Back to Green

Lights In the Distance. . .

Walks’ Outdate – 161 Days and Counting

By Steven Maisenbacher

Walks On The Grass

And not a moment too soon, just as I am getting sick of this Covid protocol that no one in the free world except Talladega was being restricted by, this morning they finally saw fit to end the farce. We breezed through yellow and now are officially back to green. What that means is we basically back to “normal” at least for a minute. We are now allowed to interact with other units, have band room time, free recreation areas and inside hobbycraft. The compound will for all purposes and intents be back to a semblance of order that we have only seen one time in 2 years and that was for less than a month. So tonight I will be going out to the band room, seeing who all has the desire to jam, if any new musicians have gotten here, and how some of the guys I haven’t seen in  months are as well.

It also looks like we will be going outside as a group for pipe ceremony again this weekend and we will have the option to sweat but the lodge is now too decrepit. Instead we will take the big drum out to the sacred grounds and I’ll help the brothers learn to drum and sing more songs. There are whisperings that some wicasa wakan from north of the Mason Dixon line has been contacted about bringing new willows and allegedly he has even offered to come in to help us build the lodge and all.

We will see, it has been my experience that in the past the “spiritual advisors” that these people pick are really no more than “bluecoat spies,” who will run right back to the chaplaincy with everything that the group says, thinks, or feels, delivering the goods so to speak on the groups and more than anything working for the administration’s ends more so than ours. But hey, I’ve been wrong before and I would love to be wrong here as well. I’ll believe when I see.

There are some other issues that have to be ironed out first and I’m gonna try to get that done now with the fellas. I called for a general meeting of the group and we had some serious talks about songs and prayers and abilities to perform sweat lodge ceremonies, pipe ceremonies, and all the things that go along with being in a circle. See, everyone has a place in the hoop and for every person who doesn’t do what they are supposed to, it puts that responsibility on another member of the circle. That’s not good but happens more often than not, so I will try to get some of these things ironed out before we go back to a lodge and attempt to have a full ceremony.

See, I have 7 others here that are all trying to be part of the Native circle. The problem is there are always some that are just in it for what they can get, not what they can put in, or share, or get out of it spiritually. The “what they can get” crowd are the ones who will need to be set on the right path right up front, even if it’s the path to get out of the lodge area. Here’s the bottom line: I am leaving soon and those left behind will be on their own here to either practice in a good way, doing the right things the wrong way and turning what is sacred and beautiful into a fiasco. It’s important to avoid a bunch of infighting and disrespect to the ways, the ancestor’s sacrifices and finally each other.

There are a few brothers who genuinely want to learn and those are the ones I want to try to save and keep around so that the group can learn and practice together in the ways that are as close as we can get here in this iron house. This is not going to be easy, I already know, but I have one major thing on my side. I have the love and worship for the Creator and these ways. I have the songs, the prayers, the ceremonies, but most of all I have the will to keep my faith and spirit and to practice these Native ways and even further, to bring others along for the journey with me and to approach the Creator in peace and beauty, even behind these iron house fences. I will never surrender what I believe to be the way to the Creator, or the path that makes the most sense to me and that fills my soul like no other route ever has – not now, not ever, not for anyone. The trick will be getting rid of the chafe and bringing along a few good brothers for the journey.

So there it is, at least for the time being, we are back to green. . .

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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