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Finding Hope in 2024

With a little fantasy and Native American lore

Cindy Gabriel
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Laura Gabriel Gentile

IS IT A SIGN? Native Americans were known to help point the way to springs and low water crossings by bending trees to mark the location much like this one near Leakey, Texas. Pictured: Laura Gabriel Gentile poses next to the Oak tree. (Photo:Julia Gabriel Weber)

If I were in charge of the world, which clearly I am not, I would ask us all to sit in a circle and do an ommmmm chant. We would hear how we harmonize, sopranos, altos, Republicans and Democrats, into one voice because we are human. In between, there would be silence. We would close our eyes and listen to our breathing. We would suspend our thinking, in my fantasy, giving our troubled minds a momentary reset. 

But this wouldn’t be much of a story if the world got fixed that easily. Next, I would stand by and watch while most would become bored, start pulling out their cell phones, arguing politics, blah, blah, and the whole thing would fall apart. One reason I’m not in charge of the world is that I wouldn’t know what to do after that. I’m not sure that the actual people supposedly in charge know what to do either. Some days it just seems like the ogres of the world have the upper hand. 

Back to my fantasy: Just when I think all is lost, a few people, maybe three percent, would say, “that omming thing was nice. Let’s do that again.” Omming (if that’s an actual word) produces a vibration in the roof of your mouth that goes straight to the frontal lobe of your brain. It’s around your temple. Interesting word for a part of the human body. Are we hardwired with our own internal temples?

There is something soothing about that om sound. It has found its way into words like cOMfort. It also lives in words like hOMe, mOM and welcOMe. The strange thing is the same people in my fantasy who liked the omming weren’t all alike. They looked a bit like a melting pot of the whole world – young, old, rich, poor, all ethnicities, with a spectrum of religious and political views that normally would make them suspicious of one another. They just happened to all simply like this one little “omming” thing. 

Somebody said, “Hey, why don’t we call ourselves the Ommish.” That made everybody laugh, thinking of the real Amish people. But it didn’t take long before these omming types realized that the last thing they wanted was to label themselves as a new category. 

Some of them had family and friends on opposing sides in wars across the ocean. Each wept over the misfortunes of the other. In between they would share music, food, and words of peace from their own religions and cultures. A sense of relief swept over the group as they no longer felt the urge to judge each other. 

Finally, with the world on the brink of disaster, the omming increased as people feverishly looked for things that brought them together. It was as if their very lives depended on it. Suddenly outbreaks of peace spontaneously erupted throughout the earth and a great healing began. 

“You are not a drop in the ocean, you are an entire ocean in a drop,” said Rumi the Sufi poet. 

Since it was hard to come up with a picture of my fantasy world, I asked my daughter, Laura Gabriel Gentile, who was visiting over the holidays from Bend, Oregon, to stand by a very old L-shaped Oak tree on some family-owned property in Leakey, Texas. We think there is a story behind that Oak, yet to be proven. 

My son-in-law, Morgan Weber, thinks it may be something called a Marker Tree, twisted into this shape perhaps by Comanche Indians. Arrowheads found on the property are clues. Native Americans are believed to have tied flexible young trees downward then left to grow upward towards the sun, as a way of pointing out something crucial for survival, like a low water crossing or a spring. This tree points directly to the Frio River, both a spring and a low water crossing. You can see the water behind it. 

It would have been bent to provide key survival information to whoever came by in days or years to come. I see it as an act of love from one person or group to people they may have never met. I’m going to look for acts of love in 2024, and hopefully create some myself. There is more going on in the world than just what you see on the news. May peace break out in your world in 2024. 

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”– Rumi

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