Our family enjoyed a magical Christmas Eve watching my son perform in the musical production of Savior of the World. He played one of the disciples who encountered Jesus on the road to Emmaus after the resurrection.
Red banners outside the Conference Center
advertise the Savior of the World.
My son performed with friends we met
this summer during the Nauvoo Pageant.
It was beautiful to see them again!
Dakota is a wonderful disciple.
After the performance, we had dinner in downtown Salt Lake City,
These three magi figures were standing in a Mexican restaurant in Newport, Washington. Artistically, I thought they were quite beautiful. Culturally, these statues made me wonder about the magi of the Bible. The word magi comes from the Greek magos, meaning magician. By definition, the magi would have practiced some form of magical arts from the ancient world. According to one source, this term referred to certain followers of Zoroastrianism of ancient Persia. This word could also refer to people who possessed astrological or esoteric knowledge. Yet strangely, English translations of the Bible almost always change the original word to read as 'wise men.'
Personally, I prefer the original version. They were not simply 'wise men,' but scholars of magical wisdom from another age.
This old picture reminded me of the sweet-faced boy who is my son. Dakota has been a blessing in my life since before he was born, and he has always guided my spirit toward true north. Missing you today.
Earlier this week, we took a student group to the planetarium on the campus of Spokane Falls Community College. We got to see a visual presentation of the night sky, along with a short film about the solar system. It was a very enjoyable experience for our students.
The interior of the planetarium had a strange, blue glow.
Annette made some beautiful "Salish dolls" that she sold today at Northern Quest. Rhonda and I went out to see them and happened to see Shelly buying one of the dolls.
Annette prepared some information about the dolls:
These dolls' dresses are made of brain-tanned, smoked buckskin. They are embellished with parfleches, cedar baskets, and woven baskets. The plants, rocks, moss, and wood are all native to the Spokane Indian Reservation. The Salish women of the Great Northwest of the United States are hardworking, loyal, loving, care-giving, strong spirited, and compassionate to all people, animals, and Mother Earth.
Annette is an inspiration to me.
Each doll is hand-made and unique.
They each have been given a name.
Annette and Shelly.
The details of each doll are intricate and beautiful.
We went to the Christmas tree lot near our house, and Whitney announced with all the sweetness of a fifteen year old daughter, "Daddy, it's your turn to pick the tree this year."
"Okay," I said, "That sounds good to me," so then I inspected all the different trees and carefully weighed my options. I decided to bypass the grand fir. They have that rich, Christmas tree smell, but they tend to dry out faster. The nordman fir tends to stay green longer, but the girls don't like the needles because they look "weird."
While I was still searching for the perfect tree, Whitney revised her announcement and said, "Uh dad, I like this one."
"But I thought you said it was my turn to pick the tree," I said.
"But I like this one," she said. Apparently that settled the issue. Who's tree do you think we bought? I think everyone knows the answer: Whitney's tree is now standing in our living room, the lights shining softly in all different colors. I love that tree and I love this memory of my daughters.
Thanksgiving is a season for family and loving memories. Just this evening, I found an old photograph of my yayas and me. I was probably four or five years old at the time. My yaya Bessie was holding me on her lap, and my yaya Messie was holding my hand.
In my dream, I saw an old Indian man standing on the belly of a whale. Specifically, he stood at the end of the ventral grooves on the underside of the belly, and I stood at the opposite end near the mouth. Despite the strange position of its body, the whale was very much alive. The old man stooped down, touched the belly of the whale, and caused some invisible energy to flow within one of the ventral grooves. Then he sent several more currents, and each one forced me to change my footing.
Finally, I complained and said, “Just when I get accustomed to one flow of energy, you send me another. Is it too much to ask for some stability in my life?”
The old man said, “Who made the mountains rise from the ocean floor and fall beneath a hundred million years of wind and rain? Who caused the earth to spin on its axis and give both light and darkness to the people? Who designed the flowers to spring from the ground and then wilt beneath the summer’s heat? Who created the seasons of life and death, youth and old age? Who established all things from the beginning to the end? Did not I?”
The old man dressed poorly, with a tattered blanket wrapped around his shoulders and feathers in his hair, but he spoke with unmistakable power. He said, “I am the Creator, and you are part of my creation. It is true that you will witness many changes in your life, but do not be afraid. Did I not promise to be with you always and to send you comfort? Be courageous! You are stronger than you know.”
The Forgotten Carols by LDS songwriter Michael McLean came to the INB Performing Arts Center in Spokane. Rhonda and I went to see the show, and afterwards, she got the opportunity to meet Michael McLean. We have admired his work for more than 25 years, so it was awesome to see the show in person.
During my visit to the Kalispel Reservation yesterday, I had the good fortune to interview tribal elder Stan Bluff. He spoke about the cultural values that have guided his life from his childhood to the present day. What an honor to sit in his presence and learn from his experiences!
Yesterday morning, I drove to the Kalispel Indian Reservation. As I passed Davis Lake, it looked as though a cloud had collapsed over the mountainside. The clouds created a beautiful, haunting effect, like a smoky haze amid the trees.
In my dream last night, I traveled back in time to witness a scalp dance, like the one depicted by Paul Kane in 1847 (see above). In my dream, a recently widowed woman wailed and danced in the center of a group of other women from the community. They all sang, danced, and cried together. As the intensity increased, several of the women swooned and fell to the ground. I never saw a scalp, but somehow I knew it was a scalp dance. In any case, the feeling in the air was charged with raw, visceral emotion.
Clearly, I witnessed something powerful, but I didn't understand my relationship to the event. I finally asked my dream guide, "Why are you showing me this?"
He didn't answer. Instead, he waved his hand, and the scalp dance faded away into nothing. More than a hundred years passed in the blink of an eye, and suddenly we were standing in the exact same location, but then we saw the site as it appears in the present day. Where once there was a field, pine trees grew in abundance. A dirt logging road passed over part of the old ceremony grounds, and several HUD houses stood within a half mile of the old dance site.
Based on the landmarks in my dream, I got the impression that the scalp dance occurred near the present-day location of Elijah Road on the Spokane Reservation.
My daughter and I attended a painting class with Van Gogh and Merlot. We have attended these sessions before, but this was the first time in quite a while. Of course, we always have the chance to paint at home, but it was important for me to create a positive memory with my daughter. My kids are growing up, so I want to cherish these moments.
The college installed a board in the student lair that invites people to write a note of gratitude. The responses were varied and interesting. Some responses were religious and others comical. A few were quite poignant:
Once the weather finally turned cold, the leaves began to drop from the trees in earnest. Normally, the changing of seasons from fall to winter sends me into a deep depression, but this year is different. For some reason, the cold air gave me a rush of happiness. I can't explain it.