Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Presence in a Field


It happened early this week in a small grassy field near the woods on a friend’s hilly farm just outside of Shepherdsville, Ky. It wasn’t planned, as I was merely walking toward a shed to retrieve a log.

One second I was fixed on the shed, the next– I froze, gripped by something invisible, powerful. There was no sound. Anywhere. No birdsong, no jet aircraft flying overhead, no traffic noise, no cell phone racket, no incessant television drivel, no insect buzz. A spit of fear darted through me, then a quick breath.

It had been so sudden. One step, fine, the next… what?


It had been so long that I’d forgotten, the silence of the outside. So long, in fact, that for an instant it scared me. And then, the mood reversed and I didn’t want to breathe for fear that the sound would break the magic.

I realized how much I long for silence when it’s not available. Just…silence, as sweet and pure as was the golden sunlight swirling with tumbled clouds above the field. When we are denied its wholesomeness, we are inundated with noise which becomes increasingly hard to filter. I think that scenario has negative health consequences.

So I stood there in the silence, closed my eyes, and allowed it to pour over me like a healing rain. And I realized something important. There is a difference between, say, the silence of empty, interstellar space, the quiet of our home late at night, and the silence available out in nature on the Earth. While we may never experience the total quiet of deep, empty space, we do get closer to silence in our homes in the sleeping hours of the night. We may only hear the ticking of a clock or the hum of the refrigerator. Put us outside in the stillness of nature, though, and our animal instincts awaken, reflexively spurring expectancy. And caution.

It’s then that we become aware of a startling revelation, particularly noticeable after a long period of being unplugged from nature’s beautiful hush. We sense the presence.

What is that? God? Life force? Some animating standing wave transmission of life? Is it a frequency, a baseline warble of existence detected by our deep senses?

Or how about this:  Considering that we stand on a planet that spins on its axis at over a thousand miles an hour, and that we are blasting through space while spinning around the center of the galaxy at more than 490,000 miles an hour, one would think that we could hear at least some of that motion, like a far distant passing train at least. So maybe the presence is merely the muffled result on our senses of planetary dynamics.

I can’t say for sure. But I do know one thing about silence and the somehow detectable presence in nature. It is a healing force. On Tuesday, standing in that quiet field, something hit my reset button. Any negative thoughts I had carried into the field vanished when I stepped into the silence. And a few seconds later, when a companion called out to me and broke the silence, I felt better,  stronger somehow. Alas, I was sorry, too, for I had been so enjoying just… being.

I need to remember that.

Aho & Namaste, my friend.


Copyright 2007-2013 Thunder Valley Drums. All Rights Reserved.

A Truckload of Lightning

load of lightning
A fresh load of lightning

The body is tired, but the heart is strong! Today we cut and brought home a truckload of lightning!

The lightning-struck tree I’ve been writing about for the past two years is now fully ready to complete its transformation into sacred drums. The remainder of the beautiful logs cut from the towering maple were carefully scored and sawed, then loaded onto our little  Subaru for the 30-mile trek to my home. I am honored to welcome these spiritual ally medicine drums, all 27 of them, weighing in at roughly 800 pounds! They join the five I’ve already turned into drums, so the family is growing! It is the most potential drums I’ve ever recovered from a single tree. Obviously, this maple was eager to complete its destiny.

While we were working, I recalled a hickory tree we cut many years ago. It was smaller, but still produced about 17 would-be drums. However, many of the rounds we had cut would later resist becoming drums. They would break my tools, or split wide open, or simply fall apart rather than to be fashioned into something they were not. That was back when I was learning about the nature of these warriors, and their own sense of knowing their individual destinies. That was a big lesson for me: Not all drums I cut want to be drums.

Much has changed since then.

Today, as we cut the rounds, I loaded most of them, one by one, pausing to be with each and to lay my hand on them. Each has a personality, and this was a way I’ve learned over the years to connect with them, sort of like a handshake, but more. It is as if I am laying my hand on their hearts, and opening my heart to them. It is the first step in building a relationship and in preparing us to know each other. Their predecessors had taught me to do this in order to engender mutual respect.

It is probably safe to say that not all 27 of these possible drums will choose to serve as such. Of the 17 that came from the hickory, only five or so chose to make the step into service as allies for shaman healers and seekers. The others were returned to the spot where the parent tree had once grown, there to meld back into the Earth to help produce new trees for the future. Likewise, any of these that prefer to serve in that way will also be returned to their point of origination. It is the way of things, and I am thankful for the lessons these friends have taught me over the years.

Right now, though, there are more than two dozen unique teachers waiting for me. They each have a story to tell, a decision to make, and a destiny to fulfill as we get to know each other. I am most eager to be with and to learn from them, and to honor their choices. Twenty-seven beautiful journeys await.

I will update you along the way.

Aho & Namaste,

Copyright 2007-2014 Thunder Valley Drums. All Rights Reserved.