fall and the deep chill of winter, love nestles in these mountains. Rhythmic tics set the pace to my journey of unfolding truths.

I headed out in my patched robin blue 1982 VW minivan. It has served me well over the past thirty-five plus years. It has been my shelter, my lumbering ride, and my escape. Now, Flagstaff and the San Francisco peaks are in the rearview mirror. I proceeded east on I-40. The elevation dropped from 7,000 feet to 4,000 feet in a matter of several miles. The tall ponderosa pines gave way to scrubbier cousins, the juniper pine. Fields of juniper yielded to the brown-red sand of the high desert. I headed towards Winslow.

Streaks of light pink on pale blue skies were the backdrop of distant mesas. The absence of trees allowed wind to pick up strength. Gusts of wind occasionally thumped the box-like structure of the van. Scattered patches of snow lay on the desert floor. These were the spitting remnants of the evening snowfall in Flagstaff. The journey was set into motion to honor a friend.

(balance removed)

(c) 2017, Ron McFarland

Chapter 1: The Opening

Chapter 1: The Opening

Path to Perniciousness

There is no mystic secret

It is the betrayal of the stars

And the sun that rests over the mountain

Shows only phases of an aging moon

We are barefoot on the path of perniciousness

Uneven footing on rutted brown earth

Sweet whiskey of your soiled lips

Are memories as I lay down on this floor

Last night in the dimly lit bar room

Away from the January noon, now so long ago

You became unearthly bound

Beyond the stars and stratosphere

I swear at the lies his injustice

Of drying marrow to the bone

I seek to set fire to this truth

Of infinite lies stretching with smiling stillness

(c) 2017, Ron McFarland

—————————————-

For the seekers. From the reformed doubter. Time, from the very beginning. Segments of each season seem to stutter in our memories. On the strength of memories and nothing more, we live as gatherers. Compiling and pooling. Sorting and categorizing. The gathering of our souvenirs must be shared. Words only outline the collection of wounds and sorrows. Stories provide a simple hue for each rich truth that will be known. Eternity, in it’s grandeur, cannot be rolled up in simple sentiments.   

To be honored by, with, and in story is to understand. To separate wheat from chaff, stories harvest essential truths. In the strength of truths, hope surfaces. And hope, like tufts of yawing grass, will always favor the spring sun of honesty. Each phase always offers the vow of truth. In this land and for each truth, the call of the great mystery reaches forward, like fingers of morning sunlight that slowly extend under the forest’s canopy. I walk now far from county roads that gouge the face of this ponderosa forest in Northern Arizona. I seek the sunlight and the truth. This is where the dream of hope begins.

—————————————-

In the afternoon of March 18, 2014, I looked away from the computer screen to the window. A usual early-spring storm was evolving. Tender starter flakes danced outside on gusts of winds. Through the glazed window, I saw that it was twenty-eight degrees, by the thermometer outside. From my desk, the day appeared to be normal. But, I felt out of phase — out of sorts from the rhythm of a typical day. I was the observer of this life. I was of it and not in it. I was the acting interloper set on someone’s stage. This day was the start of my journey. The story unfolds from here. And, in truth, the messages began.

The cell phone rings. I snapped back to this reality. On the screen, I see Tamera is calling. She is the sister of my best friend Shane. On rare occasions, she’d call the office phone or my cell looking for Shane. I’ve known Shane for 30 some-odd years. And Tamera — a few months less than that.

Tamera had ocean-blue eyes cast of polished sea glass. From an angle, they glowed aqua blue, like the waters over the pearly beaches in the Yucatan. In the Yucatan, lovers lay in twisted repose on rickety wood slat benches. Trellised away from the sun glinting after lovemaking, couples hide in secluded talapas sandwiched in the jungle savanna of palmettos and coconut palms. It was there where I wanted to spend time with Tamera, twisted under the shade of a greying fronds stitched by the sacrament of locals, after the latest hurricane. This is where slight ocean breezes offer an occasional relief away from the heat of lovemaking carcasses. This is where I hoped to be someday.

Tamera moved to southwest New Mexico, to Silver City, shortly after Shane introduced us. I’ve visited Silver three times with Shane. I counted this fact on my fingers, recording each brief encounter with her using the care of an archivist.

Silver is an impoverished mining town. The town is still reaching to gather it’s pantaloons and other undergarments from the floor after many unwanted entanglements by the mining company thugs over the past century. The frail town is nestled in the high-desert of southwest New Mexico. Rickety wood structures built in haste by miners in the late 1800s are weathered grey and leaning. Many of the wood structures have surrendered to the elements of summer torrential thunderstorms and spring time winds. Some lean against crumbling adobe houses built by the Mexican and Chinese immigrants who were enticed by the mining companies to work for one-fifth of the wages paid to white workers.

Southwest New Mexico is a land of rolling hills blanketed by yellow bluestem grass with scatterings of juniper puffs and alligator pine. The crumbling brown sugar town of Silver once hosted brothels, bloody-bucket saloons, and clandestine opium dens in the 1850s, spurred by the rapid influx of miners. Silver gave birth to the legends of Billy the Kid and Madame Mille. It now lays of barren open pit mines.

I am an average looking bloke. Of course, this is stated with a salt of subjective humility. Each man or woman, for that matter, will appraise themselve on  ruler using a self-defined mathematical imaginary scale. We tally our unique god-given traits along with self-defined supplemental traits. After quick addition, a generous mark is etched on the yardstick. In a often less-than-generous manner, we quantify our competition. The two contrasting scrapes on the ruler provide us with a necessary comparative score. We are quite generous in measuring ourselves, yet fall short in measuring the competition. In defense of this suggestion, I have been quite brutal with my personal measurement, when repentance is due. I have been generous in measuring my friends. In business or in love, the yardstick measures our penetration of influence.

Currently, I am housed in a male vessel. I rank a generous 5 or 6 on a thigh-trembling social-Richter scale of 10. Tamera, even after decades, generously taps a 9.5. I sport a head-full-of greying mud-brown hair, a thicker mane than most of my contemporaries. But lately, it’s been thinning a bit in the back. Some refer to this as my monks cap. I’m now in my 50s. I’ve been told that I have soft green eyes, but when I look in the mirror, I only see darker circles forming from my lack of sleep over the past few weeks. Also, upon inspection, my nose seems to be a bit too long for my face. My furrowed brow is a mark that I consider of honor. I’ve worked for years in front the computer screen squinting at the examination of the finite details found in computer programming code and in the hexadecimal encoding of files. I am a consummate geek.

After I met Tamera. She was my Sassofarrato’s Madonna Annunciate. To be with any woman is to dance. We first stepped to a three-beat count of the waltz — a holy trinity of Time, Timing, and Lust. Yet, our dance quickly became an odd calypso. The crucifix of timing is essential to each measured scheme. The pace for growing love follows the seasons of the earth and refuses to be measured. Timing gives us the opportunity to bottle wine of sweetened vegetation, but the full flavor of Merlot is realized with only the richness of time. Odd timing between Tamera and I was soon venerated. Yet, I still pray that God of time will relinquish the lustful ghost of unripened thoughts to this goddess. Time may still provide atonement.

I looked at the clock on my computer screen. Two thirty-five on Tuesday afternoon. Close enough to wind down and think about heading to Mother Road Brewery after talking with Tamera. Maybe the timing with her was now.

Putting on my best flirt voice, I said in the deepest sultry tones I could muster, “Hey Tamera. How are you doing?”

Sobs came out of the speaker. Jesus, something is up. I silently lambasted myself, “Don’t be such a douche-bag.”

“Tamera?” I became honestly concerned.

“It’s…, it’s ..” she was crying.

“Tamera. Take a deep breath. Calm…calm…” I made a breathing sound into the phone to mimic the slowing of the breath. I waited a few moments. I hear choking gasps for air. “Now, tell me slowly…. Tell me what happened.” I waited. I learned the technique of holding for a response from my mental health therapist when I went into marriage counseling after my first divorce. My therapist was a big asker of one-line questions. I’d describe an important event in great detail and she’d simply respond “Stan, how does that make you feel?” I wanted to respond “How the fuck do you think it makes me feel?” But I always held off. She’d wait for my response. And wait. And wait some more. Until I replied. Almost as if her waiting was the wick that would sop up the spilled mess I made of my life.

I heard Tamera sharply inhale, in staccato. She blurted out on an exhale, “Shane is dead. He got hit by a train.” She bawls.

“What?” I burst out. My mind began to race. I hoped for a quick retort. Maybe it was a stupid joke. But no riposte. Only sobs on the other end of the line. There’s a few dozen vehicles hit by the BNSF train each year in Flagstaff. His car probably stalled on the tracks.

She restated carefully. “He’s dead.” She wailed.

My response softened. “Oh my god.” I covered my mouth after blurting that out. I paused and listened. Tamera sobbed. Seeking clarification, I asked “Did the train hit his car?”

“No… no… it hit Shane. He was walking Pepper … down by the tracks.” I could hear her reaching to catch a full breath.

“Oh god,” I softly responded. Pepper was Shane’s German Shepard mix he picked up some 7 years’ prior. Shane arrived at our office cradling the little ball of fur. He purchased Pepper for a few dollars from a couple of girls who had a cardboard box full of scrambling puppies outside of Safeway.

I sat straight up in the chair. I gathered my thoughts. Reassuringly, I said, “Tamera, I’ll head down to the Police Department now. I’ll find out what I can. Also, I’ll see where Pepper is.”

“Thanks.” Tamera choked.

“I’m so, so sorry. I’ll call soon.” I waited for a response, but heard soft sobs. “My love to you and Shane.” I touched the red disconnect button. I held the cell phone against my chest. I felt my heart beat a steadily – reassuringly. I stared out the window at snow now whisking by. I welled up and sobbed. I reached to make sense of a world without him. I hadn’t cried so hard since I lost my father several years back. Shane was not only my business partner; he was my friend.

The Flagstaff Police Department, an honorable police department that I had the opportunity to get to know during my less-than-sober years, gave robotic and scripted answers about Shane. The desk sergeant at the FPD addressed me with staccato tempo. It was cold that day and he wore his I wasn’t Shane’s blood relative, so why would I expect concern?

The pound had picked up Pepper. They tell me that Pepper did not leave Shane’s side after he was struck by the train. When I arrived at the pound, Pepper’s bright brown dog eyes looked through the cage at me. His tail wagged wildly, thumping the sides of the cage. I could not wait to hug him, in spite of his wet tongue that always seemed to find my ears. As I looked at him while his cage was being unlocked, I was flooded with memories of Shane. Pepper leaped at me as I leaned down to greet him. I hugged Pepper tightly as he lapped my face. Pepper didn’t mind the tight hold around his neck. After returning to the house with Pepper I called Tamera. We cried. I consoled.

Exhausted that evening. A cavernous chest. My heart was missing. I was folded into a tunnel of darkest grief. Though I attended the funeral mid-week, I was out of phase with the common-day world. I, the observer of what is being acted. Engagement is the tender wound of life. When spirit is not of the world, truths reveal.

Nights echo a lonelier song. I later wrestled with the bed to conquer my sleeplessness. I ached to sleep. Worn to the bone.

Pepper had difficulty sleeping too. He lifted from the pillow placed in the corner that was his make-shift bed and paced . Like clockwork, every 10 minutes he arose from his place of comfort and walked his green line. Nails tapped rhythmically on the hard wood floors. To one wall and back to the other, he walked in circles. He halted to sniff the air. Repeating his sniffs, I knew it wasn’t for me. He was trapped in a prison of dog thoughts. His ghostly silhouette would soon settle back into the pile of pillows placed in the corner for him. Does he remember Shane strewn on the tracks? Pepper and I shared the same ghost.

Shane, a spiritual mash-up, was wildly creative with both technology and art. He was a gear-head with oil paint-stained hands.

A beautiful soul. And if love is the signature of the heart, his was big. Like fine whiskey, in his youth, he sipped wild women in slow doses. Age mellowed him. After his wild twenties, he’d preferred to stay at home and paint l. I can’t blame him a bit. As his interest in art grew, he became uninspired by his computer job. It defaulted as a means to pay bills. He soon planned to dump the programming gig. But plans are made for fools who put faith in the future.

That week, memories continued to wrestle with my sleep. When a few minutes were eked for slumber, disturbing dreams snagged my attention. We went to college together. Later, we raised hell in Flagstaff. Over thirty years, we spent time together as friends and co-workers. It was a long sail together.

Seven days after the accident, I finally fell into a luscious sleep. An intense dream unfolded. My soul seemed to arise away from my body as my body laid prone. I lifted through the rafters and beyond the roof. Far above the clear city below. I could see car headlights snake through the streets downtown. I hung mid-air for hours. I was the outside observer passing time.

From a distance, sunrise lifted the dark shroud of night. The rising sun slowly sliced through starry-black curtain of night. The San Francisco peaks glowed in the morning dawn light. The sun fingered through the land. Vast open spaces of Ponderosa seemed to come alive. The sun reached further into the native Hopi and Navajo lands. A breeze soon lifted around me. A soft message whispered around me “You must go beyond. You must go beyond.” It repeated several times.

My spirit gently returned to the room. I awoke. The walls, floor and ceiling seemed to glow. The world was translucent. And the message of the dream remained. “You must go…” I looked to the clock on the shelf. It read 8:02 a.m. I slept for 6 hours without interruption. Given the intensity of the dream, that night may have well been a year. Time is relative. It is not measured linearly.

Pepper did not pace either. But, he began to stir and I re-focused into the reality of the morning. The hidden curtain between the present and the mysterious spirit world pulled slightly opened that night. It was a calling for stillness from the holy lands. It was in that moment I knew I was bound for the road.

(c) 2017, Ron McFarland

Chapter 3: The First Message

Chapter 3: The First Message

Bending Light

Early light glints over the horizon,

It is the introduction of a new dawn.
The sun swells and the dark is coaxed away.
The long shadows of the night slowly roll up.

The crisp sun slips it’s fingers under the chilled Ponderosa pines.
The trees, mountains, and open spaces are released from the nightly cloak of darkness.

Each day is another face of God.

I am but a soul made of red clay,

And the ground is my spirit that I walk on.
My ancestors moved before me on this path.
They now step silently along in my exile to the forest

Clothed in Aspen and Ponderosa pine in the morning light.

Each day now holds my spirit.

The colors of early sun paint the autumn
Bled of yellows, reds, and orange unto the canvas before me.
I carefully set each foot onto the path 

A corridor of gentle dancing shapes of light.
Each day aligns to a course for my journey.

The heart of nature I seek,

And the soul of your presence, longed for.
It is here that I may find you,
My companion, my love,
On this side of the escarpment, where solace is found.

Each day is of the bending light.

(c) 2017, Ron McFarland

—————————————-

It must be an ecumenical truth that most days in life hide rich uncovered veins of golden sorrow. I, the seeker, knew that it once rumbled outside, but now lives within. Then afar, but the droning timber resounds within each of my steps forward. A repeated madrigal sung from a once distant whisper. Light from sunshine danced above, now rests in the soil below. The heavy shrug of sorrow hangs like a cape of flesh on these fragile bones.

(balance of chapter not shown)

(c) 2017, Ron McFarland

Happy, I AM – Introduction

Introduction

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.

Mahatma Gandhi

Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.

Martha Washington


Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits.

Thomas Jefferson



The Navajo, or more correctly the Dine´, are a great people of knowledge who live in North America and have been residents of the great Southwest for thousands of years. Dine´ is not necessarily a religion, but is a culture. It is rich in shared stories, close connections, and spiritual quests. It is a way that deeply honors kinship and the spiritual juices that flow subtly in the everyone’s veins. Dine´ philosophy is about restoring respectfully and attempting continually to the balance in life. As a westerner, I know a little about balance, but not much.

I received lessons from my spirit guide during my near-death experience, which I share with you in this simple book. However, to be forthright, I carefully crafted this story and selected words to describe events, to the best of my ability. But, in the end, the message of this book still falls short with the actuality of what occurred. While it was my intention at the onset to share fully, completely, and honestly events that occurred in September, 2015, words are just mere shadows of the deep richness of the afterlife.

I think about the many Navajo and Hopi stories now. Native cultures are closer to the source than their western brothers and sisters.  Native cultures express other worlds and westerners ignore them. The many, shared, and varied tales about the afterlife provide a tapestry that expresses the experiences of elders and shaman. In some way, in the West, much of today’s surfacing NDE literature can be viewed as a collective pool of writing that attempts to expresses the richness of the afterlife, especially from this limited dimension that we now exist in.
Before receiving the lessons, my life was out of balance. I was anxious, did not respect time and place, and rushed through life faster than I was designed. I sought success and wealth, status and importance, and was mostly unconnected to spirit. This was my way to bring my world into a semblance of balance.
I lived in Flagstaff, Arizona and in the great Southwest over the past few decades before I arrived in California. I left Flagstaff before September, 2015. And in September, 2015 I had a heart attack in Valencia, California. Yet, somehow I journeyed back to Flagstaff during the event and was later re-settled back to Valencia, California upon end of my spiritual quest. This will be made clearer in the up-coming chapters.

Flagstaff is in the Northern part of the great state of Arizona. It is a simply beautiful terrain of rough mountains, the orange-brown bark of the sparsely populated Ponderosa pine-forest opens to sunny blue skies and is carpeted by soft green native grasses. It is heaven. Flagstaff is one part of Arizona where a warm jacket and gloves are necessary for winter snow storms that blanket the Ponderosa pine forest, while an overhang is needed for the intense summer monsoon rainstorms.

Beyond Flagstaff, the Northern region of the state stretches away from the pines to parched desert lands where there are wide open vistas of mesa lands. The mesa lands edge into the four-corners area of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. This is big sky country of rich red clay and soft blue skies. Clouds shaped like bunny rabbits, dogs with long ears, and ancient ships that move overhead.

In this area, the Navajo culture supports the achievement of life-balance. It’s an individual call, but a collective experience. Balance in this region is represented by the four sacred mountains of Blanka Peak (Colorado), Mount Taylor (New Mexico), Hesperus Mountain (also in Colorado) and San Francisco Peak (by Flagstaff, where this story starts). The four sacred mountains signify four directions in life. Each direction, north, south, east and west, provide us with a unique vantage point, an aspect, where we can draw from the unique power of the particular direction. Also, representing the variation of power, the day is segmented into 4 distinct times and are shown by color, giving a unique understanding of the phases of the day and of each season. The direction and the seasons shape our lives.

As a non-native, I honor my visit to these beautiful lands. I am a clumsy dancer in this house of spirits. I am an interloper in the native American culture. I’ve awkwardly embraced a few native practices, and yet I’ve ignorantly misinterpreted a few others. This story is about my journey to death and back, with the help of my spirit guide.

It is my sincere prayer that you will find this book to be an offering to you. I pray that this book can provide you with a direction and a path to return to your original and authentic self. A way to ‘be’ in balance with life is possible. Our happiness is a choice we can regain and that we ultimately do control. Look to nature, the land, the sky and seek out happiness and joy. The intention will guide you!

 

The Blessing

The Blessing

The sun knifed through the stained and bent venetian blinds. The sun couldn’t set soon enough. He twisted the auger to halt stilettos of beams that sliced through the blinds. He yanked the sun-worn olive curtains together. Glittering dust lifted from the tattered swags.

Outside, was still 110 degrees and it was only 4 p.m. The air was hot, still and the sun continued to beat against the dirt and concrete. It wouldn’t temper down enough for a sensible man to walk to the corner bar until around 9 or 10 p.m.

Motels across the line provide an hombre with a good measure of anonymity. It was a hidden curse. It was sticky inside the small filthy room. The ceiling fan, absent one of four blades, shook violently. It clicked in time with his beating pulse. Sweat beaded on his forehead. The moisture ring around his collar provided a small touch of coolness.

He gripped the neck of the Jimador Blanco tequila bottle. He said with firm conviction, “It’ll be quick.” He held the bottle at eye-level. He put the bottle to his lips and guzzled the remaining contents. With the skill of a professional softball player, he pitched the empty glass bottle directly into the corner of the room. It shattered with the loud crash of a wild party, absent the laughter. No one in the motel would be alarmed. Nor would they ever dare to be. Broken bottles, drunken screams and occasional gunfire were the usual.

He picked up his holster from the grey kitchen table. He unclipped the retention strap, slid the pistol from its black leather pouch and lifted the barrel to his lips. The smooth-bore muzzle tapped against his front teeth. He exhaled and salty gunpowder bit his pallet. He firmed his grip around the weighted handle. He slid his index finger around the curve of the trigger slowly.

The Mexican police would find him dead sprawled out on the hard packed dirt floor in this filthy three-peso motel room across the line. He murmured his mantra for the past three days, “It is all lost.” He gazed down the barrel and glanced at a cockroach that scurried up the chipped wall. He dropped his gaze, as if he were focusing his attention through his third eye. With another exhale, he tightened his stomach and felt the beveled pistol site angled against his upper lip. As if she were in the room, he stated, “This is all for you, my dear.” And, like the good Catholic alter boy that he once was, he lowered his eyes prayerfully and sighed a final breath of release. He squeezed the trigger tenderly while maintaining the authority that he had when pulling his wife close for a kiss when they first met. The cylinder rotated, ever — so — slowly. The hammer clapped against the firing pin. His head jetted backward. But there was no burst. Just the echo of the clap that snapped up against the walls. The pistol failed to eject and deadened silence seemed to fold into the center of the room.

He lowered to his knees and the pistol dropped to the floor. A tear traced from the corner of his eye down his right cheek and a lump swelled in his throat. She was gone. There was nothing he could do. He arrived at the end of his path. He lifted his eyes and fists to the air and cursed “Chinga! Chinga La Madre Maria!” But God did not hear him that day. He slowly crumpled into a ball on the floor and sobbed.

(c) 2017, Ron McFarland