Grandfather Tree

Now having come to understand that we are all spiritual beings who have chosen to temporarily live a physical existence on this planet, certain musings are inevitable, and shared here.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Boy Scouts

A good friend of mine, Mike, died about four years ago. A few years before that, I was really into the “Mytho-Poetic Men’s Movement” influenced by men like Robert Bly and Michael Meade. So I helped organized a Men’s Group at our church and as one of our projects, we decided to make a drum. We bought a freshly butchered bull buffalo hide and spent a couple of weeks stripping it and turning it into raw hide. I got a hold of a hollowed out cottonwood tree truck from another friend for the base of the drum. Mike was with me every step of the way in this process. I was passionate and excited about it. Stripping a buffalo hide is hard work, and there were frustrations along the way, but I was having great fun. At one point I noted this and expected Mike to admit to also having great fun. He told me that he really had little interest in the project and in fact didn’t really want to do it. I was very surprised and questioned him about it. He explained that he frequently does things that he doesn’t want to do in order to experience these things, especially if someone he cares about is so obviously interested in it.

Well, Mike I am trying to follow your example in going to Boy Scout functions with my son. Today I went to a Court of Honor where the boys are honored with merit badges and such. We met at a beautiful park, and shared a pot luck meal. I really struggle with the rituals which are so nationalistic: the flag ceremony, the pledge of allegiance, the scout promise and law. I looked around me and noticed that the parents seem to be into it, the boys a little less so, but it was so difficult for me to find life energy in it. For me, the energy is so old and crusted over with meaningless chatter. At one point one group of scouts sang a song about crushing a little bird’s head with some kind of refrain about how this is what happens if a bird starts messing with them. I heard one of the parents remark with a laugh, “Isn’t that just like boy scouts!”

Is it that I am too soft and just can’t find the humor in this “harmless boys will be boys routine” or is this some kind of pre-boot camp training? I have always thought of the scouts as a kind of para-military outfit. I guess we have to start young if we want them to invade and occupy other countries without questioning the morals of such. One of the refrains in the Boy Scout promise or perhaps the Boy Scout law is to “help other people at all times.” I don’t understand how these inconsistencies can be so obvious and disturbing to me, but all those around me seem to be fine with all this, and would probably think me a kind of weirdo if I were to try to offer any argument or even ask questions.

One of the primary emphases of the scouts appears to be individual achievement. The boys get award for anything and everything. Yes, they do work hard for these achievements. There are numerous requirements for each award they receive. I guess it does help to teach them to take responsibility for themselves with persistence and determination. But there is something disquieting about all those awards for me. Some of the scouts have so many badges and awards that not only is their uniform full, their sash is packed as well. Fortunately they do not allow any of the Cub Scout awards to be put on the Boy Scout uniform (with the exception of the Arrow of Light) or they would have to have additional sashes and belts or something.

I keep looking for some glimmer of this “Arrow of Light” among the ceremonies and the activities of the scouts, but I have come home empty-handed so far. Sorry Mike, I have been trying, and I will keep going to these events for my son who for some reason has stuck with the scouts, but I am less and less hopeful in finding any energy that I will be able to connect with in these activities. I used to be angry about it, but mostly tried to hide it from my son. Now the anger has subsided and I am more curious, but obviously very judgmental as well. I am trying to use clear discernment, and I can easily say that these activities do not connect with my heart, but my challenge is to be there without judgment, because these activities clearly offer something of value to the many people who participate and volunteer their time to be involved with my son and other boys. So I guess it is good practice for me to continue to work towards finding a place of non-judgment in these activities.

Monday, August 22, 2005


I have been working on a kind of balance. On the one hand, I am striving to be aware of the "Felix Felicis," my Higher Self, my connection with the divine, with who I am, so that I may move forward in the world with more "soul confidence," so that I may maximize the opportunites that await each moment, that I may contribute toward the massive project of creating heaven on earth. On the other hand, I am immersing myself in this 3D world, confronting the demons that emerge, working on projects to increase abundance in my life, accepting responsibilities to support my family, to drive my kids around, to take care of my aging mother, to be a good partner. When I focus on the latter 3D concerns, it is easy for the veil to thicken. It is easy to get so immersed in the nitty-gritty of such concerns that I forget to breathe, that I get caught up in emotions like anger, self-rightousness, and judgment. When I focus on the former, it is easy to forget to take out the trash. I really think that my task these days is to find that balance, to stay connected to the divine in the most mundane, crazy, difficult, or boring tasks.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Lady Luck, Felix Felicis, or Higher Self

As we move forward in our lives, the potential experiences that await us are limitless. Each moment presents itself with many possible choices. We can go this way or that; we can say something or remain silent; we can walk down this road or that road, or sit on the curb and watch the cars go by. Sometimes I sit and watch my cat. She will sit on the top of the chair pretending to be a vulture looking down on her litter mate; then all of a sudden she pounces, and the two of them tousle a little in play. Another time she yawns instead and jumps down and goes over to the window ledge to look out the window, hoping to catch sight of a squirrel or bird. I wonder what inner voice speaks to her and informs her to do one thing and not another. The scientist says it is pure instinct, but that doesn’t explain why yesterday she yawned and today she pounces. I prefer to think that she pounced because she intended to pounce, and she yawned because she intended to yawn. But alas, where does this Intentionality come from, and does it require consciousness?

I must leave these questions unanswered, but it would seem that answers would be easier obtained when talking about human beings instead of cats. So why do I ride one way to work on Monday and decide to go a different way on Tuesday? How do I decide whether to work late or rush home to be with my family? Do I take that second cup of coffee or scoop of ice cream? Do I continue in my job or quit and do something else? Do I talk to my friend about our conflict or let it fester in my heart? Do I use deceit and trickery to achieve my goals or stand in my truth regardless of the consequences?

In Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling, our hero Harry wins a vial of a wonderful elixir called Felix Felicis. Anyone who drinks such a potion will become lucky for the duration of the spell. He drinks it with a goal in mind, procuring a magical memory from his professor Slughorn. Once he drinks it, however, he immediately feels urges to make certain choices. So he feels like it would be better to go see his friend Hagrid, rather than seek out Professor Slughorn. Instead of walking his usual route, he feels the urge to walk a different way. By following these impulses, he ends up not only seeing his friend Hagrid, but also through a series of events, procuring the magical memory from Slughorn as well. The elixir actually did nothing except provide Harry with impulses, desires, instincts, to turn this way and not that, to let the silence go on one minute, and speak the next, to perform a spell under the table one moment and do nothing the next. It was up to Harry of course to follow those impulses or not. According to the story, the power of Felix Felicis was such that one easily and confidently followed those impulses even if they did not seem rational. In fact Harry’s very close friends Ron and Hermione were aghast at his decision to go visit Hagrid. They were convinced that the elixir was not working and had made him a bit mad.

None of the actions that Harry chose while under the influence of Felix Felicis were particularly odd or unusual in themselves. It was the timing and the coordination of these actions that made the difference. It was as if the elixir had a different perspective than Harry. “Felix” could see the whole picture and could guess better as to the effects of one action rather than another. This broader or higher perspective might be compared to a person watching a mouse go through a maze. By seeing the maze from above, the person could easily see the best route for the mouse to take to reach its goal, while the mouse had to learn it through trial and error.

Often when we think about being lucky we talk about being in the right place at the right time. I go to a party even though I don’t usually go to parties and I meet the person who I end up marrying. So I say I was lucky. How did it happen that I came to that party? Didn’t I choose to go? I do not give myself credit for making that choice because I see my choice as a fluke, a random occurrence. I could have just as easily decided to stay home. But the point, of course, is that I did decide to go to the party. So if I reflect back on that choice, I remember that I “had a feeling” that I should go to that party. Like Harry, I decided to follow that impulse and the results were wonderful.

What would it mean for our lives if it were possible to connect with a kind of Felix Felicis all the time? Some call this an inner voice, others a gut feeling, or the Higher Self. Whatever it may be called or however it may be understood, it may be helpful for us to foster a closer connection with this magical elixir. From Harry’s friends’ perspective, he was “lucky” the night he took the potion. From Harry’s perspective he simply followed the impulses fed to him from Felix. He mobilized the resources that had always been available to him, but which he hadn’t noticed until under Felix’s influence.

Even though we may not be able to see all the possibilities in front of us in this world, we can learn to listen to and follow our own inner voices. We can do the unexpected. I believe that if we move toward those things that make us genuinely joyful and fill our hearts with love, then magical things can and will happen in our lives. The more we do this, I believe, the more Felix will reveal itself to us, and we will be floating downstream with Huck and Tom, waiting for the next adventure.