Magnificent Muddy Moccasins

By Meesha Johnson

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©Sunshine K. Gumbs 2015


With a face of joy, excitement and with a most striking smile, she glides on her brand new moccasins.  Her petite size 6 feet fit the brand new moccasins magnificently and absolutely perfect.  The moccasins are a dark tan color with beautiful fringe hanging down the sides and going all the way around the top of them.  The tops of the moccasins are also accented with beautiful beadwork that gives the moccasins a hint of elegance.  Inside of the moccasins is soft warm fur from a rabbit.  “Wow, they fit my foot just like a warm pair of gloves”.  As she stands to take a few steps, the moccasins make her feel as if she were walking on clouds.  “Thank you Meema.”  Meema is Sparrow Whitecloud’s grandmother.  Sparrow Whitecloud is a young Native princess just about to come upon her 13th birthday in a few days.       Her Meema has made her a brand new pair of moccasins for her birthday and because of how much Sparrow has grown in just a year.  “You know Sparrow, if you keep growing at this rate, you will have to finally learn how to make your own moccasins soon.”  Sparrow smirks and says, “I promise Meema to learn how to make my very own moccasins before it’s too late.  I am just glad to get rid of my old muddy moccasins.”  As Sparrow sets her old dilapidated moccasins off to the side, she starts to tinker around with her brand new moccasins.  During this time also, Sparrow’s Meema begins to put away all of her sewing materials.  She puts away the raw Hyde and her beading needles in a safe place.  Sewing is not just a craft for Meema; it is a passion of hers as well.  She takes much pride in her work mostly because of what has been passed down to her by her elders and family.  As Meema thinks about the comment that Sparrow has just made about her old moccasins, she sees this as an opportunity to pass down some of the wisdom from her ancestors to her granddaughter.

After putting away all of the sewing materials and cleaning up, Meema begins to put a huge pot on the stove in preparation to make a bit of venison stew.  Once the ingredients are put together in enticing arrangements of deliciousness, Sparrow walks into the kitchen being mesmerized by the smell.  “What are you cooking Meema?” asked Sparrow.  “I am putting together some stew for supper and it should be ready in a couple of hours.”  “Well I can’t wait to have some Meema because I am so hungry and my brand new moccasins are making me feel like a new person says Sparrow as she is dancing around gazing at the boiling pot on the stove.  As Meema looks up at Sparrow still dancing and smiling in her new moccasins, Meema asks, Excuse me young lady, but where are your moccasins?”  Coming to a screeching halt, she responds by saying, “I put them in a bag to put in the trash later on today.”  With a disappointed look on her face Meema says to Sparrow, “Absolutely not!  I want you to go and get your moccasins and meet me in the other room for a talk.”  Then as Sparrow walks away in search of her moccasins, she is confused and upset because clearly she has troubled her Meema.

After a few moments, both Sparrow and Meema sit down on the couch.  “I am so sorry Meema for what I said about my moccasins.”  Meema responds with a smile and says, “I don’t want you to be sorry, I want you to understand the importance of remembering and respecting the things that you are blessed with.  Now take your moccasins out of that bag and look at them closely and tell me what you see.”  Sparrow spends a couple of seconds looking at her moccasins and notices the worn out leather and the dirty fringe that once was a beautiful tan color.  There are also a couple of holes on the soles of the moccasins.  Sparrow then begins to tell her Meema about what she sees.  “Now I want you to close your eyes and think about how these moccasins have bought you to the place of needing new moccasins.  Ask yourself if your old moccasins served their purpose and if you didn’t have those old moccasins, what would you do?”  Sparrow begins to think about the many walks home from school during the spring season.  After a nice refreshing cleansing rain, she remembers the countless times she and her cousins would go puddle jumping.  She also remembered back during the winter season.  She thinks about the times it was so cold outside and there was snow on the ground, her moccasins always kept her feet nice and warm while making snowmen in the yard.  Sparrow remembered back to this one time during the summer when she went to the beach swimming with her friends.  One of her good friends left her moccasins too close to the shore and as the tide came in; her moccasins got washed into the water.  There was another time that Sparrow remembered in the autumn season where she and her mother went to pick potatoes and vegetables in the garden.  Sparrow and her mother spent most of the day harvesting the vegetables in preparation for the Harvest moon ball.  She and her mom had a great day together laughing and talking about how much fun they would have at the ball.    When they were done, her hands and moccasins were so full of dirt that when she put a little bit of water on her moccasins, the dirt soon turned into mud.  Sparrow then began to laugh at the memories that her muddy moccasins bought.  “I remember a lot of good things that happened in these moccasins Meema, but I also remember a lot of bad things that happened too.”  Meema nodded in agreement and said to Sparrow “Yes, but what else do you notice.”  “Nothing said Sparrow.  “Well I notice that even though you had both good and not so good memories in those moccasins, the times came and left, but your moccasins are still here.  They may not look as beautiful as the day you first got them, they are still here and the damage is proof of how they did what they were supposed to do.  “When I was a young girl, I remember how my mother, cousins, aunties and other members of the tribe would sit and teach the young people how to make their own moccasins and regalia for the Pow Wow.  We always had a great time laughing and remembering the seasons and times spent getting prepared to create new memories.  Back then before we could learn how to make our own moccasins, we had to tell the elders of the Tribe what we had learned that year.  After talking and laughing with us, the elders gave us a jewel.”  Wow said Sparrow; you mean to tell me the elders of the tribe gave you brand new jewelry just to learn how to make moccasins?  Meema let out a loud chuckle, “No silly, I mean the elders told us something that we as children kept with us forever.”  “Well what was that” asked Sparrow.  “The elders of the tribe told us that our experiences in life both good and bad are meant for us to respect the past and where we have been, to appreciate the present and where we are, and lastly to teach us how to pursue with diligence and passion your goals and the future.”  “Wow, that is amazing and beautiful Meema.  I love you and thank you for my jewel of wisdom.”  Sparrow then gets up to head toward her room.  After a bit of shuffling around in the back, Sparrow meets Meema in the kitchen stirring and tasting the stew.  “The stew is almost ready.  Maybe in another 45 minutes or so it will be done.”  Meema then starts to prepare her famous homemade biscuits.  Meema then puts the pieces of dough in the oven while the pot of stew simmers on the stove.  As Meema turns around, she sees Sparrow heading back to the other room.  Sparrow then begins to go through Meema’s sewing materials.  Meema then heads toward the room where Sparrow is rummaging through the sewing materials.  Meema then asks Sparrow what she is doing.  “I figured that since you gave me my jewel, it is only right that I begin to learn how to make my own moccasins Meema.  Sparrow turns to face her Meema and she holds up her old moccasins.  “Rather than make a new pair of moccasins, I want to clean and restore my old moccasins.  I am going to keep them forever and one day I will give someone else my jewel too.”

©Meesha Johnson 2015

 

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The Gifts From My Past and “The Billy Factor”

Since the first week of April, my life has been a whirlwind of events which has redefined my history , my present and perhaps my future.  These events and teachings are summarized in this piece titled : The Quest for Wholeness  that I recently submitted to the Huff Post Blog . Following is some additional thoughts that  have  come to mind since then.

  • For me ,living in the present moment is an illusion. The teachings of my past, particularly as it relates to recent discoveries about my father’s side of the family have helped me understand my present choices more fully. It has also helped me to understand the paths that I embraced to get to where I am today.
  • When we choose to learn from our past and let our history become a teacher to us in the present, a rich part of our life experience has been restored.
  • Having a context or set of conditions to understand our present day path is crucial to redefining ourselves after catastrophic loss. I have discovered that there has been a history of both child loss and sibling loss on my father’s side of the family. As I have also experienced the death of a child, I  believe  that this teaching from The Afterlife of Billy Fingers by Annie Kagan, truly applies to me:

We signed up to do this dance together before we were born

  •  Don’t leave any stone unturned in your own personal quest to redefine yourself after catastrophic loss or life altering transitions. The recent  rich teachings from my ancestors have really reinforced this point for me.
  •  Truth exists before we become evident of its existence in our own lives.
  • I am blessed to discover that I have living family on my father Austin Marion Roberts’ side .I look forward to creating new family memories with my cousin Jo Anne. Before I was simply content to be around my “soul family” or those individuals who have had a profound influence on redefining my perspective after my daughter Jeannine’s death in 2003.
  • The universe’s plan is always better than ours.
  • My father was only in my life for five years ,but I love him more now than I ever have. What he taught me can’t be measured by human law.
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Me and my dad ,Austin Roberts circa 1955. I know that I was truly loved.

  • I can not overlook the influence of “The Billy Factor,” in my recent life discoveries. The Afterlife of Billy Fingers  by Annie Kagan was recommended to me by a friend who walks a very sacred path. As she is not one to make spontaneous book recommendations, my curiosity was automatically aroused. I discovered that the book was released on March 1,2013, the 10th angelversary of my daughter Jeannine’s death.Billy  danced with addiction during his lifetime. After his death(or rebirth to a new existence) ,he ascended to the status of a highly evolved and  wise spirit ,communicating divine truths to his sister on earth. The book validated all of what I believe about the afterlife, but in retrospect did much more. Understanding the context of Billy’s life path prepared me to embrace without judgment the life path that my father and his ancestors chose to walk. In fact ,I was able to fully embrace the gifts of their dysfunction and reclaim a part of my history that I thought was forever lost.  

I would rather be whole than good- Carl Jung