Thursday, July 16, 2009

Spirit and Song



Anthony called yesterday evening from prison.

More than six years ago he left my home under stressful circumstances to pursue a life of insanity. He wandered the path of addiction, never progressing much beyond one jail sentence or another. In his mind, he broke free of my restrictions as a parent, only to find himself captive to genuine prison walls made of concrete and razor wire.

In spite of our previous conflicts, he still calls me about once a week. I can't help but think my parenting made some positive impact in his life.

Before this last month or so, I never thought he listened to anything I said. Back in the day, I dragged him to ceremonies on the Spokane Reservation hoping some spiritual teaching would penetrate his rebellion. In those days, I sang and danced for his life, while he rolled his eyes. It seemed he could never escape fast enough when the ceremony door opened and he found himself free to resume his chosen life.

But yesterday evening, he called to say he is leading a sweat lodge ceremony in the prison this upcoming weekend. He said, "My brothers in the lodge are pitiful. They didn't get the same teachings as me." Then he asked me to confirm a few of the songs we used to sing in the lodge all those years ago.

"Which ones?" I asked. He responded by singing one of my father's songs in perfect, beautiful form. Not only did he sing the correct notes, but his inflection reminded me of my own father's voice. As he reflected my father's legacy to me, I choked back tears. "Yes, you got it right," I managed to say. All these years I wondered if he retained anything I taught him, and there he confirmed the most sacred of teachings in the form of a song. My father once remarked that his songs were the greatest inheritance he could leave his children, and now I know for certain that his legacy will survive at least one more generation.

6 comments:

Oklahoma Girl said...

Barry,
This brought tears to my eyes. Even though I have never met Anthony, I could see him so clearly singing. I felt my heart soar.

We never really know the true impact of our teachings/influences on our children. Yours was confirmed with this call. I am so happy for you & Anthony.

blessed be...

T.R. said...

WOW!! What an amazing, beautiful, unexpected gift.

Krystal said...

How beautiful! You've done well.

There's a verse in the Bible that says, "Train up a child in the way that he should go and he will not depart from it." A lot of people think that it means a child will never loose his way. I think it means that even if a child should stray, the way back is forever in his heart.

Thank-you for sharing such a personal moment.

Barry Moses (Sulustu) said...

Krystal, what a wonderful insight. I never quite thought of it in that way, but I think you are correct. The WAY back is forever in our hearts.

TR, the gift IS both amazing and unexpected, an affirmation of efforts I had almost forgotten.

Donis, we never really know the end of our effect on others. Like the proverbial ripple in the pond, a lonely young man in prison sings a song, which in turn affects me, and now reaches out to you and the rest of the world. No life is unimportant. We all matter.

Carole Parks said...

. . . and now the boy aspires to the teachings of his father. I think sometimes the older we get the more meaningful the lessons. God bless you both. You are forever connected in ways we might not ever be able to predict.

Barry Moses (Sulustu) said...

Thanks Carole. What you say is true. The connections are powerful and undeniable.

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