Saturday, July 30, 2005

the south end of liberty lake is covered in marsh land...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Liberty Lake

Nothing profound to report; nothing to move the world; just a day at the beach with my children. And just where does a person go to the beach in land-locked Spokane? Well, there's a nice little spot on the southeast end of Liberty Lake covered in sand (undoubtedly trucked in from somewhere else), and complete with a jungle gym for the kids, showers, two lifeguards, etc. You can even rent boats for $5 per half hour.

The only drawback was the fee: $2 for every person over age 6; but then again, the fee probably discourages hoardes of swimmers from enjoying this little stretch of paradise. There have never been too many people when we visit the beach. We hate to compete with crowds, after all.

My mom and my sister and their families joined us for a very nice day of swimming and an outdoor BBQ.

So as I said in the beginning, nothing profound to report; just my little family escaping the heat at the beach.

Friday, July 29, 2005

my favorite picture from today is a little is an underwater chain anchoring a floating dock to shore...something about the chain reminds me of things in life that hold us together and support our wellbeing and connect us to everything that matters...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Everything of Real Value

We got to visit one of our sons today for the first time in many months. I wish I could write more about our visit with him, but for reasons of confidentiality, there's not much I can say, except to acknowledge the blessing of seeing him again.

I went out to sweat tonight and thanked the Tupye for everything he has given me. It a strange sort of way, it seems I had to lose everything to find out I lost nothing. Everything of real value I still have.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

mount spokane with a hint of smoke on the horizon from distant wildfires...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

This spider web on a bridge crossing the spokane river inspired reflection: What messages do we send into the world? What returns do our actions inspire? What blessings or problems return to us as a result of our actions?
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Is there anything truly lacking?

Several days ago, I wrote about visiting a Native American sacred site; and yet I left out an important part of the story. After I arrived, I realized I didn't bring anything for an offering; no tobacco, or even a small coin to leave as a memorial to my respect. I made prayers, but I felt bad for not leaving any tangible object.

Then, as I walked away, I looked all around me and noticed endless sagebrush dominating the landscape. Years ago, I dreamed the spirit in the sage told me I could use it whenever I needed help.

Why didn't I see it sooner?

There was medicine all around me! I gathered a bundle and placed it on the altar of the sacred rock. Then I prayed again, this time not in half measures, but with conviction, singing my grandfather's song.

They say the spirits are pleased when we sing.

I walked away that day with an important teaching: is there ever anything truly lacking? Isn't it true the Creator always blesses us with exactly what we need? When we see the abundance of life, rather than the scarcity, then we see the Hand of Life sustains us perfectly and does not let us fall.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

a member of the air force dragon boat team on the spokane river...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

a dragon boat team on the spokane river...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

the vice-mayor of jilin city, china paints the eyes of the dragon in the opening ceremony of the dragon boat race...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Dragon Boat Race

This morning I attended the first ever Dragon Boat Race on the Spokane River, held in connection with the 2005 Sister Cities International Conference. My brother and sister-in-law, Paul and Angie Merchant, participated in the race and asked me to photograph the proceedings. The Vice-Mayor of Jilin City, China, one of Spokane's four sister cities, opened the event with a traditional Chinese ceremony where he painted open the eyes of the dragon. It was a fascnating event.

Congratulations to Paul and Angie who placed second in their division and received medals. Also, I offer them a special thanks for letting me know about this unique event. Without them, I would never know about any cultural doings in this town!

For more information about Spokane's sister cities, click the link below:

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

flower at riverfront park...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

the spokane river cuts a deep channel in the basalt bedrock...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Our Deepest Fear...

We recently watched the movie "Coach Carter," which uses a famous quote by Marianne Williamson, often mistakenly attributed to Nelson Mandela. It's a good quote, however, worthy of contemplation:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Sunday, July 24, 2005

anthony and barry...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Prodigal Son - Prodigal Father

My son Anthony turned 18 last month and returned to our family after a year and half away. We experienced so much pain in his absence, and now rejoice to have him a part of our lives again. I welcome him home as the long lost prodigal son of my heart; and I the prodigal father returning to grace.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

blessing with water and cedar...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Wedding Day

Wedding day at last!

My friends married in a long awaited, and beautiful ceremony. As I mentioned before, it was quite unorthodox, but turned out wonderful! For the blessing, I sang a song I learned from a Canadian Goose during a vision quest at Coyote's Sweat Lodge; the song is about beauty, healing from pain, and eternal love.

I sprinkled water on the couple using two small cedar boughs entwined together in honor of their union.

This is what the couple had to say afterwards:

"A special thank you to Barry Moses who performed the ceremony. You don't know how much it meant to both of us to have you perform our ceremony. You touched our hearts, minds, and our soul with your words and singing. Thank you for being a part of the most powerful day in our life."

In truth, I was the one blessed by the opportunity to serve in such a deeply personal and meaningful way.

Friday, July 22, 2005

flowers at belle victorian gardens in deer park...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Wedding Rehearsal

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I was asked to perform a wedding ceremony for the daughter of my former co-worker. We had the rehearsal today at Belle Victorian Gardens in Deer Park, Washington.

The groom will drive up in a classic car, accompanied by six groom's men and six bridesmaids, riding in three other classic cars. As the wedding party enters, a rather unorthodox wedding song will be playing: "Bad to the bone." Even as we did the rehearsal today, I couldn't help but smile and want to dance. I would not have chosen that music, but it fits the personality of the couple.

And yet the couple plans to shift gears in the middle of the ceremony, adding a touch of tradition and Native spirituality. They've asked me to do a Native blessing, and at the end, they plan to release doves.

Interestingly, the couple selected words from one of my favorite writers, Kahlil Gibran, to be read during the ceremony:

You were born to be together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in your silent memory.

But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heaven dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bondage of love.
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other’s cup, but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread, but eat not of the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each of you be alone;
Even as the strings of a lute are alone, though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping,
For only the hand of life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together,
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in shadow.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks to another day of loving.
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy.
To return home eventide with gratitude, and then sleep with a prayer
For the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

a lonely drive...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

A lonely drive...

One day a week I hit the freeway by myself to visit clients in Moses Lake and Ephrata. It's a lonely, barren sort of trip, without much to see or do. I've heard it said those towns wouldn't even exist were it not for the construction of Grand Coulee Dam supplying irrigation water to local agriculture; but here they are today in the midst of an otherwise deserted stretch of land.

The radio is my only companion for the road. The Spokane music stations take me almost as far as Moses Lake, but quickly fade as I reach town. Even the right-leaning talk radio shows on the -am- band turn to static as I pass Moses Lake and are replaced by the imported sounds of Mexican radio.

After the radio dies, the silence gives me a chance to meditate on the deeper things of life. Sometimes in those quiet moments, the ancient spirits visit in the form of traditional Native songs.

Years ago, I dreamed a spirit told me about a place known as the Center of the World, near Ephrata, Washington. To the logical mind, Ephrata seems an unlikely candidate for such a singular honor, but in the old traditions, Coyote built the first sweat lodge in this area and gave it to the people. His lodge stands to this day and is regarded as a sacred site for those who retain a memory of it. Shortly after my dream, I visisted that place and found a song...or rather, I should say the song found me. As I pass through this area every week, that song returns to visit me in my travels. When the clamoring noise of modern life fades from my radio, I sing and remember my connection to all that is.

fields of wheat near ritzville, washington...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

summer day at the pool...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Devil of Radicalism

On September 11, 2001 we entered what many feel is an age of terror. Sadly, the subway bombings in London last week re-confirmed those feelings. We hear of radical elements in Islam bent on destroying the American way of life, and I dare say, radical elements are also arising within our own politcal and religious systems. Indeed, for me, the problem lies in the fact that human beings struggle to allow others to live in peace, even if those "others" disagree with our ideologies.

Deseret News in Salt Lake City published a story this morning about the reaction of moderate Muslims to the terror attacks in London. The first paragraph captured my attention:

LEEDS, England — In a basement mosque where suspected suicide bombers once prayed, the imam ended worship Thursday with traditional Islamic blessings, then turned to the subject on everyone's mind: "The devil of radicalism is at our doorstep. We must fight it, brothers."

For the full article, click below:

Deseret News

With all my heart, I affirm this position; indeed, the devil of radicalism is at our doorstep, and we must oppose it; but we must also exercise caution, for in opposing radicalism in others, we must not succumb to radicalism ourselves.

The devil is a tricky fellow...I would venture to say the best way to oppose radicalism is not to actually oppose anyone, but to follow the teachings of the great spiritual masters of most faith traditions: to love one another, as we would like to be loved.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

orange flower...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Extinguishing the Fire

The other night I had a dream:

I was trying to extinguish a fire using a garden hose. I managed to subdue the fire in one area, only to watch it flare up someplace else. The flames died down when I sprayed them directly, but returned as soon as I removed the water. I discovered it wasn't enough to simply douse the flames; I had to soak the embers until they turned completely cold. With great effort and care, I finally succeeded in extinguishing the fire, and then I mixed the ashes with dirt and planted a garden.

My dream reminded me of a passage I read in the Teaching of Buddha:

"...the world is burning up with its many and various fires. There are fires of greed, fires of anger, fires of foolishness, fires of infatuation and egoism, fires of decrepitude, sickness and death, fires of sorrow, lamentation, suffering and agony. Everywhere these fires are raging...

"...people should quench these fires whenever and wherever they appear by correctly judging as to what can give true satisfaction, by strictly controlling the mind in the face of unsatisfactory things of life, and by ever recalling Buddha's teachings of goodwill and kindness. If the mind is filled with wise and pure and unselfish thoughts, there will be no place for worldly passions to take root."

The Teaching of Buddha, Published by Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai, 1966.

This dream, coupled with the teachings of Buddha, remind me to reflect on the fires in my own mind, and to carefully extinguish those fires with purity, forgiveness, and kindness. By planting a garden, my dream also showed me that purification of the mind will one day bear fruit; that which caused me suffering today can be the source of joy tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

the congregational church of spokane...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Have we not all one father?

It's difficult to convey the significance of today's photograph without telling the whole story, and yet so much of the story cannot be told; in part out of respect for the privacy of others; and in part because the feeling beneath the story defies any attempt to describe it in words.

The story has to do with fathers:

My dad left me with enough "father issues" to last a lifetime, and unfortunately I decided to multiply them in my adulthood.

I met a friend today for lunch...someone I once regarded as a son, but for reasons of confidentiality, I will not reveal his name. When he introduced me to his new girlfriend, he said, "This is my dad." But later, I had the chance to meet his biological mom and her partner, and he said, "This is Barry; he was like a dad to me." I suppose both statements accurately reflect the nature of our relationship, but I also sensed confusion, ambiguity, and pain in the simple statements he made regarding his relationship to me.

Afterwards, he and I talked about his biological father, and he told me the most heartwrenching story. Apparently, his mom was dating a man from this community, but she was raped by another man in California when she became pregnant with my friend. "My mom says I look more like the man who raped her," he said sadly, "I guess that means I'm the child of rape." He spoke the last words with such disgust and contempt for self, as if to imply, "I'm just a bastard, and I'll never amount to anything more than that." It pained my heart to witness my friend speak so negatively about himself. Without thinking, I said, "You're not the child of rape; you're a child of God."

Later in the day, I dropped him off at his new apartment, and as I drove away, I passed the Congregational Church on South Maple. The church stands like a Greek temple, with stately pillars and a magnificent inscription made of stone: "Have we not all one Father." Something about the church spoke to my heart and I stopped to take a photograph.

As I reflected on the events of the day, I realized the inscription above the door of that temple was a revelation from God. I have fretted about my own father issues for so many years, and then complicated it by worrying about this friend and my own children...but this great truth remains unchanged: no matter what circumstances befall us in life, we all have but one Father.

We are all related.

Monday, July 04, 2005

a view of the fireworks from gonzaga university...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Independence Day

A brief summary of my Independence Day:

The Brentwood Ward sponsored an Independence Day breakfast at the park. Who thought of breakfast anyway? We had fun, though. Grandma and grandpa great visited and grandpa told me about one of his first jobs ever at age 17; he worked in a gold mine in southern Utah for $2 a day. He paid 90 cents a day for meals and boarding, and took home $1.10 profit. He worked several years in the gold mine.

Melkenu called; presumably up to mischief.

We took the kids down to Gonzaga University to watch the fireworks. We had a wonderful time. While we waited, the kids sat in the middle of a blanket and I pulled them down the hill. We laughed and laughed and laughed. What fun!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

the catacombs pub in downtwon spokane...
Copyright © 2005 Barry G. Moses.

Rhonda's Birthday

Yesterday was Rhonda's 35th birthday, but we celebrated today. Two other couples accompanied us to dinner and then a comedy show.

We had dinner at a relatively new place in town called "The Catacombs Pub." At least I think it's new; we just discovered it about a month ago. It's hard to describe the specific style of the restaurant, though one waitress referred to it as "Middle European." It features cuisine from Germany, Belgium, and Italy.

Rhonda and I split a "Mediterranean Calzone," which I dare say is the best calzone I ever tasted. One of our friends ordered a German meat platter with sweet glazed pork, noodles, and sour kraut; all of it quite delicious.

The restaurant occupies a portion of the lower level of the Montvale Hotel block in downtown Spokane. It has quite a warm, inviting atmosphere, featuring old masonry, stonework, tapestries, and candlelight. We quite enjoyed our experience.

After dinner, we enjoyed some good, clean laughs at another relatively new place in town: Comedy Sportz, which is a family-friendly improvisational theatre. We got front row seats and thoroughly enjoyed the comedy "games" in the style of "Whose Line is it Anyway?"


Friday, July 01, 2005

Animal Spirits

Some interesting encounters with the animal spirits today...

On the way to Wellpinit, just beyond Coyote Spring, I saw the most magnificent bear I ever had the chance to meet in real life (fortunately, I was in the car and the bear was in the field). It was much larger than other bears I've seen on the reservation, and much lighter. It had beautiful, light brown fur and was large enough, I thought perhaps it was a grizzly, but it lacked the characteristic grizzly hump on its back.

I stopped the car and greeted the animal in our Indian language. It stood in the field with our eyes connected until another car approached and scared it away. Wouldn't you know it? The one day I forget to bring my camera and I see this amazing animal, the bear!

"Lem-lemt-sh (thank you)," I called out as the bear returned to the forest.

* * * * *

After I arrived at the sweat, I sat in one of the chairs just outside the lodge and heard an odd scratching noise beside me. I looked down and saw a mouse trapped in a plastic waste basket. The poor thing tried to escape, but the edge was apparently too high. I laughed and showed the mouse to my uncle; then released it outside into the bushes. I expected the mouse to run away in terror, but as I tipped the container to set it free, it looked back at me and walked calmly away.

* * * * *

On the drive home, a racoon stopped at the edge of the highway and watched me drive by.

They say these kinds of things are sometimes messages from the animal spirits. So far no specific message is clear, but I'm thankful for being visiting by these animals today.