Saturday, January 31, 2009


My dreams have been lost in a fog these last few weeks. When I finally fall asleep, the dreams appear as usual, but then pass quickly into the darkness. Such a numbing forgetfulness settled over me, and considering the importance of dreams, I felt somewhat lost.

But within the last three days the dreams suddenly re-emerged in brilliant color, and now my life feels purposeful and vivid once again.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


The other night, I had a most curious dream.

In my dream, my mother-in-law and I traveled back in time to the beginning of the world.

The earth was beautiful, unspoiled, and clear. Snow-capped mountains nourished an abundance of small streams that each combined into great shining rivers. Evergreen trees sheltered the hillsides while flowering meadows covered the valleys. Animals and birds breathed the clean, fragrant air.

Humans lived in small family groups, gathering the fruits of the land.

My mother-in-law and I stood on a mountaintop, looking down at the idyllic world from the beginning of time.

As we observed the innocence of creation, some kind of meteorite or flaming disc fell from the sky, leaving a long smoky trail across the heaven. At the moment of impact, the object exploded into a violent fireball and set the forest ablaze. Bright orange flames pierced the sky and formed a billowing cloud of ash. Tiny particles of dust and soot scattered into the wind and settled over every living thing.

In that moment, a woman’s voice spoke to us, like an unseen dream-narrator or an interpreter. She said, “I will tell you the origin and purpose of the object you saw falling from the sky. The disc came from Kolob. After it burned to ash, the particles contaminated everything they touched. The black dust poisoned all the land, the water, the plants, the animals, the air, and finally the human race, causing a great change to come upon your planet. Where men once lived in peace, they became liars and murderers. The ash brought the possibility of evil and gave you the freedom of choice.”

Despite the promise of freedom, we fell to the ground, huddled together, and trembled in fear.

Then I awoke, still breathless and shaking.

As I consider this dream, I cannot escape the influence of Mormon theology. Mormonism teaches that God dwells upon a glorified sphere known as Kolob, and the being we call Lucifer once dwelt in the presence of God as an angel. But Lucifer rebelled. God banished him to the earth where he became the devil.

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!” (Isaiah 14: 12).

I see within this dream an archetypal journey from virtue to darkness. But this is not the end of the story. The loss of innocence may bring about suffering, pain, and evil, but the power to choose offers redemption. In this way, the creation story holds meaning for anyone who ever suffered disappointment, failure, or abuse. No matter what glories may have perished from our memory, and no matter how we may tremble in the face of uncertainty, we always have the power to CHOOSE a better quality of life.

Why has this message arrived at this time in my life? Why did my mother-in-law appear in this dream experience? I can't say for certain, but I appreciate this reminder of the grand scheme of things. Suffering is never wasted, failure brings opportunity, darkness presents the possibility of rebirth, and eventually, all things must combine for the ultimate good.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Meeting Gerik

Recently, I featured a local artist known as Gerik in two separate blog entries, one depicting presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama, and another piece titled American Zeitgeist. The blog created an opening for me to meet the anonymous artists behind the graffiti.

Apparently, a Gerik relative living in another state found my blog through an internet search and forwarded the link to the artists. Sometime later, a tiny Gerik icon appeared on my blog after they became “followers.” Feeling somewhat unsure, I wrote a rather tentative email and introduced myself. They responded very graciously and invited me to visit their studio. Surprised and immensely honored, I accepted the invitation and arranged a time to meet.

A few weeks ago, the Inlander also published an article and gave the false impression that Gerik is a collection of three artists, when in reality, they are only two. During our brief visit, they describe themselves as “brothers and best friends.” They told me their names, but for the sake of convenience and their continued anonymity, I will adhere to the precedent set forth by the Inlander and refer to them simply as Gerik One and Gerik Two.

Gerik One had given me directions to their studio and when I arrived, he greeted me at the door with a warm smile and a handshake. He ushered me inside away from the cold, and introduced me to Gerik Two and to his wife. If first impressions mean anything, I found the entire clan to be very amiable, good-natured, and sincere. Conversation came easily.

Gerik One seemed to take the lead and gave me a tour of the studio. We visited several rooms and discussed a large collection of art in various stages of completion. Again, if first impressions mean anything, their art made a definite impact through its thoughtfulness and technical quality. The brothers work collaboratively, often completing the work of the other. They paint the same canvasses and even share many of the same ideas.

The notion of America as a “shining city on a hill” appears in several pieces. A small history lesson may help at this point.

The “shining city” concept claims a long and notable lineage beginning from the words of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament: “Ye are the light of the world.” He said, “A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16, KJV).

Puritan leader John Winthrop called forth this image in his famous sermon “A Model of Christian Charity” in 1630. Said Winthrop, “We must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken... we shall be made a story and a by-word throughout the world.”

Modern American presidents also used this imagery to evoke a sense of divine destiny for the United States. John F. Kennedy mentioned the shining city on a hill in 1961, and Ronald Reagan followed suit in his farewell speech of 1989.

In a similar spirit, the Brothers Gerik propose a vision of America established not upon force or military intervention, but upon the power of example. They seem to suggest that if we build a beautiful and noble society, the world will follow.

Ultimately their art leads to the essential question of what it means to be American. Up to that moment, I mostly listened, but I interrupted and asked more pointedly, “What does it mean to be an American?” Gerik One didn’t respond directly, at least not at first.

He paused and returned the question, “What does it mean to be human? People are no different today than they were 2,000 years ago during the Roman Empire. Human nature has not evolved much.” He later went on to say their art “is more about the question than the answer.” In the end, they remained true to form. Their art reflects upon deep and enduring questions of human experience, but avoids casting easy villains or heroes.

A portrait of George W. Bush moved me the most. It shows him at the very moment he received word of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

They allowed me to photograph a portion this piece for the blog.

The eyes intrigued me. I’ve never admired Bush as a president, but somehow, the way Gerik painted his eyes made me consider our former leader in a different light. Perhaps for the first time, I saw the human face of George W. Bush. What was he thinking in that terrible moment? Did he allow the attack, as some conspiracy theorists might suggest? Did he react with the same surprise and shock as every other American? Did he feel anger, grief, uncertainty? The painting offers no clear answer. It simply presents those compelling eyes and leaves the viewer to wonder.

This is the power of art.

Gerik moved me ponder my own questions in life, and yet unlike the many ominous voices of our time, I experience their questioning as an invitation to know myself and the world more deeply. Never did I find such comfort in my doubts.

Many thanks to my new friends. May we continue the conversation in days to come.


Kenny Kheel made an unfortunate appearance on KREM 2 News in connection with the recent stabbing of a Spokane police officer. From behind the glass of the tiny visiting cell, Kenny said, "Nobody stabbed him."

The voice of a female reporter asked, "So how did he end up in the hospital with a stab wound?"

"I don't know."

Such a brief interview, but I have a feeling this story isn't going to fade any time soon. The public scrutiny will only worsen with time, and sadly, Kenny will get the bad end of the deal. It's all so horribly tragic.


A more complete version of the interview can be accessed on the KREM 2 website, or by clicking HERE.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Glenda's voice students performed a recital this evening, singing a wide collection of popular songs. They all did a wonderful job, though I was especially proud of Dakota. I'm a little biased as a father, but his talent really is growing.

Click HERE to see more videos of Dakota singing.


Mom, Kim, and Michelle

We celebrated Kim's birthday at Olive Garden, but she wouldn't let us sing to her. Even so, we had a great visit.


Even after more than half the snow melted, the world is still covered in white, as seen in these pictures of Reardan, Washington and Reardan Canyon. As annoyed as I sometimes feel with the freezing cold, I can't but help admire the beauty.

Officer Stabbed

Kenny Kheel was arrested last night for stabbing an off-duty police officer in downtown Spokane. The full story can be accessed on KREM 2 or on the Spokesman-Review.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Spiritual Symbiosis

Earlier this evening, I found an interesting research paper regarding Christianity and traditional Plateau Salish spirituality. The paper caught my attention because it described my grandfather Gibson Eli in great detail!

"Spiritual Symbiosis: The Jesuit, the Medicine Man, and the Leader of Song," was written by Chad Hamill. If you have any interest in local history or Native spirituality, then it's worth reading. The paper can be accessed here.

If Chad Hamill ever reads this blog, please contact me at the email address listed under my profile.


Last night I had a nightmare.

In my dream, I opened my eyes as I lay in bed. Through the darkness of my room, a black shadowy face flew toward me. The face reminded me of a cherub from the Middle Ages, like a baby face with wings but no body, except the face from my nightmare was pure evil; a dismembered head flying through the air. The dark hollow eyes fixed themselves upon me as I let out a wailing scream.

My wife shook me gently and woke me from my terror.

Later in the day, I forgot about the dream. I found myself rushing from one appointment to another in downtown Spokane, and passed under the Washington Street Bridge. As I reached the bottom of the stairs, I saw another phantom face staring back from a graffiti image strewn across the wall in thick black paint. The ghostly figure pulled my attention from mundane concerns, and brought me back to the moment of my nightmare scream.

What does it mean? What message should I learn from that awful dismembered head? Why did I see him twice, once in my dreams, and once by a strange "coincidence" of my daily life? Slightly shaken, I hurried away from the concrete underpass and continued toward my next appointment.

Important Update:

I just learned that only a few short hours after my nightmare, my cousin was killed by a hit and run driver in downtown Spokane. The shock of his untimely death is bad enough, but then I remembered something that sent a shiver through my body. The last time I saw that nightmare face was in a dream I had several years ago when another member of my cousin's family died.

As odd as this may seem, that shadowy face creates something of an existential dilemma for me. Was it prophecy? And if so, might something have changed for the better if I had connected the dots sooner?

What a pitiful psychic I've turned out to be...

White and Black

Freezing fog settled over the city and frosted the trees, creating delicate lacework crystals on the tiniest of branches, contrasted with the heavy blackness of the tree trunks. The contrast is striking.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Whitney documented her observation of the inaugural ceremony, while her sister McKenna looked on.

My daughters and I observed Barack Obama take the presidential oath of office at 9:00 a.m. this morning via live television. We saw history unfold right before us and my daughters documented the event by drawing portraits of our new president. They arrived late to school, but the inauguration was too important to miss. The secretary said several others were also late to school for the same reason.

I encourage all my readers to follow the example of my daughters and to take a few minutes to write in your journal, or to start a journal. If you will document your thoughts and feelings of these historic events, you leave a treasure for future generations. As a genealogist and high school history teacher, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of leaving a personal record for those who follow. As we bear witness to history, whether momentous or mundane, our descendants will thank us.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Whitney on Mount Spokane.

Dakota on the ski lift.

More pictures from Mount Spokane.


The drive home presented us with an amazing sunset through the fog.

Mount Spokane

Dakota and Whitney are skiing on Mount Spokane, while the rest of us sit within the warmth and relative boredom of the lodge. At least we get a good internet connection up here. But I'm feeling a little like a fraud, living today in a virtual world instead of living the mountain. Oh well, I got to see my children ski down the hill and feel the warmth of the sun on my face.

Every time I come to Mount Spokane, I remember some of the old stories. For me, the most important was a prophecy of the coming whites. In the late 1700s, one of the old chiefs came here to grieve and seek evidence of the Creator after losing his son to a terrible illness. He saw the Creator on this mountain, which restored his faith, and then he also received a vision of white men coming from the east. A more ample telling of the story can be found HERE. (Some of the details may be off, but the story is generally accurate).

Today the mountain is covered by skiers, but I still feel the sacred presence all around.


Oh boy, I forgot to report some big family news.

The kids tried out for Cinderella at Christian Youth Theater, and Dakota got a supporting role as a ballroom dancer. He's excited because he gets to sing and wear a tux. McKenna and Whitney didn't get parts, but thankfully, they took their disappointment in good spirits; they're already planning their next audition.

To see video of their auditions, click HERE.

Friday, January 16, 2009


This morning I drove to Five Mile Prairie and found a whole different world, veiled in fog and ice. The sight was both haunting and beautiful.


Looking at a world of white, it's hard to imagine that more than half the snow has already melted. It's especially odd when I look down my street and I still see this car almost completely buried in a snow bank. Even the remnant of snow is formidable.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Jim Elijah

Jim Elijah was my great grandfather and a member of the Spokane Tribe. These photographs were taken during an American Indian conference convened in Spokane some time in the early 1920s. I'm searching my notes to find the exact date, but I'm sure I've seen pictures of all the tepees in Peaceful Valley, below the Monroe Street Bridge.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Family History

The recent snow days kept us all cooped up indoors and gave me time to pick up an old hobby: genealogy. I purchased an account on and began searching for my ancestors among the digitized records on file. The materials have vastly improved since I last searched. In fact, I was surprised by how much information was available. I suspect I'll be writing more about this in the days to come.

The photograph above is my great grandfather Jim Elijah. He was a Spokane Tribal member and I'm told this picture was taken near the city of Spokane on the occasion of a national Indian conference convened in the 1920s.

I don't have any great stories to tell at this point, except that his picture can be found in the Northwest Room Collection at the Spokane Public Library and the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC). I would like to learn more about this man, and all my elders who went before.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


This photograph was probably taken in the spring or summer of 1948, near Hillyard, Washington. The family lived in the vicinity of Beacon Hill, overlooking Spokane. The woman on the left is my great aunt Bessie Moses Andrew. She is holding her infant daughter Diana, who sadly died less than a year later. The woman on the right is my grandmother Minnie Moses Cannon. She is holding my father.

This week marks a time of memory; a procession through the shadow of my father.

As a reminder to my readers, January 5, 2009 was my father’s 61st birthday, had he lived long enough to see it. January 8, 2009 marks the 15th anniversary of his death (in 1994), and January 12, 2009 will be the anniversary of his burial.

The tears have long since gone away, but every day of this week remains a ritual of remembrance. Each year, beginning on January 5th, my father’s memory weighs upon me until the morning of the 13th when the world begins anew. Strangely enough, my father admired the number 13. After the 12 moons of the year, the Creator sometimes adds a 13th moon. And Coyote built the sacred sweat lodge with 12 ribs, but he bound it all together with a 13th rib. I suppose it’s the number of completion. For my part, the numbers never change. They’re like stone monuments on the landscape of my experience, or stations on a long journey, but each year the ordeal softens just a little.


This year I choose to honor my father’s memory using his own words.

On November 5, 1993, he submitted a foster parent application to the state of Washington. The application form required him to answer a series of questions designed to assess his qualifications as a child care provider. The questions addressed a wide range of concerns, starting at the mundane details of daily routine, and progressing to his beliefs about children, parenthood, and family.

His answers were short, almost blunt. In fact, some of the responses might be considered politically incorrect by today’s standards. Even so, his application is a priceless window into my father’s experience of the world.


The application offers a few clues to his early family relationships. Some of the highlights:

When asked to describe his relationship with his parents, he wrote, “Did not know my father until I was older. [Mother] left me when I was in third grade. I was raised by an Aunt and Grandmother.”

In regard to his siblings, he wrote, “I was the oldest and took care of my family when my mom left us often for a week at a time. Most of them are in their 30’s and live in Spokane are (sic) the reservation. We are still very close. There was very little discipline. It was at times unfare (sic).”

He described his greatest achievement as “The Love of life that I now have.”

His greatest disappointment was “The Loss of my aunt who raised me. Her Love gave me the strength I needed in life to know Love and give Love back. [My aunts] taught me I was rich in Love.”


For me, the most surprising part of the application appeared at the end when he expressed his feelings for me. He described my personality as “very outgoing, a leader,” and my interests as “God’s work. Very active in church.” He wrote that I work well with all people and that his relationship with me was “Very Good.”


I have no memory of my father telling me about love. He certainly never said “I love you, son.” But as I read these simple words, I FEEL the love he could never speak. I FEEL his eyes looking back from the grave. No words are spoken, but I feel his admiration and approval.

As I approach the 13th day of my yearly ritual, I take these words to heart. This is no longer a time of grief; it’s a time to gather all painful memories, and through careful observation, to discover the beauty and perfection in all human experiences. In the end, love is the one healing memory that makes all things right.

This photograph was taken at an unknown time and place. It typifies my childhood memory of my father.

This photograph was taken some time between 1986 and 1989 at a powwow in Inchelium, Washington on the Colville Indian Reservation. My father stood at the back making his best stoic-Indian face. The rest of smiled like fools. I stood at the far left, my brother Bradley Moses is standing in the middle, and my sister Kim Moses is standing on the right.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


The temperature rose to a sweltering 45 degrees, causing a dramatic meltdown of the recent accumulation of snow. As a result, Spokane has been transformed into a land of rivers and lakes on every street, parking lot, and alleyway. The remaining mounds of snow left by the plows have assumed interesting shapes caused by the rapid melt. All aesthetics aside, it's wonderful to see the street again; things almost feel normal.

I love to see how the water carves a channel through ice, like a miniature version of river formation in nature.

Monday, January 05, 2009


My wife's family has a few great traditions, but perhaps the best is their homemade gift exchange. They draw names out of a hat and assign exchange recipients. Each person makes only one gift for one other person, and then they gather near Christmas for the big reveal. They all sit in a circle and take turns opening the gifts.

This year the gift exchange was delayed due to the weather, but we finally got a big enough break in the clouds to drive to Ephrata for the big day. The cousins got to play together, quite loudly at times, while the adults visited around a table full of food.

Chesney, Glenda, and London.

Tucker and Dixie.

Dakota and Cassie.

Whitney and Marissa.

Lanith and Tucker.


Changing Focus

Record snowfalls have created a bizarre series of events in the Spokane area. To date, more than 40 rooftops have collapsed, causing people all over town to shovel the tops of their houses. And yesterday the sheriff ordered all schools closed to make way for snow plows. He made a television broadcast just this evening pleading with drivers to watch for children walking to school in the streets because the snow piles have made the sidewalks impassable.

Tensions are rising. Earlier today someone tried to shoot a snow plow operator for leaving a burm over his driveway. It's just plain crazy.

I hate to keep writing about the snow, but it seems to dominate every conversation these days; it's all around us. And so to get our minds off the negative aspects of snow, I propose to focus on the beauty. Here are a few pictures to help us along.

We drove to Ephrata the other day, passing Sprague, WA.

In front of my sister-in-law's house in Ephrata.

Sunset near Ephrata, WA.

The sun disappears and the temperature plummets.


Related Posts with Thumbnails