Saturday, May 30, 2009

Message from the Hopi

Message from the Hopi,
people of peace . . .

You have been telling people that this is the eleventh hour. Now you must go back and tell them that this is the hour.

And there are things to be considered:

Where are you living? What are you doing? What are your relationships? Are you in right relation? Where is your water? Know your garden.

It is time to speak your truth. Create your community. Be good to each other. And do not look outside yourself for the leader. This could be a good time!

There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and so swift that there are those that will be afraid.

They will try to hold onto the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart, and they will suffer greatly.

Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open and our heads above water. See who is in there with you and celebrate.

At this time of history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all, ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.

The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves!

Banish the word 'struggle' from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

October 7, 2001
The Elders
Oriabi, Arizona
Hopi Nation

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Be Careful What You Ask For

Midnight, May 19th-20th, 2009
Cuzco, Peru
"Be Careful What You Ask For"

Once again I have awakened to realize that I have a piece of writing to do. Yesterday, I posted on Facebook these words,

"We have had but one storm this entire three weeks in Peru (we've had fantastic weather), and that storm found me by myself on top of Machu Picchu (the others had already left the mountain). I found cover in the doorway of a ruin as hail and rain poured down. From my dry spot I was looking out and taking amazing images of the Andes Mountains. When the storm abated, an UNBELIEVABLE rainbow left me in tears as I caught images of those magic moments!"

Well, the fuller story actually begins several days earlier than that Machu Picchu rainbow experience, and ends only after I had reached the bottom of that mountain on that day.

A few days before we arrived at Machu Picchu, Joyce and I saw a shaman in Ollantaytambo. The ceremony was for Joyce, and I had agreed to accompany her. Well, to make a long story short, I was invited to be a part of the ceremony as well. The intention I set as we progressed through the ceremony was to be able to see in the ways I want to see, not only for my photography, but also so that I might be as authentic a person as possible, for myself and for others. The words I remember using were, "to be cracked open like a ripe watermelon," a phrase that goes way back to the beginnings of my relationship with Joyce.

Well, it's only as I look back on that shamanic experience, together with my experience at Machu Picchu, that I realize the power of what we ask for, and the power that lies in those places where our ancients have walked and worshipped.

The tears began as I caught those magic moments of that rainbow on Machu Picchu. When those moments had passed, so seemingly did the tears, that is, until I boarded one of the last buses off the mountain. I moved to the far back of the bus and sat looking out the window. There was a young couple also sitting in that back row and we chatted briefly. When we had finished chatting, I turned my face back to the window and the tears began again. They grew deeper and deeper and did not stop until I had reached the bottom of the mountain. A multitude of images and memories flooded through me, from past vacations when I was helping to raise a family, and from my present life. These were tears of joy and tears of regret all mixed together and tumbling out of me like a ripe watermelon cracked wide open.

Somewhere in that half hour journey to the bottom of the mountain I forgave the last person that needed forgiving for the failure of my first marriage. I forgave myself. Unbelievable, after ten years, I finally forgave myself.

I don't know how to understand what I have shared here. I don't know where causes begin or answers are found. What I do know is that this trip to Peru has been an awesome and incredible experience. In a few hours Joyce and I and our friends will board a plane to Lima. And then the next day we will board a plane to San Salvador and then San Francisco.

It is my intention as I return home to be even more the person I want to be, a person of vision, a person of art, a person of love. And I also already know that intentions are an incredibly powerful thing. Be careful what you ask for, and be sure to ask boldly.


Cuzco, Peru

Saturday, May 9, 2009

My Dream

My Dream
Frank Jay Leonard
Lima, Peru
May 6, 2009 - 2am

I have awakened early this morning from a dream that came from somewhere very deep within me. It flooded me with a kaleidoscope of images that felt ancient. Actually, the images were from more present times, but the knowing I was left with feels as if it exists in the earliest memories buried within the genes and chromosones of my biology.

There are so many wisdoms and knowings that lie within me, of which I know virtually nothing. My immediate thoughts upon awakening had to do with the psycho-therapy work that Steve does, the knowledge of which I have from Joyce. It is unimaginable that the intensity of the images that came with this dream, their clarity and detail, could be attributed to anything that even comes close to thought or logic. This was not thought, but image.

That knowledge alone almost left me unwilling to get up and write. Whatever this dream means, it is not about words, but image, and image is the home of the artist. What I experienced this night is not meant to be expressed by me in writing some other book, though that too would be art, but through my eye, my camera, and my photography.

Today we visited the Museo Arqueologico Rafael Larco Herrera and saw paintings and carvings of the early Incan and pre-Incan peoples of Peru. There was a collection of erotic sculpture art from the Moche people. While there where no sexual images in my dream, I know that what I saw today churned up the most ancient and primordial of connections with my ancestors.

One knowing that comes out of this for me is that I am an artist, and that my gift will not only come from the thousands of figure photo images I have already taken, but also from those few that communicate a vision and understanding of what it is that I am attempting to capture. A few of my images maybe begin to come close. I think of one image in particular that has raised a very wide variety of reactions in people, from appreciation and enjoyment to disgust. It is amazing to me the incredible differences of interpretation that each of us bring from our own experiences, values, and biases to such an image. I want my images to carry the power and vision of an artist who is at the heart and core of his work.

There were so many images in this dream that I will continue to process over the next several days I am sure. There was a flood of images that evoke feelings of freedom and wildness and capture and escape. There were flashing images that spanned decades of human passion, endeavor, and conflict. It was epocal in nature. I awoke breathless, almost gasping for air.

I think maybe I am ready to return to bed, to lay beside my beloved Joyce, to not worry about whether I fall asleep or not, and to let my mind and body sort more through what all this means - but this I know already - this dream is about my connection to those ancients from whom I am descended, and it is about my art. I want to not only become more passionate about my art, but to focus my eye and my skills towards producing that which has not yet been seen.

One last point. The times I have traveled to Mexico have always left me feeling like I was home. I know already that Peru feels the same way. These are my people and this is my home too. What we will see as we move into Machu Pichu I cannot even yet imagine, but I know that it will continue to evoke stirrings and wrestlings within. My eye, my eye, my eye. I must begin to see more clearly and deeply that which I am stirred to photograph and to share with others. I do not want my new gallery to only include images of pretty landscapes and women. I want it to be an expression of something at the core of life, sensuality, connection, beauty, and of the earth.

Frank Leonard
Lima, Peru
May 6, 2009