Sunday, April 14, 2013

Whether Help Come

Part II of Sun Jelly Pastures

     Homer Owl Song was a fixer of folks an' other things that was broke. He didn't much care to admit it, but he had hisself a reputation as a legend, one a them there folk heroes. The man had a knack fer showin' up in the right place at the right time. Ever'one knowed about 'im, but ain't too many'd ever seen 'im up close. For a fella who hadn't never set foot in church, the Holy Spirit done smote Homer good. He was, as high falootin' Pastor Bob liked to say, "a casual intercessor of people and situations that seemed downright hopeless." Now, Homer didn't go a-lookin' fer folks that was downtrodden, but darned if they didn't find their way ta him. Maybe he done swallered hisself a charity magnet or somethin'. Most folks'd agree he had the Midas touch 'cause ever'thing he done seemed ta turn to gold. Some thought he was pert near off his rocker. No two descriptions of Homer ever matched up, and that raised a few eyebrows from time to time. The holier'n-thou goody two-shoers all thunk he was nothin' more'na renegade dodger of Johnny Law, but Sister Louisa and her lazy dimwit son, Tater, was dead sure Homer was one a them shape-shiftin' bearded wizards, after a vision they seen in her Bedazzled crystal ball. Botha them spit swore on the Holy Bible they seen Homer transform hisself into a serpent that had itseff wrapped up around a walkin' stick. It warn't that Homer believed hisself above the law, he didn't believe in law, period. He had no use for authority. Homer 'splained it thisaway: "Why subscribe to the laws of men when Nature's order is so accommodating?" Lord only knows.

     The way Homer seen it, rules was "designed by people who didn't trust their own hearts." Instead of bringin' about order, he declared that "rules create fear, distrust, and more rules, and people who live by the rules are only trading the chaos of uncertainty for the entropy of expectation and disappointment, thinking they're getting a better deal. They don't like surprises. That's why they keep schedules and agendas, to ward off the unpredictable." Some a his ideers flown smack over peoples' heads, but alott've 'em made sense. He'd get to talkin' and soundin' real poetic, but he warn't uppity or nothin', he just got folks to thinkin' on things they ain't never thunk about afore. Like the notion he had that people get drunk offa control, same as moonshine. They's under its spell all right, but control don't loosen 'em up like hard liquor, no indeedy, it puts their minds ta sleep to where's they cain't think fer theirselves, and pert soon, they ain't whatcha call a individual no more. It's sorta like when a hard-headed caterpillar winds hisself up in one a them cocoons, only he don't never turn into a butterfly. He's in there all right, justa fightin' with Mama Nature, stubborn as all get out 'cause he wants to be the one callin' the shots. What he really is is scared; his fear a change done got the besta him. He done missed his chance, an' all he's got to show for his orneriness is a never-been butterfly and a has-been caterpillar. Just goes ta show, there ain't no need fer playin' it safe when ya trust in the way things are.

     That's why uptight types is so miserable; they ain't never satisfied with what they got, 'cause they done throwed the baby out with the bathwater. Homer was sure a lotta folks's problems in life was rooted in fear.  The way he put it, "fear of the unknown is a consummate grifter. It leaves a person short-changed, afraid of oneself, which ironically is the greatest unknown of all." Homer was one big mystery, most've all to hisself. Ya know how a dog gets all excited when 'is people come home from work, actin' like it's the first time he'd ever seen 'em? Well, for Homer, ever' moment of the day was brand spankin' new...maybe that's why he was never bored. Life's plumb fulla surprises, and so's ever' last one've us. Homer reckoned no one could really know theirselves, other'n how a baby knows it's hungry or cold or wet or feels its mama'n'daddys love, 'cause each've us is a work in progress. Alls we can be sure of is what our bodies're tryin' to tell us, and then try'n listen to them gut feelins' down deep inside. The rest is hearsay n'hogwarsh. Ain't none've us the same person we was even a minute ago.

      Even though Homer come acrosst as some sorta mystic philosopher, he really wasn't much've a thinker. "Thinking puts a damper on experience," he'd say. When a person's all caught up in hisself, he ain't gonna notice mucha nothin' else. A tree ain't just its roots and bark and branches, it's the sunshine that's streamin' twixt its leaves and the wind that comes a-rustlin' through 'em. There's more ta that tree than meets the eye. It's got sap runnin' ever' which way up and down its trunk, roots lookin' for a drink, branches branchin', and leaves turnin' sunlight, air, n'water into vittles. It don't hafta think about none a that; it's just being what it already is. People ain't no differ'nt, really. We grow ourselves same as that tree, ain't no one else doin' it for us. 'Cept somewhere's along the line, we got the ideer we ought not take credit for doin' what comes natural, that we's just s'posed ta set back  and watch it all happenin' from over yonder. Sorta takes the wind outta yer sails, don't it? If we ain't the ones responsible for walkin' our legs and speakin' our voice, then who is?

     Pastor Bob summed Homer up as such: "He's an enigma, a curiosity, and a threat." Fer sure, he was one a them free spirits that wasn't real concerned with what people thunk a him, a travellin' man who never met a stranger, and called ever' place 'is home. That was the Injun side a him--he done growed up on a reservation in New Mexico, the son of a medicine woman. He learnt the old ways first, then he went off ta Harvard. Got hisself a MD and a PhD in ethnobotany, then come back to the reservation ta become a full-fledged healer, just like 'is mama.

     Traditions like healin' don't get taught in medical school. Regular doctors ain't too concerned with keepin' folks well. They got a pill or a fix fer darn near any ailment, an' don't none of it involve a person helpin' hisself.  Problem is, they think've people as parts that ain't workin' right, parts that ain't necessarily connected to each other or nothin' else. There's a whole lot more to Bubba than just his bad heart. Injun healers get that. To them, health is harmony 'tween the physical body and what's surroundin' it, and disease is whatever's disturbin' the peace. The big differ'nce 'tween doctors and healers is their attitude toward patients. A set of symptoms with a few pills chucked at it cain't help itseff no how, but a person whose body is tellin' its own story most surely can.

     Homer believed in helpin' people help theirselves. There warn't a person alive that was beyond help, neither, whether help come as recovery or deliverance. He was a cancer doc afore he gone inta palliative care, so he seen his share a death. Most've us ain't walkin' around ponderin' our deaths, even though we all know we's gonna die some day. Folks that're terminal ill ain't got that luxury; the hand a Death's done reached out to grab 'em. Homer knew he warn't gonna save ever'one that come ta him, but he didn't think dyin' meant a person had to suffer. Like the law, sufferin' don't serve no real purpose in life, lest it's overcome. The differ'nce 'tween a good death and a bad one's as simple as dyin' in the comfort a home amongst loved ones or dyin' sterile and alone in the ICU, hooked up to a buncha tubes and machines. A good death is knowin' when to let life take its course.

     Dear Lord, please let Homer deliver Momma E, even though she done chased 'im off our property. She didn't know she was et up with cancer.

Yours in Christ's Bountiful Mercy,
Maynard

Part I, Sun Jelly Pastures
Part III, Jesus-Hair Grass
Part IV, Happily May They All Return
Part V (Conclusion): The Most Terrible Sad Rainbows of Love Left Behind

   
   





21 comments:

  1. You are scaring me Kris. Quite a story you have there!

    Is this the real you?
    Cheers, ic

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    1. I'm surprising myself with this story, too, Ian. There are so many snippets from actual life woven in here that it seems real to me. So, yes, I suppose this is the real me :-D

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    2. Ian, that funny! That's just what I've been asked? lol

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  2. Kris, once I stepped into the hurricane, there was no escape till the very end. All I knew was that I was whirling, whirling. That was a forceful introduction to the healer. A lot has been said about the cold aloofness of the modern medicine vis-a-vis the very involved, deeply personal approach of the naturalist rebel. I can sense potent undercurrents of personal convictions.

    I do not know which lands the story will traverse but you have etched the character Homer unforgettably.

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    1. I have no idea where this story is going, either, Uma. That's what's making it challenging and so much fun to write. Part of the challenge is not taking my own personal convictions too seriously. I am very intrigued with native American medicine, its holistic approach and the science that's behind it, but I have no actual experience with it, nor do I know any medicine people. Homer's character is mostly imagination with a bit of personal experience and internet research thrown in.

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  3. Kris, Homer seems the incarnation of every free spirit who ever walked this earth. What a wonderful mouthpiece he is for your own wild sense of irreverent humor and all your own sage thoughts and insights about life.

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    1. Marty, I referred back to many of our BC discussions while I was writing this. They're full of terrific insights and perspectives, and are a handy resource for distilling and consolidating complex concepts, such as autonomy and suffering. Homer is an amalgamation of all the free spirits I know, one of them being you.

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  4. I'm really enjoying this story Kris. Is it difficult to write in this "language", and then to go back to our own? :) You do it so well!

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    1. Michelle, yes, it is weird to transition back after spending so many hours writing in dialect. I was telling my husband last night that writing this story really is like writing in a different language, one that I'm not particularly fluent in. I'm having fun with it, though, letting my imagination run wild. I'm glad you're enjoying it so far!

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  5. Kris, what a delightfully surprising turn your story has taken. Your first line about Homer Owl Song grabs the reader’s attention right away. And I love Homer’s line that “people get drunk offa control, same as moonshine,” and the analogy with the “hard-headed caterpillar.”

    I am immensely enjoying this free-spirited Native American healer. I have always felt an affinity for Native Americans and in particular, their natural approach to healing. When I attended Livingston College in NJ, I took a course on Native American cultures. My term paper was done on the healing rituals of the Diné, the Navajo (still have it). When I traveled across country later in my 20s, I met some wonderful Navajos in Arizona. I think you have done marvelous research.

    You are crafting such an interesting story! ”Health is harmony ‘tween the physical body and what’s surroundin’ it, and disease is whatever’s disturbin’ the peace.” So true and well phrased. “A good death is knowin’ when to let life take its course.” Ah, I believe I have glimpsed into the next luminous installment.

    Your post is jam-packed with so many good lines! Other lines that I especially loved: “The holler’n-thou goody two-shoers,“ (I know those folks lol!). “A tree ain’t just its roots and bark and branches, it’s the sunshine that’s streamin’ twixt its leaves and the wind that comes a-rustlin’ through ‘em.” So poetic! And “If we ain’t the ones responsible for walkin’ our legs and speakin’ our voice, then who is?” Now that line ought to be a bumper sticker!

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    1. Madilyn, I am thrilled to read that you researched native American healing and that you had contact with the Navajo...emailing you now.

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  6. You can't do nothing else than love Homer's free spirit. People like him just live life in the moment and do as they please without a worry in the world, but to others it can be a real threat.
    When it comes to healing, it's a bit of both for me. There are natural remedies that can and do heal and these have been handed down from many past generations and there are times when you need to just take the modern pills.
    I must say, I'd love to have Homer live next door, he'd entertain me every time with his words of wisdom, free thought etc.

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    1. I think everyone loves the idea of free spirits, RPD, but are sometimes afraid to admit it. I agree with your balanced approach to healing. Whatever works for a person is what makes the most sense.

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  7. Doctoring and being the fixer of things is a true gift. You are definitely bringing the feel of the "good ol' boy" to light in your stories. There is something to say about the southern way of thinking and getting thru life. Bravo on yet another great story.

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    1. Steven, I had a feeling you'd appreciate the Southern-fried nature of this piece. Healing is a gift that not all doctors seem to have. Like NP said above, Homer is a fantastic mouthpiece for my personal convictions regarding my profession and views on life (and death).

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  8. I think I read the whole thing in the voice of Uncle Jesse from Dukes of Hazzard.
    As always, I'm curious to see where you take this.

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  9. I love this "fixer of folks" And I am sorely tempted to have my Mississippi-bron boyfriend read this aloud to his yankee girlfriend. i want to hear the music of his voice tell me about the never-been butterfly, has-been caterpillar and more! Can't wait to see where we go next!

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    1. Gina, I hope you will have Scott read it aloud to you...he'll know exactly where to put the inflections. Today, I finally figured out where this story is going. :-)

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  10. What a wonderful character. "When a person's all caught up in hisself, he ain't gonna notice mucha nuthin' else." So much truth to those words. I love the tone and philosophy with this installment. Can't wait to see where it goes.

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    1. Glad you've enjoyed it so far, Janene. The rest is a'comin.

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