October 19, 2012
Haiku My Heart is a weekly event hosted by Rebecca. You can see more Haiku and join in when you visit recuerda mi corazon.
Matters in our hearts
Not at all unnatural
What do you consider to be a miracle? How about coincidence? And that saying, “There are no coincidences”. Serendipity? Is serendipity and coincidence the same thing?
I wonder about these things as I have had many experiences, right in a row lately, that can fall in either one of these categories specifically, or all of them. Let me explain.
I think I mentioned to you the story about the recent funeral of my friend, Gene. Gene, if you remember, was a Spiritual Elder in the Red Cliff Tribe and besides being my friend, he was my mentor and teacher. He was also a Vietnam Veteran.
When we got to the cemetery on the day of his burial, the color guard was there and after a 21 gun salute, a lone bugler played taps.
It was during the rendition of taps that all eyes were skyward and saw an Eagle soaring in large circles over the people attending Gene’s service. Then, the Eagle left and headed to the West.
Symbolic of so many things, the Eagle showed itself at that particular time, at that particular place, while that particular event was taking place. And to soar around, then retreat to the West. The color black designates the West. Blackness, or night, where the sun goes down. The West, the end of the day, before the new beginning of another day with the sunrise to the East.
One of Gene’s teachings was to tell us that we honor the Eagle because it might be the Creator showing himself to us. Eagles and Eagle feathers are an important creature in the lore of the Ojibwe as well as other Indian Nations.
With this said, I must tell you that the other morning, while sharing breakfast with an old friend that we hadn’t seen in a dozen years or so, I started talking about Gene to my friend, telling him the station that Gene held in my life and the lives of so many people.
As I spoke, we saw movement outside the window of the restaurant where we were eating. It was the restaurant of the Ike Walton Lodge and we were on the shore of Yellow Lake in Burnett County, Wisconsin, where we had spent the night after attending a dinner function fundraiser.
It was at this precise moment that we all spotted an Eagle soaring, down low, close to the water, then land in the upper branches of a pine tree near the water’s edge, directly in front of the picture window where we were sitting.
I made reference to the fact that the Eagle decided to show himself to us when I was talking about Gene. After a few moments of conversation, we had changed the subject and the Eagle moved on across the water. We watched it as it flew away.
I’ve made up my mind already. That was no coincidence. As much as any faith based religion asks you to believe that passages in the Gospel are true and tell you exactly what they mean, I will tell you that the Spirit of my friend Gene follows me and tells me I’m on the right path by these showings of powerful winged animals that come around at precise places and at precise times.
Why not? Proving that this isn’t true is just as hard as proving it is.
The evening before, we attended an event at Fort Folle Avoine. This resurrected fur trade post from the early 1800’s is along the shores of the Yellow River in Burnett County, Wisconsin. The Burnett County historical society runs the site and presents living history and demonstrations seasonally. Saturday night, a dinner was held to raise operating funds.
The dinner was to be taking place in the year 1808 in a fashionable place in Montreal. It was a dinner attended by the prestigious Beaver Club, a fraternity of fur trade partners who rely on being voted in to be in this club.
As paid visitors from the future, 2012 to be exact, we witnessed the bagpipe rituals and mockingly funny bits about the upper and lower class of that fur trade era.
At one point in the program, Charles Jon Baptiste Chebroilles, also known as Jacques, our good friend for many years and the host of this dinner, recognized some of the people in attendance. He introduced me as Joseph Spadeau, a French Canadian name I used when I was a living history tour guide in the 1980’s working at another fur trade site in Minnesota. I got up to the acknowledged applause and told a short story.
I introduced myself again and used my real name, the name I use in 2012, Joe Spado.
I told my story and sat down. The people in the hall resumed eating their dinner. It was during this time that a young woman came up to my table. She was one of the many volunteers that were there to help prepare and serve in the fundraising effort.
Since it was the first time I was there, I didn’t recognize her, but she spoke directly to me and said, “Are you Joe Spado?”
I answered, “Yes, I am.”
Then she turned to my wife and asked, “Are you Barb?”
Barb acknowledged that she was indeed Barb Spado.
The the woman started to cry and related to us that when she was around twelve years old and living in St. Paul, MN, that she lived in an apartment building next door to where we were living and that she had done some baby sitting for our children. She also remembered that her own home life was miserable when she was a child due to a Mother that wasn’t up to the task of providing a caring and loving home.
She recalled that it was Barb that fed her and her brother and sister. Barb had also given them warm clothing and shelter along with the meals she provided. Barb told me later how she remembers calling the county welfare department to report the neglect in hopes of getting their mother to feed and care for them.
This woman’s name is Pam. And she remembered Barb for the good deeds she had done way back in 1976. I was proud to be there when this happened. The stranger part is that Pam was at this event as a volunteer. Her daughter has been a volunteer in the past and has helped out at Fort Folle Avoine before, but Pam had never been there and done anything like this. Her daughter talked her into coming along and helping out.
Had she never come to the event to help out, she would have never ran into Barb to thank her for the help and care she gave willingly to her and her family. Had we not taken the time and made the effort to go out to a dinner well over 100 miles away from home, we never would have met Pam and recalled those days back in 1976. I might remind folks that it was more than a casual decision to travel a long way from home, especially for dinner out, as I am still without teeth and eating is still quite the chore, and I’m not feeling my best yet and being away from the comforts of home were questionable.
Coincidence? Serendipity? Small world story personified?
Being where we were supposed to be at the time we were supposed to be there? Yes, all of the above. Like that Eagle that came to listen to what I was saying about Gene.
We came away with a good feeling and were very glad we attended the dinner. It was a delight to see our old friend Jacques and another friend from that era, Angie, and to meet Pam and hear her tell how she remembers Barb’s kindness and how appreciative she was, and still is, to this day.
All this for being at a place in time. And I believe the forces that put all of us in this place at the same time were not of our choosing. These things happen because they are supposed to happen. It is serendipity.