“May the stars carry your sadness away,
May the flowers fill your heart with beauty,
May hope forever wipe away your tears,
And, above all, may silence make you strong.”
— Chief Dan George
Summer Gathering: Healing, Community Shamanism, and Peacemaking
Bethel Horizons Retreat Center, Dodgeville, Wisconsin
Each year my intent is to use this gathering as opportunity share new teachings and understandings with our community. Additionally, larger gatherings like these allow us to do ceremonies and rituals which require larger community to build the healing possibilities for all who attend. This year we are creating special programming for children to integrate across generations. Traditionally children are included in the community and a part of the daily spiritual life of the tribe. It is important to understand that healing occurs in community. We heal the future as much as the past and give tools to empower the community to create a world that works for all life. I will be offering teachings in community ritual and ceremony, the healing of trans-generational trauma, Jewish shamanism, and indigenous peacemaking traditions. Don Allen, a professional drummer will help hold the drum rhythms for ceremonies and teach drumming. Amy Plum and Jenny Hayes will lead special programming for children. Danuta Jirik will assist and teach methods for healing trans-generational trauma. We are fortunate to have such a skilled and committed team to help bring our circle together.
Dates: August 21-24, 2014
Early registration highly recommended and helps us with our planning. Fee is $325 until July 28th. $375 after that date. Special family rates options are offered to encourage the participation of children. Contact us to learn about family rate options. $100 non refundable deposit will hold your space at the lower fee and assure better options of room placement. This year we are in the newer conference center at Bethel Horizons which has more space and better accomodations. Fee includes room and board. Food options include vegan and gluten free for those who request prior to August 7th. For information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fees payable to: Myron Eshowsky, 313 Price Place, Room 206, Madison, Wi.53705
Jane Goodall’s new book, Seeds of Hope: Wisdom and Wonder from the World of Plants is out and I think many of you would find it a good read. I am honored to call Jane a friend and amazed to have been mentioned in her book. Jane is a tireless advocate for young people all over the world, for peace, and for saving our Earth from destruction. Her book is testimonial to the sensient spirits of the natural world and the responsibility of our relationship to the earth.
In mid June, I return to Jordan along with the Flying Doctors organization to help provide medical, dental and mental health services to Syrian refugee children and adults. I will head up the mental health team which will come from students/volunteers from the Social Health Care(SHC) program that I help co-direct. SHC is expanding rapidly. We are being approached from different directions for help. Currently, we are working with UNHCR and a number of non government organizations in the U.S., Europe, Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon as the demand and need for trauma treatment expands. I want to take this moment to thank the many of you who have contributed to the Global Giving campaign. We were able to meet initial minimal goals to become permanent members of Global Giving and our fundraising efforts continue. We are in constant need for volunteers to help with video production, fundraising, and social media support. If interested please contact me.
I read today of the killing of 3 people at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City by a former Ku Klux Klan leader. I know hatred for I have been on the receiving end of its fire breathing passion. As native people know, the energy of hate is transmitted and the seeds of hatred are planted for future generations.
The spirit of hatred seeks to separate us yet we are not separate. I wonder who seeded this spirit in the killer’s heart and soul. I remember one of the first times I worked in the prisons: the prison put one white inmate in a circle of 44 other black inmates. I was there to talk about trauma and the soul. I spoke about indigenous beliefs in the loss of soul and its consequences to our spirit. After speaking, I offered to do a ceremony for those who wished to receive healing. The prison had a pow wow drum and four inmates hit the drum as I instructed. The drum was powerful and many wonderful healings occurred for the men. After the healing ceremony, the inmates were to leave for another circle of 45 inmates to arrive.
A few lined up to talk briefly with me as they walked out. The last one was the only white guy there. He looked at me square in the eye and asked me if I would do a healing for him. He spoke of how he had hated coloreds and kikes (Jews) his whole life and he couldn’t believe he was asking me a Jew to help him. What I had said made a lot of sense to him. As I came to learn he was a former leader of the KKK in prison for murder. I listened to him silently as he spewed words of hatred and violence he had carried his whole life. After a long while of listening to the violent talk, I simply said “yes.” The healing he received that day, he described as feeling the deep pain go away and a profound peace. I told him he had healed me. In the couple of letters we did exchange, he would write that he couldn’t understand how he had healed me. When he asked me to heal him, I felt all my reactions to him melt away and my heart open to him as a human being.
Yet hate is a strong spirit. It lurks in places we least expect it. Years later I would be confronted by a history professor, who happened to be Jewish, who would compare my teaching healing traditions at his university as the same as the university inviting the KKK to teach. He went on and on about how he had marched against the KKK and how he had fought for civil rights. In the meeting we had with university administrators, I asked him if he had ever been the victim of a hate crime. He had not and could only speak of things that his grandparents went through. I found it unbelievable that I as a man of Jewish background was being compared to the KKK. He could not see or hear me in the hatred that ate away at his soul. Ironically, the violence in him bothered me more than the former Klan leader. I couldn’t find a place where we could connect even in the face of our similarity.
I realize now as I write this, my heart struggled to forgive this man. I’m remembering words I read long ago, but it escapes me right now where. It’s a tale of a Native Elder who says the land is his teacher and it says to him he must forgive. If a mountain can be scarred by mining and cover the gashes with fresh plants of beauty, couldn’t he also cover his own wounds with his own plants of kindness and understanding. He was saying that he could not change what is, he could only hope to change what will become. My heart goes out to those who have lost their loved ones to another senseless act fueled by the spirit of hate. I pray the souls of those frightened by these acts find comfort. We unfortunately live in a world which experiences polarization and violence everywhere. No place is untouched. For those of us who are walking a healing path, we can remember our only hope is heal what was and is, and to change what will become.
Mitakuye Oyasin, all my relations I honor you in this circle of life with me today.