You Can’t Wash it Off

Along the Way. . .

Experiences, Insights & Humor on the “Long Road Home”

By Steven Maisenbacher

Walks On The Grass

And another amazing segment in the never ending rantings of a somewhat sane person. See, I was on the phone with Edna “Sings Many Songs” Dixon the other day before we went back on Covid Code Red protocols. We were talking about how recreation activities were beginning to “open up” again and I had been back out with the music thing getting ready to start singing again and all.  I got side tracked to my days in Yazoo medium where I actually was the vocalist for the Praise and Worship group in the chapel services weekly. My buddy Kenny who was a devout Christian man from Missouri, made a deal with me to play in my classic rock band on the yard if I would sing for his praise band in the chapel.

Now me being me knew right away this was a win/win situation. See I love learning new styles of vocals and the chance to learn some actual contemporary Christian music by artists like Chris Tomlin and Casting Crowns and some other really good artists was awesome, and on the other side it gave me Kenny on guitar in my band on the rec yard. So I was elated, but then the inevitable came.

I’m on the way back from chow one evening and Kenny and I are plotting on going out to rec to get the guitar and see if we can practice in the little room out there, when one of the Native American brothers said, “Hey Walks, watch out for the white man’s Jesus, he ain’t our god.” Wow, I was floored, I had to look at Kenny and ask him if that fool just said what I thought he said. Yeppers, he sure as heck did, so I let him go on his way. Then while we were out at the rec working on a song called “This is Amazing Grace,” that particular brother walked by and I hollered for him to come over.

The conversation was rather brief but it was like, “Hey bro, do you know what the 10 Commandments are?”

“Yes,” he said.

I said, “Ok let’s see how many of them are tenants of our Native beliefs. Don’t hurt others, don’t steal , don’t lie, share what you can, help when you can, be courteous, kind compassionate, believe in the Creator/God, don’t worship false gods, don’t get caught up with what belongs to someone else, be grateful for what’s yours.” With this being the vein of the conversation, I then said, “Hey bro. when ya shower use soap, but be careful, you might wash the Indian off yourself the way you think.”

See, I may not be going at this quite the right way, what I’m pointing out is that it doesn’t make you any less Indian if you believe in the simple fact that there is a Jesus, the same as there is a God, the same as there is a Buddha, or an Allah, in fact they are actually all the same entity if you ask me, which you didn’t. But since you’re the one reading this and I’m the one writing it you will see that I believe that the Creator came to all the creations in ways they could understand and that made sense to them and their circumstances and life situations, in ways that offered answers to the problems they/we face in the times we/they exist.

He/she appeared to all humankind in one fashion or another, bringing the message of peace and prosperity and the simplest of instructions for making any world a utopia: to be kind, do the right thing, respect your elders, do not steal, lie or covet, always seek the peaceful solution – and here’s the big one – forgiveness of others.

If we could all follow these basic principles in their rawest, truest form then there wouldn’t need to have a gazillion other rules or laws; people would just naturally fall in sync with the plan that God made for us.  But we are who and what we are, fallible humans and we all make mistakes and we all fall short of the perfectness that is only the Creator, but he still loves us.

So the whole thing I’m trying to get to is this: do I follow the Native ways? Yes, absolutely, but it doesn’t make me any less of a follower of Christianity, or Buddhism or Islam. I have made it a point to learn of all the religions, I just choose to remain in my mind and heart the Native that I am. I won’t go further except to say, God is everywhere, in everything, and it doesn’t matter how you get there, but you better get there.

© Steven “Walks On The Grass” Maisenbacher, Nov. 2021

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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