Lee Rolland Smith

Some thoughts tonight on an extraordinary person.

I’m going to get personal and if you have a problem relating to death and dying you might not want to embrace this or other posts this week. I am going to talk about a personal sadness not because I choose to share personal grief, but because my son who died nine years ago this week was a great teacher and some of the things he taught by being the evidence of them, may be of value to you as it is to me.

His name is Lee. He was diagnosed with brain cancer.

Lee lived for the moment. To complain, he felt, wasted precious time and energy that he could use for healing. He chose to enjoy and embrace every minute and to gracefully enthuse everyone with whom he came in contact. His humor was infectious and he always chose to be positive even when another choice would be easier.

Lee knew he was on a short life line. Cancer tends to focus one’s thinking on the finiteness of life, yet he never complained, despite three brain operations, chemotherapy and radiation and the debilitation that goes with those encounters.

When he was first diagnosed, I decided, as his Father, that I would try to accelerate conversations we might have over the course of a normal life time between Father and Son. Every few weeks, I sent him a letter in which he might respond by questions or dialogue or any discourse he would choose. Over the course of four years of letters we had many discussions. I once asked him if I might publicly share some letters with others if it seemed appropriate. He said yes and it does now.

Here is letter number one:

Dear Lee,

Since your cancer was diagnosed nothing has the importance it used to have. You are constantly in your Mother’s and my thoughts. Wonderful memories compete for mind space and attention. If the spirit centers the thought, then the memory looses the competition and we are comforted by a higher awareness. If the body needs to cry, then the memory wins and we work through it, learning from the emotion, until the choice comes again. It’s something parents go through when their adult child is hurting and they can’t make it go away. I imagine you are going through similar emotions in your private time, as you and Fran deal with this experience and the choices it forces you to make. I do know it’s all right to do and to be both, to be spiritual at times, to be emotional at times. I also know to expect miracles, but remember that holding on to preconceived expectations can bring disappointments. Letting go, with love, will bring peace. Both are important in healing.

We are both physical and spiritual beings. When we perceive, through our physical bodies, via the intellect and instinct, each moment of being is mortally precious because we tie it to time. Our spirit, however, the true essence of what we are, sees each moment as eternity and perfect, for linear time does not exist. If you accept that premise, the expression, “Live in the Moment” takes on a different meaning. You can live in the moment Lee, all it takes is the desire to do so and when you make that choice the result is love, for fear cannot exist in the moment.

The spirit is powerful. It controls the mind, if we let it and we empower the mind by thought and visualization. The mind controls the body. Work first with your essence, your spirit and direct it, to direct the mind, to eliminate the dis-ease within your body. The meditation exercise I taught you using light will be very helpful if you practice it regularly. Remember that life is the illusion and the spirit is reality and we are co-creators of both.

Understanding the dichotomy of letting go, to always have, is the constant struggle of being, of life. Implicit in this Truth is the understanding that we are not our bodies. Our bodies only house what we really are — spirit! The body is a beautiful mechanism brought into form that allows the spirit to exist in this environment. When the spirit is finished with what it came here to do, it discards the body and returns to the Source and the body returns to the earth. This is why the body and the earth are considered sacred. They are of the same substance with similar functions. Containers of spirit!

The human heart embraces both the spirit and the body. It is, by design, the most important organ in the body, without it, no other organ can exist. It’s pith, however, is more ethereal for it is attuned to the Divine and acknowledges that what is, is the Divine will and we joyfully participate in it, not only because we too are Divine, but also because it was a willing choice, prior to our birth, when omniscience was part of our being and we could choose the experiences we call life with angelic guidance and without the ego’s intervention.

When you go deep within your being Lee, you will remember this truth and much more. Awareness is an equal gift from God to all. It is the remembering that is selective by each of us, and the levels of enlightenment are the precipitation of our selections. There are only two emotions available to humankind. Love and fear. All other emotions, are derivatives. You will remember more, love more, if you let go of fear. It may seem hard for you to comprehend this as you fight the cancer in your head, but it is very important and I urge you to read the wonderful book of Dr. Jerry Jampolsky — Love Is Letting Go Of Fear. He is a good friend. He speaks the truth from the Divinity of his heart and I encourage you to read it.

I am going to end this for now. There are more letters to come as I share with you the beliefs of my soul as we both move toward Truth through the magnificent companionship of family.

I love you very much and send you healing light, use it as you will.


Thoreau’s Lament

My last few posts were to tell you about my experience attending the Children and Nature Network’s annual conference at the Lied Conference Center at the Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska. It was a productive, positive, and to keep the alliteration going, a profound two plus days.

I have reported on and written about and mused about our human connection to what we call nature for many years, but I have seldom witnessed a collection of folks who not only demonstrate their commitment by daily action, but who do so altruistically for they believe with quantifiable evidence that the survival of our culture depends on the acknowledgement of nature as part of us.

For the first time in human history we are in danger of having a generation of youngsters who have never experienced what we call nature, who have never spent quality time in what we affectionately call the “outdoors”.

It is possible, if we keep going the way we are, many children may never hear wild bird calls, sleep in a tent, paddle a canoe, fish, hunt, or understand the myriad of kingdoms that exist within the forest canopy and also under the leaves of the forest floor and how we have a symbiotic relationship in mutual survival.

To me that is a sadness beyond understanding. I share the goals of the Children and Nature Network and hope that every child, young and old, will experience what I do every time I take a walk in the woods.

My walk began at wooded rim, beneath an autumn sky
The morning air was crisp, and dust came from the dry.
I looked around at nature knowing I would find
Her rhythm in a rock, and reason in her rhyme.

I heard it first on the path, walking, slowly not too far.
It faded in and out of mind, like a distant twinkling star.
Then louder came its gentle tone, uniquely humming mild,
When tuning clear to natures sound, your spirit is beguiled.

You know it in the sparkle of a trickling tiara stream
That slides o’er stone and granite bead crowning Gaia queen.
You feel it in the wilting wind with all its names that please,
“Refreshing,” “Cooling,” “Gentle,” special kinds of breeze.

You see it in the flora and the rainbows of the flower,
As blossoms burst with color, in a natural sculptured bower.
You taste it in her breath when fragrance fills the air,
With tiny pollens of her heart, perfumes of scented prayer.

Nature’s essence is profound; her truth comes when you listen,
To the dew that’s on the grass and hear the sunlight glisten.
Squinting crystals in the bright that hide when it is warm,
Returning precious liquid life in shower and in storm.

I found it tiny, on the ground, in trails of hurried ants.
I found it too, among the herbs and healing medicine plants.
I find it often in the trees, amid a darting of delight
As playful fluttering feathered ones put magic in their flight.

There are other things to know, from the silence of her breach,
And heed the wise and warning shrill of the Owl’s casting screech.
Nature’s sound speaks many tongues to tell us there is trouble
For in the print of humankind, the future reeks in rubble.

But on this day, I shall not dwell on the ablutionary bad,
For it would change my wooded walk and make my smile sad.
In all my walks, on many paths, even ones without a tree,
I choose to find the joy of life, for nature lives in me.

Nebraska Dawn

I’m in Nebraska at the Lied Lodge conference center of the Arbor Day Farm. I rose early and took a solitary stroll onto their abundant trails. I wandered over wooden bridges, across a gentle creek and into a sentient forest full of woodchip paths and life. Whenever I break my usual daily routine – poetic inspiration is often the result.

Before the dawn, below the light
There is a time, that still is night.
A morning dark festooned with song
In arias from flying throng.
A choral mirth and melody,
A whistling chanting rhapsody.

When rising orb bursts from the dim,
The song and light becomes a hymn
As flashing streaks of morning sun
Ignite the path of stroller’s run.
Then bleaching light and harmony
absorb the dark from plains prairie.

Soon colors shine from leaf and bloom;
Their fragrant scents belie perfume.
When flowers reach to touch the glow,
The dew upon is lit flambeau.
Refracted rays of golden bright
Bring out the rainbow from this sight.

Like the bloom, the mornin’ flowers
Into a day of lazy hours,
But nothing like the early morn’
With it’s Cantata to adorn
The heart of nature and her tone
That lets you know you’re not alone.

The Ugly, The Bad, The Good

There are the new pieces of pain on the planet today.

More death and injury in Iraq, violence in India, destruction and displacement in Texas, new dead in Yemen and there are the old stories of continuing sorrow as ethnic factions care not for the people, but power.

There are the hungry and starving in sub-Saharan Africa and dozens of other places, including the United States where 30 million people, including 12 million children go hungry every day.

But for every dark spot of pain on this earth, there are thousands upon thousands of places and people filled with light.

I am observing one as I write this post. A conference of participants in the children & nature network at the Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska. It is an organization started by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods. These are dedicated people who want nothing more than for a child to have an experience of the outdoors.

Every positive action like this, every act of kindness, courtesy, compassion, every place or thing of beauty, every smile brightens, lightens the density of dark places. The light of positive thought always dispels the negative dark. All we have to do is choose be it.