Sunday, June 26, 2016

Bound Together

Sometimes my artwork goes into dark places. Creativity lives there just as it does in the lofty realms. The domains are bound together; one informs the other.

I have prepared to submit photo images to a juried show called Dreams. A work re-emerged from my past that I have remade. It has dark elements, but also redemptive ones. It could be a symbol of madness, or claustrophobia, or heartache. Or it could be salvation, enlightenment or instinct. The viewer brings their own interpretation. Intrigue and mystery live here.

I have to be able to bring my brush to hell as well as heaven. Both are creation.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Masai Women

On vacation.
Here is writing from another June 19. Year 2010.
I would love to be with the Masai people of Tanzania again.

Cradle Of Civilization



Sunday, June 12, 2016


Petaga Yuha Mani, (American Indian, born March 17, 1912 - died December 3, 1993).

A holy man or woman who is powerful in spirit will have great influences wherever they are. Continually in communion with the Creator, they shed the musk of hidden meanings as they breath. Their presence changes lives. A simple brief meeting with such a soul might have more impact than a lifetime of encounters with others. 

During the course of my life, I have met people like this, but rarely, since they are unusual. 

Years ago, in my youth, I chanced to find myself with a holy man, and the episode deeply touched my life. A living experience dwells in my heart ever since. Here is the story:


With his back to the early morning sun, he stood beside his small wood slat home on the South Dakota Indian reservation. Despite being at a distance, he had a bigger-than-life presence, such as a grand, magnificent oak tree might have; full of character, deep roots and strong trunk, with branches reaching far off to the sky. He gazed imperturbably at us, a little gang of hippies that had arrived improbably at his house in the early summer. Our elder leader popped her head out of the old Dodge Dart we were packed inside and smiling, called out, “Pete, long time no see!” He smiled and replied, “Yeah, on the Big Island wasn't it?”
The others filed inside, and as I reached the threshold, I stood a moment, reaching out my hand. A slanting ray of light fell across his figure. The tall older man stood almost a head above me. Deep furrows creased his long face. Black braided hair fell behind immense ears and over his shoulders. He wore a faded western shirt, black trousers and boots and reached out to me with both hands open. I moved to stand face to face as he took my hands in his. Looking at me with utter kindness and humility, he stood for what seemed like a long time, not saying anything, simply gazing with great tenderness, warmth and curiosity. I was startled to suddenly feel truly recognized, like we had known each other forever, even as dear friends from a time before birth when we had gathered together on the shores of dawn. The moment burned indelibly into my being, and I was given a lasting gift of deep peace and comfort. Though not a word had been spoken, volumes were imparted in the briefest moments.

His English name was Pete Catches, Sr. the last part shortened from Catches The Enemy. He lived on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota all his life. For decades he healed and instructed both Natives and non-Natives near his home and off the reservation. He revived the Sundance among the Lakota in the early 1960's and in 1964, he was named Sundance chief by the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council, the only such distinction in tribal history. His Oglala Sioux name was Petaga Yuha Mani, or Petaga for short, and during a gathering in his home, he told us how he got his name, meaning “Hands in Fire.”
Petaga sat on a wood chair, long legs outstretched and hand on his knee. “It was the early days of my being a medicine man, and I had been called to visit a sick man. When I went in his home, he was laying on a bed in the corner . He looked at me and I could see he did not believe I could help him. I needed his faith. I walked to the fireplace and reached into the fire, gathering hot coals in both of my hands, and then went to him. As I stood in front of him, he got faith and I was able to cure him. From then on, I had the name Petaga, meaning hands in fire.

We stayed three days. The last evening, we gathered at a sweat lodge near the house, and did a sweat with his two grown sons. It was surprising how hot it became inside the hut made of bowed branches covered with burlap and blankets. A pit dug in the middle contained hot stones taken from a nearby wood fire. Occasionally someone sprinkled water on them making them hiss and steam. Prayers and offerings were made to the four directions and Great Spirit. Sage was thrown on the stones and burned with a sweet pungent aroma. A peace pipe was passed around.

He told us he had two wives, and when he had taken the younger wife his first wife did not like it. Saying this, he grinned and explained the Sioux are allowed to take more than one wife. Always absolutely honest, he was deep as a river and as broad.

During a moment of silence, when he sat near to me, I found myself praying for him. I imagined the innumerable hardships he faced. His little house with makeshift furnishings would barely keep out the harsh winters. Closing my eyes, as my prayer went out, I had the unusual experience of feeling Petaga block my thoughts. I felt hurt at being strongly rebuffed—his door suddenly shut. His pride did not allow for sympathy from strangers. Inwardly, he spoke to me then, saying, little brother, why do you pray for me? Everything is contained here . . . and more! It is you that is poor. Be content with me in the Kingdom of our Father.

© by Steven Boone
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Angels Are Among Us

Angels are among us. Celestial beings with greater powers and insights than ours watch over us, pray for us and when given permission, assist us. Some people can see them. They can be felt, and even heard. Several times after my daughter died I heard her voice. I did not imagine but rather heard her voice and knew it was her.

These higher beings could easily show us much more, but generally, they do not interfere with our lives, since we are developing into higher beings ourselves and need to struggle. We cannot have answers and insights just gifted to us constantly. We must earn our way forward through our own resources.

Almost always angels arrive with peace, love and joy. When my daughter was dying, I was visited and witnessed smiles and felt gifts of deep love. Later I would be upset and wonder how the higher beings could be smiling at me while I cried in despair for help. 

Angels have a different perspective on suffering and tribulation. They see it as progress and when they witness a human suffer and go forward toward the light, they smile knowing the soul is growing like a young plant grows—drawing toward the sun and growing deep roots that will hold it from being blown away in storms. 

I wrote an article in 2002, after Naomi died:

The Smiling Angel

My twelve-year-old daughter Naomi startled me one day when she confided that she felt something scary following her. Seeking to bolster her confidence, I suggested turning around to face whatever it was. Five years later, we both came face to face with a monster that had been creeping up on her: we learned she was in the grip of a bone cancer that was spreading rapidly through her body. A track and field runner in high school, now Naomi teetered on the brink of death. This time she counseled me, saying, “Keep your chin up, Dad, and take deep breaths.”
While in public I tried my best to follow her advice, delivered like a true athlete, in private I fell on my knees and prayed for her protection and healing. During my prayers one day, I felt the presence of angels in the room; welcoming it as a sign my plea was heard, I gained faith that Naomi’s life would be spared. She also prayed, and wrote in her journal, “I know I am surrounded by spirits, and that is the feeling of the Lord.”
Initially it seemed that our prayers were being answered. Amidst the support of loved ones and a team of doctors, Naomi’s illness retreated. She spoke of her life-threatening illness as an opportunity and said, “Hardships can make us stronger. Every situation has some good in it.” Our family relaxed as she graduated from high school and made plans for college. But our faith was dealt a terrible blow when follow-up scans showed the cancer had come back and Naomi would have to face the prospect of dying painfully. With great valor she wrote a note to herself: “Show up and be lovingly present, no matter what it looks like out there or inside yourself. Always speak the truth of your heart.”
One night I fell on my knees tearfully begging God to spare my beloved daughter. As I finished praying, a smiling angel came to me with great compassion and love, as if to acknowledge that once again my prayers were heard. But my thankfulness quickly turned to anger. Furious at being helpless, I could not fathom how the angel could be smiling while I was so miserable.
Months later Naomi passed away, but my dismay at the helplessness I felt during the smiling angel’s visit stayed with me. Only recently, after an interlude of several years, have I made peace with it. Had I been able to listen, the angel would have told me: “We have been watching over you and are touched by your love for your daughter. Death cannot sever the bond you both have together. We see that your heart aches for the terrible events that have befallen her, but don’t dwell on the darkness. If it were possible to step back and notice how she meets her hardships, you too could not help but smile. Look at how she treasures life while battling the pain of her illness. Each day she puts her trust in God, sees beyond her grief, and holds her heart open. She is a ray of light in the darkness. God is pleased with your lovely Naomi and is protecting her. Rest assured that she will abide in eternal happiness.”
Now, as I continue to heal the pain of losing my daughter, a smile will cross my face. Feeling Naomi’s spirit, I know she is indeed at peace and happy. I can then hold my chin up, take deep breaths and pay close attention as she directs my heart to cherish all of life as a gift.

My book about Naomi: A Heart Traced in Sand