Eventually I was eventually going to have to talk about this… Life is a miracle. The start, the middle, the end. All of it, a miracle.
You can read a poem and before you know it, you forgot there is a poet who wrote it.
I wasn’t trying to make that rhyme. I wouldn’t waste my time. But I was reflecting on how it is that we get into the habit of forgetting that it’s miraculous to even be alive. Since forgetfulness is a part of life, I guess I’m saying it’s a miracle we forget life is a miracle!
The reason I was going to eventually have to talk about miracles is that for those of us who’ve been touched by Creator through peyote, this medicine is a miracle. And not a small one either. It’s a big miracle in a small package.
Some might think- Well you’re just saying that because you’re seeing the world through green colored glasses, imagining things. Ok. But I have experienced miracles around the medicine, and mostly not while I was praying with it or in ceremony. Just being around it is enough for Creator to move reality around in a way that can heal grief, mend physical wounds, and alter the course of a heart in a way that blesses multiple lives. To this day I am surprised by the miracles which occur through my relationship with peyote. If I were to begin to write the stories here they could absorb my time to write anything else.
But every once in a while I feel the story itself might want to be shared. Around family and friends the telling usually begins with, remember that one time…? Sometimes I think this sharing is how a miracle keeps working, through our remembrance that the miracle is our very lives.
One time… When I was pretty young, an elder had given me a dried peyote chief. It was to remind me, keep me safe. I had a place in the console of my old beat car where it would accompany me when I took trips out of town. I thought, in that car, I could use help keeping safe. Once, I had driven through the 110 degree desert for an hour plus, to Apache Junction to stock up on food. I had lots of frozen and refrigerated items including a whole case of yogurt and many other things not available locally. The car of course, had no AC, so I had calculated I had just enough time to get home before the unthaw would begin to mess with all this food.
But on the climb up Gonzales Pass, of course, the radiator blew out. Luckily there was a wide spot next to the highway for me to pull over. The problem of the broken car was of less concern to me than all this food now seemingly doomed by the desert heat. Ok I thought, I’ll hitchhike, get back home, borrow a car, and come back to salvage what I can. That will take 2 at the least, probably 3 hours. The idea of hitchhiking AND filling the driver’s vehicle with many bags and cases of food did not seem feasible. As I rolled up the windows I did the mental calculations for baking- 3 hours at 150 degrees in a closed car. By the time I get back lots of this stuff should be ready to eat.
Before leaving my dead ride I retrieved the peyote chief from the console. After locking the doors I turned my back to the cars whizzing by on the highway, held the chief, and said a prayer.
They say you help the helpless. My car and this food are replaceable. My life is not. If you are hearing me medicine, please keep me safe from harm so I can get home safely.
As I’m saying this to the medicine in my hands, I hear the loud SSSSHHHHH of air brakes on a truck. A tow truck. A tow truck is stopping and backing up! As it does the driver leans over to roll down his passenger window, I see my old friend Rudy. Leo! Is that you? I thought that was you!
So yes, towed home directly to my door. As Rudy helped me unload the still perfectly chilled food I thanked Creator for small miracles.
I’ve got lots of these memories. They’re not even really stories. They’re things that happened along the peyote road.
One time… after a tipi ceremony for my 6 month old granddaughter, it was late the next evening and I finally went to bed. As soon as I did I heard my daughter run in from the guest house next door yelling Daddy Daddy hurry! Cheyenne got stung by a scorpion! Throwing on my clothes we ran outside and I could hear my little granddaughter wailing before we even got into the house. Her dad was holding her and guests from the ceremony were up and very concerned for what to do. One was on the phone to the local hospital who transferred them to poison control. The rest were in a mild panic at the screams of the poor baby. There had been a scorpion in her crib and there was a red welt on her back. With the screaming and the precious little baby and the people… it was intense. Holding back my own urge to panic I looked at my dear brother Handsome Mike and said- Michael! Run to the garden and cut a medicine! Hurry! That look Mike returned to me, as he immediately dashed for a knife and flew out to the gardens… it said it all. It was the look of- This is what we have. This is what we have to do!
Returning quickly with a button he handed it to me and I cut a thin slice. I raised her nighty and put the slice on the growing welt on her back, and immediately- Immediately, she stopped crying. Not two seconds later. Not even one.
All of us were stunned, amazed, not really believing it could be that simple, that the child would just stop screaming at the top of her lungs instantly. I heard people thanking Creator, the medicine, amazed at the immediate change from panic to peace. We stayed on the phone with poison control who advised exactly which signals to watch for in case any intervention might be needed. As we gently laid her in bed, she was already sleeping as if nothing ever happened. After an hour or so keeping watch, we all went to bed with grateful hearts and a new respect for how medicine is. That was a pretty good small miracle.
I’ve got too many of these stories with not enough time to tell.
But here’s one more…
I used to publish a quarterly periodical called the Peyote Awareness Journal. It would feature stories and articles people would send me and what I could gather on the brand new, barely a thing, world wide web. Those were the days.
One time… We were hoping to have a spring equinox ceremony but we had no medicine. We didn’t have enough at that time in our garden for harvest but people were calling and asking- So is the meeting happening? At first I would say, I think so if I can find medicine in time. Then I moved to saying, No we’re not having a meeting. But we should have dinner and drumming.
So a few people started arriving anyway. They helped tidy up the grounds on Thursday and on Friday my wife and son and I headed to Tucson to deliver our ceramic artwork, the new journal we had just published, and pick up food and supplies for the weekend. But I missed the turn to the bookstore we were delivering to. I turned the car around and guess what? I missed the turn again. Ok, I said aloud, there must be a reason I missed that turn twice. I know exactly where I’m going. My wife responded with, So what’s the reason? Oh I don’t know, I sputtered, maybe we’re not supposed to be there yet?
And she gave me that look that a wife can give only when you’ve been married for a while. Ok Mr. wise guy. Then let’s not go there. She might have not said Mr. wise guy but I heard it like that.
But we have an appointment. I felt the sting of the situation as soon as those words left my mouth. Was I always talking this much smack? Like, there must be a reason for this or that, or some other verbal equivalent of reading your love horoscope in a celebrity magazine? If I was going to be the person I wanted to be I either had to walk my truth, or forget about the universe being a magical place altogether. This is what the silence in the car and the look on my partner’s face felt to say to my insides.
Alright, let’s go eat! So we did, at a nice place called The Casbah run by family, walked in and saw a guy with a Huichol bracelet doing beadwork at a table. Instant friend. Somehow he ended up invited for the weekend. We had some lunch and coffee and then unhurriedly, made our way back across town to the Peace Of Mind bookstore. Having missed our appointment, I didn’t expect the buyers to be there, so no paycheck for the art I thought. But I figured to take the journals in and find out if there was another time we could arrange to complete our business.
But as I pulled in to park in front of the store, I had to stop because a van with California plates was also trying to park, so I waited and let the dude park first. California people I thought, probably the after flow from the gemshow.
But the owners were in. This was before cellphones so they couldn’t call to say they had to leave and so weren’t there when we had originally arranged and I had missed the turn, twice. Perfect! There’s a little miracle. And now we can buy food for the weekend.
But while we’re all talking behind the cashier’s counter in the store, the California dude walks in. He comes up to the counter, looks at me for a few seconds, and asks if he can talk to me. Oh I don’t work here buddy. But Carey here is the owner… No, I’m sorry, I’m not trying to be weird or anything, I just need to ask you something.
I looked at my wife and friends like… Ohhh K. I’ll be rrright back. So I go to see what’s up with dude and he immediately tells me, I need your help! Now I’m seriously thinking we have a jumper so I asked him to sit down on one of the reading chairs. But he declined and he had the look of somebody in distress. Not really dangerous. Just down in not a good way.
I’ve got a problem and I think you’re the one to help me. Now I’m just thinking, weirdo. But honestly, he seemed nice, just not… ok. Compassion. Attention. This seemed like what the guy from California with the bare soul was needing. So I braced myself for whatever problem I was apparently now destined to make acquaintance with.
I haven’t eaten much or slept really, for almost three days. This…thing I have to tell you… I’m so sorry. I know it’s strange… I’ve been praying. I’ve been praying for like the past several days for help. I’m christian and I practice sobriety and this has been a test from God. I was working the gemshow, and I was supposed to be home last week but I’ve been in a hotel room, praying, to take care of this so I can leave.
I’m still not sure what’s going on but I’m feeling especially confused as to why suddenly his problem is mine. Why and what does this have to do with me? But he, gauging my attitude with his prelude I think, says– When I saw you pulling up to the store I knew it would be you.
And now I’m a little unnerved. This is prayer boy out of control maybe, with that mystic fever I had developed an allergy to from my own time with holy roller people. But I hold steady, just in case he’s not cracked and is still holding water. Waiting for the coup de grâce, the possibly not something I’m wanting to hear that’s about to make itself known.
I knew I couldn’t take it anymore, and I had to check out of the room and I literally cried to God for help. And I saw and noticed somehow, that the phonebook on the dresser was open so I could see this ad that said “peace of mind.” And I knew that’s what I needed. So I looked, and it was for the Peace Of Mind bookstore. And so I came here and as I tried to pull into that parking spot, you were too.
Ok, we’ve got a winner! Of that game I was just feeling about, where you decide some coincidence, some magicky thing, may be entertained to be “a sign.” I don’t even like that junk. It’s the styrofoam of spiritual building materials. For wannabes, charlatans, and those who’d rather play tic tac toe with reality than honest to goodness chess. Unless… unless you’re actually playing chess. And maybe what seemed most annoying about this is that I’ve fringed that area myself. If you’re going to miss the turn to Realityville you’ve got to take a sharp left into belief, and luck, and miracles. And driving that road is a full time job. You can’t fall asleep at the wheel or you crash into the weeds with all the other spiritual quacks. I heard myself telling myself this about the dude I’m looking at in front of me, whom I’m now feeling pity for.
It’s a big sack of peyote. I don’t know why I have it. Well I know how, but I know it’s not mine. It’s not mine! I was given it, by the Diné family I was working for. But they insisted, because they couldn’t pay me. They were good people and I didn’t want it but they insisted. I don’t eat peyote, I’ve only heard about it. And it won’t let me sleep. It’s almost like I hear it talking, this big sack on the bed in my room. It’s saying, we’re not yours.
I swear this was happening. It happened. I looked over at my wife and friends and they can’t hear what we’re talking about, but the owner asks. Everything ok?
Oh everything’s ok.
I’m standing there, a stack of freshly printed peyote journals still tucked under my arm. I pulled one out, showed my new friend the cover with the picture of a peyote cluster on it, and dude literally fell to his knees and started praising Jesus with full voice, full volume, and full heart.
So how we can say there are no miracles? And this one was of pretty decent size.
My wife didn’t know what all the praise godding and stuff was about so I just sent her a look indicating the level of danger had been reduced to defcon none. Richard, my new besty, was still weeping with the joy of recognition that there is a God who listens. Richard didn’t want that medicine. That medicine wanted us. This is how stuff should work.
I told Richard I would relieve him of his burden on one condition. That he delay his departure for another couple of days so he could come pray with us and thank Creator for the way our needs are met, sometimes with miracles. I’m no Einstein but as time goes on, I’m more inclined to believe it’s all miracles.
Oh great Creator of all beings. Guide our lives. Bring us to each other for your aligned purpose. Let our plans be those you decide to succeed with the grace and the fortune of your divine blessings.
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