Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on the mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens.

Essays, First and Second Stories

I am a white girl with a black girl’s heart. As a 56-year old Caucasian, I do not pretend to understand what it means to be an African American in today’s society. I wish only to honor the land inhabited by our ancestors and the souls that lived upon it. I do not wish to “take away” from your story but rather, to support it. I believe that life and death in the human experience have to do with the coming together of the four directions – North, South, East and West, and the four colors of humankind – red, yellow, black and white.

Is my journey fiction, fantasy or fact? The decision is yours. However, the outcome is the same – healing on this land and in the souls of the many that served here. Perhaps you and the land for which you act as guardian also have some healing to do together, for there is no better place to “ground” yourself than on Mother Earth. I have come home, both on my soil and in my soul.

I invite you to walk your land and
• listen to the animals
• watch the plants and flowers
• look for the patterns.

I invite you to walk your soul and
• listen to the whispers
• watch the events unfold behind you
• look for the patterns.

This was my spiritual “wake-up” call…


All that matters is what you love
and what you love is who you are
and who you are is where you are
and where you are is where you will be
when death takes you across the river.

You can't avoid the journey but
you can wake up... now
and see where you've been
and where you are going.

This Ecstasy by JOHN SQUADRA

I was born and raised in Minnesota. My grandparents were predominantly German (“Ubben” with a ü [u-umlaut] over the “U”) and Swedish (“Swanson,” a surname ending in “…son,” like at least half of the population of the state). Where in that mix of ethnicity is there African American blood? None (that we know of…).

I hated my freckles as a child and frequently told others that if I stayed out in the sun long enough, my freckles would all merge, enabling me to “cross the color barrier” (what racist language we used in the fifties!) I also repeatedly threatened to dye my naturally curly red hair black which, most certainly in my mind, would have enabled me to complete “the crossing” without incident.

As a 4th grader at summer church camp, I once had an assignment to go out in the woods and ask for divine guidance to help me determine my life’s work. I received a direct message - be a missionary. As a young child of that era, the only definition that occurred to me was that of a missionary working with indigenous (black) tribes in Africa. And so it began…

From that point to the mid eighties, I went “unconscious” about my mission. That is not to say that life did not present me with the pain and challenges required to help me “grow up.” However, I remained unaware of my spiritual challenge, that of discovering the black heart within.

I began to “wake-up” upon moving to Kansas City in 1985, the first place I had ever lived that was South of the Mason-Dixon line. Boy, did that become apparent here quickly! I live in one of the few remaining cities that has court-ordered desegregation for our public schools!

My first K.C. home was an apartment, just the other side of the street, “Troost.” Until I saw that word in print, I believed the street name to be, “Truce,” because residents called it the “dividing line” between black and white housing. My apartment was two blocks from Troost and my Caucasian friends cried, “Too close! Too close!”

During my employment with the company I moved here to join, I was invited to join an advisory board for a not-for-profit art gallery with a multi-cultural focus. I ultimately became Board President and, over the course of several years, assisted in procuring many African exhibits.

Following another 9 years of what I call, “semi-consciousness,” about my mission, I married and my husband and I bought a house. We immediately began renovation on this property that had not been attended to for many years. I called it, “the land that had not been loved.”

The first indication that all was not what it appeared to be came when we discovered that we had inherited a “black” cat. Previous renters of the property had abandoned this cat and the neighbors had fed and cared for it during the year that the house had been empty.

We began to notice a pattern of what I called, “wild growth” on the property. Our house faces a church to the North and that side of the land was the only side that did not suffer from excessive and prickly weed growth. I chalked that up to the “lay of the land.” We also began to experience weird and bizarre things in the house.

There was an entrance on the East side of our house that consisted of an outside and inside door. At night, we would lock up before retiring. The inside door had a deadbolt and the outside door, a handle lock. We would lock the outside door handle and wake up to it banging in the wind. We then tried locking it as well as tying it shut with rope, only to wake up to it banging in the wind. We then locked it as well as tying it shut with wire, only to wake up to it banging in the wind. We then nailed it shut, only to wake up to it banging in the wind. There was never any evidence of an attempt to break in, only to “get in.”

Additionally, things in the house were “moved” without human involvement. And our dogs would frequently howl for no known reason. Clearly, there was something strange going on with this land and property.


I have awaited a storm that should deliver me or pluck me away, and now it has come softly, even without my knowledge. But it is here. While I was despairing, thinking everything was lost, it was quietly growing… And now I know that all life is a process of getting ready, of ferment… If the cells and channels but take up and carry the onward surging sap, there will emerge at last rustling, leafy branches – a crown of sunlight and freedom.

The Crucible of Struggle

As these occurrences mounted, I began to wonder whether there was any explanation, normal or otherwise. So, I began to do research. I had recently joined a women’s group that focused on the paranormal and brought my experience to them. They suggested that “the house may be haunted.” My husband, ever the skeptic, laughed at the thought. However, when I brought the psychic with house clearing experience into the house, it was my husband who recounted all the strange happenings, without explanation. As the psychic “worked” the house, she explained that there were at least two souls “stuck” here and she “facilitated their crossing to the light.” She also made a very strange statement that had no meaning at the time – “Your property was the site of heavy commerce in the mid-1800’s.”

Not certain that I believed any of what had just happened, I went to a local bookstore to meet one of my favorite authors, Ted Andrews, a full-time author, student and teacher in the metaphysical and spiritual fields. After briefly explaining the happenings on the land we occupy, he asked two questions –
• Are you remodeling?
• Are you or is anyone in your home starting her menses or entering menopause?
Weird questions, I thought, until I answered, “Yes,” to both.

Mr. Andrews then proceeded to tell me that spirits hang around on this plane after death for many reasons. When they occupy a property, they are very disturbed whenever the structure is changed and frequently “act out” (my words, not his). We were, in fact, remodeling our home, going down to the studs and moving/changing both interior and exterior walls. Additionally, women who are beginning menses or entering menopause have energy surges, to which disembodied spirits are attracted.

Hmmmm, interesting and plausible but I was not yet a believer.

Several months later, I took my mother who was visiting from Minnesota to a local historical house very close to our home for a tour. This house is called, The John Wornall Museum. During the tour, we learned of the original owners, their role in the Civil War (remember, I now live in what was a “slave” state) and more information about how the property was worked. While standing in the kitchen, the tour guide was asked to define the physical size of the original estate. We live on the very outside edge. She then went on to explain that the slaves who worked the plantation and fields were housed ON OUR PROPERTY during the early and mid-1800’s! Something inside me moved, as if life had fallen into place. Clearly, the land on which we live HAD been the site of heavy commerce during the mid 1800’s!

I returned home that day, sick at heart. I walked the land and saw, again, the twisted and thorny vegetation, the poison oak, the mis-shapened trees, the invasion of weeds. We may, and I repeat, may have cleared the house of its spiritual occupants but what about the land? Could there be another reason for these seemingly unnatural occurrences?

The following week, I had lunch with a friend of mine who had recently returned from a trip to Africa. She told me that she believed everyone ought to go to Africa at some point in his or her life. I realized that Africa had been calling me from the time I went to church camp in the fourth grade. Suspicious of the timing of this conversation and aware of all the things that were happening at home, I listened intently. Still, I took no action.


Face to face with the stranger within
as I ponder how long it has been
since I’ve started this journey of mine
shadowed inside the seasons of time.

Incredible odds invade my life;
internal obstacles made of strife
contrasting the beauty that I find
is it all real or just in my mind?

Oh, these feelings that wash over me
opening my heart for me to see,
but everything that I can perceive
all seems filtered by what I believe.


The following Sunday as I read the Kansas City Star, I accidentally turned to the Travel Section. I say “accidentally,” because I had never read this section before. An inside story caught my eye. It was about an organization called, Cross-Cultural Solutions that hosted volunteers on a three-week trip to Ghana, West Africa, to assist in any number of projects. Without thinking, I signed up.

Two months later, I found myself in Ghana, West Africa. Among a myriad of cultural opportunities, my sponsor asked me if I would like to visit his “spiritual healer.” Eager for the experience, I traveled three hours in a crowded, hot and dirty bus to meet “Felix,” a local healer who had been born in Ghana and had never left. Upon arrival and without provocation, Felix asked me to write down the address of my home on a piece of paper. I did so and he rubbed his thumb over the address. Out of his mouth came the following statement, “Your property was the site of heavy commerce in the mid-1800’s.” I almost passed out! He had used the exact words the woman who cleared my house had used to describe the land on which I live!

He then suggested that I visit the slave forts on the other side of the country, as there was something for me there.

The following weekend, I visited Elmina and Cape Coast, former slave forts in Ghana. Ghana was one of the chief exporters of human capital during the time of slavery in the United States, all with the permission and onsite blessing of the church. As the tour progressed, the guide described the living conditions and experiences of those who were held there prior to their voyage crossing the ocean in unimaginable filth and deprivation. The stories about the women, their rape and abuse caused a damn to burst inside my heart. I had to excuse myself from the tour as wracking sobs disabled me. I realized the circular nature of this voyage, from my land, to my land. Only now did I know what I needed to do to complete this trip and fulfill my mission.
Using an empty film canister, I knelt down and scooped up some of the earth from the slave quarters. I returned home to complete my work, to bring “home” to the spirits of those who had lived, and worked, and died on this land. I sprinkled some of the Ghanaian soil on the land in Missouri and felt the joy of those who had been unwillingly brought here as they were united with their homeland.
• The weeds, no longer the foe…
• The flowers whispered, “hello!”
• The trees signed, “Let it be so…”
• And the spirits, ah the spirits, were free to go…

Since that day, the spirits that share the land with us bring only joy and light. I now believe that my experience in Ghana enabled me, as a tool, to heal the pain and suffering of the many who have shared this land.

What does the land beneath your feet tell you? Can you commune with its soil/soul?

My belief system has changed since this began. I am now a shamanic practitioner. Shamans are defined as “wounded healers” and I know this wounding was about me. I found peace in this mission. I was both the source and led to the source, Africa, the land that a majority of slaves called home, as did I, in another time. For, you see, this is not the first time I have lived on this Missouri land...

Author's Bio: 

JARI HOLLAND BUCK is a business consultant, medical layperson, Reiki Master and Shamanic Practitioner who spent 6-1/2 months in four hospitals with her critically ill husband. During 5+ months on life support, every organ in his body failed, yet he survived. Learn more about how to be an advocate in her book, Hospital Stay Handbook: A Guide to Becoming A Patient Advocate for Your Loved Ones, winner of the 2006 Parent to Parent Adding Wisdom Award and finalist in the Fresh Voices of 2006 Health category. Jari's websites may be found at and She blogs at