Hawk Squawks

Why

I would probably have never begun to write had it not been for COVID.  On the blessings side of things, COVID got me off the road and allowed me to do things that I always wanted to do.  BECAUSE I was on the road doing music, I was practicing for the gig, loading up, traveling, loading in, do the gig, load out, travel, unload.  I miss the live music, but I love the creative time.  No doubt I will be out there again, but not at the same pace.  My greatest love is the creative process and NOW I have been given the time to do it.

Squawks

The Story Teller 

 By: Dennis Hawk 

James R. Osgood, founder of the Atlantic Monthly once said, “a story which you could not add anything to, by your fancy and invention, isn’t worth while…” Embellishing a story is an art. The Oxford dictionary defines embellishment this way: “to make (a statement or story) more interesting or entertaining by adding extra details, - especially ones that are not true.” In other words, embellishment is lying, straight forward, nothing less. So to be a good storyteller one has to be a great liar.  

My embellishments started very early. Six years old, I think. I was raised by a very stern, no-nonsense mother who had no problem whatsoever with corporal punishment of the severest kind. Among her choice of weapons were a hand across the face, ears to be pulled, the fly swatter, a wooden spoon, a willow branch, (which the receiver of punishment had to go fetch for themselves), a frying pan, and then the nuclear weapon—my father with his razor strap. For those who don’t know what a razor strap is, it is two pieces of leather, sewn together at the top, 2 1/2 inches wide and about 3 feet long.  When held with two hands, one on one end and one on the other, loosened to make the shape of an “O”, then pulled together quickly, makes the sound like a gun or a whip. It certainly got everyone’s attention.  

So by the time I was six years old, I was trying to figure out ways to circumvent the wrath of my mother. In all honesty, I loved my mother. She could be kind, sweet, caring, a wonderful cook, innocent, somewhat naive ( she thought that mice grew up to be rats), generous, encouraging and then EXPLOSIVE - BOOM! I never knew when she was going to explode or why. She would grow two extra sets of arms, - flyswatter in one, wooden spoon in another, willow branch in the third, frying pan in the fourth, a lightning bolt in the fifth and a tornado in the sixth.  Her eyes would grow red and bulge from her head while zeroing in for the kill. This part of her personality, I learned very quickly MUST be avoided at all cost. I had no choice but to appeal to her naïveté and become an amazing liar.  

I lived a total of three and a half blocks from my school, so by the age of six, I was walking back and forth to school from home. The entire walk took about 12 minutes from the door of the school. The herd was released at 3:30pm. So, if I was NOT home by 3:45, I was late. On this one particular day, Marlow Schaefer and I decided to take a little detour through Riesner Park. Well, time kinda drifted away and by the time I got home it was probably close to 6:00pm. What I didn’t know was that my parents were driving around trying to find me.  

When I finally arrived at home, I knew I needed a good story. “Mom, there was an accident on my way home!  The police and ambulance were there and I couldn’t get across the street.  There was this kid on a bike who got hit by a bus and was dragged more than a half-block. What could I do? I just couldn’t get home.” Understand, Atchison, Kansas has no more than 10,000 people, where everyone knows everything about everyone and nothing gets by anyone, not to mention that this supposed incident  happened two blocks away from my house. My story did defuse the situation. The issue became my preposterous story with my mother trying to convince me that this incident could not possibly have happened. But I stuck to my story and wasn’t about to budge an inch. Result? An entire evening of my father, my mother and sister trying to convince me of my obvious jump from reality.  

BUT, I did escape the wrath!  None-the-less, I knew that I needed to hone my craft…which I have been doing ever since.

Stories 

 By: Dennis Hawk 

Just to recall my purpose and direction, I am proposing the symbols are the synapse ~ the link between our physical self and our spiritual self. Symbols also connect our spiritual self to God, or what Jungian psychologists designate as the collective unconscious or what the Ojibwe call Gitchi Manidoo (Great Spirit) and the Hindu’s name as deities.  

There are a number of ways that symbols are conveyed in literature. For example: simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole,  and archetype. English grammar was boring the first time through so I’m not going to bore you with it here.  

Stories use all of the literary tools to convey the message of symbols. We ARE a story, and we are able to connect with each other  through our stories.  Everyone and everything has a story. In Ojibwe, we call the hot stones that are brought into lodge "Mishoomis", or Grandfather.  We welcome them into the lodge by saying, Boozhoo Mishoomis, “Welcome Grandfather.” In this personification, we are honoring these ancient ones. One Ojibwe elder said,  “We need to pay attention to the stone nations. They have been here longer than any of us.”  Every animal, every bird, every fish in the sea, every tree has a story to tell, if we listen and pay attention to them. We are all related…Mitakuye Oyasin.  

There are also the stories that connect to our past, the books and the oral traditions that are passed down through the ages. The Vedic stories of India, the Biblical stories of Judaism and Christianity, the stories of ancient Greece and Rome, the oral traditions of Native America all fall into this category. There are heros and villains in all stories that capture our attention. As this blog moves along, I will be sharing some of these ancient stories. They are fun, exciting, humorous and tragic. The ancient stories are mirrors and give glimpses into who we are.

Symbols 

By: Dennis Hawk  

The connection between symbols and spirituality has always fascinated me. I remember taking a class back in graduate school called Popular Symbology. The class took us through a intense history of Christian symbols. In the Middle Ages during Pentecost (the day that Christians believe the Holy Spirit descended upon the heads of the disciples) some eager believers climbed up on the thatched roofs of churches, lit pieces of straw on fire and sent them sailing down onto the congregation below. Look out!  

Symbols are the language of the soul. Symbols act as bridges between the spiritual and the physical. Symbols serve as catalysts between two co-existing worlds. It is as impossible to separate the physical from the spiritual, as it is matter from energy. The two simply flow back and forth between each other.  

Symbols are pointers. Paul Tillich in his book Dynamics of Faith says, “…symbols point beyond themselves to something else.”  

Symbols tell us which path to take. When in doubt, always look for a symbol.  

Jesus said, “Let those who have ears to hear, hear; and, let those who have eyes to see, see!” What we need to know about our role in this world is always right in front of us. We just need to open our eyes. 

When we were gathered around the sacred fire an Ojibwe elder once said, “There is a sermon in every wind that blows and every leaf that falls if we just pay attention.”  Creator’s messages to us are not hidden if we pay attention to the symbols.

Mitakuye Oyasın  

By: Dennis Hawk 

  

The principles that are being discovered as this blog evolves are guideposts along our spiritual path. The two principles that have emerged so far are:  First, I am here on this earth at this very moment because that is exactly the way God wants it. Second, I, like the rest of creation, am a ball of energy stored in matter…and in motion.   

There is a third principle that is a guide toward our spiritual destiny, which is represented by another Lakota concept: Mitakuye Oyasin. This phrase literally means “all my relations.”  To paraphrase, we are all related.  Tiyospaye is the word for family in Lakota.  It is in reference to the biological family but it can also mean the sacred family gathered around ceremonies, - sweat lodge, sundance, give-aways, vision quest, etc. When attending the Lakota lodges, we would greet each other with “Hello Cousin” in Lakota.   

The symbol of family, relatedness, is a way to describe the interconnectedness of all things. The entire universe is all one big family: Father Sky, Mother Earth, Grandmother Moon, Grandfather Sun and so on.   

This brings me to the third principle of spiritual destiny. What we do or don’t do, whether we act or we don’t act, affects the entire family around us. We are not alone.   

So, to this point, three principles that allow us to move forward spiritually are:  First, I am here on this earth at this very moment because that is exactly the way God wants it. Second, I, like the rest of creation, am a ball of energy stored in matter…and in motion. Third, whether we stay still or move, we effect the entire universe…our family.  

Mitakuye Oyasin.

Two Principles 

 

By: Dennis Hawk 

We have established two principles thus far:  First, I am here on this earth at this very moment because that is exactly the way God wants it. Second,  I, like the rest of creation, am a ball of energy stored in matter…and in motion.   

In Vedic literature from India, these two principles are referred to as Shiva (masculine) and Shakti (feminine).  The material and static (I AM) are symbolized by Shiva in meditative pose.   

Energy is symbolized by a strong female figure usually with numerous arms indicating activity.   

Whether it is the Lakota concept Taku Wakan Ska Ska, - all things are sacred and all things are in motion; Eistein’s theory of relativity E = MC2; or, the Vedic Shiva/Shakti principle, it all point to the same conclusion:  I AM! I am called into motion!  

Shiva = Material, Static, I AM 

Shakti = Energy, Movement

Taku Wakan Ska Ska 

 

By: Dennis Hawk   

I have established for myself that I am here because God wants me here. If God didn’t want me here, I would not exist. Existence is a stand-alone project. I don’t have to do anything. God created me, I am here and therefore, I am valuable. Period! Even though I am intrinsically valuable, God adds a bonus and puts me in motion!   

There is another Lakota phrase, an actual phrase describing God: Taku Wakan Ska Ska.  Literally? Things Sacred in motion. All things are sacred and all things are in motion.  When Lakota teacher Basil Braveheart taught this, he said, with a sparkle in his eye,  “Doesn’t this sound a great deal like Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, E = mc²?” Then with a wink he said, “I love it when science validates what we have always known to be true.”   

Taku Wakan Ska Ska applies to everything and everyone. We are sacred energy and sacred matter. We are moving around in a circle from one to the other. We are also connected to the greatness of the source of all energy and matter, God.   

In order to know my function and purpose on the face of Mother Earth today, I need to establish that, first and foremost, I am a sacred being in motion, connected to God.

Anagopta Yo! - Pay Attention! 

Anagopta Yo! 

By: Dennis Hawk 

  

Why am I here? My very simple answer to this is the same as God’s answer to Moses when Moses asked God for his name during the burning bush incident. Yahweh!  (Which means “I am who I am!”)  I am not trying to be trite about this, but I am here because I showed up on planet earth this moment. I am a living, breathing human being. For me, that is enough!  

But what am I supposed to do while I’m here? In the greater scheme of things, I ask, “What does God have in store for me?” What to BE is easy because I AM. What is it that I should do?…Well, that means paying attention.  

In Lakota, “Anagopta Yo!” is a simple command that means “pay attention”.  During the time that I spent around the sacred fires with the Lakota elders, we would often have teachings that would continue into the early hours of the morning. If someone would start nodding off, they were bound to hear this stern phrase: Anagopta Yo! I’m afraid that I was on the receiving end of this countless times.  

In order to know and what my mission is and what I am to do while on planet Earth,  I have to allow myself to open up at all levels of perception and pay very close attention.

Our Purpose 

Purpose: a constantly evolving process  

We are all hardwired a bit differently. Some folks are abstract and creative thinkers like I am, while others have minds that are solidly rooted in how things work, and then there are those rare souls who have a balance of both. Somehow, in the tapestry that life weaves, we all come together to make this world work…for the most part.  

How did this picking and probing at the universe for answers translate for me in the long-run?  For me it meant seeking a college degree with a double major in English and Classical Languages, then on to graduate school to receive a M.Div. - a degree in theology in St. Louis, Missouri. It meant getting deeply involved in the social issues of my 20’s and 30’s: Civil Rights and the Viet Nam War protests. It meant leading a March for Hunger for the Long Island Farm Workers in New York. It meant diving deeply into creativity through music and song-writing. It meant a long tour of duty working as a community organizer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where I pastored an inner-city congregation as well. It meant that—while fighting for righteous causes—I had to face my own unrighteousness, drinking in deeply from the well of addiction. It meant recovery, renewal, and self-acceptance. It meant a new career in addictions counseling. It meant sitting with the elders in Ojibwe and Lakota ceremonies for 20 years. It meant carrying the sacred pipe and being given an Ojibwe name, Thunderhawk (Aniimikii Gekek), attending Sundance in South Dakota. It meant leading sacred ceremonies. It meant learning resilience…starting over again as a yoga instructor and yoga musician. During all of this time, there was this overarching theme with big questions, Why am I here? What is my job here now? What are the deep spiritual truths?  

What I DO know for sure now is that the “Why am I here?” question is an ever moving target that demands that I pay attention!

Destiny 

It was the summer between 8th and 9th grades when I decided to become a thief. I went into the bookstore in Atchison, Kansas with the intent to steal. I browsed the bookshelves until I found something…didn’t seem to matter what. I stuck a book under my coat and out the door I went - undetected. At first, I felt exhilarated. I got away with it! But I wasn’t two blocks away from the book store when the guilt began to swell. I envisioned returning the book, but how could I do that without turning myself in and catching hell? So, I kept the book and stashed it away under my bed. It stayed there for a long while, burning like a hot coal beneath me. Every once in a while, I would pull it out to look at it…certain that it was a testament to my certain damnation to hell. 🥵 

Ultimately, the only resolution that I could find to salve my guilt while serving my punishment was to read the damn thing. The book: Betrand Russell’s, A History of Western Philosophy. That book sealed my destiny. I was fated to pick and probe at the universe for the rest of my life, constantly asking, 

Why am I here? What is this world all about? What are the deep spiritual truths? What role do I play in life on this earth? 

And, to my knowledge, I have never stolen since that day…😳 

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