HOPI GHOST GARDEN MIRACLE
by George Key
Kayleen’s smile would melt butter trapped in an ice cube. Her smile was but an extension of the love in her heart that sparkled in her eyes. Her daughter Chelsea would later write, “Her eyes were so blue, so very blue, it’s like. They talked to you”. Back when the world was kind and people were real, the universe blessed me with the destined collision of two powerful circles of positive energy. One circle was the spirit of my being and the second was the kindred spirit of my lifelong soul mate, Kayleen. The Great Spirit guided our paths to nearly meet, and cross upon multiple occasions during our individual lives. The realization of truthful fulfillment was resisted by all parties to the reality. We shared open-minded Christian roots, despite our conservative upbringings. We were both influenced by a spiritual awareness having been raised amongst the Lakota people, she in the Sandhills and I in the Flatlands.
A spirit appeared to us both in the ghostly form of an ancient Hopi elder. Garbed in flowing robes, she glided smoothly levitating across the foyer. She would dematerialize dissipating either into the walls or into and through the front door of the home we shared. The ghostly figure presented herself with quite distinct facial characteristics. Her hands were both calloused from hard work and tenderly gentle as those with a mother’s touch. Her acceptance of our union was notable, moreover, our reciprocating acceptance of her kindly presence was undoubted, to her, refreshing. Testimonials of present and past residence of Avon Place in this Tucson Eastside neighborhood spoke to sightings and unexplainable occurrences for as long as people could speak the truth.
Kayleen’s kind spirit saw the need arise amongst our network of friends for after-school daycare. We were already the chosen venue, encouraging Chelsea to welcome in a respectful way childhood friendships. Initially, she would occasionally invite a school chum or two over to hang out. Hanging out became a haven for some that were of the latchkey generation. The unplanned project evolved to the point where we would invite the children to stay for our evening meal and the parents would pick them up after. We saw the need and had our own incomes, so this was something we did for friends and neighbors. Money was never a focus it was an ego-boost to be the cool parents and an honor to be cookie moms for two years running. The Griffin Foundation awarded us a small financial consideration for using the evening bread breaking with neighbors to encourage the children to learn about healthy choices regarding nutrition. The children’s interests and curiosities were drawn in to help prepare the meal, set the table, and clean up after. We managed to facilitate, “by chance”, meetings of single parents by selectively scheduling pick-up times devised that they might join in sharing our evening meal.
The Hopi elder seemed pleased with this. Her weathered face grew a pleasant smile upon it and a giddy demeanor accompanied a new glisten in her eye. We were walking the right path, yet there was something missing. We noticed the children’s interest after homework was completed that they diversified into technology. They would retire to the office computer for research, artistic expression via an app called paint, or in the sunken television room to watch a movie. The children called it the pit. Not as a mid-evil dungeon reference, rather the opposite. The pillow-topped, over-stuffed sectional that took up half the television room was known to swallow one into the world of slumberous peace. We never prevented exhausted children from catching a quick cat nap after drifting off, however, we did guide them toward peer engagement with constructive activities.
We began utilizing an affirmative reward system based on earned mutual respect. This was surmised with an arbitrational point system where the reward would be the honor of being chosen to ring the 1910 circa school bell that was mounted to ring for most of the neighborhood to hear. The only young man of this group of nine was several years younger than the eight, fourth and fifth-grade, girls. Matthew was the son of our very good friends employed, as Kayleen was for many years, in the aircraft and travel industries. Matthew came to us troubled and at times disrespectful. Kayleen commanded respect through her being her, but she knew, if she were, to demand respect (as the Nuns in Matthews private school did) was not working and at least for him was not right. My love for her grew even stronger watching her turn his attitude around in a mere matter of days. He earned his bell-ringer honors for the most part on his marked improvements. Sometimes the points would favor one of the young ladies, but they would often yield the honor to Matthew. He in return learned to yield the honor to one of the girls. He was learning to empathize with other individuals and those life challenges they too faced.
Kayleen and I were mutually concerned that the children’s isolating infatuation with technology would narrowly stifle their futures. After all, a mule that is forced to wear blinders tends to kick harder. We perhaps were awakened to the societal need for a healthy balance, not only nutritionally, but in a healthy balance of activities. We often took delight in the spiritual appreciation of Mother Earth’s beauty and all that it brought. One day as the children were face-first in the techno-entrapment syndrome, we looked to each other in that “kindred spirit” expressionists way. Though both perplexed we stepped outside to catch the sunset.
While watching the colors change and the filtered streaks of light illuminate the peaks of the Catalina Mountains, it came to me. Redirecting their prioritization was the key. Instantly the notion morphed into a plan. I bounced back into the house exclaiming,
“ Did you see what He did today?”.
The children were curiously taken back responded,
“Has he been drinking?”, queried one softly spoken whisper.
Curiosity killed cats more quickly when I and Kayleen were their age, yet we oiled the gears that sowed the necessary seed.
For the following four sunsets, I repeated the performance, escalating the remarks each day just slightly. Each day their curiosity became more aroused.
Upon day four’s sunset, I exclaimed,
“WOW, did you see what He did today? He really did a great job today”.
At this point, the trap was sprung. All the children were drawn to the front yard. A yammering of questions bombarded me,
“Okay, now what are you talking about?”,
“Huh?”, “Yeah, what?”, “huh?”, “are you okay?”,
Again, a soft whisper of a voice said,
”he’s kind of weird, huh?”.
Pointing to the sky, I answered,
“Look, check it out”,
All eyes were drawn to the sunset. Chins dropped; mouths open yet not a word uttered. A true miracle was upon the horizon. I continued,
“ Look, God spent all day painting this picture for us all to enjoy, we could at least take a minute to pause our busy day and appreciate it”.
I retired to the house where Kayleen and I watched them through the window. The birds nested in the olive tree sang the song announcing the miracle of the newfound appreciation. The children began to ooh and awe like spectators at fireworks displays on the Fourth of July. This moment could truly mark their freedom from obsession over technology offering them the choice of a more diverse perspective. Together, our hearts could feel the smile from our Hopi elder. She was pleased. Yet, the proof was still in the pudding and the pudding was still on the stove.
We put it on the back burner to simmer, not mentioning it, but noticing the children were upon their own desires making and taking time out to catch the sunset. On the seventh sunset, we noticed their individual interest in the sunset became a group endeavor.
Quite amazed by a spectacular sunset they scampered into the house grabbing us up in an exciting whimsey, yelling,
“Hurry-up you guys”,
“Come see”, “Hurry, come see what He did today”.
Upon the next rains our back yard that had been nothing but dust, began to sprout a variety of plant life. No one alive now had ever seen plants in this backyard space, never-the-less it began to grow into what became a beautiful garden paradise. The children marveled at the new blossom of opportunity. We tilled, composted, watered, and weeded. We built a raised herb garden and grew vegetables to harvest. We taught each other about sustainability, self-sufficiency, and incorporated the freshly harvested items in our evening meals. The empowered children took great pride in being able to feed their parents things they actually grew.
Witnessing the continuation of those principles that we were raised with instilling self-worth, pride, values, work, and worth ethics gave us a vision of hope for their futures. These children would not grow up thinking food comes from somewhere else and then we merely buy it from a guy at the store. They knew that, at least, in their little corner of the world they could eat food they grew in the dirt they composted from the scraps they made while preparing meals they cooked using recipes they found, created, and altered to their liking.
If this was not miraculous enough, the amazing miracle evolved into a global appreciation for the canvas of the Western horizon.
It has become a time to:
And for many to pray.
We never forced our religious beliefs and preferences upon the children. However, I did convey to other adults at class reunions and social gatherings comprised of individuals living in nearly every time zone on Earth, that we invested the time it took to recite the Lord’s Prayer to appreciate; each sunset, each canvas that He spent all day painting, each spectacular hue for which we are blessed to view. The miracle remains to be deeper respect for the beauty that is only seen by those who take and make time to pause, open their eyes, and see.