Conversations with the Seminoles: Frank Billie

By: Gary McKechnie

ADD TO FAVORITES

In June I was privileged to visit members of the Seminole Tribe of Florida at the Big Cypress Reservation south of Clewiston. This was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life, and my few days there won’t be forgotten. (You can read the feature here.)

I had the chance to meet and speak with many wonderful people and since there wasn’t enough room in the article to fully convey their thoughts, it seems this blog is a fitting space to add more content from those conversations. Check back for more entries soon, and we’ll start with Frank Billie, who impressed me greatly as a natural philosopher (as well as an expert at guiding a dugout canoe).

“Everyday, sometimes, people feel down, depressed, because to them if they don’t have the money, the car, the woman, the house, the ideal children, and the white picket fence, people feel like they’re missing out on something. But God created all of this for you. Nature for you and us to appreciate and to use, and everyday when the sun comes up He shines on it so you know what He has given you. And when your heart is in the right place you know to appreciate what the sun shines on: the ground, the grass, the birds, the trees… That’s God's gift to you to appreciate and to use. So when you forget about that, you feel like you’re missing something. But if you go back and talk to your elders, they’ll let you know you have everything that you need. The sun comes up, you wake up, and you see everything.

“Today it’s more about wants. But if you really look at what you need, you have everything you need. We do have everything we need, and we’ve become people that want and want and want and that’s the disease that gets in the brain and blocks out the eyes of the heart. When that happens, then we feel like we’re deprived. But if you look through the heart’s eyes you’ll see you are very blessed, even with the people that come into your life for a second. You will learn and walk away from that person knowing that he has taught you something.

“Every person that comes through your life, whether he’s trying to oppose you or whether he’s glad to see you, both of them have something to offer, so you learn to appreciate that. It’s hard to appreciate that as long as you look through your brain’s eye, but when you start looking at things through your heart’s eye, you realize how blessed you are.”

READ: One Nation, Unconquered

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