By Steven “Walks On The Grass” Maisenbacher
Photo by Gabriela Palai on Pexels.com
Chapter 6

Things I Regret

When I think of the man I was most of my life I cringe, and more than anything I feel ashamed. The long road home began with this prayer I have spoken each morning at dawn for decades:

Creator, thank you for giving me another waking breath,

Thank you for looking over the ones I love

And those that are in need of your help,

I’m pretty sure I’m one of them.

Help me be understanding, even when I don’t agree,

Help me be kind, even when I’m angry,

And help me to grow in my knowing of you and your ways.

Thank you for the air and the food that I need to do all these things,

And thank you for finding me

And making me into the man I want to be

And saving me from the man I was.

Aho Mitakuye Oyasin…

Personal morning prayer, Steven “Walks On The Grass” Maisenbacher

Steven Maisenbacher

How do you start a thing like this? After all, most of my life has been lived in custody, or maybe not most, but definitely more than half of my life has been spent in custody. And why? I come from a good family, none of us kids ever really needed anything we didn’t get, from food, clothes, warmth and nurturing. In fact my parents went without often enough themselves to provide for one of us kids, and the simple fact that they adopted 4 children tells you of the kind of and amount of love in their hearts.

No, I did all the cruddy things in my life with no one to blame but myself. I’ve accepted this and processed it and grown so very much these last 20 years, but at what cost? All the people I harmed or hurt thru my crimes and my drug use and my not caring about anyone but myself.

Like I said, I was born broken. I had to learn that I can be forgiven, that it starts with doing and being a better man and trying to always do the right thing by anyone and everyone, even if it isn’t comfortable to do so.  

I know I need to apologize to those people in my life I wronged, especially the ones I haven’t been able to look in the eye when I said I was sorry for all the crap I pulled, all the selfishness and mean actions.

To all of those I haven’t seen and may never meet, I am so very sorry, not just for what I have done to you or taken from you, but for how I made you feel. I only pray that you can forgive me, I don’t ask you to forget, that would be unrealistic, but I do ask, no I beg for your forgiveness and I promise you that you will never ever again have to fear any contact with me. I say this as a vow before the Creator and I hold no more powerful a reason to do as I vow.

A lot of people who come to prison for whatever reason want to always complain about the “system,” the guards, the food, or clothing or any number of petty gripes, but the truth of the matter is that for over 37 years I have been treated better than I probably deserved. After all, if the indictment reads, “The people of the United States of America vs. you,” then chances are you are and were a real piece of work.

I have been blessed with a family and brothers and sisters; Bob, older by 4 years and Mike, younger by 6 years and my sister Judy who is now beyond sorrow. I owe them all a serious thanks for the way that no matter what kind of crap I pulled or got myself into, they never abandoned me.  They always looked out for me as best they could with support, communication, the occasional letters or emails. I want you all to know I’m sorry for all my past and being so, I have forgiven myself. To not forgive myself would not hold honor to the fact that you all have been so good and kind to me all my life. I’m done feeling guilt, to hold that makes everything about “me” and that’s just plain selfish, even if it is in a negative way. I’m just glad you have been in my life and feel lucky that you are.

I can say this, for all the things I did there is no excuse, but I have taken my punishment like a man. I’m not going to whine or complain, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it either. I’m tired of waking up in prison. Just as I had to wake up one day and decide that I wasn’t going to be my own worst enemy anymore, I will one day very soon wake up to my last day in prison and I mean that.

Never before have I been as mentally or emotionally ready to succeed as I am at this moment. I’ve made a lot of positive changes in my life and look forward to even more.  So, to all the people I have ever done wrong, if I run into you out there, count on me apologizing. I truly regret all the bad in my past, and I ask you to please forgive me. Now it is move-on time and I’m “moving on!”

Oh one last thing, to a couple of special people. When I had pneumonia, I’m sorry for being stubborn and not telling medical and almost dying and scaring the heck out of a good dude, Jason, who was stuck in the cell with me on the C-19 lock down while I was busy coughing my lung out. I know, “not cool!” And to my sister-in-law, Karen, you’re the best, and promise, I won’t do it again, I don’t want you burying your little foot in my behind for scaring everyone. So there it is, I feel cleansed in a strange sort of way, I think I needed to say those things, as much to let you know I felt them, as to finally forgive myself and get on with it.

So I just wish I could do a time travel and bump myself up about 13 months to the door and get on with it. But there are still some youngsters here that need me to teach them how to go thru a sweat ceremony, how to approach the Creator through the songs we sing and prayers we pray. This has been the saving grace in my life and the only thing that makes all this mess bearable, being able to get closer to God, the Creator; to get closer to myself thru God and become the best person I can become. It all starts with being myself, as I am right now, with the ability to admit and face my mistakes, to see the world as it is and not as I want it to be. Then even more, having the ability now to deal with life on life’s terms, without anger or frustration and most of all, without all the regret.

“The lost home that we are seeking is ourselves; it is the story we carry within our soul.” ~ Michael Meade

Published by Edna Peirce Dixon

I am an elder in my 9th decade. I have lived an ordinary life, I’ve done all the ordinary and expected things, went to school, got married, raised a family, tried to be a good person. Throughout this life I have also been a seeker, an outsider by nature, always looking through cracks in the fences of life, questioning, challenging, learning, trying to make sense of the world and its conventions. Then in my golden years, as I sought to find meaning in my existence, some unexpected things happened and I’ve since learned it took a lifetime to prepare me for the challenge to come. My journey – indeed my calling - led me to come to know a remarkable man who happened to be an inmate in federal prison. Nothing could have been more foreign to my personal experience. GHOST DANCER Communicating daily for nearly nine years I had the opportunity to walk many paths with Ghost discussing our thoughts on many common interests with candor and respect. With enormous generosity Ghost has allowed me to share his wisdom and knowledge of his Native American heritage on Journeys of the Spirit. Over time, Ghost gradually revealed his life story in small bits, like scrambled pieces of some gigantic puzzle. Now, after spending more than 40 years in prison, Ghost Dancer is at last free and ready to tell his amazing personal story. As the saying goes, “you can’t make this stuff up” and as his friend and editor I can say this is a story so big that even after working with him for nearly nine years, I continue to be astonished as he shares new details my mind simply could never imagine. From the very first chapter, Ghost leads us on his journey and invites us to walk with him on his Nene Cate (Red Road). From the day he was born, a happy, loving gifted child, he endured heartbreaking sorrows, betrayals and exploitations. Through it all, Ghost fought a system determined to destroy him by any means, as he struggled to remain true to his calling. Through Ghost Dancer I also met and came to know Walks On The Grass, another federal prisoner whose story is also compelling even though very different. In Journeys of the Spirit, Walks has shared his decades-long journey from deep addiction to wholeness in LONG ROAD HOME and shared other bits of his story in ALONG THE WAY. Now as he approaches his August release into this crazy world of 2022 Walks shares his the thoughts and misgivings as he counts down to the big day in LIGHTS IN THE DISTANCE.

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