Tuesday, September 29, 2009


My Uncle Pat invited me to sing with the drum at a wellness and sobriety conference sponsored by Deb Stanger and the Spokane Tribe. The event was titled "Breaking the Cycle."

The conference invitation states in part, "This day is dedicated to the human beings that have had to struggle in life to maintain their dignity through... drug/alcohol abuse, violence, trauma, and other problems... As a nation, we need to forgive and begin the healing process..." Community agencies and prevention workers from around the area gathered to share resources and personal stories of healing.

Before the opening song, my uncle made a brief prayer and said, "The drum is the heartbeat of the Indian people." He then spoke of the drum calling our young people back to healthy living, away from addictions, violence, and gangs.

Four of us sang at the drum: Pat, Francis, Deb, and I.

Many times I have sat at the drum and felt the power of that spirit. Today was no exception: I experienced it as an invisible wave emanating from the drum and touching everyone in the room. Most of the people in attendance rose to their feet in respect, and even many of the building staff left their work stations to listen. I've heard it said that the drum is a living person. If this is true, then he or she is a compassionate person offering power, healing, and strength to the Indian people and people everywhere.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Good Jesus

A while back, I wrote about translating the Lord's Prayer into the Salish language. Today I'm still thinking about the Indian words used to describe the new forms of spirituality introduced by the Christian missionaries.

Back in 1958, Father Thomas Connolly transcribed and edited a book of Salish hymns and prayers titled, "Quay-lem u En-chow-men: A Collection of Hymns and Prayers in the Flathead-Kalispel-Spokane Indian Language." The Salish title literally means "Songs and Prayers."

As I recently reviewed the title page and table of contents, I noticed for the first time, a list of Latin phrases followed by names: Imprimi Potest, Nihil Obstat, Censor Liborum, and Imprimatur (by Bernard J. Topel, Bishop of Spokane). I'm no expert in Catholic laws and procedures, but the presence of these letters would suggest that our Salish prayer book followed a formal process of approval within the Catholic Church. According to the American Catholic website:

"Imprimatur is Latin for 'let it be printed.' When a Roman Catholic bishop grants his imprimatur to a printed work, he assures the reader that nothing therein is contrary to Catholic faith or morals. This imprimatur is not given lightly; only after a thorough review process."

This is heavy. I never imagined our little prayer book had endured such a rigorous process of approval. What implication might this hold for my previous discussion of doctinal differences between the Salish and English? I'm looking to my Catholic scholars for some input here.

Here's another example of a hymn:

Good Jesus,
Good Jesus,
You are my Savior (Lifegiver).
Take pity on me.
Take pity on me.
I will love you.
I will love you.

Once again, the differences are subtle.

Jesus is called good, but not holy. As far as I can tell, no concept of holiness exists in the Salish language.

Jesus is also called a Savior in this hymn, but the Salish word is slightly different. The root word "xwlxwilt" refers to something living or alive. By adding the suffix "cut" the word becomes reflexive, meaning that life is being given or created to oneself. In other words, Jesus might be described as the "One who gives life to himself." Presumably, he may choose to also grant his life to others. The Salish version would seem consistent with the Christian notion of Jesus as Creator or Lifegiver, but not necessarily as one who saves from an invisble fall. The Christian notion of the fall seems largely absent from Salish theology.

The hymn also declares, "I will love you, I will love you."

The word xmench is problematic on several levels. It's true that many people still use this word to describe love, but some argument exists regarding its true meaning. Others claim the word simply refers to one's preference or "like." Unfortunately, "I will like you, I will like you," doesn't have the same poetic resonance. I've never fully resolved this meaning in my own mind, but I am clear that love/like do not mean the same in Salish as they do in English.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Yesterday the Spokesman-Review published a front page article concerning the repatriation of Indian artifacts and remains. Several local tribes, including the Spokane, received items stolen many years ago from graves or sacred sites. This action allows some small measure of healing from the depravities of past aggression against Native peoples.

This article also sparks a personal memory for me.

Back in the early part of 1990, I participated in another effort to repatriate human remains to the Spokane Reservation. My family helped create a suitable resting place for remains disturbed by the changing water levels along the Spokane River, as well as several sets of bones taken from our lands many years ago. For a young man of 19, it was a heavy task to handle the bones of our ancestors, but then again, everyone felt the sobering effects caused by the disturbance of these remains. To this day, it is still incomprehensible to me that Indian graves were ever seen as objects fit for scientific inquiry or for a museum gallery. The memory of our racist past is not so far removed.

But on a positive note, I'm grateful that people are finally beginning to recognize the dignity of Native peoples and to respect the worth of our sacred heritage.

Sick Days

My daughter stayed home most of this week with a fever. The doctor says she has a sinus infection, but with all the swine flu paranoia, the school said she had to stay home at least 24 hours after the last recorded fever. She slept most of the time on the couch, looking very sad.

She's feeling much better now, but now my other daughter is starting to feel symptoms, and so the cycle continues...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I can hardly believe my beautiful baby daughter has grown into a young woman of 12 years. Truly, where has all the time gone?

When I was a kid, I used to roll my eyes when my parents and grandparents talked about the passing time. For me, I couldn't grow up fast enough, but they always urged me to appreciate my youth. Now my daughter is 12 years old, and I'm beginning to get a sense of their perspective. It would seem time really does accelerate the older I get. But for now, we simply give thanks for 12 wonderful years since our daughter arrived in our lives.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lucy Peuse

Lucy Peuse was an esteemed elder of the Spokane Tribe from a few years ago, and as my grandfather's half-sister, she was actually a very close relative. She lived almost a hundred years and passed away in 1990.

When I was a small child, I remember Lucy.

My father used to rent an old trailer house that belonged to Catherine Andrews, Lucy's daughter. Many times my father sent me to see Catherine to deliver rent payments or to give some kind of message. A few times, Catherine invited me into the house.

Lucy was always present when I visited Catherine's home. I assume she must have cared for her mother in her old age. One time, Catherine smiled toward Lucy and said to me, "Say hello. This is your tupye (great grandparent)." She paused and corrected herself, "No, she is your qene (grandmother or grandaunt). This is Lucy, your qene." At the time, I didn't think to ask any questions about her exact relationship to me. Mostly Catherine must have thought it was important for me to know my elder. Years later, I learned that she was my grandfather's half-sister.

I haven't thought about my relative Lucy Peuse in many years. I was reminded because my cousin Chad sent me a recording with her telling old Spokane stories.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sounds of Peace

Last night I sang for an interfaith gathering at Unity Church: Sounds of Peace. The organizers invited me to represent a Native American perspective in a univeral prayer for peace. People offered songs, chants, blessings, and readings from many other faith traditions, including Christiany, Sufism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Baha'i, and others. It was quite a beautiful gathering.

I had hoped to take a few pictures, but at some point during the ceremony, I felt moved by the sacred influence and put my camera away. Perhaps someone else got a few pictures.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


The Moses children had a chance to shine at church today. Dakota sang "Face to Face" by Kenneth Cope during sacrament meeting. Whitney gave a talk in primary and McKenna spent her last Sunday in primary before changing over to the young women's organiztion.

Rhonda cried for it all.

(For all my rule-makers out there, I took this picture during the practice session, NOT during sacrament meeting).

Audition Update

I'm pleased to announce that McKenna and Whitney were both selected for roles in CYT's production of Schoolhouse Rock. They will play the part of "planets" during the song "Interplanet Janet." No word yet on which planets they get to play.

For a preview of sorts, you can check out the original Schoolhouse Rock animation above.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

September Auditions

The girls auditioned at Spokane Christian Youth Theater for the musical production of Schoolhouse Rock. I'm a totally biased and proud father, but I think they performed better than any previous audition. I have high hopes for their success.

Dakota didn't audition for this show. He plans to work on the backstage crew.

In the photograph above, Rhonda and McKenna are signing in for the auditions.

YouTube videos below:

Dakota and Whitney watch the other auditioners.

Whitney auditioned with the song Mama Mia.

McKenna also auditioned with Mama Mia.

The dance portion of the audition.

Friday, September 18, 2009

We Are All Indian People

Several years ago I taught the Salish language at Medicine Wheel Academy. It was quite an irony considering that I hardly knew the langauge myself. Sometimes I would literally call my grandmother the night before a lesson to confirm that I had the words correct. Normally, I would never agree to such a dubious pedagogy, but our tribe has fewer than 25 people who learned the language as children. The crisis of imminent language destruction moved me to extreme measures.

In spite of daily cram sessions on the phone, I discovered that teaching the language helped me to learn for myself. Some of those early phrases cemented themselves into my heart and mind forever.

During that same time, my good friend Merle Andrew sometimes collaborated with language lessons. I cherished the time we spent together in my classroom. He had a such a gentle, accepting way of teaching the students. I felt myself lifted up as well. One day, he arrived in my classroom and wrote <qe ul t sqelixw> (see above) in large block letters across my white board. "What's that?" I quizzed.

He stood just a little taller and pronounced the words in Salish as a declaration of pride. Then he paused and repeated the words in English, "We are all Indian people."

Those words remained on my board for the rest of the semester. When they finally began to dim, I printed them onto a large banner that I kept as a reminder of our identity. As I see the sunshine today and feel the goodness of life, I remember Merle's powerful words that day and give thanks.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


At 6:00 this morning, I was startled awake by the crash of thunder above my house. My wife gasped and the dog stirred from his spot on the floor. Within a few minutes, the steady drone of falling rain lulled me back to sleep, like when a mother soothes a newborn baby.

On my way to work, our local Christian radio played a song by Matt Maher: "I'm Alive Again." The first part of the song says:

I woke up in darkness
surrounded by silence
oh where, where have I gone?
I woke to reality
losing its grip on me
oh where, where have I gone?

Cause I can see the light
before I see the sunrise

You called and you shouted
broke through my deafness
now I’m breathing in
and breathing out
I’m alive again!

You shattered my darkness
washed away my blindness
now I’m breathing in
and breathing out
I’m alive again!

I'm not sure why these words affected me so much; as I drove down the street, I started to cry. All I can say is that I felt the invisible Hand of God working through all the dark places of my life. Some heartaches can never be spoken, but God knows the way to wholeness and peace. From that space of perfection, I see God's love in everything; all of nature abounds with wisdom and grace, and I am grateful to be alive.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I want to acknowledge my blog followers. Your support encourages me to continue blogging, especially when my creative resources run low. Many of you have contacted me directly, either through emails or comments. For this I thank you. When I began blogging several years ago, I had a vision of real-life social connections forming and deepening as a result of this blog. The human connection makes everything worthwhile. To those who send personal messages and comments, I encourage you to continue. We have so much more to learn from one another.

But this message goes out especially to those who have yet to contact me directly: Matt Schupp, Francisco, Jenna Bowles, Leiominala, Melody & Jerome, and Ashok Maurya. I want to know who you are and what you're about. I want to know your interests and what inspires you. Let's begin the conversation. Leave a comment, or send me an email at: barrymoses@hotmail.com

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Lord's Prayer

After the Catholic fathers arrived among the Salish speaking tribes of the Columbia Plateau, they translated many of their most important prayers into the Salish language. The prayers were used as a missionary tool to convert the Indians, but in many cases, the Salish language had no way to describe European Christian concepts. For example, notions of heaven and hell did not exist. The fathers had to substitute other words, like sky for heaven and fire/suffering for hell.

Other words were equally problematic.

The early Salish had no concept of Old World lordships and kingdoms. Tribal chiefs acted more like experienced advisors, with no binding authority on tribal members. When the Jesuits attempted to describe the "Lord" Jesus Christ, they used the Salish word for chief. In a very literal translation, Jesus became a tribal chief rather than a feudal lord. And without any notion of kingdoms, Chief Jesus became "Owner of All Hearts," rather than Lord of the Heavenly Kingdom.

Some time ago, my uncle Mike asked me to complete a literal reverse translation of the Lord's Prayer from Salish to English. He wanted to know how much the original meaning may have changed. It took me a while to feel comfortable with the task, but I'm happy to make a first attempt. (By the way, this is a tentative translation, so if anyone knows a more correct translation, please leave me a note in the comments).

Our Chief Jesus Christ's Prayer

Our father, in the sky, you are there.
Your name will be loved.
You are owner of all hearts.
Your will/thoughts be done
here on earth as in the sky.
Give us today all our needs.
Cast away for us our debts,
As we cast away for those
who have debts with us.
Help us to not take bad.
We live again from bad.

May it be like this.

So for all my theologians and Bible scholars, do you think the meaning is changed by the translation? Is anything lost?

As I consider the translation, it seems the most essential qualities are preserved. However, I do believe certain concepts have been altered in subtle ways. Perhaps the most important change is the transformation of Jesus Christ from a kingly lord to a tribal chief. By so doing, Jesus is presented as a wise, approachable advisor, worthy of consideration and respect, but not necessarily fear or even obedience. Of course, any notion of a less kingly Jesus may offend some believers, but this is the only translation we have received.

Another subtle change involves concepts of good and evil. In the English language, some things are good, but other things are holy. Likewise, some things are bad, but others are evil. These superlatives of holiness and evil do not exist in Salish. Something is either good or bad. Period.

And finally, the notion of sin is different in the Salish. In our language, a person may do bad, or take bad, or talk bad... but we do not "sin." The notion of sin as a separate concept has come to us from Europe with a connotation of filth. It's as though doing bad places a stain on the human soul that can only be removed through the power of a redeemer. Without this cultural connotation of filth, how does our idea of "taking bad" and repentance change? Do we gain added insight by observing the Salish form or is the true meaning lost?

All of this leads me to the question of Bible literalism. If I'm supposed to accept the Bible as the literal and inerrant word of God, do I have to accept the English version, or can I rest upon the Salish version? Are all versions valid, or do we have to study Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek to get to heaven (or the sky)?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dream Question

A while back, I wrote that sometimes I have prophetic dreams. This is true, but the opposite is also true. Sometimes I have confusing, mundane, or even contradictory dreams. The question is: How do I know the difference? Which dreams tell the future, and which dreams simply re-hash the worn-out banalities of my daily life?

The answer is not so easy to decipher. No wonder the ancients consulted oracles and full-time dream interpreters.

At about this time last year, I received a very graphic dream that I hit someone with my car. I was driving down a busy street at night, when a group of teenagers wearing Halloween costumes bolted in front of my Ford Ranger pickup. With no time to react, I drove full force into a young man wearing a white ghost sheet and a green stocking cap. His body flung around and slammed into the side of the car. I panicked and sped away – hit and run, but then returned to the scene a few minutes later. When I arrived, red and blue police lights flashed onto the buildings and reflected from darkened windows. I awoke with a knot in my stomach.

Was it a premonition, or something else?

In the weeks that followed, I agonized over that dream. I simply had no way of knowing if those frightful images would really come to pass, or if my Halloween vision would simply pass away. I prayed about that dream and consulted my elders. I meditated and pondered, hoping for some additional insight.

As Halloween approached, I accepted that I may never receive an answer. This forced me into an interesting dilemma. I had to decide if I would ignore the dream and take my chances on visiting a horrible fate, or if I would change my dream by choosing a different course. Some dreams really have come true and others just fizzle. What risk was I willing to take?

After considering all my options, I chose to alter the dream course.

In the last two or three days before Halloween, I drove more cautiously than usual. In my way of thinking, young people might conceivably dress up and attend costume parties one or two days before the actual holiday. If this happened, I would be more mindful. I also made arrangements to not drive at all for the full 24 hours of Halloween proper. I stayed home most of the day, and that evening, my family and I walked to a trunk-or-treat celebration at a neighborhood church. At the end of the event, we walked home together and enjoyed a beautiful, uneventful evening.

I may never know if my actions altered the course of fate, or if I simply worried myself over nothing. This leads me to the essential question of the hour. To all my dreamers out there in the blogosphere, I ask you to share your own dream wisdom. How do YOU tell authentic dream messages from random mental chatter? Please comment.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


I've reached the conclusion of the Seven Random Things Meme, first suggested by my friend and fellow blogger Tim. In all sincerity, I enjoyed the trip down memory lane much more than expected. Whenever I find myself stuck in the duldrums of my seemingly boring life, I can call to mind that I've been both a millionaire and a beggar; that I once tried to save the world but also drove a get-away car in a robbery; that I witnessed the turbulent transfer of power in a Central American nation, and contemplated the mysteries of the universe. Maybe my life isn't so boring after all.

Here are the rules: 1. Link to the person who tagged you and post the rules on your blog. 2. Share seven random or weird things about yourself. 3. Tag seven people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs. 4. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Now I have to consider if I wish to pass this meme on to someone else. I usually HATE forwarding these things, but I really DO want to learn more about the people I've selected.

  • Michelle: Because I want to know the seven things you remember about YOUR life, and your life is much more interesting than you believe. Besides, I want you to blog more. I miss connecting with you this way.
  • Seth: Because I miss your photography and personal accounts of life in New York.
  • Ty: Because your gentle wisdom and perspective are too essential to this turbulent world to leave unspoken. (And besides, I wish to plant a seed for re-opening your blog).
  • Colleen: Because you've been everywhere and I selfishly want to know more about your travel experiences.
  • Donis: Because you offer a voice of healing and insight to the world.
  • Jay: Because I'm just becoming acquainted with you and I appreciate your perspective on the world. You're another of the gentle voices of the planet that deserves a greater audience.
  • Carole: Because you're such a good friend and I want to know more about your life and example.
  • Anyone else care to write YOUR seven random things? It doesn't matter if you have a blog or not.
To review my own Seven Random Things:

Random Fact #1: I was once a millionaire.
Random Fact #2: I was once an Earth Ambassador.
Random Fact #3: I once drove a get-away car.
Random Fact #4: I read the Bible from cover to cover.
Random Fact #5: I was once a beggar.
Random Fact #6: I sometimes have prophetic dreams.
Random Fact #7: I survived a coup d'état.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Life Scout

Dakota earned five merit badges from his Boy Scout group: snorkeling, camping, motor boating, small boat sailing, and water sports. He was also elevated to the rank of Life Scout. As parents, we are very proud of our son.

Back to School

Pictures from the first day of school.

Morning Fog

We awoke this morning to witness a thick fog over the neighborhood. But then Dakota went to school on the hill and saw a whole different scene above the fog, like a world stacked atop another world. He took these pictures from the car window.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Baby Blessing

My family traveled to Ephrata this Sunday to witness the blessing of Mandy's baby: Millie Rye Hope.

Five generation photograph.


My family attended the Wellpinit Powwow this weekend.

It's always good to see family and to participate in the dances.

In the picture above, I'm standing with my cousins Gary Moses and Davier Moses.

Indian Wedding

My cousin Patrina and Shady (Lloyd) Spotted Blanket were married in an Indian ceremony on the Spokane Reservation. I had the honor of performing the ritual.

The wedding ceremony had all the legal and cultural requirements of a normal wedding -the vows, the ring exchange, the walk down the aisle- but the couple infused the ritual with a beautiful Indian spirit. The entire wedding party dressed in traditional Salish clothing, wing dresses for the women and ribbon shirts for the men. Traditional singers sang the bride down the aisle and accompanied the vows. It was truly one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever seen.

In the photograph above, my uncle Pat walks Patrina down the aisle.

Shady accompanies the two mothers down the aisle.

The flower girls wore wing dresses and tiaras. They carried flower petals in traditional birch bark baskets.

The ring bearers.

Performing the vows.

Standing with the certificate.

The couple greets well-wishers after the ceremony.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Coup d'état

Random Fact #7: I survived a coup d'état.

In 1993, my two-year religious mission to Guatemala was approaching an end, prompting me to reflect on my experiences. During those years, I met hundreds, if not thousands of people from all walks of life, and witnessed cultural expressions I never imagined possible. My mission caused a dramatic shift in my world view, often through subtle events that challenged my previous assumptions. Guatemala forced me to confront complex issues from a completely different cultural perspective. Common terms assumed new meaning in a place where life and death exist side by side – terms like poverty, justice, freedom, human rights, and indigenous communities – they all became more vivid, palpable, and real. The coup d'état of 1993 brought many such issues to the forefront of my mind.


When I arrived in Guatemala in 1991, the nation had already suffered more than 30 years of civil war and various government takeovers. Armed conflict began after the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States conspired with the United Fruit Company of Boston to overthrow the democratically elected government of Guatemala in 1954. The U.S. backed coup essentially installed a series of military dictators that reversed the leftist reforms of the previous government. The indigenous majority of Guatemala suffered the greatest loss under the new military reign. Already landless and deeply impoverished, the indigenous people organized to oppose the military dictatorship. Over the course of 30 years, more than 200,000 people died in armed conflict between the Guatemalan army and indigenous Mayan groups. Most of the dead were Indians.

By the late 80s and early 90s, some democratic reforms began to soften, but not totally eliminate military domination of Guatemalan society. Under this context, Jorge Serrano Elías assumed the presidency. He helped to place the military under civilian control and to facilitate peace talks between military officials and the URNG.

Any positive changes instituted by Jorge Serrano Elías were forever tainted by the coup d'état or self-coup of 1993.

Golpe de Estado

Coup d'état is a French term used to describe the illegal overthrow of a government. It translates into Spanish as “golpe de estado.” In the case of Jorge Serrano Elías, the media referred to his actions as an “auto-golpe” or self-coup, because he began as the legitimate president of Guatemala, but on May 25, 1993 he attempted to seize dictatorial powers by suspending the National Congress and the Supreme Court. The president also imposed a media blackout and banned most public gatherings. Supposedly, Serrano Elías took these measures to prevent a breakdown of social order, but some sources claim a hidden agenda motivated him to deflect attention from an emerging corruption scandal involving his personal finances.

Effects of the Coup

At first, the coup d'état hardly affected me. At the time, I was living in the highland city of Huehuetenango, and the political events of Guatemala City seemed a million miles removed. I never saw tanks or troops descending on the national square and I never heard a single shot. But the coup encroached upon my awareness with subtle strokes of fear, like a cold wind that slowly freezes everything.

I first learned of the coup from a secondary source. The mission president called an emergency meeting with all the missionaries from my zone. He spoke of the coup in general terms and informed us of the media blackout. He also urged us to refrain from speaking of any political matters to avoid putting ourselves in danger. The church was monitoring the situation and would inform us of any changes. They gave us two different code words in preparation for any possible contingency. If we received a call with the first code, we were instructed to remain indoors under all conditions. In that case, the church would contract local members of the church to deliver food and supplies until further notice. If we received a call with the second code, we were instructed to evacuate the country without delay. Church officials would wait at the airport with our passports and plane tickets.

The announcement was sobering. About a year before, the church evacuated all North American missionaries from Honduras after they received a series of death threats. I personally knew many of the missionaries who had been relocated to my mission and I knew their stories. The possibility of violence seemed only too real.

The media blackout had a chilling effect on the community. The normally boisterous street vendors fell silent as local magazines, newspapers, and radio outlets stopped all productions. Even cable news from foreign sources were scrambled. Hungry for any scrap of information, some missionaries called home to the U.S. in hopes of learning more from the outside. Much to our disappointment, most parents never even heard mention of the unrest brewing in Guatemala. No one knew anything.

In the absence of reliable news, disturbing rumors began to spread. One man told me of a massacre in a neighboring town square. Supposedly military officials took advantage of the media blackout to eliminate political rivals. Another person mentioned suspicious disappearances like the ones in the Argentine Dirty War of the 1970s. Unsure what to believe and what to disregard as mere rumor, a sort of quiet unease settled over me.

My feelings grew more unsettled as evidence of unrest pushed closer to home.

During the media blackout, I received a visit from a local woman we hired to wash our clothes. She had taken our laundry to her house to wash, and then returned it to iron in our house. She was a member of a local Evangelical Christian church and listened to Christian radio as she ironed. Without any authorized news, the music simply played uninterrupted without the usual commentary. The woman and I discussed religion for the better part of an hour until a man's voice began speaking over the radio. The woman placed a finger to her lips and hushed me. She squinted her eyes as if to concentrate better, then she said, "I know the man speaking, but he's not the regular announcer. He's the station owner."

We both listened for a moment as the station owner quoted a Bible verse and made some idle commentary about the weather. But even over the radio, the man's voice seemed stilted and stressed; he stuttered and paused in awkward places. Without warning, the man unleashed a frantic, rapid-fire succession of NEWS from Guatemala City! In a few short seconds we heard that a major faction of the military had spoken out against the president and that tanks entered the capitol city to challenge the coup. Then to our shock, we heard a struggle over the airwaves. The announcer's voice feel abruptly silent, followed by the sounds of men shouting and furniture crashing. A few seconds later, the entire station went blank.

We stood looking at each other in stunned silence as the woman's face turned pale. "I need to get home," she said. She quickly gathered her things and hurried out the door. Unfortunately, I never learned the fate of the station owner. I was transferred only a short time later.

Before the coup ended, the government banned all public gatherings with the exception of religious meetings within a formal church building. This meant that we had to cancel all religious meetings held in private homes. This measure only added to the heavy, eerie mood that had settled over the nation.


In the end, the president failed to gain the necessary support to sustain the auto-coup. He fled the country and took up residence in Panama. He was rumored to have taken millions of dollars in cash from the national coffers in the days before his resignation. Luckily, the coup ended and life returned to normal.

Lessons Learned

As a child, I had always heard about the freedoms we enjoy as citizens of the United States, but I never fully appreciated their meaning until I saw them temporarily removed. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly; these are all essential to a healthy democratic society, but I also learned something about the power of fear to control people.

A few months later, my mission ended and I returned to the United States. Somewhere near the same time, President Clinton de-classified top secret documents detailing the role of the United States in overthrowing of the democratically elected government of Guatemala. I would have never believed it, but I saw the country first-hand. I witnessed the oppression of indigenous peoples and experienced the fear of dictatorial power. More importantly, I heard firsthand the testimony of those who witnessed the overthrow of their government. How did our country ever participate in this?

And yet with all our faults as a nation, I learned to appreciate our constitutional freedoms more than ever before. I also learned the the "Indian Wars" never ended back in the days of the Old West. They often continue in places like Guatemala with bullets and armed conflict. We can do more to protect the rights of all people around the world.

To review:

Random Fact #1: I was once a millionaire.
Random Fact #2: I was once an Earth Ambassador.
Random Fact #3: I once drove a get-away car.
Random Fact #4: I read the Bible from cover to cover.
Random Fact #5: I was once a beggar.
Random Fact #6: I sometimes have prophetic dreams.
Random Fact #7: I survived a coup d'état.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Prophetic Dreams

Random Fact #6: Sometimes I have prophetic dreams.

When I was a child, I noticed that some of my dreams had an eerie quality that occasionally manifested into reality; however, it didn't always happen in a straightforward way. Most often, the prophetic quality was revealed in a gesture, a phrase, or a metaphor that would then appear in my waking life a few days later.

The first of these events that I recall happened on June 13, 1979 when I was eight years old. I remember the date only because the real-life event seemingly predicted was recorded in my family history.

In my dream, I was walking alone in a barren, industrial-looking neighborhood. The streets were empty of people, except for me. I came to a parked car, and for some reason, I felt compelled to look inside. Just then, my yaya Minnie's reflection appeared on the glass at the same moment that she whispered my name. When I turned around to greet her, she was already gone. A lonesome wind blew across my face.

I awoke the next morning feeling empty and sad. Just a few hours later, my aunt called to inform us that my yaya Minnie passed away.

Was it coincidence or prophecy? Sometimes it's hard to tell.

I dreamed of death a full year before my father died, but I never saw enough clear signs to warn him in advance. In one dream, I saw a complete set of my father's clothes folded near an open grave. In our tradition, people sometimes do fold the last-worn clothes of a deceased person in this exact manner, but I just didn't connect the dots. In another dream, I saw a body lying on a table covered in a sheet. I reached forth with a trembling hand to remove the cloth, but something woke me before I could see the face. After my father died, I saw his body in the emergency room, and he lay on the table in the exact manner and position as the body in my dream. The only difference was that the sheet no longer covered his face.

Sometimes my dreams reveal future events with exact clarity, but usually these episodes seem random and mundane even. One night I dreamed of airplanes flying low overhead as they left multi-colored contrails in the summer sky. The image was so brilliantly clear that I awoke feeling perplexed at its meaning. Less than an hour later, emergency personnel arrived at my apartment and told us to evacuate; a wildfire was fast approaching less than a mile away, they said. As Rhonda and I rushed outside to the car, an airplane flew overhead and dropped red fire retardant in a long billowing streak across the sky. The image matched my dream exactly.

As I reflect on these dreams, I'm left to wonder what purpose they serve. I couldn't prevent my father's death, or do anything practical like find winning lottery numbers. Most of the time, I don't even know the dreams are prophetic until I see them fulfilled in my waking reality. Prophetic dreams are horribly difficult to separate from the nightly clutter of ordinary dream events. At this rate, I could never hope to make any money as a medium or professional psychic, (lol), not that I even want to. I'm just saying...

And yet, sometimes prophetic dreams are intensely instructive or even comforting.

Less than a week before my father died, I had my last prophetic dream of the event that would shake my world to the core. In my dream, the Angel of Death appeared to carry me away. Just as he reached his hand toward me, Jesus stood between us, but the spectre of death laughed and swallowed Jesus in his black cloak. I felt my heart sink. Just then a blinding flash of light destroyed the dark figure; evaporated him. The empty cloak fell to the ground and Jesus stood before me with arms outstretched. "Fear not," he said, "For I have conquered death."

I woke up sobbing. A few short days later, I told this dream to the people as I stood beside my father's grave.

Most often, dreams speak to me in metaphor. It's like a complete language unto itself that I'm only beginning to understand. Many questions remain unanswered, but I always try to share my dreams with others, especially if I see them in my dream. I also ask my friends to share their dreams with me, especially when they see ME. By discussing our dreams, perhaps we learn to translate these enigmatic symbols into meaningful tools for abundant living.

Random Fact #1: I was once a millionaire.
Random Fact #2: I was once an Earth Ambassador.
Random Fact #3: I once drove a get-away car.
Random Fact #4: I read the Bible from cover to cover.
Random Fact #5: I was once a beggar.
Random Fact #6: Sometimes I have prophetic dreams.


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