Welcome friends...thanks for coming by. We're seeking beauty in all of creation... in our faith and our families; our art and our music; our crafts and kitchens, and even in our own backyard. We'll share a poem or a recipe, a picture or a memory; maybe a dream of how we wish our life could be. And though we acknowledge that the world can be harsh, we're keeping it pleasant in our little corner; endeavoring to keep the words from the Book of all Books: ...Whatsoever things are lovely; think on these things.

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Photo: Bee and thistle: Taken high in the Cascade Mountains where there is a bee buzzing on every thistle. by Debora Rorvig

Sunday, November 6, 2011

If You Let it Happen

'Andy' struggles. He struggles with school. He struggles with life.

 He's my reading student--a sixth grader. Sometimes he tries really hard. Sometimes he acts like he doesn't care...but I know he does.

He lives in poverty; as so many Native American children do.  I know he feels unloved and neglected by his family, and he thinks he's a nobody. But I know he's not.

When Andy came to class with a book of poetry under his arm, I was curious. It was called "My Heart Soars" by Chief Dan George.

"Where'd you get this, Andy?" I inquire as I examine the contents of the book.

"I dunno. I just picked it off the shelf of free books in the foyer 'cause I knew I was s'posed to bring somethin' to read."

The words on the pages of the book were stunningly beautiful. Some of the finest poetry I'd read.

"Andy, Chief Dan George is a great man, a great poet. May I read some of his work to you?"


Andy settles into his chair and looks intently at me with those beautiful, soft, searching brown eyes. I clear my throat and begin to read.

"Words to a Grandchild, by Chief Dan George," I begin.

Perhaps there will be a day
you will want to sit by my side
asking for counsel.
I hope I will be there
but you see
I am growing old.
There is no promise
that life will
live up to our hopes
especially to the hopes of the aged.
So I write of what I know
and some day our hearts
will meet in these words,
--if you let it happen.

I feel tears coming to my eyes as I think of my own grandchildren, and my hopes that someday their hearts will meet with mine through my writing. I blink back the tears and proceed. Andy is aware that I am moved. He leans forward to listen more intently.

In the midst of a land
without silence
you have to make a place for yourself.
Those who have worn out
their shoes many times
know where to step.
It is not their shoes
you can wear
only their footsteps
you may follow,
--if you let it happen.

Oh how this dear boy needs a place for himself...and footsteps to follow. My voice cracks as I continue.

You come from a shy race.
Ours are the silent ways.
We have always done all things
in a gentle manner,
so much as the brook
that avoids the solid rock
in its search for the sea
and meets the deer in passing.
You too must follow
of your own race.
It is steady and deep
reliable and lasting.
It is you,
--if you let it happen.

You are a person of little,
but it is better to have little
of what is good,
than to possess much
of what is not good.
This your heart will know,
--if you let it happen.

I am in awe. Chief Dan George is speaking directly to this child...calling out his gentle nature, his shy ways, and his meager circumstances...and I, well I have become an oracle of his words. Andy is rapt with attention, hanging on every word.

Heed the days
when the rain flows freely,
in their greyness
lies the seed of much thought.
The sky hangs low
and paints new colors
on the earth.
After the rain
the grass will shed its moisture,
the fog will lift from the trees,
a new light will brighten the sky
and play in the drops
that hang on all things.
Your heart will beat out
a new gladness,
--if you let it happen.

Each day brings an hour of magic.
Listen to it!
Things will whisper their secrets.
You will know
what fills the herbs with goodness,
makes days change into nights,
turns the stars
and brings the change of seasons.
When you have come to know
some of nature's wise ways
beware of your complacency
for you cannot be wiser than nature.
You can only be as wise
as any man will ever hope to be,
--if you let it happen.

 Our ways are good
but only in our world
If you like the flame
on the white man's wick
learn of his ways,
so that you can bear his company
yet when you enter his world
you will walk like a stranger

Guilt overwhelms my heart as I read this. How often have I seen our native students feeling strange and foreign in my world. I pause, but I cannot bear to look into Andy's eyes. It is I, at this moment, and not Andy who feels foreign. Who am I, a white woman, that I should be reading these wise words, this prophecy of sorts, to Andy? And yet...I am here and I am willing and I am all that is available to this boy right now, and so I read on.

For some time
bewilderment will,
like and ugly spirit
torment you.
Then rest on the holy earth
and wait for the good spirit.
He will return with new ways
as his gift to you,
--if you let it happen.

Use the heritage of silence
to observe others.
If greed has replaced the goodness
in a man's eyes
see yourself in him
so you will learn to understand
and preserve yourself.
Do not despise the weak,
it is compassion
that will make you strong.
Does not the rice
drop into your basket
whilst your breath
carries away the chaff
There is good in everything,
--if you let it happen.

When the storms close in
and the eyes cannot find the horizon
you may lose much.
Stay with your love for life
for it is the very blood
running thorough your veins.
As you pass through the years
you will find much calmness
in your heart.
It is the gift of age,
and the colors of the fall
will be deep and rich,
--if you let it happen.

Yes dear Chief, and now you speak to me! I am finding much calmness and richness in this autumn of my life. Now tears are streaming down my face. Andy is staring at me...quietly waiting for me to continue.

As I see beyond the days of now
I see a vision:
I see the faces of my people,
your sons' sons,
your daughters' daughters,
laughter fills the air
that is no longer yellow and heavy,
the machines have died,
quietness and beauty
have returned to the land.
The gentle ways of our race
have again put us
in the days of the old.
It is good to live!
It is good to die!
--This will happen.

I wipe away the tears.

"Andy, are you going to keep this free book? Because if you are not...I will take it-but if you want it, I will buy my own copy."

His eyes meet mine.

"I will keep this book. I will show it to my grandfather."

Yes Andy, you keep the book.
Grace has ordained that you find the book
and that you share the words
with your Grandfather.
It is meant to be,

--if you let it happen.


Note: I've changed Andy's name to protect his anonymity...but he is real--and he matters.


Linda O'Connell said...

This is profound, deeply, soulfully touching. You have moved me to tears, too. Your reading this book to Andy was no coincidence. It was a spiritual moment in time that will have far reaching impact on Andy and his grandfather. Like a pebble dropped in water, it will continue to make small ripples as others read your words and those of Chief Dan George.

jojo said...

such a lovely, touching post Deb. There a so many Andys out there and you have been fortunate enough to touch one heart, he will touch another and it will continue onward. What a lovely, spiritual, wise man Chief Dan George. I will be checking the used book store for this one to share with my dear ones.

Nicole Massaro said...

I loved this:) Thankful that we get to be blessed with such eye-opening moments. Thanks for sharing!

farmlady said...

"Andy" matters.
You matter...
All of life matters..
Your sharing of this post will make a difference in many lives.
Thank you.

ellen b. said...

So the tears are flowing here, too.
God bless Andy with love and support...

Ocean Soul said...

I luuuuuuuuv it! God has plans...all the way from a free book, to you teaching and loving 'Andy'...God brings all things together for good, if we let it happen! Good for you for being available for 'Andy'. And good for the person who put out that particular book for free...who knows what crazy supernatural events have been put into motion!!! Hope!

Amish Stories said...

I enjoy it when a blog tugs at someones heart strings like this one does, and moves those who read it. Well done Deb. Richard

Teresa said...

So beautiful, Debora.
Oh, there are so many kids out there who don't know just how special they truly are. It's so encouraging to read stories of those who are willing to take the time to care about them and encourage them.

Elizabeth said...

Just beautiful, Debora. The Lord has his hand on this young man's life and how very precious that He revealed His grace in this way. x


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