All For the Right to Pray (7)

Part One – Walking in Three Worlds

Chapter 7 – Sanctuary in the Wilderness

By Ghost Dancer

I have never been an indoor person and no matter where I have been or lived, being in the swamps, woods or mountains is where I truly find my inner peace and re-energize my whole being. In wild places I can truly connect to all things, open myself up to feel all the life forces, energies, spirits of all life beings and everything. In these places where everything is real, true to what it is, is where I can truly become One with our Creator, and all that exists.

Nature allows you to truly be in the presence of Spirit. Because Spirit only comes and truly works and speaks with you in the most sacred of places, and truly sacred places are made by Spirit, not by man, and have not been polluted, contaminated, corrupted, or manipulated. These sanctuaries help provide the one-on-one experiences we each need to cleanse ourselves of all the negative energies, problems, and outside influences that so distract us. 

In nature what you see is what you get. Now in saying that you must realize that beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. Many see the wilderness as a terrible place with no conveniences anywhere, just hardship, danger, harshness etc. What folks don’t understand they fear and when they fear something they stay away from it or they want to destroy. It is all on each of us to be able to see real beauty and love what is there.

All my being is always connected to these places no matter where I am. I feel so alive there, so at peace and connected to all my relations. Yes, I said relations for the One who created all of these things created all of us too. So we are all related. We are not above or below any other being. Unlike many folks, I understand that no matter what, this is where all spiritual awakenings truly come to life with higher enlightenment. Every true religious teacher throughout history first went to the wilderness to gain the enlightenment, knowledge and gifts to bring back with them. Likewise, in Native traditions, this is required of us all because it truly is the way.

Since my earliest childhood growing up, my relationships with most people have been a paradox. I have always been assertive and a doer, a hard worker, often taking on burdens that were not mine to carry. I cared about people and wanted to help others and somehow held the belief that I had the duty and responsibility to save the world. On the other hand,  I was also naïve and easily duped, not realizing I was leaving myself open to people who cared nothing about me but would use me and take advantage of me. Very often I felt overwhelmed, and seeking refuge from my hurt, I would retreat to the wilderness.

Nature is simple in just being itself. There are no fakes, no deceit, jealousy, hatred, lies, prejudices or insanity. In nature my spirit was healed; my inner peace came alive. Be it on a mountain, at a beach by the ocean, river, lake, creek or springs, even a desert, these magical places always provided all I needed to calm my mind and spirit, allowing me to refocus, re-energize, and reconnect to everything.

I have always known that I am different from everyone else; that I did not fit in, that I think differently, act differently, live differently than they do. I see things differently than most folks. I really didn’t have much of a childhood. My days were filled with lots of responsibilities and I never fit in with most other kids. The one big exception was all the Seminole / Creek kids I grew up with at Silver Springs. We had so much in common and the adventures we had together playing in the swamps, swimming in the spring waters and playing tricks on all the tourists stand out as some of my fondest memories. This is where I came to realize that my heart and spirit knew I must be with my people. Here I was truly happy and fit in. Here I did not have to hide who I was. I could just be me. 

Throughout my adult life, I still have never fit in with society or most civilized things. I’m still just as wild as I always have been. I cannot put on a false face or pretend to like someone, or act like I’m better than anyone or any other form of life. I can’t hate someone just because they are different. In fact I don’t hate anyone. Even those who have used me, tortured me, tried to kill me, ridiculed me, lied about me or falsely imprisoned me. No I don’t hate them. Some say I’m violent. Have I ever used violence? Yes, but only to protect myself, loved ones, family, or others who couldn’t protect themselves and then only enough to stop or prevent more harm to me or others. 

Have I gotten upset or mad. Yes I have, but I cannot stay mad. I have a forgiving heart. Just can’t help that and yes, I have sometimes had a bad temper but I’m like a volcano, when it gets upset it just blows up, then calms right down. When I know I’ve been wronged, I may forgive someone but that does not mean I want them around me.

What life and my years in prison have taught me, people generally do what they are taught, and children pick up the same hatreds, prejudices, bad habits, bad ways of life from others. What is sad is most don’t think anything is wrong with the way they act or think or believe. They have never made growth changes in their life so they are stuck on that same cycle as if they were chained to it. How can anyone progress if they don’t step out of their old self and old habits and move forward to evolve? How can anyone grow mentally, physically, emotionally, and most importantly, spiritually, if they don’t step off that road they have been on and make a new way?

We all have choices in life. If we stay still, we become stagnant, polluted, and infectious just as water that sits still does. We must move; we must seek to be better than we are always. Be a better person, more loving, kind, compassionate, giving, generous, forgiving, patient and understanding.

Only those who do the work ever find the true happiness and love they have always been seeking. Only those who seek to know their true selves will ever find themselves. Only those who truly seek to know Spirit will find Spirit. Everyone can do these things but no one else can do it for you. If you truly want something you must reach for it, act for it, ask for it. 

When I was a kid my family never worried about me when I disappeared in the swamps, woods, mountains or anywhere. They knew I had the skills to take care of myself. I grew up going into wild dangerous places. We had alligators, quick sand, deadly snakes, spiders, scorpions and insects as well as bears and panthers all around. I was and still am at home in these places. I fit right in. Swimming in shark infested waters or with alligators made no difference. Many animal species will attack when they sense your fear, even your own pets react to any fears you have. They sense it and respond accordingly. I hug trees, and stone peoples. I speak to them just as I would you. I do this with all plants, animals, birds, all life, even insects because they all have life energy and they have feelings too. Just most people don’t see it that way.

I have always had a gift with all of nature. Animals, birds, reptiles, trees, stones, you name it, I connect with it. I understand them. People are the ones I just can’t understand. In my experience, though many wonderful people have touched my life, in general I learned that people are treacherous; they will say one thing but actually mean just the opposite; they will smile to your face but it is a false smile. Some of the happiest and the most painful experiences of my youth had to do with two big-hearted horses that I loved dearly and the treachery of heartless people determined to destroy them and me. These experiences set me firmly on my path as a warrior. Ghost

Coming up in Part TwoThe Making of a Warrior, the stories of Misty and Sachem and so much more..

My constant prayer for Ghost Dancer: I pray for Spirit to touch the hearts of all who hear your name, for yours is a story that deserves to be heard. May Spirit touch the hearts and minds of all who speak to you, about you, and for you, in every way, in every situation that impacts your life, for wherever love resides there also peace and justice live. epd April, 2017

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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