Sanostee (Ordinary World) 1973


Lately I’ve been dreaming of strange autumn days, a car, with my parents inside. Missions of the heart, and Jesus in the way, the sand on the rez its painted, painted art. There upon a desert corridor in flame, the Hogan stands empty and still, surrounded by a painting, of memory that’s stained, a course of my life not of my will. Daddy preaches goodness, while time it whiles away, fry bread and the smell of mutton still. Mom, she plays an accordion, that brings strange notes, so shrill, “No Dark Valley” changes nothing still. I reach for water it’s not there, the sky a winter’s gray, a bastion where I find my childhood’s real. Sanostee brings memories of life that death can’t kill, it’s not just an ordinary world, well G-D says it’s an ordinary world.

Still, so still a Thursday, a late Autumns day, Dad and Mum, they take gifts to help make things okay. Navajo, their hungry, and spirits must be fed, the spirits only willing, look how Jesus bled. The storms they move asunder, the sky looks purple black, I leave the Hogan looking, for some sheep can’t be led. I hear the sounds of angels, the psalms of ancient deep, moving I a young boy walking with the feel of ancient feet. Somewhere in the distance is the sound that mourns, the desert comes together it is the perfect storm. And I know there are missions that just can’t be reached, a lonely spirit crying, a wilderness out of reach. I turn blue takes the highland, the fire from below, a flame in the desert, a dream I will keep. Sanostee brings memories of life that death can’t kill, it’s not just an ordinary world, well G-D says it’s an ordinary world.

Sometimes I am lonely, sometimes I am sad, thinking of all others, and things I haven’t had, but then the dream before me, the one that mocks the past. My childhood in the desert, the best I ever had. It’s still just a Thursday, a strange autumn day, my missionary parents keeping daemons at bay. A trip out to Sanostee, a Thanksgiving noon, a storm out of the wasteland, bringing birth, out of a wound, a young boys wound. I reach for water it’s not there, the sky a winter’s gray, a bastion where I find my childhood’s real. Sanostee brings memories of life that death can’t kill, it’s not just an ordinary world, well G-D says it’s an ordinary world.

My parents were Wesleyan Methodist missionaries in the early to mid- nineteen seventies, serving the Navajo Indian reservation in Northwest New Mexico. Often they would travel to a place south of Shiprock, New Mexico, to hold services. While they served, I wandered, running through the desert washes, and climbing mesa’s that touched the sky. One November around Thanksgiving I believe, I saw a late autumn storm, that I have never forgotten. I dream about it still. I think we live in no ordinary world, although my faith tells me different. What is seen is ordinary, that not seen, not so much. I think what I saw that November day in 1973 was the unordinary made ordinary, and it was beautiful. – 11.27.2015 –  דָּנִיֵּאל

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