Holiday Joy

Along the Way. . .

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

By Steven Maisenbacher

Walks On The Grass

Well, it’s that time of year again for me, but this time I refuse to let the holidays get to me. I’m not going to act all cheery while inside I’m dying a thousand times by my own hand. For my entire adult life I have been in prison on Christmas, separated from family and friends (even though I never really had any true friends as an adult, just drug buddies.) See I’ve only been out of prison on Christmas two times since 1986 and both of them I was fortunate to spend with family – Bob and Babs and the girls – and one time my mom even came from Florida. That was amazing.

Other than that I have had to settle for a call on or around Xmas and another around New Year with all the usual good cheer and bull that was really the baseline. I know I should have been there! I made my own choices, I’ve been in trouble all my life, the list of spoken and unspoken aspersions is a mile long, and rightfully so. But those are the ghosts of Christmas past. Now I’m digging the prospects of Christmas futures, even though I am unsure how or where they will be spent. Seems I’m not the guy that everyone wants around, but that’s ok and I understand. I made my life, now I have to live it.

But I will not live my life in misery or regret or guilt or any of the things I used to feel and there will not be one bit of shame this Christmas. Oh, I’ll make a couple of calls to those I feel honestly and genuinely want to hear from me, of course I will, but this is the last prison Christmas I will simply endure. Even when I get to the halfway house where I will be next Christmas, I will still feel as I do now. I’d rather go to the park with my drum, my cannupa (pipe), and sing some prayers. I’ll have a little pipe ceremony and thank the Creator for turning me away from myself and for helping to turn me into me. I know the Creator must really love a project because when he reached into my heart and started making his changes, boy oh boy, did he ever have his hands full, and still does, but each day I am stronger in who I am now and further from what I once was. Palamya Tunkisilla (Thank you Creator).

Anyway, I’m not doing the gifting this year. I used to feel so guilty about myself that I busted my butt to make and send gifts to my family for the holidays. This year, I will send a card or a note expressing how thankful I am for their presence and support in my life. I will return to the act of gifting when I am free, stable and able.  Now, truly the best gift I can give anyone is to stay the course, steady as I go, keep saving my pennies, get out in August of 2022, and begin living the rest of my life in the best way possible.

I know I can’t make up for Christmases gone and I need not try to catch up on anything. Every year gone is just that – gone – given away by the foolish choices and stupid, needless acts and ignorance I perpetrated in my past. Again, it is just that, past.  I have received all the forgiveness I expect from the Creator, allowing me to live in this world and make it right in the future by a life lived with a purpose, plans and intentions.  So, there it really is. All the time I have left is going to be used to move forward and to get closer to the things that truly matter.

This season, more than any other, I’m going to strive to help others, to make myself a man that people want to spend time around, and a man who is able to achieve this for myself, just as easily and readily as others. I know now that the world doesn’t owe me anything. I, however, do in fact owe the world. I owe it to the world to be the best, the truest, the humblest and the most compassionate man I can become, so that the term, “Peace on earth, good will towards men” isn’t just a cliché, but a true manifestation of my being, a way of life gladly lived and not grudgingly entertained.

So let me say this and then close this glimpse of me down (in prison), this holiday season look at someone you care about and tell them you wish them peace and inner joy, and resolution to all inner conflict.

To those of you who support me, who talk to me, who care for me, just know that I love you in the deepest way in my heart and thank you for your being you and for the Creator putting you in my life.

To those of you who read my ramblings even though you don’t know me, I say that really you do know me, more than most. I put my truths and pains and shames and triumphs here for you more than others because you, my unknown friends are wanted in my life and I am grateful you are there.

PEACE ON EARTH, GOODWILL TORWARD MEN. I wish this for all of you, from me, this holiday season.

Steven “Walks On The Grass” Maisenbacher, This Holiday Season 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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