I

Thinking

I

I wanted to be other than I

I wanted to be
you
and it
and they

Anything but I
What a terrible I am I!

I wanted to be other than I

I wanted to be
a rainbow
a leaf
aquiet doe nuzzling in the dark

I wanted to be other than I,
anything else but that:
Be a hat
a bat
a ball
the surf
a gentle blade of grass,

anything but I.
Still I am,
as still as ever an I can be.

And in that infinite quietude
that surrounds my brittle shell

I mourn
I mourn
I weep and mourn

for all those Is whom I have yet to know

From:  Ebbo: Offering (Carnelian Press, 2010)

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Bird Songs, Concerts and Healing

I woke up yesterday morning early, just as the summer solstice sun was beginning to shed its fresh light upon the newly emerging day. The head of my bed faces south and along the east wall of the bedroom is a large double window – from which I could see the early sun rays, dappled by the leaves from the surrounding trees. Why, I wondered, how I awoken so early? I felt that something was trying to get my attention, but what?

And then I realized what it was. The birds were singing. It sounded like a multitude of them, each chirping or tweeting or blurting out their special tunes and rhythms….with others joining in by singing their own songs, in their own way.

Nestled in my bed, I marveled at these sounds, which seemed like a concert. In all my life, I had never heard the birds singing so clearly and musically before. It was a tremendous joy to just lie there and listen to them – and I realized it must have been this bird concert that had awaken me from my dreams.

I could feel the sounds pouring through me, through all my orifice-not only my ears. And it felt as if the sounds entered my heart, and then coursed through my bloodstream; they breathed in with the air I inhaled, and went through my lungs, freshening me throughout.
I remembered that sometime, somewhere, a few years ago, an indigenous man had told me that one reason people feel sad and depressed in the cold climates in the winter time is not only because of the lack of sunlight; it is also due to the lack of birds. He had said that birds are companions for humans, and sometimes we do not recognize how profoundly their songs and presence impact us in powerful ways.

That evening, as I was pondering what to write for my monthly column, a flood of possibilities poured through me, but a little voice in my head told me to wait. And as I was doing some gardening (or better put, pulling of so-called weeds) at the front of my house, I heard the loudest bird conversation! In emphatic, staccato exchanges that were sharp and deep in tone, several birds I could not see were clearly communicating. What birds were they? It took me a while to realize that a petite greyish bird perched on the ground and his friends in a nearby bush were the culprits!

This little bird then looked at me, right in the eye, and seemed to loudly say, “Write your article about sound and songs. They are healing.”

And then I remembered, from the faint recesses of my mind, how my son, when he was younger and having some serious behavioral challenges, had gotten some profound healing from the sound healing therapy widely used in Europe and Latin America called “Tomatis.”

From participating in that therapy (undertaken in Chile), I learned much about sound. I learned that the first sense a fetus develops is sound. The ear develops early in human gestation, and a growing fetus hears its mother’s voice, albeit in a special way as it passes through the amniotic liquids.

The Tomatis therapist asked me to record my voice; they had a technique for distorting my voice to make it sound the way my son would have heard it when he was in my womb. Then, they played this back to my son for a sustained period of time. They also had him come to a series of sessions where he listened to specific classical music.
They claimed that doing this can shift brain patterns and often help with so-called ADD and/or learning disabilities. While he still complains about these sessions, I do believe they made a difference.

Which brings me back to bird songs. While the early morning bird concert the other morning was a joy, the truth of it is that even in Keene – which is not a big city – I find it harder and harder to find places of silence where the bird songs can penetrate in full spectrum and one can find the solace in the sound of nature without human additions. My house is nearby a highway, which brings unending noise day and night; the many motorcycles and lawn equipment most weekends blare out intermittently and unexpected times, shattering the quiet; and between construction teams, the downtown alarm that is so loud and strident, and ambulance, police and fire, sustained quiet is almost impossible.

I am resigned to this reality of modern day life, and yet I want to suggest that perhaps one (of many) reasons there such a sharp increase in learning disabilities, depression and despair may be as simple as the fact that we human need quiet to listen to the concerts of the birds on a more regular and sustained basis. Maybe, in a manner of speaking, that is what the Tomatis therapy was trying to accomplish. There is much healing in sound, and in the sounds of nature.

Published in the Monadnock Shopper, July 2015

Adult male
Litchfield Co., CT
June 2006

Adult male Litchfield Co., CT June 2006

Adult male
Litchfield Co., CT
June 2006

 

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The Seventh Path

THE SEVENTH PATH

I walk in ways of wisdom,
My step is quiet and shy;
I walk in the ways of wisdom,
I say not a word to you or I.

I walk along paths of elms and pine,
I walk along trails that wind
To a never-ending side
I can’t surmise.

I walk in the circle of fate,
I walk in the circles of life;
I spiral forward to your past,
I look to the ground where it all resides.

The stars are my constant companions,
The stars are my only guides;
No friends have I on Earth,
I rise above your lies.

I walk in the ways of wisdom,
My step is quiet and shy;
If you listen you might hear
Beneath a moonless sky.

I walk in the ways of wisdom,
My step is quiet and shy;
I walk in the ways of wisdom,
No higher friend have I.

I walk in the ways of wisdom,
You might hear me when you sigh;
I walk in the ways of wisdom,
Along a path laid out for you and I.

Copyright:  “Ebbo”  (Carnelian Press, 2011)

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US-Cuban Educational Exchanges and the Culture of Peace

Sharing a second article I co-authored published in the “Forum on International Education” that examined how US students studying in Cuba helped promote a culture of peace.

I do believe that in gradual ways having exchanges between students and faculty in the two countries helped contribute in some small way to the diplomatic opening finally occurring between the two near neighbors.  Sad it had to take so long, but pleased it finally seems to be happening.

Hopefully, Guantanamo will be the next issue to be resolved between the two nations!

Bond_Koont_Stephenson

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International Education Flows between the United States and Cuba (1959-2005)

As a way of celebrating the recent changes in US policy towards Cuba, I am sharing my research article published in the Journal of Cuban Studies, Vol, 37.  This article drew upon my experiences and research into US-Cuban relations, and the role that educational exchanges played in it.  Key people in both Cuban and the US were very generous in sharing their time and thoughts with me in writing this article.

At that period in my life, I was dedicating a good part of my professional time to working with Cuban educational programs.  In fact, I was the leader of the last summer study away program before the US government decided to change the rules to make it very hard to run study away programs in Cuba.  Gratefully, all of this policy see saw will now (hopefully) be a thing of the past!

Skye Stephenson Cuba article

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Barth

Photo of my father, James H. Stephenson, taken when a soldier in WWII.

Photo of my father, James H. Stephenson, taken when a soldier in WWII.

BARTH-town in Germany where my father was a prisoner of war in WWII

I like to think my heart
is as hard as stone,
cool and glinting;
tested by the upheaval of life
and lives
to know better than to cry
for personal and planetary
histories that have long gone by.

And yet today I stood by a stone
in a place called Barth
And – truly – cried
and cried
my heart out.

On those flat and flaxen fields
where now the sun
yields its harvest
of pulsating energy divine
that can stream through a machine
And move the pulse of time;

Yes, upon those meadowed lands
where these days grey-haired
German gents
quietly walk their canine breeds,
giving them some yearned for fresh air….

In those same fields
two generations past
sat my father –
bound by barbed wired vistas
as the Baltic winds raced through his frigid bones,
and turned his heart– forever – into icy glass.

A simple metal plaque,
placed upon the lonely stone,
stands as sentinel
to all that once existed in that windswept land –

placed there years
After my father’s
too soon death.

“Nothing has been forgotten”
It mutely claims.

But is that truly so?

My father spent a lifetime
running from his shadows,
and trying to forget a place
his fellow compatriots later said
Could never be
Forgotten.

Oh my father dear,
how I wish I could share this memory
gathered today in this solitary space;

All alone I stood
and wished that you were by my side,
holding my hand,
wiping my tears away –

For this place –
unknown to me until a scant moment ago –
not only haunted you,
but it has haunted me as well.

It has stalked me as a feline might,
or better put a cobra,
twisting around my soul,
squeezing me unexpectedly,
bringing in the rains and pains
that I must have inherited
from you – my courageous father
of the artist soul – who never should have
had to go to war.

And I can only pray
and wish that what I did today
may help in some so subtle way
free my own children of the legacies
of wartime degradations
“never to be forgot.”

Be free, my son and daughter;
Linger long in the sun’s regal song
as you let its solar energies erase
any wartime memories
etched from generations past
deep in your innards, in the innards of
your souls.

Let them go,
to be forgotten as so many
things that ebb and flow in our lives.

And all I can say
is that rather then “never forgotten,”
let’s strive instead for
“never again.”

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SHINING LIFE

It is only when we give up the strife;
moving forward to create a resplendent shining life,
that we access the simplest of secrets
which is that all the universe
and the universes yet to be born
dwell within each of our tiny cells,
just as they do in Sirius, Pluto and Orion.

So rejoice in this cosmic tale
of all life pulsating bright and strong,
and know that if you can step forth with your heart aflame
with the secret that can never be revealed,
which is that you are the tiniest of seeds
awaiting the gentle rains and bright sun
to grown into full plenitude
of all you were meant to be and have yet to become.

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