No More Good-byes

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People are always asking me, “How do you say good-bye in Cherokee?” or “How do you say good-bye in Tla Wilano?”

Here’s the thing.

In many/most Indigenous American cultures there is no concept of “good-bye,” not a temporary one and certainly not a long-term or permanent one.

Good-bye carries the notion that you will not be seeing that person again. In a culture where there is no concept of a permanent departure, there can be no good-byes. There is only, “until we meet again” and “and so,” which is an internally understood concept of continuation.

Imagine you are going on a trip. You make plans. You choose a vehicle, either you rent one, borrow one, or buy one. You choose the vehicle in which you will travel based on the kind of trip you’re taking. You certainly wouldn’t choose a mini-van to cross the ocean or a boat to travel over land!

Your journey begins the moment you get into your vehicle and it ends the moment you get out. However, when you exit the vehicle, YOU do not end. You do not cease to be. You continue to exist outside the vehicle. You’ve reached your destination. You are in some other place and your vehicle stays parked where you left it until some outside force moves it.

Now, think of our lives on earth as vehicles on a road. Think of our bodies as our vehicles. We are each driving our own custom-made vehicle that will only operate for its precise owner. You cannot drive another person’s vehicle and they cannot drive yours! Our vehicles come in all colors, shades, shapes, sizes, makes and models. These vehicles are not really us, but mere descriptors of us, just as our skin color, gender, size, etc., are NOT WHO WE ARE but merely descriptors of our vehicles.

We exist before we ever get in our vehicles and we exist after we get out of them!

It is only in this life that we have a beginning and an ending. Life within the confinements of time and physical space is a journey along the way in our never-ending existence and in order to travel through this life, we need a vehicle–a physical body through which we can interact with the physical world. So, we are spiritual beings traveling through a physical dimension. There’s an old gospel song that says, “This world is not my home, I’m only passing through….” How true that is! We stay here until our spirits are ready to leave, then we go home. Even when our minds compel us to stay, our spirits know when it’s time to go.

Here, there is a beginning and ending of the physical, because we are on a journey. We are spirit beings and even when we leave our earth-traveling vehicles or houses, we are not gone. We just get out of the car. We transcend. We are still very much here and very much alive.

Recently, I’ve seen several friends depart from this world and several more who almost departed and it just keeps coming to me that they are not gone, they have merely parked their cars and gotten out because they reached their destination–home, a place where only spirit travelers can go, a place where you have to park your car before you can enter.

Fortunate are the CHEERFUL Givers

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IN THE BOOK OF ACTS, Paul quoted Jesus as having said that it is more blessed to give than receive but how can this be? The word “blessed” here was originally “makarios,” which means to be fortunate. So Paul and Jesus were saying the giver is more fortunate than the receiver. But doesn’t it seem like that the more you have, the more “blessed” you are?

GIVERS ARE HAPPIER IN LIFE

A 2002 survey of 30,000 Americans showed that those who gave to charity, whether financially or in the form of volunteer work, were far happier than non-givers. It is almost like the more you give away cheerfully, the more you have to give away. The cheerful aspect is a HUGE component in all of this. If a person gives out of a sense of obligation and resentment, no happiness comes to them from it and they are robbed of their “blessing” or status of being fortunate.

WHEN WE ARE CHEERFUL, WE ARE ALSO COURAGEOUS

Giving is an act of courage and courage is an act of faith. Jesus told his disciples, “Be of good CHEER.” The word cheer here literally translates into ancient Greek as COURAGE. So, every time we choose to be cheerful, we demonstrate an act of courage.

The great speaker, Wayne Dyer, said that one of the secrets to having contentment in life was to want more for others than you want for yourself, to wish good on them more than you wish it upon yourself. He said that if you want peace in your life, then wish for and pray for others to have peace. If you have an addiction and want to be free of it, wish for, pray for and hope for others to be free from addiction. If you wish to be financially blessed, want others to be even more so. Living this way requires courage and brings joy.

That seems so contradictory to the “me first” mentality of greed. But if the whole world, or even 20% of the world, lived by those rules then there would be far less pain in the world, far less need. Instead of struggling to survive, people could explore and learn and there is no telling what the human mind and spirit could accomplish. It would be like the thousand years spoken of by Isaiah the Prophet where people beat their swords into plowshares and instead of killing each other, they feed each other. Instead of stealing from each other, they give to each other. Sounds like a good place to live to me. I believe greed is born of fear and giving is born of courage.

CHEEFUL GIVING IS A DEMONSTRATION OF LOVE

One could say that giving is how I Am demonstrates love toward us. Jesus, in speaking to Nicodemus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave….” He gave. When the Israelites were wandering in the desert God gave them water. God gave them food. They got fearful and greedy and tried to hoard it so it spoiled on them (because they tried to circumvent one of the spiritual laws of the universe), but nevertheless, he GAVE. Giving is the nature of God. The true nature of the Great I Am. Giving is an extension of love and according to John, God is Love. (1 John 4:8)

GIVING DEMONSTRATES CONFIDENCE IN GOD’S ABILITIES

Our willingness to give demonstrates our view of I Am’s ability to provide for us. If we hoard and are fearful of tomorrow, of not having enough, we communicate that we doubt there are enough “riches in glory” to provide for our needs. Being fearful of giving demonstrates a lack of confidence in God’s approval of and love of us, in LOVE’s identity. In demonstrate doubt in I Am’s, Jehovah Jireh’s, the Almighty Source’s, Klongliwiha, The Great Spirit’s, He Who Never Dies’, ability to provide what we need when we need it. Jesus addressed this by talking about the birds of the air and the lilies of the fields. That doesn’t mean we should never have a bank account or a savings plan, only that we not be so stingy that we can’t “share” out of our abundance.

The Tao Te Ching talks about how the wise person, the person of virtue, gives out of his or her abundance or excess. If I have two coats, I can afford to give one away without being fearful of life without that extra coat because I might “need it someday.” The key to being fortunate, in all areas of life, according to Jesus, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Lao Tzu, Apostle Paul, Saint John, Saint Francis, Wayne Dyer, the Dali Lama and every other spiritually attuned deity, person or teacher, is to cast fortune on others. They can’t ALL be wrong!

GIVING IS CONTAGIOUS

I love the movie, Pay it Forward, where the little boy comes up with the idea of doing good deeds for others with “pay back” being “paying forward.” I give to you and you don’t pay me back, you give to someone else. I do good to you and you do good for someone else.

So many people give but secretly, subconsciously, keep score and hidden contracts with the thought somewhere in the back of their minds, “I’ve done this for him (or her) now he will do things my way.” That’s not giving. That’s bartering. I’ve heard so many people say, “I can’t believe he’d do that after ALL I’VE DONE FOR HIM.” Or “Can you believe she said that to me after how nice I’VE BEEN TO HER?” These are hidden contracts. If you give expecting performance, you’ve already missed the boat. Giving should be for the soul purpose of making another’s life a little better. If you don’t WANT to give for the pure joy of doing it, then you’re better off not to give at all. Paul said to give cheerfully, no begrudgingly. Expect nothing in return and receive everything from a Source far greater than you can imagine.

SOMETHINGS ARE SO EASY TO GIVE

A smile, the touch of a hand, a word of encouragement, a note, a card, a smiley face, a cup of coffee, a piece of fruit, a moment of laughter, a joke. It merely takes an act of courage, of getting outside ourselves, and being a cheerful giver.

***MY SHAMELESS PROMOTION CAMPAIGN—I’ve written a new novel and I want to GIVE it to others, so I’ve made it available online here: https://walkabouthenovel.wordpress.com The ONLY thing I want in return is for YOU to read it and enjoy it:) Oh, and if you want to share it with others, that’s okay, too. Every writer wants readers, every painter wants viewers, every cook wants people with appetites…when you do what you love and love what you do, you just want to share it.

Dreams of a County Poet

No dream comes true and thrives unless someone is willing to support it. My friend, Jeanne Lane​ [kinship to the poet, Robert Penn Warren] and her daughter, Dawn Osborne, have had a dream for many years, to keep the oldest country store in America operational. Located in Gravel Switch, Kentucky, in the heart of Kentucky’s Knobs region, at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, is Penn’s Store. It’s a tiny building that sits on the corners of three counties with history dating back to before the 1850s.

101_6754Jeanne Penn Lane, speaking with a guest author.

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Dawn Osborne, Performing.

Jeanne and Dawn haven’t tried to keep the store open to make a profit. No, their desire was to keep something of heritage and tradition and family alive. Jeanne Penn Lane is a true historian, a curator of what made central Kentucky special and unique, a preserver of culture. But she is so much more. Jeanne and Dawn have always had a passion for the arts and for Kentucky. As a part of that, they initiated the Kentucky Writers Day held there each spring, in hopes of giving Kentucky writers, artists and musicians a place to share their voices, to make connections and to remember.

Jeanne’s one desire has been to give something of beauty and value to her community. Kentucky has long been the birth place of world renown artists, novelists, poets, musicians and actors. Jeanne and Dawn want the world to know this, to understand the caliber of people that come out of these hills, hollers, swamps, tobacco patches, saw mills, corn fields, hayfields, coal mines and creek beds. Throughout the years, celebrities have trekked from all over the world to sit around the pot-bellied stove in Penn’s Store and share their music with a receptive audience, even before they shared it with record labels. Prize-winning authors have sat on her porch and eaten a famous “balony sandwich” while bouncing story ideas off each other. Even modern day celebrities have graced the aged porch of Penn’s Store. In 2009, Turtle Man answered the Call of the Wildman and showed up with his Team Turtle to enter the annual Great Outhouse Blowout, a fun event that Jeanne has hosted for years in order to bring in much needed funds in order to keep the store operational. It’s a time when vendors can come and set up and people of all ages from all over the world can watch the outhouses race for the Golden Throne Award.

308719_2170075930448_722707637_n Animal Planet’s Turtle Man and Yours Truly, goofing around.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Call_of_the_Wildman

If you don’t live in the state of Kentucky and you are passing through, unless you check out Penn’s Store, you’ve missed a part of what makes Kentucky culture unique. It’s not the kind of thing with buttons, bells, whistles and all kinds of hoop-la, no, it’s real Kentucky, both the way it was and the way it is. It’s a piece of American history that has survived into the New Millennium and it’s a good piece, a piece worth keeping.

101_6807Me, posing for a shot with the timeless poet, H.R. Stoneback, who has worked diligently to keep Kentucky Writer’s Day and Penn’s Store operational. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H.R._Stoneback

However, keeping a dream alive isn’t free nor is it cheap. Jeanne’s dream is to give others a piece of heritage, a piece of culture, an outlet for the arts but she needs help. I’m posting a link to Penn’s Store’s website where you can find all of their contact information. Most people could donate a few dollars to the store and help Jeanne and Dawn continue to offer events and opportunities for artists, writers, musicians and actors without it ever making a huge dent, but many small gifts could be the difference in whether the dream continues to live or whether it becomes just another forgotten paragraph of American history. I can’t help but reference Audrey Hepburn who said, “People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.” In this case, the people are those who have come before us in our human family. By preserving this piece of the past and the this hub of community in the present, we preserve something for ourselves and our children. And, she did also say…things. But Penn’s Store is more than a thing. It’s a piece of “life.”

101_6799Sarah Elizabeth Burkey, and I, hanging out at Kentucky Writer’s Day. Sarah is the Assistant Director of Music for the Cherokee Historical Association.

Here’s the link:http://www.pennsstore.com/history/history.htm Help in any way you can. No effort is too small. Sponsor an event, send a gift, go visit the store, be a vendor…anything helps.

Jeanne and Dawn have no idea that I’m writing this article. It was my own idea, but I want people to realize that this precious little gem has been buried in the hills of Kentucky all these years, this little unselfish piece of living history and heritage that seeks to help artist, musicians, writers and actors build a foundation for future endeavors. Let’s not throw it out. Country stores have become a thing of the past in most places, but here is one, still operational, that has existed since the 1850s. That’s living history. I hope some of you who read this will contact Jeanne and Dawn today and become a part of it.

You can contact Jeanne or Dawn via the contact info on their website, on their facebook page Penn’s Store.

101_6752When a person visits Penn’s Store, he or she travels back in time and feels a connection, not only with yesteryears but also with the earth itself.