Deeper into the Forest

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Pulling 

My sweater closer

I walk deeper 

Into the forest

Of ancestors.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016

“In gratitude, I bow to this land and all of the ancestors who made it available. I see that I am whole, protected, and nourished by this land and all of the living beings that have been here and made life easy and possible for me through all their efforts. I see all those known and unknown. I see all those who have made this country a refuge for people of so many origins and colors, by their talent, perseverence, and love–those who have worked hard to build schools, hospitals, bridges, and roads, to protect human rights, to develop science and technology, and to fight for freedom and social justice. I see myself touching my ancestors who have lived on this land for such a long time and known the ways to live in peace and harmony with nature, protecting the mountains, forests, animals, vegetation, and minerals of this land. I feel the energy of this land penetrating my body and soul, supporting and accepting me. I vow to cultivate and maintain this energy and transmit it to future generations. I vow to contribute my part in transforming the violence, hatred, and delusion that still lie deep in the collective consciousness of this society so that future generations will have more safety, joy, and peace. I ask this land for its protection and support.”  ~III Touching of the Earth, Thich Nhat Hanh, Plum Village

Alignment

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Above and below

Spanning

Four directions 

Earth and Sky

I AM

Here, now

Home

Where I belong

My ancestors

Greet me

From the stars

Communing

With nature

I open

To the depths

Of inner knowing

With each

Breath.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016

“…mastery requires we stay the course, stay embodied and show up to do the work.”

~Mysticmama, Mastery

I Will Never Die

undercurrents

Do I have the courage

To allow the undercurrents

Of pain to rise in my life

There is healing and then…

Something simple like 

The sound of a piano

Breaks me wide open

A stream of pain…

Running waters

Yet these are waters 

That can gurgle

With the mirth 

Of laughter

water death

But I am haunted by fear

Fear that these waters

Will begin to rage 

Flooding my existence

That I will be surged under

To my death

pines cradle the sky

Then I look to see 

How the tips of swaying pine

Cradle the sky with love

I remember how deep their roots 

Reach into the Earth

How she holds them to her bosom

I wonder…

I wonder whether this is my pain

Or the pain of my ancestors

I can still be grounded

Even when the waters are rising

I can allow this fear

To have as much space as it needs

To breathe

naked before my own eyes

I find that I can allow the pain 

To mingle with mistakes I have made

Over the years…

I can allow the pain to flow freely

I can unlearn behaviors that bring despair

I can let the underclothes of judgement fall

Once again I am naked and vulnerable

Before my own eyes

leaflets and buds

Again I breathe

This time the running waters

Aren’t undercurrents of pain

But a cleansing rain

Cascading down upon 

The leaflets and buds of my heart

Nurturing the spring within me

That will awaken new life

Delicate and tender

I am flower fresh

jutting granite

Inwardly, jutting granite speaks

Of the solid strength

That we all bear together

In state of Oneness

Running waters grow still

As they collect in a natural basin

Of Love…

Reflecting what is true

Until the sun and moon

Sing of boundless freedoms

Ever expanding…

through the clouds

I know that I have arrived home

I have my place in the cosmos

I will never die…

I will return again and again

To kiss the earth through the clouds.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2015

*photos (in order of appearence) by:

Adam Taylor,

https://fstoppers.com/nature/photos-adam-taylor-captures-captivating-landscapes-5925

Brooke Shaden,

http://www.flickr.com/photos/brookeshaden/4916539764/

Luke Gram,

http://man-and-camera.com

Greta Tu,

http://www.gretatu.com/about-me

Droplets from Tumblr:

http://mariplopis.tumblr.com/post/29797090845

Alan Howell,

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ashcroft8/3128393783/

Silouhette of girl on swing from Tumblr:

http://valscrapbook.tumblr.com/post/23284163399

***this poem was inspired by a dear friend on Twitter @stillnesspeakin

Heart Fires

heart fires

All the paths
I have wandered
Always lead home
Where heart fires
Warmly welcome.

My soul has been whispering to me today to look and listen more deeply to the love within myself. I have felt alone a lot in my life, but the more I come back to my essence the more fulfilled, connected and joyful I really am. In my meditation this morning, I came across the words of Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh, “When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger and desire, you run away from yourself and lose yourself. Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself. Life is only available in the present moment.” I paused after those words and knew clearly that this year that would be my theme. No more waiting for some magical moment to appear…life isn’t gonna be like I want it to be, but I already have enough to be happy now.

So, I wrote a list in my journal of all the things that I was happy about right in that moment: a red gerianium looking out the kitchen window, Jill, my tabby, sitting beside it like a domestic goddess, watching fluffy, white snowflakes flying by horizontally on the wind, the pines quietly standing in the their wisdom across the way, my children sleeping in their rooms, a white French country table standing in the turquoise kitchen, the pen scribbling out my heart’s contentment onto the page, the gift of sight, the knowledge I’ve been blessed with to heal myself and others, Thai’s teachings of mindfulness, mysticism, and Tao, the Yaqui heritage of my ancestors, shamanic whispers of ‘old soul’ wisdom always with me, my lungs filled with air, and the present moment. Yes, I already have enough to be happy now.

I will rise to tantalizing heights this 2015 and fly on the wings of my highest potential into the space of my own unique spirit. What about you? What makes you happy in this moment?

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*photo ‘Loneliness of the soul’ by Kondakova Tata, http://thewinterhome.blogspot.it/2012/10/magia.html

Tenderness…Ternura

 

I am thankful for the tenderness of my heritage which the ancestors have passed down to me. I honor the tenderness of their spirit. And the fragility that comes with it. An unending wealth of spiritual riches! It is my strength. Thank you ancestors for the abundance of my soul. We all have the same incredible capacity to love and heal each other. With each breath let’s live…

Live the breath.

Rough translation:

Estoy agradecido por la ternura de m herencia que los antepasados han transmitido a mi. Honro la ternura de su espíritu. Y la fragilidad que viene con el. Una riqueza inagotable de riquezas espirituales! Es mi fuerza. Gracias antepasados por la abundancia de mi alma. Todos tenemos la misma capacidad increíble de amar y sanar entre si. Con cada respiración vamos a vivir…

Vive la respiración! 

Honoring Ancestors

 

“If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh-

Through the hot blast

Of summers long past

I had to run fast

Before little inner me

Was a lost memory.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2014

The Singing Tree

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*this is one of my favorite Yaqui folktales…in honor of my ancestors

A big dry tree with all its limbs almost crumbling to the ground appeared in the wilderness every day from sunrise to sunset. This tree was vibrating like the chords of a harp, the sound of which was audible a great distance around. Every day people gathered to hear it.

Wise men from all parts of the country came but no one knew the significance of the sound of this tree. When everyone in the country failed to find an answer about this living tree, an old man stepped out of the crowd and stood before the wise men and spoke: “There is only a slight hope for us to reveal this great mystery which has bound us in confusion for a long time. When I was young, traveling with my father, we found an old woman in the forest. This old woman will interpret the meaning of the sound of this tree, for she is very intelligent, and wisdom crowns her with un¬measured understanding. This woman, if living, is our only hope.” Thus he spoke and the wise men after conferring gave the old man an answer. “To lead us out of the obscurity of doubt, it is our will to unmask this mystery, so if you think this woman is wise enough, go forth and bring her. We will make arrangements so that you may depart by sunrise.” The next morning the old man and a score of young men moved toward sunrise into the wilderness.

After many days of hardship in the forest they observed from a distance the abiding place of the old woman. It was late in the afternoon when they arrived at her hermitage. The old woman did not show surprise. It was as if she had been expecting these visitors. The messenger upon his arrival saluted, standing far away, fearful that she might turn loose her pet tiger to devour them. She offered them welcome under the shady Ramada to rest. This woman had dwelt in the wilderness since the death of her husband, with her only daughter, a young maiden whom she called Seahamut.

When the messenger had settled down, he told the object of his mission. Having explained about the tree, he said: “All the inhabitants of the country are in a profound confusion over this tree. You are the only one not questioned. We ask you to come and interpret the tree yourself, for you are in the grace of cultured wisdom.” Though the woman knew these things very well, she pretended ignorance and declared solemnly: “I am advanced in days and the journey through the forest is perilous.” This she was saying when at the rear of the but footsteps sounded. Her daughter arrived with a young stag she had slain. Her mother called her tenderly, and a sturdy young woman appeared before the men. She sat down timidly beside her mother as if she sought her protection.

Raised in this remote wilderness the girl could get along better with the beasts than she could with a human being. She loved and respected her mother who had brought her up in all good things. The mother explained how she had prepared Seahamut in all manners intellectually, and how many years ago she had been told that these things would come to pass. Then she spoke to her daughter: “For this occasion I have prepared you. These are the men you knew were coming since their departure from the living tree.” Then the mother told the messenger: “As I must fail to comply myself with your request, I will send forth my daughter. She will interpret the meaning of this message the Almighty sends to the people of the earth.” And the old man rejoiced upon hearing this answer for the star of hope shone vividly in his mind.

He mentioned that this would be pleasant news to the people waiting anxiously for an answer, and he asked the girl if she would consent to go. To this she replied timidly: “My mother desires it. In obedience to her I shall go.” After she had accepted the petition she prepared the game brought from the forest. By sunset they were eating, and Seahamut became more familiar with the men with whom she was to travel. Evening occupied her mother in instructing her, and the next day at dusk the girl was ready to go. Her mother placed a pretty white tunic in her bag which she would wear upon being presented to the people.

The old messenger told the young men of their great responsibility in taking the girl away from her home. Farewell was said and they departed into the wilderness. They had not gone far when the tame tiger roared a very sad grunt. Seahamut almost turned sharply back, but she realized that her mother was safe with the tiger to guard her. She herself knew every art of self-defense in the forest even better than the men who were traveling with her. During the long weary journey she defended herself and the men in a very skillful manner no man would risk to do. She led them wind away from the beasts so they did not scent them even at a near distance. She knew when a beast was near and how to avoid it.

The girl was enjoying the journey. She was not even tired when the men began to light up their countenances, seeing their destination at hand. Presently two men were sent on to announce their approach. When the message was received in the village everyone went to the place where they expected to meet an old woman, tired after the long journey. Instead, they were surprised to find a rough, sturdy, wild-looking young woman who did not show the slightest sign of weariness. She was dressed in the neat white tunic her mother had made for her. The most enthusiastic people from the crowd came close to her with the object of kissing her. But this she thought was a challenge and recoiled back in position to charge upon them.

The old messenger had a hard time correcting the enraged girl. When she was again quiet in her mood, the people were afraid to come near her. In presenting her to the wise men the messenger said: “The old woman failed to come herself, but her daughter she has sent to take her place. In presenting Seahamut to you, I do not fail to fulfill what I promised in taking up the journey into the wilderness, for she will interpret the sound of the strange old tree.” The wise men were happy, for this would unmask a great secret and their wisdom would improve. So they received Seahamut with honor and did not delay in asking the great question about the living tree.

When the girl prepared to speak, silence reigned all through the multitude of people. Everyone was staring at her.

She listened to the sound of the tree. Then her voice rang clearly in full tone. “This message the Creator of all things sends to the people, a testament that he will establish with the earth: that it must produce all sorts of subsistence for every creature upon it; trees in the forest shall bear edible fruit in abundance; the vegetation of the earth will sustain the beast and the fowl and even the tiniest insect that has life in itself; another thing called seed will also come upon the earth; every bush, shrub or tree which does not bear fruit shall be cut down and the ground cleared for the good seed, then tilled with an instrument called the plow. Thus the ground will be prepared.

“After the ground is prepared and seed is placed beneath the soil it shall come to pass that, from the seas, water will be lifted in clouds and carried by the winds to the plains in the form of rain. The seed under the soil will burst forth into life and if cultivated properly it shall bear fruit in such quantity doubled, that one seed will produce one hundred, and this shall be for the maintenance of the people.

“But there is another thing to come in ex¬change for the benefit the earth will provide. It is called death. Together with the sustenance, all creatures upon the earth will receive also death, for death will not spare even the tiniest insect that has life in itself. And it shall come to pass after death that all substance will be swallowed by the earth in payment for the nourishment given during life.”

These things did Seahamut tell the people, while the strange old tree vibrated like the chords of a harp when touched by a passing wind. Then it came to silence and remained so forever. The wise men tried to conceal this wisdom from the people, but there was a great change among them. All those who accepted the word remained in their homes and those who did not receive it gathered and danced the farewell dance and disappeared into the morning air, going underground to establish their own kingdom.

By Refugio Savanna

* artist Ian Marke, http://2headedsnake.tumblr.com/post/7168785889

Chief Seattle’s Response

“How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us.

If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?

Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap, which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man.

The white man’s dead forget the country of their birth when they go to walk among the stars. Our dead never forget this beautiful earth, for it is the mother of the red man. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters; the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and man — all belong to the same family.

So, when the Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land, he asks much of us. The Great Chief sends word he will reserve us a place so that we can live comfortably to ourselves. He will be our father and we will be his children.

So, we will consider your offer to buy our land. But it will not be easy. For this land is sacred to us. This shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you the land, you must remember that it is sacred, and you must teach your children that it is sacred and that each ghostly reflection in the clear water of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The water’s murmur is the voice of my father’s father.

The rivers are our brothers, they quench our thirst. The rivers carry our canoes, and feed our children. If we sell you our land, you must remember, and teach your children, that the rivers are our brothers and yours, and you must henceforth give the rivers the kindness you would give any brother.

We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs. The earth is not his brother, but his enemy, and when he has conquered it, he moves on. He leaves his father’s grave behind, and he does not care. He kidnaps the earth from his children, and he does not care. His father’s grave, and his children’s birthright are forgotten. He treats his mother, the earth, and his brother, the sky, as things to be bought, plundered, sold like sheep or bright beads. His appetite will devour the earth and leave behind only a desert.

I do not know. Our ways are different than your ways. The sight of your cities pains the eyes of the red man. There is no quiet place in the white man’s cities. No place to hear the unfurling of leaves in spring or the rustle of the insect’s wings. The clatter only seems to insult the ears. And what is there to life if a man cannot hear the lonely cry of the whippoorwill or the arguments of the frogs around the pond at night? I am a red man and do not understand. The Indian prefers the soft sound of the wind darting over the face of a pond and the smell of the wind itself, cleaned by a midday rain, or scented with pinon pine.

The air is precious to the red man for all things share the same breath, the beast, the tree, the man, they all share the same breath. The white man does not seem to notice the air he breathes. Like a man dying for many days he is numb to the stench. But if we sell you our land, you must remember that the air is precious to us that the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports.

The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sigh. And if we sell you our land, you must keep it apart and sacred as a place where even the white man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow’s flowers.

So we will consider your offer to buy our land. If we decide to accept, I will make one condition – the white man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers.

I am a savage and do not understand any other way. I have seen a thousand rotting buffaloes on the prairie, left by the white man who shot them from a passing train. I am a savage and do not understand how the smoking iron horse can be made more important than the buffalo that we kill only to stay alive.

What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of the spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.

You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children that we have taught our children that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.

This we know; the earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood, which unites one family. All things are connected.

Even the white man, whose God walks and talks with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We shall see. One thing we know which the white man may one day discover; our God is the same God.

You may think now that you own Him as you wish to own our land; but you cannot. He is the God of man, and His compassion is equal for the red man and the white. The earth is precious to Him, and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator. The whites too shall pass; perhaps sooner than all other tribes. Contaminate your bed and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.

But in your perishing you will shine brightly fired by the strength of the God who brought you to this land and for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land and over the red man.

That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses are tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires.

Where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the eagle? Gone.

But why should I mourn at the untimely fate of my people? Tribe follows tribe, and nation follows nation, like the waves of the sea. It is the order of nature, and regret is useless. Your time of decay may be distant, but it will surely come, for even the White Man whose God walked and talked with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We will see.

We will ponder your proposition and when we decide we will let you know. But should we accept it, I here and now make this condition that we will not be denied the privilege without molestation of visiting at any time the tombs of our ancestors, friends, and children. Every part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove, has been hallowed by some sad or happy event in days long vanished.

And when the last Red Man shall have perished, and the memory of my tribe shall have become a myth among the White Men, these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe, and when your children’s children think themselves alone in the field, the store, the shop, upon the roads, or in the silence of the pathless woods, they will not be alone. In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude. At night when the streets of your cities and villages are silent and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land. The White Man will never be alone.

Let him be just and deal kindly with my people, for the dead are not powerless.”

Words taken from:

http://www.messengersofthelight.com/Seattle.htm

The film is from the Moving Poetry Series by 4 Seasons Productions.

website: http://www.4spfilm.com