A White River Valley

Page 1

A White River Valley By

Vicki Milewski



A White River Valley Learning the ceremony of living one’s life

By

Vicki Milewski


A White River Valley © 2015 Vicki Milewski

All rights reserved. No part of this book shall be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or otherwise, including but not limited to photocopying, recording or by any electronic or digital system without written permission from Vicki Milewski except in the case of brief quotations embodied in articles and reviews.

For information contact: Vicki Milewski vickimilewski@gmail.com

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data: Library of Congress Control Number: ISBN: Cover design by Vicki Milewski Printed in United States of America All photos, drawings, illustrations and songs © 2000 Vicki Milewski John Donne’s Catch a Falling Star (public domain)

A White River Valley © 2015 Vicki Milewski


A White River Valley Contents by Vicki Milewski Introduction and The beginning Act One: Dreaming Season: Summer Direction: West Scene One: The Badlands of South Dakota 1 Silence 2 No Truer Motivation 3 Arriving at the Badlands National Park 4 Blankets in Bushes (Memory) Scene Two: Skeleton Dancer Cliffs 5 The Skeleton Dancers (Vision 1) 6 Harvest (Dream 1) 7 The Age of the Sun at Noon 8 The End of Dreaming High School (Memory) 9 Vision from the Rocks: The Earth Paused, Providing This Moment (Vision 2) Scene Three: Place Between Two Rocks 10 Galaxies Shining in Her Heart (Memory) 11 Buying a Red Blanket at Wall Drug 12 Prayer to the Four Directions and the Red Road Dance 13 Our Only Chance (Dream 2) 14 Place Between Two Rocks 15 Medicine Routes or Roots? (Vision 3) Scene Four: Tell the World About Us: Conservation 16 Riding Horses (Memory) 17 Leave No Trace 18 Everything had been Perfect (Memory)


A White River Valley Contents Continued by Vicki Milewski Act Two: Dreams Are Real Season: Summer Direction: North Scene One: The Black Hills of South Dakota 19 Winged Victory 20 Democracy is Sounding our Dreamings 21 Flower Spell (Memory) 22 The Best day is Life Scene Two: Crazy Horse Wind 23 Slide Show Seating (Dream 1) 24 Du Sable Calming (Memory) 25 Crazy Horse Wind 26 Prayer for Action (Dream 2) 27 Spiritually Reclaiming the Land Scene Three: The Road to Bear Butte 28 “The Red Road Starts with a Tear” (Memory) 29 Following a Bear (Dream 3) 30 Finding the Bear 31 Bear Butte (Dream 4) 32 Skin (Memory) 33 Finding Dreams are Real, Again Scene Four: On the Butte: Tell the World About Us 34 Meeting Joe 35 Talking with Joe 36 Seeing Joe for Who He Is 37 Growing Rituals in Your Belly to find Time has No Boundaries 38 The Earth Rocking Dreams 39 Joe? (Dream 5) 40 Bear Butte = Ursa Major 41 Eternity: When a Tree’s Seed is First Imagined (Vision 1) 42 Testing Courage 43 The Conversation (Vision 2) 44 Mystical Dream Tending 45 “On the way home…stars, stones and tears” 46 Misty Eyes Dried with Backs of Hands


A White River Valley Contents Continued by Vicki Milewski Act Three: Beautiful Dream: the sacred ceremony of living one’s life Season: Spring Direction: South Scene One: Leaving Chicago 47 Beautiful Dream (Dream 1) 48 3 Suns and a Moon 49 for myself and for you 50 shopping with the girls (Memory) 51 Galaxies, Universes or them? With Joe’s Prayer to Replenish 52 Red Road to Pipestone (Vision 1) Scene Two: A Badland’s Wind Changing Stars 53 Planting (Dream 2) 54 A Badland’s Wind (Vision 2) 55 Heartbeats matching Drumbeats 56 Iron Mountains with Dream Roads 57 Sewing a New Length (Memory) Scene Three: Returning to Herself 58 Stars in a new constellation (Vision 3) 59 Souvenir Bullets from the war I won (Memory) 60 the cave 61 Crescent Moon Harvest (Dream 3) Scene Four: Tell the World about Us: More than Me 62 Transforming Fear with Love (Vision 4) 63 Galaxies and Grails Inside Her 64 Living Without Time 65 Hoops Intersecting (Memory) 66 Wood Carrier 67 The Place Between two Rocks 68 Mountains—Beyond the Black Hills (Dream 4)


A White River Valley Contents Continued by Vicki Milewski

Act Four: Beautiful Dreamer Season: Fall turning to Winter Direction: East Scene One: On Mt Harney 69 Loss and Rebirth 70 Helping Joe Up the Mountain 71 As Above, So Below (Dream 1) 72 Shooting Star—The Real Color of Stars 73 Lightning from the Sky (Vision 1) Scene Two: Paha Sapa 74 Lightning from Her Heart with Joe’s Prayer to the Clouds 75 Memory: Black Elk’s Pipe 76 New Manifest Destiny (Dream 2) 77 The Ledge Scene Three: Family 78 Tall Trees and Flaming Faces (Vision 2) 79 Jewel Cave (Memory) 80 Speaking with the Sun 81 The Goal: Eternity? (Memory) Scene Four: Tell the World About Us: A Classroom Without Walls 82 The Power that lies between Us 83 Making Contact with the Wind (Memory) 84 Joe and Josef (Dream 3) 85 Place Between Two Rocks—the Self-Mirrored Mystery 86 Coming Home Postlude A Manifesto Endnotes and Sources


Photos, Illustrations and other Visuals in TELL: the world about us by Vicki Milewski Act One: Dreaming Photos, Illustrations and other Visuals Chapter 1 Chapter 1 Chapter 1

Drawing: Drawing: Drawing:

Chapter 3 Chapter 3 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 5 Chapter 5 Chapter 5 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 7 Chapter 7

Photo: Photo: Drawing: Photo: Drawing: Photo: Drawing Photo: Photo: Photo: Drawing: Drawing: Photo:

Chapter 9 Chapter 9 Chapter 9 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 15 Chapter 15 Chapter 17 Chapter 17 Chapter 17

Photo: Photo: Photo: Drawing: Drawing: Photo: Drawing: Drawing: Photo: Drawing: Photo: Photo: Drawing: Photo:

How Deep? Tasting Wild Over the Missouri River Moon Traveling with Me, Or Me Traveling with the Moon? Badland Brule Formation Medicine Route Trail with Berlin Badlands Loop Road Badlands Loop Road Medicine Root Trail Badlands Cliffs Buffalo Grass Sun and Wind Dancers Skeleton Dancers’ Cliffs #4 Sunflower Field Castle Trail Terminating Medicine Root Side Oats Gamma A Coat, Castle Trail looking West to one of the skeleton dancers’ cliffs Those Badlands Lascaux Cave Drawing--photo by Vicki Milewski Castle Trail at Dawn Wall Drug View from the Place Between 2 Rocks Badlands Dawn 1 In the Sunflower Field Place Between Two Rocks Moon Place Between Two Rocks Big Bluestem Grass Badlands Dawn 2 Saddlepass Trail Marker On Top of Saddlepass Trail Badlands Loop Road Sunrise

Act Two: Dreams Are Real Photos, Illustrations and other Visuals Chapter 19 Chapter 20 Chapter 20 Chapter 20 Chapter 22 Chapter 22 Chapter 25 Chapter 25 Chapter 26 Chapter 27

Photos: Photo: Drawing: Drawing: Drawing: Photo: Photo: Drawing: Photo: Drawing:

Chapter 27 Chapter 28 Chapter 29 Chapter 30 Chapter 33 Chapter 33 Chapter 34 Chapter 34 Chapter 35 Chapter 35 Chapter 36 Chapter 37 Chapter 37 Chapter 37 Chapter 38 Chapter 41 Chapter 42 Chapter 43 Chapter 44

Drawing: Drawing: Photo: Photo: Sketch: Drawing: Drawing: Drawing: Drawing: Drawing: Drawing: Illustrations: Illustration: Drawing: Photo: Drawing Drawing: Photo: Drawing

The Black Hills Horsethief Lake Sunrise Horsethief lake heading east on 244 The Web of Life Walking Behind Mt Rushmore Hiking with Greta in the Black Hills Mt Rushmore in July 1 & 2 Echoes in the Wind Tent at Crazy Horse Mountain The Wind at Crazy Horse (Another Way to View Gravity Waves) Dancing Trees The Red Road Starts with a Tear Sunflower Fields at Dusk On the Way to Bear Butte Boulder Canyon to Bear Butte Boulder Canyon to Bear Butte Detail from Tent Smoke Bear Butte from Ceremonial Area Bear Butte Trails Bear Butte 4 Bear Butte Ceremonial Area Circle within Circles 1 The Two Intersections: Joe’s Rolled Out View Act Two: Dreams Are Real Tent Beside Bear Butte The Tree’s Root on Bear Butte Talking with Bear Butte Sun and Wind Dancers Place Between 2 Rocks


Chapter 45 Chapter 45 Chapter 46 Chapter 46 Chapter 46

Photo: Drawing: Photo: Photo: Drawing:

Storm Over Place Between Two Rocks As Above, So Below Dawn in the Badlands Dawn in the Badlands 4 Going Home

Act Three: Beautiful Dream Photos, Illustrations and other Visuals Chapter 47 Chapter 49 Chapter 49 Chapter 49 Chapter 49 Chapter 51 Chapter 52 Chapter 53 Chapter 54 Chapter 55 Chapter 55 Chapter 56 Chapter 56 Chapter 56 Chapter 58 Chapter 58 Chapter 58 Chapter 60 Chapter 60 Chapter 62 Chapter 64 Chapter 64 Chapter 64 Chapter 65 Chapter 66 Chapter 67 Chapter 68

Drawing: Photo: Drawing: Drawing: Drawing: Photo: Drawing: Photo: Drawing: Drawing: Drawing: Photo: Photo: Drawing: Photo: Photo: Photo: Drawing: Drawing Photo: Drawing: Illustration: Illustrations: Illustration: Photo: Photo: Drawing:

Spring The Zig Zag Path Smoke Rising Me and the Butte Joe’s Home Sunrise on Sheridan Lake Wind Gullies Sunflower Field 2 Badlands Dawn with Moon As Above, So Below Driving on Hwy 44 into the Black Hills Trail in the Black Hills Toward the Seats Iron Mountain Road View from the Seats The Lighting Ceremony at Mt Rushmore Storm over Lake Pactola Detail from Tent Smoke the cave By the cave All My Relations Sundance Tree Triad of Discontent Circles Within Circles 2 Intersections Sunrise on Horsethief Lake Badland’s Sunrise Visionquesting on Mount Harney

Act Four: Beautiful Dreamer Photos, Illustrations and other Visuals Chapter 69 Chapter 70 Chapter 71 Chapter 72 Chapter 72 Chapter 72 Chapter 72 Chapter 72 Chapter 72 Chapter 73 Chapter 74 Chapter 76 Chapter 77 Chapter 77 Chapter 78 Chapter 78 Chapter 79 Chapter 80 Chapter 80 Chapter 80 Chapter 80 Chapter 80 Chapter 82 Chapter 82 Chapter 83 Chapter 84 Chapter 85 Chapter 85 Chapter 85 Chapter 86

Drawing: Photo: Drawing: Drawing; Drawing: Drawing: Drawing: Drawing: Drawing: Photo: Photo: Drawing: Drawing: Drawing: Illustration Photo: Drawing: Drawing Illustrations: Drawing: Drawing: Drawing Drawing: Photo: Drawing: Drawing: Photo: Drawing: Photo: Photo:

An Oak Leaf Trail to Place Between Two Rocks As Above, So Below Detail from Tent Smoke Badlands moon and star Detail from Tent Smoke Gloria Doing Ceremony The Pink Rock Detail from Tent Smoke Tent Stars Detail from Tent Smoke The Wind Tent Smoke Black Hills, SD On Harney Sunset on Milewski Lake Vision—“Shot thru my Heart” 44 into the Black Hills The Ledge on Harney Right Up Against the Rock Black Elk Wilderness, Black Hills Life as a Jewel Cave Map Bear Butte Trails leaving ceremonial Future, Present, Past (Detail and Full) Bear Butte Trails Leaving Ceremonial Area Corn Stalk Boulder Canyon to Bear Butte Iron Mountain Road Camped at Willow Creek Horse Camp Vision of Water Arches Sunrise over Horsethief Lake Place Between Two Rocks Spirits at the Place Between Two Rocks Father’s Barn

Postlude

Drawing:

The Farm Trail


Songs in TELL: the world about us by Vicki Milewski

Songs for Act One: Dreaming Scene One Moon Rising Over Me Scene Two I Run to Nature (The Rocks Are My Friends) Scene Three Medicine Route Scene Four Tell the World About Us (Juniper Berries Bleed)

Songs For Act Two: Dreams Are Real Part One Doing Battle with Time Part Two Acorn Part Three Water: Rain (a sigh of waiting) Part Four Ribbons

Songs for Act Three: Beautiful Dream Scene One: Sweatlodge I. Scene Two: Go and Catch a Falling Star Scene Three: Stars In a New Constellation Scene Four: Beautiful Dream

Songs for Act Four: Beautiful Dreamer Scene One: Wind: Air (it’s alive!) Scene Two: Cloud Spirits Scene Three: Tall Trees Scene Four: Gospel of Mary (from nag hamadi)


Introduction and Thank You “If you are describing any occurrence, or a man, make two or more distinct reports at different times. Though you may think you have said all, you will remember a whole new class of facts which perhaps interested most of all at the time, but did not present themselves to be reported.” Henry David Thoreau, Journals My answer to “How long did it take to write this book? Taking photos of my soul; the wilderness still intact, the lonely badlands inhospitable and dry turn into a rainbow marking the turning of the sun, the turning of the earth, the turning of my life. All are messages, passages in a book of life. The Badlands are beautiful to me because they breathe life into my soul with their cracks and fissures, their fossils and paths all speak to me of my connection to this world, of my chance to become real before dying, of my heart beating blood around my body, circulating in the same direction as the Earth circulates around the sun but more of my heart dispelling any imaginary longings and deciding to love at last, itself, and hence everything. Strange for a young girl to give her youth, and now her life, to these hills to try to learn their message for me to suspect that message to be for others makes it even more strange but so I must write, publish and distribute this book. Gracious Thank You to the following people Joe My parents Elizabeth and Lenard Milewski for how they raised me and cared for me, allowing me to grow into who I am today My brother Mike Milewski for loving me and supporting me and believing in me Gloria Standing Eagle who taught me my own personal powers To the many Readers who throughout the years have given thoughtful ideas to help me understand this book and the power it holds: Andy and Barb Gryzbowski of Illinois, Rebecca Hudson of Colorado, Julie Peterson of California, White Bear of Wisconsin, Joseph Many Horses of Maine, Elouise Cobell of Montana, Mike Milewski of Illinois, Judy Milewski of Illinois, Thomas of Colorado, Peter Dunning of Utah, Gloria Standing Eagle of Oregon and Canada and several more who wish to be anonymous. And to all the trees, rocks, earth, sky, air and water who continue to teach me.

This isn’t to be a new age book about some girl finding her powers in the desert. This book, this quartet of books is about finding others even after she had tried her best to be alone, and about losing people who aren’t right for her. But most important it is about reclaiming herself, who she was before tragedy and death had stole her from herself. “The war is over,” she thought, “and I have won…me.”


The beginning To understand any of this you must get out on the land. You should breathe deep some clean air and walk somewhere you want to go. Don’t go to the Badlands or Black Hills; go to a place lodged deep in your heart that you know about. Get the grass and rocks underfoot, let the sun drench you in vitamin D (thru protective sunscreen?) maybe even get your fingernails dirty. Go out in spring when all the fruit trees are in bloom or summer as they bear fruit and the heat can make your skin smell. Go out in fall to see everything closing up shop, some going out of business, and the animals scurrying about finishing chores on their winter warehouse or follow their tracks in the snow as everyone enjoys the quiet cold. Just get out there. Don’t hesitate to move. Standing still is not for you. Unless you reach a place within your heart, then the stillness of it causes you to stop and ponder your connection with everything. During severe, inclement weather stay inside to read this book. How to express the connection of all things? There is now a space between me and the tree, a distance that wasn’t there before, this distance is the space we have made to form a relationship with one another. The tree and I now search for ways to communicate. We start by simply breathing in then out….


Act One: Dreaming Season: Summer Direction: West


Chapter 1 Silence

The radio turns dark against the silence of a pre-dawn South Dakota summer night. Straight road, no cars, full moon all command silence. Tall, swaying grasses along the highway’s edges try to fill the silence with hushed “hello’s” welcoming and mysterious, but are no match for the immensity of this quiet. Fields of sunflowers reach their gold petals toward the silver moon; her headlights fall on them rapidly allowing their constellations of tiny seeds to be seen as future stars in this field where 1000’s of flowers per acre sway in a secret dance as the wind from her car and the shine of her headlights bear witness. Her car’s shadow starts getting entangled with the sunflowers’ dance; threading through fence lines and errant grass to partner in this summer’s ritual. These lush, summer fields show the sunflowers’ strength is not only suggested, but inherent, their roots breaking down soil and illusion by producing real flowers, a real dance and a chance for her car to have a little fun as she drives through a seemingly empty, deep prairie night. The sunflowers are just as she had dreamt them for years. Her tousled brown hair flies about her face catching on her lips and brown eyes as she remembers all those dreams of these sunflower fields. Tears start running down her face making her flying hair dry them. Emotions mix fear and happiness—both have the same reason: that her dreams could be real. Each sunflower was turned to watch the setting moon but the beginning rays of dawn have a stronger pull, so the heliotropic flower heads respond to the coming light by turning to dance with another partner. Once she sees her car’s shadow join in the dance she too wants to run out to the center of one of these fields and dance as well. For a moment she is transfixed by the spectacle of flowers and car dancing, she forgets what she leaves behind along with the uncertainty of what might lay ahead. She feels connected to the sunflowers, to the road and car; but then her mind returns to the constant reminders of schedules, budgets, people keeping her fixated on what she calls “pink” noise which is like “white noise” with the added actions of each day’s routine and the faraway goals that seem out of reach from her current life. Low lying clouds are painted pink and yellow by the emerging sunrise and this causes the dance to still, in respect of the new day, she tries to still her mind but the speed of her car and the swiftly passing scenery only secure uneasiness in her life passing by. The sunrise beauty finally wins over unease as the road starts an


upward ascent and her mind finally stills its dance. She feels as transformed as the fields when a ray of light hits her rearview mirror, blinding her to all but this moment. Turning the radio off, after driving almost 1000 miles with it on, instantly becomes a singular experience as it allows the wind rushing in thru her windows to start speaking and touching, picking up papers, maps and her zigzag patterned Missoni scarf from the cluttered front seat. The silence builds as peace instead of the absence of noise since the rushing wind was anything but quiet as it moved around her bringing back vivid memories of many dreams. She had dreamt of the front seat cluttered as it was now and when the striped scarf started rising from the wind’s play she remembered a dream that had that moment in it. The sunflower fields were also in her dreams, the row upon row, mile upon mile of sunflowers facing east or west as they tracked the sun with their hungry bodies needing more than water and soil and sun. Could the sunflowers in her dreams be her? Had she been following the sun to its eventual descent in the west? She had not dreamt the musky air of summer growth or the smell of her car’s wheels melting on concrete, further cremating dead ancestors; but she had dreamt of the sunflowers, the cluttered seat and the silence. How real is silence? She had been longing for silence for some time now. Even when the yogi asked for “silence” during her weekly yoga class, there was never this quiet peace she had now. No one could ask the city outside for the same, or for that matter the fellow yoga student next to her, there were encumbrances to silence even when she knew the silence asked for was to come from inside. Driving through this prairie she thought of the roots so deep plants can withstand the deepest freeze and the deepest drought. She felt her own roots searching the ground for something like water, something that will nourish them and give her back life. Then, her searching roots had found this silence when she turned the radio off. How deep did she need to go for this quiet peacefulness to journey home with her? Yet she knew this deep silence was coming from within her, has been with her all along, she had just forgotten it. Was the question then how not to forget? But then a flood of questions surround her: How deep can her roots go? How deep should they go? How deep can she go? Physically, mentally, spiritually—how deep can she dive? It’s like questioning sanity, she finds hers lacking at 4am on Interstate 90 pushing through 500 miles of South Dakota flatland, but she pushes on anyway. Moving alone across this great expanse of land brings life closer to truth and beckons love out from hiding to acknowledge a sacred place, a sacred moment found in the silence of the stilled prairie outside her car window as she becomes a part of and result from a manifest


destiny mythologically imbedded in her psyche since early youth. Images of her father’s spaghetti westerns, John Wayne, Roy Rodgers make her smile as she integrates ideas from Emerson, Whitman, Jefferson, O’Sullivan into an understanding of what manifest destiny is and what it means to her now. She takes quick glances out the car window to see this moment passing, blinking into memory the scenery and her thoughts and the silence. Touches of dawn weave through the prairie creating intricate paths for her eyes to follow. Even an increase in speed cannot make the land and grass insignificant; instead, the speed shows the land’s real power, of great expansive space, moving into the 21st Century physically and metaphysically. The power of doing what needs done fuels her through this journey. She thinks of the dreams that have caused her to pursue this western horizon. These dreams start with her running through the sunflower fields with a glossy lacquered blue sky above interrupting the yellow sun directly overhead casting a haze of light from the past that drops to the ground unheeded in the present. She has on a white dress and no shoes. Since childhood she has dreamt this field right before arriving at— Then, after almost 1000 miles of field flatlands, there is a large hill. On top, the predawn is closer to realization as the Missouri River appears hundreds of feet below and beyond it appear the first undulations of the badlands. A westward leaning full moon glints on the slowly churning water as she pulls into a rest area to stretch her legs and have a look. Walking down the scenic path toward the river with her Doberman Berlin, she begins to feel self doubt. Is she crazy? She didn’t even know what time it is, but then does it matter? What will her boss say when she calls in from a 1000 miles away? What will her boyfriend think when he wakes up to find a simple note instead of her? But these questions fall into the grass once the first rays of dawn steal over the larger eastern hills behind her and challenge the setting moon on the surface of the river in front of her. The horizon line was not far from view and after experiencing the vast fields of Minnesota and eastern South Dakota she was a little disappointed until now as the land’s curves and ripples speak to her of familiarity and change. The creases and folds highlighted in greens and gold rise and fall like a great breathing of the earth. Stars shimmer and wink in the still dark western sky with the upside-down constellation of Pegasus, hooves in the air as


if he might strike the sun and cause a flood of sunshine to rain. She glances back and feels as if she is bringing the approaching dawn with Venus shining brightly in the east, to this land and the western stars know their place will soon be hidden by such light. She shivers more from excitement than from the predawn cold even as the dew struggles into her hair and hands the longer she stands there in awe. A strong wind from the west blows against her face, drying surprising tears she hadn’t known were there and taking the dew from her hair and hands and flinging it onto the grass around her. A shooting star with a long tail falls in the square of Pegasus onto large, dark hills in the distance that come into view and then disappear as she recalls their rounded forms from dreams; unsure if these hills are out there now or will be once the sun grows stronger. Reminded again that dreams are real. Her first taste of wild happens on this hill overlooking the Missouri deeply breathing in a life, her life, before this time unknown to her. The sun shoots rays into her heart, warming it, dissolving it into the scene, pushing her further forward, further west, pushing her to conquer an individual American life. Crazy may be her current state, but exhilaration in this never before felt wilderness grows stronger the longer she stands looking west. Her personal manifest destiny lies ahead. Years trapped in a suburban plot, then a Chicago apartment are let loose to roam freely and renegotiate a truce between her heart and mind. One side saying, “Sign in blood.” The other side is counting off hands of time. All while her heart races toward the wilderness of her life. She stands on that glaciated hill looking west as the summer sun continues rising behind her chasing its rays into her heart to shoot forth from her toward the rounded hills beyond and a pointed hill exclaiming a full, gilded moon reflecting a spotlight of white onto the waters of the Missouri River below. Did that moon changing from gold to white in those south, slow moving waters beckon her, warn her or embrace her? As the rays from her chest given from the still rising sun behind her meet with that reflected moon, she knows it to be all three. The previously moonlit landscape is now being countered with the approaching dawn’s brilliance which forges more detail with each second defining curves and grass as details she has seen in her dreams. Breathing in life, breathing out adventure the thrill of new beginnings orbited by the ancient turnings of this moon make tears cover her face, then hands which are then dried by the supple western wind and the increasing heat of a prairie summer day beginning.


Tasting Wild Over the Missouri River

This first taste of wild is not only from the clear view of the west seen over the Missouri River, but also in her decision to go on this journey, to take a chance on her intuition, to believe for even a moment that dreams are real but that her destiny is not manifest. Watching Pegasus dip from view with another single shooting star chasing it down, she sees choices for her life as she never has before, choices she did not know even existed. While walking back up the sidewalk to her car, to a rest area phone, to a chance to turn around and go home she sees the wilderness she has kept at bay all these years, never questioning where her life had gone, never wondering who the person inside her had become. A few hours before, at 3am, after stopping for gas she had thought she might turn around; but now she knows she will only push forward in her decision to set off on this journey knowing full well her life will never be the same after choosing freedom and allowing this wildness inside her to roam freely in her life. She inhales and feels the wild fully on her lips. She smiles. Silly, she felt, like those pioneers from over 100 years ago who were about to cross the Missouri River into the West just as she was right now. Standing on this high hill looking out over the river toward those undulating hills so different than the 100’s of miles of gentle sloping prairie under blue glass she had just driven through. She knew those pioneers weren’t scared—just as she wasn’t scared; instead, they both were exhilarated to begin anew their lives. She goes to the rest area bathrooms and sees tears have streaked her face with eye makeup lines in vertical stripes of black, red and purple continuing down her neck, onto her chest. Just as the landscape features had become more detailed in the early morning light, she now sees her disheveled silk, sheer dark blue blouse and lighter blue cotton skirt becoming more noticeable as her eyesight grows accustomed to small details after hours of faraway seeing on the highway. Just as the scenery was revealed in sharp details under the beautiful rays of sun, her apparel is also coming into relief under the florescent lights humming above her. The tiny white embroidered flowers on her blouse slowly become recognizable just like her unconsciousness is slowly being


awakened to her real life; she starts to recognize pieces of her thinking that is truly her and not appropriated opinions from other people or society at large. As the makeup colors run off into the sink she reclaims a visage of herself that has rarely been seen—no makeup-- which uncovers another layer of her life that she has hidden from view. She looks at her face and smiles to see herself. She reaches inside her Chanel 2.55 red leather, quilted purse for at least some eyebrow pencil but stops herself; silence could be on her face too, that silence could be the sound of reclaiming her life. She calls the school she teaches at and leaves a message that she needs time off. She calls her parents and talks with her dad. He’s an ardent early riser, but a little unprepared for this phone call. He doesn’t question her. First he says he went out there to work in the hay fields, which surprises her, opening a door to a part of his life not yet known. She replies “I brought our atlas from that California trip.” Her father’s atlas had been purchased to guide the family cross country—out west—to LA during Christmastime when she was still in grade school. Her father’s pencil marks of mileage, directions and phone numbers were disappearing. Her colorful drawings of that trip still covered certain states. But South Dakota was unmarked. Her father then says she’ll like the Black Hills and tells her to call later and talk with her mother before hanging up. She calls her boyfriend and luckily he doesn’t answer so she leaves a strange message. He won’t understand and neither will most of her friends. She hadn’t been sleeping well for some time now. She would lie next to her boyfriend awake, or she would walk around his condo in a daze. She no longer felt good in his arms; she longed for a deeper intimacy they had never shared, a connection that could continue through space and time and other perceived obstacles. His good looks and occasional intelligent comment had started to seem hollow since neither connected them on any level. The lacking made her restless and sleepless. Sometimes she tried to shake the haze surrounding her, but afraid what might be unveiled she didn’t shake too hard. She knew he wanted her to be a 1950’s housewife and at first the thought of not working and running a household had intrigued her, but now she knew it wasn’t a role she could play for him. He wanted to control her and have her assume his life. She had gone along with it, having fun and enjoying parts of it. But all along she had simply lost hold of her own life, knowing that she allowed his control over her so that she would not have to remember her past, so that she would not have to remember her own life.


Getting into her car makes her question sanity again. Surrounded by hastily packed things and Berlin sitting in the passenger seat like a person makes her feel like who she was yesterday--before she had known that dreams are real, that her life is hers to live. The rest area even questions her resolve by offering her the actual chance of going back east or further west, but just as in her dreams, she continues west. Slipping across the low bridge, crossing the slowly moving Missouri River, makes all the questions leave as the reflected moon on water takes over. The sluggish, black water has many questions: “Why does life change as slowly as the earth grows old? Why does love escape back into hiding without notice or tracks to follow? How is it that upon meeting certain strangers familiarity is sparked and the stranger is instantly recognized as a friend?” She asks the river, “How is it that I know this land and every mile comforts me more fully than the last, when I have never been here before?” On the other side of the Missouri, the gray and white badlands filter the early morning sky keeping her busy looking at a land she has never been to, but a land she knows well. At the Missouri she was at the end of her known world, now that she has crossed over she enters into the distant horizon, she enters into a new territory, she is writing new myths; she is beginning a new life all in the simple act of following her dreams by driving west. Just as her unconsciousness is being awakened to her life, the scenery around her is revealed in the beautiful rays of sun reaching out to the west from the east making a solid, stable bridge she can cross to understand herself just as she crossed the river on a solid, stable bridge entering into the still strong moonlight on curving hills until she climbs out of the valley the river has made and crests a hill which allows the still rising sun to examine each detail of her and the land. She then answers all the questions with a song she hears from her past that adds contradiction to her answer since it speaks of the moon rising not setting as it does in front of her now:


Moon Rising (over me) There’s a fire outside And there’s a fire within One can burn while the other Has me stand here and sing There’s a scene I see inside my mind’s eye Each day I try to make it real outside Since, I believe in love I believe there’s someone out there for me But for now I have the moon rising over me to keep me company There’s a road outside and there’s a road within one is gray while the other keeps winding around my soul they go in different ways this I know One day I’ll have to choose which way Since, I believe in love I believe in what you say and what you do But for now I have the moon rising over me to keep me company Well, there’s a sun outside And a son within One can burn while the other makes me dance in sacred circles There’s the universe beckoning Since I’m freed, freed, freed From his gravity Since, I believe in love I believe there’s someone out there for me But for now I have the moon rising over me to keep me company


“Questions don’t matter,” she thinks. “Knowing dreams are real means you go to where you dreamed. You don’t ask questions, you just go.” Berlin agrees with her by nudging her hand to get petted and sighing contentedly. The silence outside invades the car. The vast agricultural fields have vanished into badland formations imposing a deeper silence folded into their gently curving hills. Finally, the silence invades her as Berlin snores quietly, the large Doberman’s head resting comfortably on her leg. The silence within her rises awkwardly to meet a relation—the silence outside embraces this rising with a familial recognition that soothes her more than startles.

Moon Traveling with Me, Or Me Traveling with the Moon?


Chapter 2 No Truer Motivation Insomnia had caused her to be up watching PBS the previous night, hoping some of their programming could put her to sleep. Both being at home for the first time in weeks and being alone made her feel restless. The tall ceilings and poor lighting drew shadows from her life that she had worked hard to forget. Sitting on her parent’s old green and white flowered couch in front of the huge picture window that showed people coming home from bars she felt tense and uneasy. Then sunflower fields filled the tv screen moving into badland formations that made her wide awake at 3am. Startled into recognition that dreams might be real, she scribbled the name of the place: Badlands National Park, South Dakota. Could a place she had dreamt of be real? After watching the rest of the program filled with fossils and Native Americans, dusty rocks and tourists—with many scenic vistas taken right from her dreams; she went to her makeshift home office which was a white, circular ice cream table and pulled her father’s 20 year-old atlas off the shelf. Faded, penned in directions in her father’s handwriting marking family vacations made her smile. She had protested when her father wanted to throw the atlas away all those years ago; she had not known why it meant anything to her. But now, touching the faded pages and seeing markings, penned directions, and phone numbers made her smile wider at the memory of that protest and those family trips. Had she protested to keep this atlas for this experience, for this moment? She learned later how her father had been in the badlands in the 1940’s. Lured away from his family’s 80 acre Wisconsin farm by the immense fields in need of workers; the money he made working in the Dakotas bought his first car, which brought him to the metal mines of Colorado before settling in Chicago. As she looked at his map of the Continental United States of America, the 1000 miles between Chicago and the Badlands beckoned her to speed. Sitting at the round, white ice cream table that had been with her family forever, she traced the fading highway with her finger, excitement mounting with every inch. Packing haphazardly, she mixed designer dresses with Kmart flannel shirts and her teaching skirts which had become a staple for her since teaching high school required a type of uniform so that the students didn’t get freaked out by frequent or even rare costume changes. She enjoyed the mid-calf, a-line skirts she had adopted as her uniform so many were packed.


She wondered if her revealing gym clothes would be appropriate on a trail, but they got tossed in as well. Her refrigerator only held some old pizza and brownies which she threw in a bag along with some cans of pop. Having been taught by depression-era parents, she goes to her Hills Brother’s red tin coffee can hiding place for cash and takes a handful of twenties, not even knowing if this sustenance will be enough, shaking the coffee grounds off the bills and into the sink. Hoping the backseat of her Buick will be long enough, pillows and blankets are thrown in with the half full suitcase going into the trunk. Having never been camping on her own, she really has no idea what is needed: an old tent and a yellow and blue Smokey the Bear sleeping bag from grade school sleep-overs and back yard camping is all she can find. What else would be out there for her? Her security dog, Berlin, curiously watches the packing. “Do you want to go?” she asks the Red Doberman with one crooked ear. Berlin doesn’t wait to reply but runs outside and into the car, sitting promptly in the passenger seat, looking eerily human in the green and yellow tinted street lights. There is no disagreement. As they pull out of a parallel parking space on Pierce Street in front of the 1880’s, 4 story mansion she lives in with a 60 year-old hippie landlord and a pierced and tattooed punk musician; a group of 20-somethings come down the sidewalk loudly proclaiming they have been drinking up the street at the 20-something playground—Wicker Park, Chicago. She knows too well the late night walk but instead of smiling at them she turns her attention to pulling onto the street. Something has changed inside her once she had seen the badlands on tv. She thought for a moment she might still be asleep but she decides to keep moving forward—dream or real she has to go. Doesn’t she? Teaching at an inner city high school had made her fearless. She hadn’t thought so until she turned onto the expressway and started the journey at 55 miles an hour. For the last 5 years she hadn’t taken a vacation so that her students had a safe place to come during the violent summers. But now, with the window rolled down and the early morning sky brightening to her right side, she knew just going anywhere would be good therapy. She didn’t know what her principal would say, or even who would watch out for her students. Their real life scares her into helping them, but this morning she sees her students’ crazy, ghetto teenaged lives have consumed her. She relentlessly pursued a fair future for them, but her pursuits have eclipsed their own pursuit of the same. Her father always told her, “Don’t help someone until you see them start to help themselves.” He was right. Most of her


students were still trapped in generational welfare. She watched as students lived lives asleep to choice. She knows now she has to change and put herself first and her job second. She has to let “her” students become “the” students and do what she can, but then go home and leave her work at school. The highway becomes a new line of thought, a possibility for change. Each yellow stripe on the cement is another chance for her to accept her life as hers. The silence and vastness of the land is a challenge to her to become who she is. A mixture of crazy and destiny create a frothy drink intoxicating her so the next 24 hours pass in surreal fashion. Just a young, Chicago, inner-city high school teacher eating ice cream at midnight with a coke to keep moving west. Alone and impulsive, the road becomes her companion, security folded into the yellow lines protecting her from the truckers and other lost souls pursuing the Minnesota then South Dakota flatlands with rubber melting from speed, putting a distance between her teaching, her boyfriend, her unreal self. She knows now she needs to be herself, no truer a motivation than that was ever needed to take a road trip. “Whether or not I’ll fully prove to myself that my dream landscapes are real means little to me compared to the choice I made to just go and find out.” She says out loud to the silence. Berlin merely lifts an ear. The silence inside and outside of her agrees.


Chapter 3 Arriving at the Badlands National Park

Badland Brule Formation showing bands of sandstone marking ancient rivers and red striping which shows fossilized soils. The formations within the Badlands National Park are part of the White River Group

After driving for 24 hours, tasting wild on the Missouri River then crossing over into the west she arrives at the turn off for the Badlands National Park. She pays the entrance fee then drives over a hill to see familiar, surreal scenes which cause a shot of energy to pulse through her. “Dreams are real.” She exhales to the sky and wind, their jewelry and movement surrounding her. White pointed cliffs edge the polished turquoise sky, gleaming high overhead, while near the ground the sky becomes more light blue from the desert floor’s heat. Everything is shining and clear, details of rocks and plants are stark against the boundless sky. The cliffs have deep tan and purple lines—markers of time passing through them. Strange formations rise like steam from the desert floor in the morning sun as her sleepless nights and this marathon drive join to question existence, reality and love. Nothing here seems real; it is even more surreal than any dream. Standing outside her car expands her sight to include the endless sky and dusty parking lot making reality slip further away. Isn’t reality just a marker to show time has passed? But time had already given over to the yellow lined highway and ever fleeing horizon on her drive out here, and now the landscape protects itself from time by creating natural markers that can chart a more expansive meaning like geological time which moves ever onward but so slowly it seems to stand still. Much like her fast life moves so quickly she seems to stand still within it until she wakes for a moment to find years have passed, years unknown to her. Time’s marker is reality like the cooling hood of her car under her hand; yet, time’s prize can be love since a true sense of life includes love and reality mixed together. She lets Berlin out of the car as she feels tears start again, some of them are a simple release of all the stress she


has built up within herself since she is living life asleep; but as the tears continue she realizes she has no love for herself which has brought no love in her life save for the strength of her family’s love, her parents’ and siblings’ love for her. But she has no lover to care for and be cared for. She catches herself before remembering what love was like. She understands now that to be herself she must also love herself. Inhaling the clear air and this familiar scene causes her to hesitate and doubt herself again. She has tired of asking herself if dreams could be real since it is obvious now that they are so she steadies herself by touching the still warm hood of her Buick which helps to ground her and remind her that time continues moving, that the physical reality she knows well is still present. She stretches with Berlin to the sky and ground wondering, “Is transmutation of self possible?” Since realizing years ago that transmuting gold is only an alchemist lesson toward learning how to transmute self, she searched for the alchemical tools needed to transform herself. The main tool she found is love. The other tool is to know yourself. Since she did not know herself now, how could she then know love? She had stopped searching for some kind of change in her life and then she met her boyfriend: strong, handsome and with enough intelligence to keep her interested. He had replaced her longing for a deeper life with a life filled with sensual enjoyment. A meaningful life was something she had forgotten and was slowly remembering. Could this land hold the tools needed to bring her new life into existence? She sees a goat off in the distance standing at a slant on one of the highest formations. It starts to move downward, slowly choosing each step carefully. The silent beauty of these cliffs matched by the cloudless sky and this goat give her strength to suggest her life could be her own, that she could make her life whatever she wants. Medicine Route Trail with Berlin, Badlands National Park, South Dakota. A view of the Medicine Route Trail looking toward Sharps Formations in the spring with Berlin, the red Doberman, plowing through in front brings flashbacks of past dreams she has had

She studies the National Park map reading the place names out loud, “Medicine Root, Saddle Pass, Bigfoot Pass, Conata Basin, White River, Sage Creek”. The names fill her with images and scenes from her dreams. She wonders about


the Medicine Root not being called the Medicine Route and what would make a river white. She reads the geological and cultural histories of the Badlands seeing parallels between the two in fossilization and impermanence. She chooses the closest trail across the loop road called the Castle Trail. The towering Badlands Wall has formations that look like castles with spires and turrets, deep set windows and bridges; sentries of wind and rain have sculpted these features and the strong sun feels good on her skin as she allows it to burn her as it has many before her. Hiking on the Castle Trail west, toward tall cliffs within a short walk, makes her heart sing as her mind reaches toward the pristine sky. Remembering her dreams of this place causes sand to crease between her toes as a hello, eras to loosen her hair saying “stay awhile”, and time to spin so slowly away. The familiar lines and colors of the rocks and cliffs rise up as a foreign language to be learned with each curve a new entry in her lexicon and each shading of hue a new definition in search of a word or phrase. Her lips move, trying to form the new words into sound but the wind begins caressing them dry, keeping her silent and thinking, slowly waking to this dream now real. Crunching the desert ground, sending up shafts of dust that walk beside her before the wind carries them in front of her shows a whole new way to communicate—without words or feelings just seeing and thinking. She looks west and sees a trail familiar from her dreams so they hike toward the far off cliffs, toward the Medicine Root Trail that she saw on the national park map. This offers her chances for meditation, archeological sightseeing, and just clear walking. The sun offers its fusion heat. The dry wind offers its sculpted rock formations and lessons in this new communication. The absent water shows where it once flowed. Falling into a free moving stride, she looks up at the sky and offers thanks for bringing her here, now, because with her feet kicking up dust and the cliffs from her dreams within walking distance, she knows for certain that her dreams are real. Badlands Loop Road


Chapter 4 Memory: Blankets in the Bushes The little girl would sit in the bushes in front of her house watching and believing in wilderness. Errant tulips struggled that spring to show their shape and color, all manner of bugs crawled in the dirt and on her before getting tossed off to a certain doom and the birds didn’t seem to mind a quiet child sitting under the blackberry bush. The large, ripe blackberries attracted many different kinds of birds all cluttering and chuckling as they greedily ate, dropping tiny blackberry seeds and staining juice all over her. She put her Smokey the Bear blue and yellow sleeping bag down inside the bushes, but her father came out and said, “You can see these blankets from the street.” She had never thought about the street as part of her life at all. The wilderness she had been exploring was inside not outside her. She had been content in the bush with her imaginings and scenery. But now the street held her attention. It wasn’t that the natural world was lost to her, instead she recognized how the street led to the library’s carnival of books which entranced her, or to the historical society’s musty clothing which sent her into dreams that rivaled the tour guides’ or how she would eventually drive to the manipulated forest preserve her father would take her and her brother to where they would cook out and hike. How the street might eventually take her to the west, to her dreaming. The street had been non-existent until then. But now it held all her dreams.

Badlands Loop Road


Chapter 5 Vision: The Skeleton Dancers Walking outside rejuvenates her after years of working out in health clubs; the clean air is electrifying causing her to breathe deeply using her full lungs since her body no longer has to protect itself from the pollutants in city air. The sun, the mounds; the plants-- all embrace her igniting the spark from the clean air to start combustion between her mind and body, propelling her toward her spirit. It’s like being that little girl in the bushes again, safe and told to imagine the possibilities held outside, seeing the street for the first time and knowing it holds all her dreams. The further she walks on the trail the further she is released from stress and confusion caused by her life.

Medicine Root Trail


The easier it is to accept that dreams are real, are a part of living her life and are tools she can use to reconstruct her shattered heart. Tall prairie grasses wave hellos in yellow and gold, splashing abstractly against the bluer than real sky, all is soft to her passing, welcoming her. Walking west toward the cliffs feels like walking home. Soon those cliffs become the towering Badlands’ wall which slows her step in awe breathing in its dust and life, water and death. She begins to transmute the concrete, physical reality that has imprisoned her spirit for years. Even her sense of individuality starts to live again as the textures and hues begin entering her senses fully offering a new language for communicating with herself. She enters a narrow canyon with high cliffs on either side and in front of her. After two miles of direct sun, the cool shadows of the Badlands' wall are a refreshing burst of energy at 20 degrees cooler. The cracks in the ground deepen into wrinkles on a familiar face surrendering to the sun and wind--explaining the cycles of life in their deepening. She can hear the drumming of her heart playing a rhythm that is familiar and similar to the sunflowers’ dance rhythm during last night’s drive. Her mind races back in time remembering things she had forgotten and had tried for years now to forget. She feels tears running down her face and tries to stop them with the back of her hand but they keep coming, hard and fast. She breaks down on that ancient ocean trail, her tears soaking into the desert dirt forming tiny rivers in antique white, tan and peach which create cracks, evaporating water and leaving salt behind. She wonders why she is crying so swiftly and violently, shaking in sobs that increase in volume as she sinks to her knees clutching at the pebbles and dust that somehow bring comforting warmth inside her. Visions of her students’ inner city life in housing projects and in gangs cross with visions of her life filled with materialism and work. One side of her life holds people in need and the other side of her life holds amnesiatic people she barely knows. The two visions intersect to form a cross, a crucifix that she has hung her life upon losing time and moments, days, weeks, months to her work and to her shallow life. She sees her boyfriend and her fake friends realizing that her current friends are all from his crowd since she had met them through him. Most of her current girlfriends are wives, girlfriends or past wives of her boyfriend’s friends. Many had attended the same schools and grown up in the same north shore neighborhood. She wonders what has become of her friends from grade school, high school and college. An elder black man at the high school had befriended her on her


first day of teaching and she now spends some lunches and after school time with him and his friends but that was her only other outlet for socializing outside of her boyfriend’s friends. She thinks of her family, who she has not seen in a while, not even on holidays or birthdays since those moments are for her boyfriend. Her mom still calls trying to set up times they could see each other but she cancels or just blows it off without a thought. As she thinks of this her sobs grow deeper and seem to rock the cliffs in front of her. The tiny pebbles she had clutched at imbed into her skin and under her fingernails longing for the salt water from her tears to soak them, they are like shards of a giant rock that looms overhead and she thinks they resemble her life since like these pebbles, pieces of herself, her life, her love have been thrown around, disconnected from the source, discarded like a pebble that would get caught in her shoe to be thrown away. She knows now she must begin the task of collecting the pebbles of her life and build them back into who she is, remembering who she was and preparing for who she will be. She sees that person, the one she was before all this. She sees further into her past when she had been building a community of friends and family, when she had been producing art within a large support network, when she had been herself. Then she sees the man in a dark blue uniform showing her a sparkling silver badge and speaking words she cannot understand. The man had stood at her door for a long time bringing that old world to an end with a simple hat in hand and badge in another. She remembered how shiny his black shoes had been, how surreal a police car looked on the suburban street she lived on parked in front of their home where they had just planted purple flower bulbs— “No!” she yells at the stark blue sky, rising to get closer to it. “I won’t go back there, I can’t!” She throws the wet pebbles she had been clutching at the sky, getting a blow back of dust in her face. Licking the dust from her lips, tasting the salt of her tears and the dust, she softly says, “I won’t.” Loneliness crowds around her as images of knives and bottles and sidewalks and flowers rush into her still crying mind. She tries to turn back to her car, back to her life of forgetting hoping she could continue the amnesia that she had thought would save her life. But instead, not remembering has stolen her life, has made her dead inside. She clutches her stomach trying to make the crying stop from where it began. She realizes she had never told her boyfriend or fake friends about her past. They had never even asked. They had all taken her into their lives as if she had no past, as if she had dropped down from the moon one day several years ago.


She wraps her arms around herself to ease back into amnesia and find the power to return to her car, to leave this place that has made her remember, has made her cry. She had never seen those purple flowers bloom. She starts rocking slightly to the drumming that has continued through her breakdown, the drumming that had started her crying. She keeps telling herself everything will be ok, just as she had done all those years ago when that man with the badge and shining shoes had left her alone in the house with the newly planted purple flowers. Then, slowly, the rocks of the towering cliffs start glowing and wrapping themselves around her. She had closed her eyes tightly to stop the tears but now she opens them to see who was holding her to see…her friends. She hears a song, “The rocks are my friends,” she starts singing, “they know when I’m with them my soul is exposed.” The wind answers by rhythmically gusting around her; also embracing her, rushing into her with each breath in, rushing out of her with each breath out. She feels the ground start coming up through her, shooting out of her eyes drying them, wiping her tears away. Her arms fall to her sides as she lets it all happen since it is the most alive she has felt in so long. She starts to remember even further back in her past, when nature had embraced her daily just like this. She sees that in blocking out one part of her life, she had in essence blocked out everything she had lived and thought. How had she come to accept that her life had started just a few years ago? But it hadn’t. The rocks and sky and wind won’t let her continue believing it has. “The rocks are my friends,” she sings again knowing she had written this song years ago, she had sung it to—and then the tears start again but from a different place, a place she could handle better almost like her tears were here to water this dry desert so she continues singing letting the words flood back to her barely able to breathe as all the words and music tumble out:

Badlands Cliffs


I run to nature The rocks are my friends They know when I’m with them my soul is exposed The skies are my friends They know when I am with them I turn my face to the wind I run to them all when my heart is hard From the city, its people and constructions Together we dance and sing, laugh and play, and pray that we’ll meet again The trees are my friends They know when I’m with them I won’t stop listening The hills are my friends They know when I am with them I can’t stop walking No words needed Just sun, new moon and life We hold hands; mine caked with grass, dirt and stars Then the sky comes to clean us all I run to them all when my heart is hard From the city, its people and constructions No words are needed Just breathe, movement and life They accept me for who I am not who I was, or who I want to be We all shine with the love we share Then the skies come to praise us I run to them all when my heart is hard From the city, its people and constructions No words are needed Just sun, new moon and life

She smiles as she finishes and looks around at the glowing rocks and sky. Then dust coming from the cliffs begins heading toward her in a whirlwind spinning so fast at times she could see through it and at other times a thick ring of dust and rock in flurries of circles is all she can see. Deep shadows twist up and out of the whirlwind rising in the narrow canyon, taking the dust whirlwind with them to start dancing with time and culture. Once free of the canyon’s depths, but still hovering above it, the shadows and whirlwind of dust capture the sun’s light shining it into the narrow canyon below, making


everything around her crystallize into brilliance. At first she shields her eyes with sunglasses and her hand but then it is clear the whirlwind and shadows are not trying to blind her but show her the brilliance etching out shining whirlwinds within the canyon’s walls which start rising upward in contorted movements--first 20 feet than 100 feet up stretching out of the dust, forming uplifted hands and rotating torsos with larger pieces of rock levitating in the background. She takes off her sunglasses to watch the sun, wind and dust create this magical scene. Just as ceremonies, prayers and real life have passed through these cliffs to become the crumbling dust, the cliffs’ bare existence crumbles unmistakably as she too crumbles little by little her body melting away into eternal. She knows too well this dance with time that the dust, wind and sun display. She knows too well the dust surrounding her now is her own life crumbling, her own dance with time explaining, not pretty or instantly inspiring but slightly scary when it is stripped down clean to nothing which is her true eventuality right before she reaches eternity. She knows too well the dirt beneath her feet is time passing between her and gravity going its own way, having a purpose like she needs to. Her head is still in the east but her feet are in the west and as the dust covering her shoes starts rising up to cover her white shirt with yellow dust and her red sunburned arms with white dust she starts to fully enter the west. She is scared and clutches at the car keys in her pocket, indenting them into her flesh as she tries to decide how far she should go, not just on this trail but also on this quest to find herself and understand how dreams could be real. She catches herself holding her breathe so she exhales and feels a sense of relief. Then suddenly, the whirlwinds shift into skeletons rising even higher into the blue sky, dancing even as their bones continue materializing out of each whirlwind. These dancers are different and more literal than the dust, wind and shadow dancers which now shine on the tall, dancing skeletons. The actual cliffs add more substance to the dancers, making each skeletal footfall resound through the canyon. The long, thin lines in each cliff peel away and stand upright. The skeleton dancers from these cliffs utilize shadow to trace the same steps as the first dance, staying in rhythm and towering over her. Behind the dancing cliffs, the hewn sky rolls toward infinity explaining eternity in a single glance. As the skeletons take form and start rising into the sky, her first impulse is to run away, back to her car and leave this place. She catches herself holding her breathe again —afraid to make a sound as if the skeletons might grab her and take her with them. But then the skeleton’s dance becomes exactly like the sun, wind and dust’s dance, its familiarity is more curious than frightening. Berlin stands beside her watching the dancers, confirming to her that something is happening up there which calms her. Hot tears cover her astonished face; first releasing her tension and fear and


then acknowledging a connection she has not felt for a long time. The connection is her spirit lodging roughly within her breast bone, but it will take her years to fully understand. Right now she just recognizes it as her spirit returning, as her life being given another chance. She rubs her chest since the sudden roughness as her spirit returns feels almost like someone hit her flat handed across her chest. Once her spirit is back within her she realizes it has been missing a long time. The warmth it radiates is not heat or any type of temperature just pure energy. A loud drumming inside the cliffs calms her comes from her. Dust blows around the skeleton dancers and she teeters almost knowing the steps. The scene changes incredibly holding her within the change. She deeply inhales sage burning somewhere under sun or fire. She shivers more from excitement than fear since her dreams showed her this place and that alone gives her courage to watch and maybe learn: But the connection she feels is more than within. She feels connected to these skeletons, to these cliffs, to the sky. The connection is unmistakable her feet feel the dust she stands upon and her mind begins remembering other moments in her life when she connected with the world around her. It is like a familial connection, like these cliffs, dust, sun and sky are family. The entire cliffs then turn into white, bleached out bones. At first unassembled but as the dance continues these bones start connecting and rising to join the other skeleton dancers skyscraper-tall towering over her. Like resurrected souls, these cliffs rise as the dawn gives way to day, sentries for time and land and visions; their potentialities lie deep and glow with a reserved power. Each line in each cliff is a skeleton from ancient days starting to awaken. Trumpets sound as these skeletons rise out of the cliffs dancing in midair, asking her to join them. Each footfall leaves a blinking star on the ground; each twirl creates a cool breeze to war against the rising heat. Fear brushes past her. Inside she knows this dance and can feel her spirit dancing with these skeletons, moving with the energy inside everything. Her dreams were of this place, it was as if her spirit beckoned her here, to claim responsibility, to reintegrate her spirit, mind and heart into a whole again, into the world again. She cries as she dances alone there in the dust. Seeing the skeleton dancers, feeling her spirit, sad that she had not even known that her spirit had left her; but so glad it has returned. Cultural and racial ties are burned away as the earth begins to move her toward accepting herself as she is, joining ancestors she never knew she had. The skeletons form a line at the height of each cliff and unravel a red road until it reaches her feet. It is ablaze with the earth's needs and her fear. It is the start of a new dance, a dance to resurrect the earth. Even though the steps and the rhythm are unfamiliar what they dance for is clear: life and the chance for life to take hold even on desert floors. How do we share our lives with one another? How do we share the world’s resources? These are the questions their dance


attempts to answer and in those answers reclaim life. Flames engulf her while she lightly dances on the red road the skeletons continue unraveling in waves. Feeling the fire start rising within her as sparks from her small, inner fire set the desert floor ablaze. A red road trails behind them all like a great, flowing, red cape. Engulfed in fire she does not burn, crying she is not sad. Her heart turns bright red as this red road travels through it. The façade she has built around herself starts to burn away: costumes, circumstances and myths all take to the wind in part ash, in part flame, in part still showing their former hold on her as ropes twisting in the wind. It is as if she is shedding a new skin as the fire burns through to her true self, her real nothingness, her static prayers made in desperation turn into active prayers sung in jubilation. Not all parts of her former façade fly away from here; instead, they smolder and bubble on the bottom of her shoes until the earth accepts this burnt offering and dancing frees her further toward love. The skeletons become transparent in the flames twisted by strong winds, like a forest fire out of control. Drumming begins to overpower the trumpets and the skeletons start ascending and becoming clouds pushed in all four directions: north, south, east and west, by scented breezes. The skeletons blow even hotter air down on her still dancing. Are we alive when we choose to just live? Is this life when we have no concern for others, or choose who we will concern ourselves with? Do we have a choice to disregard one person and highly regard another? Are we whole when we do not share and receive from our communities? How do we share our lives with one another? How do we share the world’s resources? The dancing skeletons' rise into the sky, becoming cloud like visages which disappear into a lone hill she has seen often in her dreams. It slopes gently down on one side like a ramp to another place, another world, another way of being. The responsibility of unconditional love for everything rises up through her spirit. Having disregarded her needs and those of others, she feels the heat strongly. When all the skeleton dancers are gone she is left with a smoldering, white hot road beneath her feet. She continues to dance barefoot and reverent, not even sure when she had taken her shoes off. This is sacred ground; the fire rising up within her becomes the responsibility of unconditional love accepted as each breathe in and the societal imposed perception of reality is each breathe out. Accepting herself in this surreal dance is her first step toward unconditional love for herself. Unconditional love transcends and transmutes, shifting atoms, which never let anything be solid, shifting wider to allow her a peek into the other side. The red and blue days, the end of time, and the end of this way of life are here. It is not a millennial prophecy but an urgent reminder that she should begin now. In waiting, the heaven she has here on earth is put on hold.


Understanding her dreams are real means supernatural things can be accepted as ordinary and extraordinary. A nonchalant acceptance will no longer do. She knows she’s been wrong to turn her back to these experiences, wrong to be friends with people who put her down for believing in another world, another life. It is not that this life has a counterpart or transcendence; instead, it is that she now sees her options and choices for how she could live her life. These options and choices had never occurred to her before. Lately, she has not even been choosing. Lately, she has been just moving along within a sphere she did not choose or create. She runs through patterns and habits daily not seeing her life getting lost within them. Her recent insomnia and depression comes from her lack of action in life. It is not transcendence or otherworldliness she seeks; instead, she seeks the steps toward a life filled with conscious choices and acceptance of who she is. Her dreams have led her here to experience a true acceptance of who she is. Now she must learn how to be that person in everyday life. The waking up, going to work then coming home life that has swallowed her whole in the past. Now she must see that life just as she sees these skeleton dancers, now she must live a life of her own choosing just as she saw the street all those years ago she was back in the bushes on her Smokey the Bear sleeping bag seeing the street for the first time, seeing the world as hers to explore. Now she knew that the world outside is also the world inside: everything is sacred and magical everything holds the potential of love. Then she felt herself rising to turn and look down, she could see herself standing in the world and her insides became filled with stars and planets, meteors and comets swirling and shooting at first through her veins and then becoming everything including her flesh, her arms were spiral galaxies, her legs comets and meteors she saw how standing here in the badlands was standing in the world and also standing within herself. She knew herself as a universe was a truth beyond any she had known before and now ignorance could be the only true darkness; however, knowing the truth and choosing lies must be an even deeper darkness. She thinks about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. The E = MC2 held the meaning of a new physics since it meant that all matter held energy, potential energy or activated energy. She wondered if she could also posit love in an equation where love =her X the world squared (L= H(W)2) or was it her times the universe which equaled love? L = H(U)2 ? In this equation was held the idea that Love is in everything, just as Einstein had said energy is in every mass, she felt now that love was in all things as long as she loved herself. Could it also be that the energy Einstein saw is also love?


She dances with the skeleton dancers all day until the sun dips quickly from view bringing the very stars she had seen as her insides to circle around her in the skies above. She sleeps peacefully for the first time in years there in the canyon. She dreams as the stars turn westward of her returning to Chicago and everyone has changed. In her dream, her boyfriend is no longer who she thought he was, her friends and family are all different. She feels a true tenderness for her family, a tenderness she had pushed deep inside her in an attempt to forget her past; she recognizes it is no longer her family she needs to rebel against—her rebellion now is with her current life, a life of no choices and no thought. When she wakes in the dark just before dawn, she knows none of them have changed. Now that she knows her truth, she can not tell her old lies.

Skeleton Dancers’ Cliffs #4 Badlands National Park, South Dakota Cliffs like these became long-legged skeleton dancers, shifting from rock lines to skeletal structures with each foot fall. Back and forth their forms would change as they danced. The Sharps Formation found at the top of these cliffs is deposited ash from ancient, western volcanoes; the mid-section is the Brule Formation with its distinctive red striping of fossilized soils and the foreground shows the Chadron Formation which is the fossilized remains of a river flood plain which came after the vast sea which once covered the entire Badlands.


Chapter 6 Dream: Harvest

She was running through acres of sunflowers with sun light shifting through low moving, gray clouds, creating fast moving shadows alternating with streamers of light. She knew she had to continue running toward those hills in the distance. Her white dress would fall off as a new one would come on. Her skin would fall off as new skin came on. She kept running leaving a trail of white dresses and skin. She stopped running for a moment feeling the dust collect around her feet. She could almost see the hills beyond the mist, her own form was becoming like a mist, almost completely fallen away. Then a large, black bird shining blue in the harsh afternoon sun, perched on a well-seeded sunflower head, bending the flower toward her, as it roughly picked out the sunflower seeds and stuffed them into a velvet bag. The bird turned to her and said, “The seeds’ been planted so you have to come and harvest. Tell the world about us.” Many years later she sees a Max Ernst painting called The Spanish Physician, (1940). In this painting there is a girl running off the canvas, while her dress and her flesh fall off to expose her. Once she sees this painting, she knows it is about her dream and starts researching its background.

Sunflower Field


Chapter 7 The Age of the Sun at Noon After sleeping for twelve hours, she awakes suddenly, startled since she had run through the dream sunflower fields for years with her white dress falling then reappearing to repeat the sequence as she ran; but never before had the bird spoken! The large, black bird had appeared even in her early childhood versions of this dream, casting large, winged shadows over the fields as she ran through them, stretching its long wings so its feathers looked like fingers touching the expansive sky. Sometimes the bird would cavort in flight as if playing with the wind. She drew the bird many times, always with sunflowers. One day she saw a similar bird build a nest in the tallest Oak tree of her suburban neighborhood park and was told it was a raven. Since then she had researched ravens, like reading the Edgar Allen Poe poem and wondering if the title bird had been fortunetelling or simply able to only say “Nevermore”. She found a raven in the Bible in the Genesis flood narrative Noah chose the raven, out of all the birds on the ark, to be sent forth to find land. There were many symbolic Native American meanings for a raven; each regional tribe seemed to have a myth which the raven starred in. The Ghost Dancers from the Badlands chose the raven as a ghost dance symbol and an omen of change coming. The bird had started carrying the velvet bag when she was still in high school, but that had been the only change. What did the bird mean by “Tell the world about us”? Who would that include? What is she to tell the world about—a talking bird taking seeds from a sunflower? Or is she to tell the world that dreams are real? Or was the bird simply justifying taking the seeds from the flowers? Was she to harvest something while on this journey? Could she harvest a new life after planting so many years in her dreams the seeds for that life? Or maybe it is her past life that must be planted, buried, so that she can move forward into a new life. She contemplates all these things as she studies the morning light on the canyon walls becoming increasingly amazed at the silence of this place. She is achy as she rises; amazed she has slept outside all night on these crumbling rocks. Her shoes were an ok pillow, but bending to put them on is troublesome. Berlin’s red coat is covered in beige dust and no amount of shaking changes that. She returns to her car and studies the Badlands National Park map while drinking a liter of water and brushing Berlin’s coat to shine. The names of the trails and places are still unfamiliar but the land is not. She scans the map’s surrounding area seeing Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and thinks about the skeleton dancers from yesterday who seemed so connected to


this place. Were they from a native culture or another culture? They had performed a ghost dance to bring her back to life and to help her give up her ghosts. Did that mean they were Native American spirits or something much more ancient? She finds the gravel Northeast Road and decides to hike east on the Castle Trail toward the Medicine Root Trail. Zigzag valleys are exposed with shadows and light cutting through the highest cliffs in the Badlands wall. Grasses and flowers line each side of the path and sway gently in a warm breeze. The trail speaks in a wilderness language about hope and faith and love. A rock tumbling down from the cliffs, the tall thin grass bending, momentarily, to the wind, a cloud blocking the sun for an instant can all be messages, can all bring a greater connection with herself, but in an overstimulated, media drenched mind, it’s hard to notice such things. TV, radio and now the internet all vie for her attention. Lovers, friends and family all take up the remaining time. But here on this trail she finds peace and contentment, she watches the sky and the earth for pieces of herself to appear so she can begin to rebuild herself and move forward with her life. It is usually hard to still her mind, to stop the onslaught of ideas, memories and fantasies; yet today the silence and excitement from the previous day and this morning combine to embrace her in peacefulness that builds into a sense of power. Past situations when she felt powerless would have benefitted from this silence allowing her to remain positive and therefore powerful. She has been haunted by this silence before while singing a cherished song with her church choir or when she was able to calm the storm, just momentarily, in one of her student’s lives. But never had this silence come from inside her, it always came from somewhere else. Now the silence is inside her and she breathes it in and breathes it out to greet the day. Her footfalls on the trail create the rhythm to further bring this silence inside her. She hikes until it gets too hot. There is nothing but cliffs, footprints, sky: all in a haze of evaporating dew that become spirits in mid-air, released from servitude to form. The trails, the dust, the cliffs all comfort her, seem to come from her, helping to ease her into a new way of living. Returning to the car around 11am; the turquoise sky turns to a faceted chalcedony blue as noon approaches, the cliffs radiate a heat that is beyond temperature, it is the heat of her soul connecting with her life, away from cultural necessity or societal pressure. Like clouds collecting water from a desert floor, her soul gets ready to rain on her physical body, to drench it with sacred understanding. This heat rising from the badlands floor shows a great peace in everyday things; the people, places and situations that


Side Oats Gamma

have previously disconnected her from her spirit, her true self, are actually her best chance for growth; but being truthful about her life has not been easy. Accepting the people in her life has been even harder, accepting loss the hardest. It comes to her slowly, like the heat on this afternoon that she has kept herself away from some people because of the fear of losing them, of getting hurt once again. This seems too simple but she feels those tears from yesterday starting to collect inside her and she knows that sometimes simple is enough. Even though she has a boyfriend and friends, she is lonely, wanting to have real connections and conversations. “Each of us is unique,” she thinks, “so there must be a place for me.” Everyday reality is an integral part of life, an inherent part of it. All the meditations she has done in the past were to transcend this reality, now it’s clear that everyday reality must be accepted and released to allow action to flourish. It is not about transcending her old life; instead, it is about transcendence to a fuller life utilizing her past as a firm foundation. The birds agree as they wait with her and Berlin in the shadows of the car for the sun to lean westward, they hop around the hard ground: not looking for transcendence, but maybe a piece of food. She shares water and shade with them, desert and time, everyday reality and life and in that simple sharing realizes that much of life is about these simple pleasures shared with others. Carl Jung wrote that archetypes are “at work for a long time in the unconscious, skillfully arranging circumstances that will lead to a crisis.” Her crisis moment had been years ago, but she had not allowed the reverberations of that moment to drench her life with understanding. Whether the archetypes at work on her had been shaped by cultural or psychological myths or her own personal life did not matter inasmuch as understanding the moments they brought her closer to understanding herself and therefore others. Many people thought archetypes are unknowable forms personified in recurring images, symbols, or patterns but she did not think so since those recurring images from her dreams did mean something, they were knowable she could see how archetypes as Jung defined them had exerted forces upon her to bring her through a crises and to this place now. She thinks of the archetypes in her recurring dreams. The raven saying, “Tell the world about us.” Inherent in this statement is to live consciously. The sunflowers repeat this idea through their color and growth. She started glancing through Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces that she had just finished reading and reread a passage she had marked, “The dream is you; you as the subject are surprised by A Coat Castle Trail looking West to one of the skeleton dancers’ cliffs


you as the object. So subject and object, though they seem to be two, are the same. Just as I and you are the same. This is the breakthrough of the metaphysical realization that two that seem to be separate are in really one.” She had often thought she was the raven telling herself to tell the world about herself, but she now understood that she is also the sunflowers, the hills, the sky. The strong connection she had with the cliffs, sun and sky yesterday as the skeleton dancers rose higher and higher confirms this. Her connection with the silence of the Badlands brings even more understanding. The same connection starts flowing through her now as she wonders if the “us” in her telling is about the entire world: the planet with everything on it and its atmosphere. The winds pick up as she follows this thought, blowing against her wildly without disturbing the dust or the birds. The sun begins to move westward, away from its noontime apex. It ages just as she does, yet the sunlight on her skin now is from the past since it takes time for the light to reach her. Is the age of the sun at noon its past age, the age it was when the light on her now was emanating from it; or is the age of the sun at noon its present age? The raven saying, “Tell the world about us.” is contained in this question of time. The past, present and future are all contained in such a telling. She is beginning to feel relaxed as the worlds of work, bills, deadlines, and relationships become transmuted: they’re all a chance to find out who she is and with that knowledge take action in her life. They’re all a chance to see herself in them “just as you and I are the same.” She must actively support a culture and society that she can believe in, but also one that believes in her. Conscious living through conscious decision making might entail all kinds of research and planning. Where she shops, and works; how she lives and loves must be connected to her belief system and understanding of value. She knows this will take a long time to figure out, but she knows this is the right path. The sun casts shadows showing a passage of time, reviving the question of how old that light is, and bringing the meaningful life she has dreamt of more fully into consciousness. She had shattered archetypes and socially implicated mores just by driving out here, just by sitting here after hiking; just as she had shattered these fetters she was using their pieces to create a new life, a new mode of transport for her spirit, a new archetype. Campbell also wrote, “There are roads the human mind has made through the jungle of thought” just as there are roads that have been made through actual jungles, through oceans, and into the stars. Being lured away from frequented paths is a good thing.


Chapter 8 Memory: the end of dreaming high school She stood quietly waiting to be called on stage to accept her award. Her life had been passing her by and then she is told she won an award for starting a small school within the large, racially segregated African American, inner city high school and somehow working there made sense. She waited calmly in order to remember this moment. Then she saw her principal go up to the MC. She thought it had to do with her and she was right. His kente cloth was pressed so straight it stood away from his chest. The MC announced the prize she was winning and her smile spread wider as she stepped forward. Then her principal stepped in front of her and said, “Nolen is getting the prize, it’s a black school and a black man should get the prize.” The MC said, “Nolen” and everyone in the room gasped since they knew she was to get the award and not some man they did not know. She ran out of the banquet hall crying. One of the other teachers at the school followed her out and said, “Let’s go back in there and tell them there was a mistake.” “No,” she replied gaining composure, “There’s no mistake. I’m not the person they want me to be.” It was the beginning of the end of her teaching high school in the inner city. Crying dramatically in her car after this happened she became angry at the Nine Inch Nails song with the lead singer, Trent Reznor singing “to do something that matters.” She was angry at herself for not seeing the good work she had been doing and equally angry at not seeing that time had passed.


Chapter 9 Vision from the rocks: The Earth Paused, Providing this Moment

Those Badlands Badland National Park, South Dakota The rugged, alien landscape was as familiar to her as the street she had grown up on. She found it beautiful and quiet. After her initial shock that her dreams are real, she also felt safe and secure here as she had never before felt. In the foreground is the Chadron Formations with their crumbling, rounded forms that contain fragile fossils and quartz crystals.

As the temperature climbs toward 100 degrees, she stays seated in the shadow of the car considering the connection she also felt with the skeleton dancers from yesterday. At first she had been frightened as the cliffs started moving, releasing skeletal frames which stretched 100’s of feet above her to dance on a spiraling road made red with fire, but then she had felt at one with them and even felt she had known their dance! She wondered how real it could have been and how immediately upon arriving in the Badlands she had known where to walk and had stayed there almost 24 hours before returning to her car. No food the whole time but she had emptied the hiking bladder in her backpack and this morning she had only wanted an apple. Now she is finally feeling hungry and makes a peanut butter sandwich and grabs a coke out of the watery cooler. She marvels how she looks in the tinted glass of the car’s backseat window: a little disheveled and definitely burning under this strong sun. But it doesn’t matter. She sits back down making Berlin raise an ear to her movement but not even open an eye. Even the Doberman has felt at peace here. Since rescuing her from an abusive family in an upscale neighborhood two years ago, the dog had barely slept in her presence—always on guard and always at the door


when she arrived home. So well mannered and trained, Berlin had to teach her some of the responsibilities of owning a dog. She had to be walked since she would not use her own backyard as a bathroom, she had to be fed at the same time and in such a small amount that it seemed it wasn’t enough, and she had to be brushed at least once a day. It was easy living with such a fine creature and the increasing violence of her neighborhood had warranted the addition of a true watch dog even though at first she had resisted the idea. Berlin was a compromise between her and her family—a gun or a dog. She chose a dog. She takes a sip of water which turns into a raging waterfall crashing on top of her as it flows down her throat. Berlin’s breathing, as she doses in the shade, becomes the sound of a raging river straining the roots of this prairie then carving the Badlands’ cliffs in its passing like an unconcerned sculptor who works quickly and decisively creating beauty in seconds. She understands such sculpting, knowing the outcome is produced by hands moved by love. She also feels that she has been here before and has now been returned to finish her own sculpting, her own carving out a form that is her life out of the rock she has allowed to harden inside. It’s as if she is a little late in showing up though since the sounds and feeling of rushing water builds in momentum. She knows another moment like the skeleton dancers is about to happen but is not as scared as she was yesterday when the vision starts to happen. Her car keys lay unclenched as she feels strength from having remembered her past so vividly yesterday and it is this strength that makes her eager for another experience. The plague of sadness in being alone now feels different; it’s part of the healing after years of allowing loss power to obstruct her life. She shivers from a chill, smells the gray dust like it’s wet and feels the roots of all the desert plants growing. Her excitement from learning more about this place, her dreams, herself causes her heart to race toward questions of how: How will she integrate this new sense of life into her current life beyond the Badlands’ metaphysical microcosm? How will she remember these experiences when back in the city? How can she remain the same person? She has no desire to run away to a mountain hermitage in order to remember or to give up on certain people in her life in order to integrate. A life of sacrifice may be inherent in her dreams and now these visions, but the sacrifice is of facades, artifices, seeming circus costumes and circus acts. Imbalance is the main sacrifice she needs to make since balance is needed in her life. She takes her shoes off to feel the ground and sees how her pedicure is slowly chipping off. Usually she is very aware


of her toenails sometimes more than her own life. She needs to sacrifice this preoccupation to see that not thinking about her life causes problems and suffering. She thinks of the etymological definition tied to the word “sacrifice” as “making sacred” and can see that as illusion is sacrificed her real life will be seen for what all lives are: sacred. Accepting the harvest that is hers means not being afraid of a new life, a new crop of ideas, a new field to plow. Is that the harvest the raven refers to in her dreams? The winds begin murmuring, discussing her sacrifice and bringing in balance. The skies, the cliffs, the glistening rocks on the ground all cooperate to help ease her into a new understanding of reality. The rocks look shining wet under the strong sun’s reign. The cliffs look softer and unfocused as heat rises from the desert floor. The blue sky curves overhead, caressing blue against the horizon and tracing the cliffs’ curves with a tender, colored contrast. She starts to sing softly, “the rocks are my friends, they know when I’m with them my soul is exposed.” Their visions, their words, their explanations all become a part of her: At first, the rocks are blinking and winking, conversing with the sun raining down on them. Then the cliffs start melting away as prairie grasses start completely covering them. Tears fall down her face adding to the rushing river first pushing past her then spreading out over her. Soon an ocean covers the rocks and her, making it very dark, as a tiny sun barely reaches this ocean bottom. She shivers, as the darkness grows deeper, wondering if this is really happening, if it ever really happened. But she realizes that she is sitting beneath the water breathing just fine. Then just as suddenly as it came, the water leaves. She is left sitting in a lake, then a pond, then a puddle, then a rainforest, then a prairie, then on the dry, desert floor, crying tears of dust swirling in the breeze. Silence. Then, the whole cycle repeats itself. The water covers everything then leaves until dust conquers the land again. The cycles of this land are analogies for the cycles of life, of spirit. Just as she has walked this trail today, she has walked this trail in the past; she will walk this trail in the future. Thousands of years will flow through her spirit, and become nothing, and she will still come here to walk this trail, swim in its waters, see its visions. That is why she had dreamt of this place without having known it before--because her spirit knows it. Macro and micro cosmos concentrically connect on this trail. Her little world passes through to a larger one. Circles within circles spin around her, through her, to teach her, to show her how each cycle supports the next: how the nutrients from the water cycle create rich soils to grow the next cycle, how the dust here is preparing for the next cycle. “But how does my cycle of life support the next? How can I contribute to this cycle and share the resources I have?” she asks.


The rocks start shining even brighter, starting to glow like they’re on fire, until their surfaces are transformed into mirrors showing her places, people, objects, colors that pass over the surface of each mirror. She hears a faint song coming from them, “Tell the World About Us.” She tries to understand the meaning of the images but is confused by the rapidity and convection since the mirrors are wrapped around each rock causing the reflections to be distorted. She realizes that maybe these are windows and not mirrors, but as that thought begins to take shape the rocks start to return to shining rocks losing all reflective quality and intuitively she knows the window idea to be wrong.

The scene around her begins to return with her car, the waning sun and Berlin still sleeping soundly. She hears the answer to her questions is to “Tell the world about us” As she sees the flood myth contributing to what she has just experienced, but not helping in her understanding of what has just happened. Was she sculpting her mysteries onto these rocks as a conversation between her consciousness and unconsciousness or was the spirit of these rocks speaking its own language based in visuals and feelings? She remembered Lascaux Cave drawings that evoked feelings and a connection to the ancient artists who used the natural curves of cave’s walls to make the painted animals seem to move almost as if the cave’s walls were responding with their own spirits to the spirit of the painters and animals depicted with the combination still attempting communication. She had felt such a communication was still being sought when she saw the cave walls and now these rocks in the Badlands were communicating as well. She thought of a letter by artist Max Ernst (1891-1976) who wrote about how he and sculptor Alberto Giacometti worked in the Forno glacier area where stones “wonderfully polished by time, frost and weather are in themselves fantastically beautiful. No human hand can do that. So why not…confine ourselves to scratching on them runes of our own mysteries?” Contained in Ernst’s letter were her two thoughts—could these beautiful rocks be spirits in and of themselves or was she scratching on them runes of her mystery? These sun drenched rocks were “fantastically beautiful” and in their beauty she knew the answer lay closer to understanding the spirits of these rocks then of her scratchings since they sang to her, “Tell the world about us.” It is now near sunset. As the sun backlights the Badlands’ cliffs drawing yellow, glowing outlines, it creates deepening shadows that walk out from each formation. The rocks around her glisten and blink their shining surfaces reflecting the pink clouds overhead as she tries to understand.

Lascaux Cave Drawing of bull and man


She gives thanks with wet eyes and dirty hands while making camp nearby and feeling an odd loneliness at the skeleton dancers’ absence today but discovering actual holes in her grade school, Winnie the Pooh tent makes her laugh. The sunset lingers for a long time after the sun drops beneath the western horizon, its colors spinning out from the west with circular patterns in pinks, purples and reds. Stars start to fill in where the colors are absent, shining for their counterparts on the badlands’ floor. The waning moon appears suddenly muted by the spinning, rounded colors until the earth revolves enough to provide a deeper blue sky on which it can project itself in red and orange hues. Its decaying tip can be seen for a long time as if the earth pauses in its revolutions to provide this moment, this chance to further awaken to her life and her purpose in it. As she stands by her tent looking out at the sunset and then the setting moon behind the badland cliffs she sees a red string coming toward her which turns into the road burning red with fire which runs under her feet smoldering from the stars overhead that are reflected within it. Her energy rises to meet them. Far off she hears drumbeats coming toward her, the notes march closer as the cliffs release their rhythm and residents. The castle formations show a kingdom at peace with its residents, the skeleton dancers, emerging from the cliffs and starting their dance on the red road. She rises to join them, her feet sending up white dust high into the sky where it forms new stars shining down on her. The stars shine so brightly they act like x-rays as she watches her flesh disappear to show her skeleton frame just like the skeleton dancers. “We are all the same” she thinks, slightly unnerved by the sight of her skeletal hand and by the thought that she is the same as these cliffs, dust, stars. It was easier today to accept being connected with them than it had been last night because tonight the stars’ fierce x-rays show that she is more than just connected--she is one with them all. “From dust to dust” her catechism helps her recall. Now that phrase has so much more meaning, it is not just a humbling statement it is an eternal truth—that we are the same as the ground we walk on and the dancers we dance with. The stars show how timeless her soul is, how time-full her flesh is and yet the two have found a chance meeting, an eternal relationship with each other. The skeleton dancers start rising into the star filled sky forming a circle then moving into the dance. She joins the dance.


The dance ends just before dawn. Exhilarated by her fearlessness and acceptance of herself she immediately hikes on the same trail which brings another form of silence, one of true familiarity and knowing herself a little bit better. The weight of change falls upon her. Knowing her truth better means choosing lies will only be a deeper darkness, a further denial of her. She chooses the truth.

Castle Trail at Dawn Badlands National Park, South Dakota These sod table formations are concentrated along the Castle Trail and are exposed bedrock that has been eroded. Trying to learn her purpose requires true intention and even truer sacrifice, an erosion of her past instead of a forgetting. A beautiful sunrise or sunset helps her understand.


Chapter 10 Memory: Galaxies Shining in Her Heart The two girls were fighting in the hallway outside her classroom. She opened the door to see what the noise was and recognized one of her students who ran into the classroom to get away from a larger girl. But the larger girl roughly brushes through the door and past her and continues the fight inside the classroom eventually pulling out a box cutter. Her student instantly takes a tall glass vase from the window sill and throws it missing the girl and smashing the vase into a million pieces on the hard wood floor. The broken glass shines on the brown wood and she sees galaxies surrounding her, just out of reach but circulating around her. Security arrives and drags the larger girl off to leave her student to clean up the mess. The bell rings. Her lunch period is over. Once alone, her student starts crying and says, “I’m real sorry, really. I just want a little job so I can get out of these projects.” She believes her student and works the rest of the school year to keep this student in school and figure out how to move this student (and many others) away from the 32 buildings, 16 stories high, filled with generational welfare families and gangs: The Robert Taylor Homes of Chicago. Within a year the student is pregnant with the larger girl’s boyfriend’s baby. The student comes in to tell her that she is dropping out because “I’m getting my first check next month and I’m on the list for an apartment.” Within another year, at 17, the student is a drop-out, living in the projects with one child, pregnant with the second. The student stops by to say hello to her and before leaving pats a swollen belly and says, “Just wanted to show you your future students.” As this 17 year old mother pushes the brand new baby in the brand new stroller towards the classroom door, a bright, patch of sun lights on this student’s gold necklace and rings shining loudly about a troubling truth—the projects and welfare had won over education. But the student’s jewelry also sends flecks of gold light flying against the deep green, floor to ceiling chalkboard. The gold flecks start impersonating stars and planets, configuring galaxies still beyond reach. Even after the door closes and she is in the classroom alone, the galaxies continue orbiting her still rooted to her desk chair, letting the student’s last comment sink in. As the galaxies start to fade and her chalk written lesson about time is revealed again on that floor to ceiling chalkboard, she lets the student’s last comment help her to see this is the end. No longer are they “her” students they are now


“the” students. She looks at the circular time lesson and sees that the timeline starts in ancient Egypt and goes to present day and the movie her classes are currently making called “Mookie’s Big Decision” a student written script about a gang member dealing drugs and needing to make a decision between going to school or continuing on in “the life”. She too has a “big decision”; she knows she must decide to quit teaching high school. She remembers her first day teaching here. She had felt strange waiting in front of the empty classroom for her first Freshmen English class. The late August heat was already stifling and it was only 8am. The bell had rung and students had started coming in and sitting down. She had waited for the second bell before closing the door. One student had asked her, “What are you here for white lady?” She had answered him, “I’m here to teach you.” She had been calm, she had been warned about students like this one, she had felt knowledge was her shield and guide so she passed out a sign in sheet and started distributing books. “Well then,” the student had countered, “then there’s a problem ‘cause I ain’t here to learn.” She had looked at him steadily, remembering now his sorrow-filled eyes and had told him, “That can’t stop me from teaching you.” She had smiled to the blackboard as she slowly wrote her name. Class had been good after that, she thought she had won. But now she knew no one could win if she gave up her life, gave up living her life, gave up living. She had not come to this school to learn, but that had not stopped her students from teaching her. Thinking about the student’s comment again, about her “future students” has her see a future timeline which includes teaching until she can retire, marrying so she can have a family and so society will accept her but never feeling alive. Her life within “her future students’” timeline is basically not living her life, allowing this timeline to slowly kill her. She sat in her chair for a long time, not even rising to greet the students coming in for the next class as was her custom. She even began class from the chair, until her passion for teaching had her on her feet and enjoying the moment. This student’s comment about her “future students” makes her understand her future better. Each time she slips back into a suicidal way of life, where her life is slowly killing her, more galaxies appear in puddles, on her windshield, or on the floor of an office until she allows those galaxies to shine in her heart—so she can live her life knowing there is more than just this life. Each time she sees a patch of sun light strongly upon something she remembers that student’s shining gold and remembers to live her life since there is so much more!


Chapter 11 Buying a Red Blanket at Wall Drug The day becomes unbearably hot adding to her exhaustion after hiking the Castle Trail and dancing all night with the skeletons, so she drives into the town of Wall. Dusty, tired and sunburned she looks like she’s been out working in the desert. “Work”, she thinks and knows she must talk with her principal. All the tourists entering and exiting Wall Drug with fun money and ice cream cones glance at her and move on. They’re all clean and fresh which is such a contrast to her badlands look. Her feet are slightly swollen and hot, could ice cream help them? She parks under a tree, fills Berlin’s water dish and opens all the windows since this guard dog never leaves her post. Then she steps tenderly on the wood covered sidewalk echoing an eternal rhythm with each footfall. Surprisingly, the scene at Wall Drug is familiar enough to comfort her rather than bother even though the contrast of this world with the last few days of silence and visions is sharp. The shop windows are like giant tv screens showing children, parents and elders merging their discontent onto a tshirt or a piece of silver jewelry. Occasionally a motorcycle couple or single passes by nodding hello. She feels uneasy that she might buy something and then sees her own discontent folded into a red blanket that makes her feel even warmer than the 100 degrees outside, but she buys it; hoping it will stave off feelings of inadequacy and loneliness as she sits on it to watch the world move. Ice cream, water, ice, bread, peanut butter are her next purchases before exiting; smiling and nodding her head in the direction of the badlands when an elderly couple asks where she’s been having fun. The tourists continue buying useless nick-knacks--plastic, lead painted and ready to sit on a shelf the posed animals and fake guns keep the economy moving as the tourists exchange their time at work for these things. Seeing all the families reminds her of her family, making her want to connect with them. Then she thinks about the students she teaches and how violent the summers in the neighborhood are; she worries that the substitute teacher is having trouble with the stressed out inner city children. She searches for a pay phone. When she calls, one of her more disturbed students is in the main office yelling about life so loud she can hear him clearly as the assistant principal tries to show concern over her need to escape. She asks the assistant principal to put the student on the phone with her. As he lists the atrocities from the last two days she feels disconnected, she can’t believe this is her reality at work.


A small, smiling girl with long pony tails is eating a melting ice cream cone in front of her while the little girl’s mother and father look over a map for Wall Drug. The contrast between the little girl eating ice cream in front of her and her student on the phone brings back memories from just a few nights ago as she crossed the Missouri River and noticed the contrast between the speed of her car and the slowness of the river, the contrast between the moon hanging low in the west and the abstract shadows playing with the sunrise. Her taste of wild on that river gives her courage to listen to the student, but still plan on how to change careers. This student is living a fast life and pays constantly for it, the little girl in front of her moves slowly around the cone letting it melt over her and onto the wood sidewalk all while enjoying it. This student’s rage is from having to live a life of poverty in the projects. Caught between advertisers brain washing him to think he needs $200 gym shoes and the reality that he does not have $200 makes him feel trapped and useless. He knows even his remarkable intelligence may not be enough to get him away from this situation. She asks him to help her take this time off, to help the substitute and to help the other students. He agrees and she can feel his pride and self esteem grow as she asks him for help; her disconnection grows and she feels a million miles away when he asks when will she return? She can only say, “Soon.” There is silence on the line until she says, “When I get back we’ll go out and have ice cream.” She can hear his smile over the phone as he says he’ll enlist a few of her other students to watch over her classroom so they’d have to get ice cream too. She agrees, as sorrow for his lost youth weighs in on her. This student has been arrested for attempted murder and at 17 is facing an unknown life ahead of him. He cares deeply about his family and friends and is remarkably both sensitive to others and hard and cold when needed. How could she help this student see that dreams are real? When she returns to her work and life in the city will she even remember? When she hangs up the phone the little girl skips over to the trash can by the phone to throw away an unfinished ice cream. Bouncing pig tails tickle the girl’s ears producing a crooked smile as a little hand pushes the hair away. She smiles at the little girl. The little girl’s parents are discussing the backyard of Wall Drug, not sure if they should go. The scene is surreal as the parents try to make a choice about free entertainment that is a few feet away, while she stands there trying to choose between returning home or going back to the badlands, back to her visions. “What do you think?” the parents ask her.


She realizes she’s been standing by the phone since hanging up just kind of watching them. A little embarrassed she says, “The bathrooms are nicer in the backyard.” and looks at the little girl’s ice cream sticky hands. They all laugh but as she turns away from them a tear comes down her face. The students she teaches may never know a moment like this. She knows now that she has to quit teaching since it is slowly killing her, it is like that moment when a former student brought in her new baby and called the baby her “future student” making her realize she never wanted to teach that baby when it was in high school. The lives of those students is taking away any sense of her life as she watches her students die, have babies, take drugs, and join gangs. The students seem oblivious to their own lives, allowing historical and societal pressures to choose for them. They continue a pattern others before them have chosen—in the end these students lack the act of consciously living their lives which supports and legitimizes the unconscious lives others before them have lived; so that these students are almost enslaved to their parents’ lifestyles in order that their parents feel good about their unconscious life choices. She has tried to make a difference but knows now that she is to work elsewhere, there is too much stacked against success. Her heart can only break so many times before there is nothing left to break. Her heart cries out to let it live a free life. She turns back toward the car parked under a giant cottonwood tree and she turns back again to the acceptance that dreams are real. But she is alarmed that the skeleton dancers are more connected to her than the parents and little girl were, the dancers seem more real than the students and staff she works with. Is it because her life is slowly dying? Or is it because right now those dancers hold the key to unlocking her life from the bondage she has placed it in? These questions don’t matter as much as her making a choice to consciously live her life. It is not about choosing between what society accepts as real or unreal; instead, it is choosing to live her life or not live at all. Tears fall down her face and chest as she accepts her life as her own. After wiping her face with the back of her hand, the sun hits the wet hand now on the steering wheel creating shimmering galaxies on her sunburned skin. It rains while she shops at Wall Drug. The smell of hot pavement rises in a mist from the momentarily cooled streets, it rises straight up like tiny campfires on a still night. The temperature sign on a bank reads 101 degrees. Thunder rolls overhead moving south and toward the Badlands. She follows it back into the Park with simultaneous lightning and thunder high overhead, allowing blue skies with cumulus clouds to wander near the desert floor, accompanying her.


Chapter 12 Prayer to the Four Directions and The Red Road Dance She liked the incense and strange words but hated the communion host. She would take it in her hand and hide it inside hymnals. She was in 3 rd grade at a Catholic school. One day the principal made the school stay in church after the weekly mass. He demanded to know who was putting the hosts inside hymnals. No one said a word. She raised her hand and asked if they could have bread. Many students clapped. The principal ignored. While filing out a boy in the row next to hers says to his friend, “Sounds like a good idea, put the host anywhere so I don’t have to taste it.”

She continues to cry as she enters the national park hiding her emotions with sunglasses and a fake smile for the ranger at the entrance gate. Years of living a life not of her choosing, of slowly falling asleep to who she is and what she wants combines with the suddenness of having visions and learning that her dreams are real making the tears large and rolling. She thinks of the first time she understood Einstein’s E = MC2 as moving mass equals energy (or static mass equals potential energy). At the time it was so clear that she was pure energy, but the more she lived a materialistic, fake life the more gravity persuaded her that she is only mass, not energy. Now, within a few days, she has started to remember her studies in physics even recalling a theory she had begun to prove many years ago that extended the theory of general relativity, which shows how larger masses attract smaller masses on a gravitational/physical level. In extending this idea she proposed a theory about actions people take in their lives where the actions could be attractors for similar actions so that actions could be like gravity—attracting other actions. She saw how her current life was like an experiment in proving her theory, how she had allowed her boyfriend’s actions to direct and even change her own. She saw how her intellectual life had fallen away, replaced by materialistic hedonism. She could easily blame her boyfriend for providing the stronger actions in that direction, or her friends who were the same as him, or her job teaching which increasingly depleted her inner resources; but the responsibility for her life was hers. She knew there was no blame to pass out only ideas to remember and create, feelings to allow freedom place in her daily life and a physical life in harmony with the physical world. She thought of the dawns and dusks of the past few days, realizing she only glanced at these things in the past few years instead of watching them as she had done since childhood.


Breezes then begin coming in thru her open window scented with sage, dust and the recent rain. There are whispered voices on these breezes which cause her to stop and listen. Gusts of wind start pouring into her car playing with the maps and papers strewn around her and making Berlin’s crooked, cropped ear flap gently which makes the red Doberman sigh and lean against her contentedly. The abusive home Berlin used to live in, where an angry father beat her and allowed his young sons to set her on fire, was now just a faint memory for this wonderful dog. It had taken a few months for Berlin to relax, but this guard dog was ever vigilant and over protective of her, but oh so sweet in nature. Now that they had gotten use to each other and Berlin had grown to trust her, there was a bond that had developed so that they were relaxed with each other. The gusting wind grows stronger, making Berlin bob her head up and down to make both her ears flap. She laughs out loud at the sight of this majestic animal playing with the wind; Berlin shows her the still eerie Doberman smile. She parks at the fossil trail and rolls the water and a sandwich into the red blanket for carrying. The wind continues gusting with the fragrances and voices. They start off on the trail seeing the castle formations in the distance ahead as they slowly make their way through the dry cracked earth beneath them. There are deep ravines that need jumping and hillocks that need climbing before they climb up and onto the flat prairie Medicine Root Trail. A thin, grooved line between tall grasses weaves across this prairie making the trail a little hard to walk on. To the south is the badlands wall, smaller than at the eastern entrance but a wall all the same. She walks for a while enjoying the emptiness that still allows life to bustle all around her. Then she sees two tall rocks with a space between them and is electrified with recognition since this is also one of her dreamscapes. She moves to the space between and spreads the new, red blanket. It is large and Berlin and her stretch out to watch the earth turn towards night, bringing in dark clouds from the west. The sun starts setting mysteriously surrounded by only blue while everywhere else the sky is a conflict of thunder and lightning highlighting golden rain clouds and to the east night fights for its place. The red blanket was a good purchase, it attempts to stave off loneliness and lunacy, like any good security blanket it also attempts to protect her from herself. The sun vibrates gold, transmuting its rays into a shining, luxurious bracelet on the wrist of the horizon. The night stars are gemstones on that bracelet that sparkle fiercely as a voice issues forth from them, “Reclaim your life. You know what needs to be done. Spirits can speak to you in


Chicago and not just here. You can learn anywhere, anytime you stop to listen. Your life is yours to make.” The power of these ideas gives her hope that she can live a “socially acceptable” life while still pursuing her dreams. She thinks of all the distractions that lead her away from a truly examined, thoughtful life. She sees herself stuck in traffic, waiting in lines and paying a lot of money for gas. Yet, she has met friends while in line at a store, she learned to plan where she bought gas, and as for traffic she constantly relearns patience, her new mantra being, “millions of people live in this city with me, millions of people…” Her students fighting with each other, their babies crying, and the gunfire they all hear daily from the housing projects across the street from her classroom all force her to realize that she must remain strong in her decision to leave teaching. Her boyfriend and current group of friends do not share her values or interests. She may have to go it alone in order to find people she can share life with. The sun nods as its shining gold bracelet drops from view, into the western jewelry box so the east can start night. Then she hears another voice come from the earth, “Welcome, you are one of us.” The lightning and little thunder come closer and she feels that she knows who “us” is but she is unable to put it into a picture or definition. Flashes of the skeleton dancers, her strong connection to the earth and an image of a seed exploding into growth start to fashion an understanding inside her of who “us” is. The electrified air thickens with each breathe and charges her skin with a tautness. In the purple sunset’s light, the plants come to conscious life, breathing in and out and speaking in tongues, praising the approaching rain. One plant tells her to pick it fully-roots and all. It easily comes loose from the dry dust it lived in. The plant has three stalks while similar plants around it have four stalks. She knows the number four to represent the four directions of north, south, west and east so she asks why this one has only three stalks. “Because the East is very strong and powerful many do not know how to work with it.” The plant answers. She tells the plant she feels ready, since she knows the power is to help others. She looks down at the plant in her hand and it now has four stalks. She gives thanks for this experience and for these four directions she faces north and begins, praying and facing each direction in turn.


Prayer to the Four Directions Thank you! Oh, four directions may my actions and thoughts be good as I reconnect with my family, friends, strangers I want for friends, strangers I have met, strangers I will meet, and strangers I will never meet. Thank you north, my dreamland where my mind connects honestly with the reality that dreams are real, with your cold and my homeland; may the snow cover over the earth locking in oxygen for a future day as action may clothe my body keeping me always prepared to be with people who share my values, Thank you south with your warmth which heats my flesh to help me fusion action with knowledge: the sun strikes the puddle, the wet street, the snow covered mountains and I know where I belong, I know myself intimately--my fractures and fissures, I know me. I am prepared in body and mind, exhaling carbon for the addicted trees. Thank you west where I have been called, where the great storms come from and the waves roll to our feet, where clouds talk with me, where we watch each other try to be free together where I’ll reach out and meet you. I am prepared in my body, mind and ancestral soul inhaling the trees’ oxygen. Thank you east where my spirit was born and where my spirit will return. Such immense power within beginnings and all endings. Curving horizons prepare me for the approach of dawn. Stretched out on the half circle of earth the dawn rises horizontally and vertically. I am prepared in my body, mind, ancestral soul and in my spirit. Holding the cold oxygen inside a moment longer before exhaling Thank you! Oh, four directions bless my actions and thoughts and watch over my family, friends, strangers I want for friends, strangers I have met, strangers I will meet, strangers I will never meet.


Stars punctuate the end of her prayer with Polaris showing Ursa Minor. She laughs after praying, thinking about Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin enjoying the 100 acre wood while making up songs. Now she’s enjoying a 100 million acre desert and she reminds herself to be lighthearted like them. Her fingers are tightly clutching the plant so she begins by loosening her grip. She is slightly stressed by this new way of thinking, not really scared of the visions and feelings she has had but worried about the intersection between her old life and this new understanding, her new life. She worries that seeing life in this light might isolate her, or ostracize her. Her shoulders droop under the weight of possible isolation. The Skeleton Dancers then return to the badlands floor to end her worried reflections and show her more of her new understanding: The skeleton dancers are on the other side of the wall, their dancing shadows are huge in the sky as if illuminated from underneath. A herd of white ghost buffalo, 1000's of them, are running on the desert floor beneath her. They shake the earth with their movement; they shake her soul with their spirits, their absence, their eventual return. The herd branches out in four directions as 1000's more charge out from the center. They pull at the center until it is empty and it seems millions of buffalo run in the four directions. The rhythm of their hooves on earth sends her to other lands and other times. She hears on the winds, “This is the Red Road Dance.” As the skeleton dancers take over the sky, the white horse from her dreams runs through them. The skeletons shift into trees, so that the horse is running through a forest. The thick stars of the Milky Way become a river the horse runs across as a faint trumpet plays accompanied by a drum beating--like two cultures learning to live together. She rises to do this Red Road Dance, the fire on her feet engulfs her very organs replacing them with sparkling stones, stars and intense feelings. Tears stream down her face, not sad or happy, instead a cleansing rain from inside. The Red Road Dance’s rhythm is inside her coming out through her feet as she dances this new found prayer. Clouds of dust from the buffalo join the Milky Way river and the skeleton dancer trees. She feels at peace, at home.

Badlands Dawn 1


Chapter 13 Dream: Our only chance She was running through the sunflowers in a white dress, no shoes, long hair and the sky reflected in her brown eyes as the sun danced westward with shadows mingling between tall sunflower stalks. A large, black raven made a sunflower head bend in front of her so she stopped. He furiously plucked sunflower seeds from the head, depositing them in a maroon velvet bag with flowers imprinted on the velvet’s pile. Suddenly he stopped his plucking, looked at her and said, “We didn’t plant the seeds but we must harvest them. Tell the world about us. It is their only chance, and ours.” On “ours” he flew off the sunflower with his bag dropping beneath him in a sway, blocking the sun for a moment with a single wing. The sunflower head popped back up, half its seeds still intact. She saw the hills beyond the field and started running towards them again. The raven was present in the sky, ever reducing as she continued running thru the sunflowers toward those hills beyond.


Chapter 14 Place Between Two Rocks The deep night hushes even the breezes as she wakes to a universe overhead and to a universe in her hand encompassed by the four stemmed plant she had picked. The two tall rocks on both sides of her tower 20, maybe 30, feet high and are radiating light from inside making them look peach and soft to the touch. She isn’t as amazed that she is sleeping outside, on rocks as she was when she woke in the canyon her first morning in the badlands. The red blanket beneath comforts her as she recalls the dream that woke her. At least this time the bird speaking wasn’t so shocking so she could remember more detail. The bird’s bag flowered and in color was new. She was still unsure what the seeds are and what to tell the world about, but it was becoming clearer that her connection to this place— to the natural world—has something to do with it. The skeleton dancers just confuse her when she tries to understand if their Red Road Dance is a part of the raven’s message to “Tell the world about us.” The small faded yellow buds on the plant in her hand start to shine, like gold, and its green leaves start to move in the still air. She sees herself tying a red string around the stem and drying it upside down in her Chicago kitchen. In the fall, after drying thru the summer, the plant’s leaves and stem will be lit by her for incense. She will make tea from the faded yellow buds. She gives thanks to the plant shining from starlight; amazed at the stars sparkling in their jeweler's case of the night sky following a seemingly predetermined path around her as the Milky Way river flows freely across the sky. The other plants around her start speaking and telling her to pick them, their roots have wild stories of years past and experiences in the soil: searching for water, extending past where they started, searching the skies for sun through long winters. After she has collected four different plants, paying homage to each one for their sacrifice, the first plant says, “This is The Place Between Two Rocks, it is the true start of the Medicine Root Trail. Many have come here for healing and lessons. You come here to learn how to trust yourself.” She did not want to be someone who heard plants speaking, telling her their medicines, but she wondered which life was more real—her amnesia life that had left her disconnected from her own personal past and power or a life filled with the possibilities of plants talking and rocks singing songs to her? She understood her sudden leaving from Chicago a couple of days ago was not only because she had seen this place from her dreams on television and discovered that her


dreams could be real. It was also the simple act of remembering her dreams at all that had jolted her to wakefulness. She had dreamt of this place since childhood and in remembering those dreams she also remembered her childhood which she had tried to fall asleep to. In seeing the badlands on the television screen that night in Chicago, she had regained a connection to herself and to these dreams and to her life. Even during her self-imposed amnesia she had these dreams. Without feeling it, she had been having a crisis in her life, a crisis of trying to disconnect from community, faith, love, life. It had been so easy to move into her boyfriend’s life, to begin to believe in a life she had thought lost to her once that uniformed policeman with the shining shoes and sparkling badge had come to her door. She remembered thinking how his badge sparkled like her wedding ring now sitting hidden in a black box, she allowed that memory to pass through her with only a single tear falling since so many had fallen times before. Her dreams of this place and these plants are the reasons these strange experiences are familiar. Her only fear now is how to find the right balance so she can share these experiences openly and honestly with others. The many dreams of this place she has had make her feel at home and safe between these two rocks, looking south out past the badlands, the prairie surrounding them to a dark hill in the distance while half expecting something weird, or dream-like to occur. Her dream experiences of this place are stronger than any dÊjà vu or lucid dream or first attention. This place is real and she is real. She has dreamt many times of being here. There is a low, sloping hill she has yet to see which is quite different from the hill in the distance that looks more like an island in the prairie. She also dreamt of evergreen forests that many of her dreams of the badlands lead to. She knows she is on a vision quest, not on a mountain or hill but in her life, and the quest started with her first dream of this place and it will continue for the rest of her life. This quest is not really a Native American one; although, their naming of it makes the most sense. Throughout history people have gone on quests to secure self knowledge and a better future for self and others. Gilgamesh, Moses and the Israelites, the knights of the round table, Dorothy on the yellow brick road, Neo in the Matrix are a few real and imaginary quests that she understands better than any periphery knowledge she currently has about Native American vision questing. All those quests were about coming to a deeper understanding of self alone and among others, but also those quests were about making things better for others. The quest she is on occurs each day as she attempts to find out who she is and what she is to tell the world about. Each day she has a new opportunity to find the sacredness inside and to


take a step both inward and outward with sacred intent. The universe inside her mirrors and creates the universe outside her. The plant starts speaking, “We have been calling you for years, to bring you here, now. We have been sending you visions and the information you needed to reach this point. Now recognize the power, which spins the earth, fires the sun, the same energy is inside you and me. That energy is in your hands.” She looks down at her hands and sees the plants in them. “But also inside your hands.” Her hands are glowing from the inside out. The dark night makes them glow in the dark with a white light emanating from them. She is glowing just as the two rocks beside her are glowing from within. She thanks the plants around her for their lessons. They respond by swaying in the still air and turning upwards, waiting for the coming rain, teasing the air with fragrance. She feels the chill and senses a change taking place as she effortlessly moves into another place and time, one that allows plants words and her own life to shine forth from within.


Chapter 15 Vision: Medicine Routes or Roots? Wind and sky act as spirits showing her how the crossroads between theology and paleontology could help many understand themselves and others better. Bolts of lightning etch sections of the sky where clouds group to tell a story creating a levitating stage. They move in a processional, showing harmony and war, abundance and scarcity, dances and sitting. Lit from behind, by the stars, the clouds look more like a stage play than a tv show. Each cloud transforms into a part of the procession moving west. Like a wagon train of evolutionary figures-some crawling, walking, running, riding, flying and then disappearing. Rain comes suddenly and hard from a large, black rain cloud; its few minutes of pouring does little for the desert floor or her sun burnt skin except to create rolling beads of water running down the hillsides and making tiny lines on her skin. It does deepen the cliffs’ reds, yellows and oranges lit from within, glowing in the night. The lightning and little thunder move in from the north as she continues to watch the rotation seen in stars hitting the horizon: like lighthouses guiding ships in her mind to dock each star exits in the west, blazing brightly before disappearing. The same voices that stopped her at sunset, start chanting as the cloud ships’ passengers walk onto shore. Her mind has docked, she follows them to shore and sees horses, men and huge boxes. She hears the water gently reaching the shore rocking the boat, but when she turns to watch it move, the boat is gone and she turns a full circle to find herself alone in the desert with spirals of energy coming out of everything. The rocks pulsate and breathe. The dust examines every root, rock and her, hiding mysteries of past lives and times. Like flour, it gets kneaded into the bread of life. Even the stars are gone; yet, it’s still night. The energy swirls the dust and builds to a crescendo of pitch in its movement. “We are all the same, we have all come from the same place, we each have different resources to bring to the desert floor, we each need to share what we have brought.” She shares her tears, for now, the only resource she can instantly give, relief and terror that her dreamscape is real mix inside her. She is unsure if she wants the clouds to talk with her or plants to share secrets she is not sure she’s ready for. But then the desert is lit by a lightning bolt that frames the distant horizon showing the dark hills in the distance and she feels stronger and more able to move forward with this quest.


Slowly the two rocks, Berlin, the stars and the red blanket rematerialize and she sits, a little shaken by how real this vision was. The desert below her is the ocean the boats rocked on and the spirits are dust swirls of rainbow in the awakening day. She must find the medicine she needs to become whole again and in that finding she can help others to find their medicine, their power to be whole. Whether in this finding her boyfriend would also find her suitable to his life disturbed her greatly since the thought of being alone worried her, yet as she thought how he did not know her or seem to want to know her the fear of loneliness started fading in the dawn light. Was she not alone when no one knew her? Was she not alone in her crowd of friends because no one wanted to talk about anything other than clothing, make up and how to stay skinny? She already knew the medicine she searched for was within, but she was not ready to accept the choices she had to make in order to access that knowledge. The two rocks on either side of her were like a gateway for her to walk through. She could stay on this side, return to her car or jump into the abyss that lay before her, jump into the cracks and fissures that lay 20 feet beyond her, jump into her life. She tasted wild again on her lips covered in the salty badlands’ dust. A wind came to blow her hair from her face and bring another depth of cool to the desert around her. She stood up and felt like she was looking out over the Missouri River again, choosing to go further west, choosing to find her life in the shards she had left for herself to reconstruct. Goosebumps rose on her arms and legs as she considered her options. Returning to the textbooks seemed like prayers in the sand that get wiped clean by the tide they held little interest for her now, her love for knowledge was unabated; however, she wanted to teach students who wanted to learn, who wanted to grow into who they were meant to be. She wondered if such students existed, had she even been such a student? She had made good friends and mentors with her college professors, but they were all older and now gone. She had learned much from them but now had to build on that knowledge on her own. The skeleton dancers start to swirl around her in the clear air. She is in the center of their circle and she hears a song on the breezes their dancing produces. She starts to sing.


Medicine Root If I go to Medicine Route Will you come with me? Would you leave your world behind? Enter into another time? The Dakota summer sun shining Fossils’ hearts still pounding Rhythms beat within our own hearts Whenever we’re together When we hike the Medicine Route Could we hold hands and smile Let cliffs convince us That love is found in trust I can’t see the Badlands Since they are beauty to me Ancient ocean bottoms Fossils flying on castle walls Seem more real than us Like I’m drowning in mid air Yes I’m drowning in mid air Mid air If I go to Medicine Route Would you come with me? Would you hold me in your arms, look deeply in my eyes, Challenge ideas on life? Could we live without time? Could we trust in the Medicine Route? Could we trust in each other? Birds have sung this song Winds have spun this song Hills won’t stop crumbling Fossils just swim deeper into time When I go to Medicine Route Would you come with me? To spend the summer long Beneath the Dakota sun? Big Bluestem Grass


Stars overhead begged her to wish upon them so she obliged: choosing herself, choosing her life, asking for companionship within those choices. The stars seemed to say yes as they crowded the empty skies into full, while red lines inside the cliffs begin glowing, tracing a geology she had yet to learn. Sunburned and tired, she tries to remain vigilant to watch more stars appear to see the sky full. But dawn starts teasing on the eastern horizon, causing the rising stars to fade; so she rises and hikes to the Saddlepass Trail and climbs up into the cliffs for a closer view of heaven. Some of the stars start blinking and talking while the lightning and little thunder start elucidating the sky. She falls asleep under her Wall Drug red blanket as dawn splashes color across the new day sky and the stars begin to uncover their hidden destinies mixed with hers.

Badlands Dawn 2 Showing the Castles, Monuments and Spires of a section of the Badlands’ Wall with a grouping of Fox River Formations in the foreground


Chapter 16 Memory: Riding Horses She loved horses and after several years of pestering, her parents relented and paid for riding lessons. The stable was old and the horses under-fed, but she didn’t care because to her the stable was a magical place with magical steeds. One day, someone started feeding the horses while her riding lesson was still underway and her steed went berserk trying to run back to his stall to eat. He reared and took off in a jump and she fell off and had to go to the hospital. They pulled the ambulance right into the stable’s arena as she lay on her back trying to convince everyone that she would stand up soon. Years later she learned that evening her dad was going to try to reconnect with his brother by bringing the family over for dinner. Because of her fall, the family was late by several hours and her uncle was mad for several years. Many more years later, she heard the story of how everyone was in the car to pick her up and then go to the brother’s for dinner. Her mother went in to get her and then came out into the rain, lit by the headlights, holding one riding boot. Even the window wipers couldn’t make the scene less scary. Everyone knew something had happened. A few months before her father died he told her more about that day. He said when he saw her mom come out carrying that boot, there was a great sense of relief that he was being allowed to forgo doing what was right at least one time. That he still went, late, didn’t matter for that moment since not going had released something inside him, allowing him to see how he had brought some of his dreams into reality. She had always admired her father’s ability to bring his dreams into reality. He had dreamt of a lake in the low part of his father’s farm; so when her father purchased the farm he began planning and digging and planting trees along the shoreline for erosion control and soon Canada Geese made the lake a place to raise young goslings, then many types of ducks found the lake for the same purpose and then the Sandhill Cranes and Great Blue Herons also came. It was as if they all knew her father was not a hunter and that this lake was a haven. She learned about her love of nature around this lake and always felt peace when there even when she was asleep to the rest of her life.


Chapter 17 Leave No Trace

Saddlepass Trail Marker Badlands National Park, SD Glorious stars, glowing hills and spirits crowd this trail at night. The stars speak through light moving with potential energy. The hills speak through history in their crumbling stones. The spirits dance. This trail received its name from the pioneers who would somehow get their horses up and over this part of the Badland’s wall. How did the geography of this trail change in the last one hundred years? How many of the spirits here are not Indian but pioneer? How many men and women denied the connection they felt with this land after crossing over this pass? It must have been a difficult denial. The dramatic colors vibrate as the sun rises and the day begins to heat up; on the other side is the Medicine Route Trail.

Emigrant singing from the pointed cliffs wakes her. The dark peaks mark notes in the brightening sky for a chorus of wind and breeze blowing through plant and rock. It sounds like chanting. Strong emotions and vivid visions build strength inside her as the stars and rocks speak clearly about destiny and choice. The Saddlepass Trail is excellent for safe rock climbing but going down is much harder than going up. Seems the same is true in life. Going down also takes longer and temperatures can rise quickly. The sun becomes brilliant and mesmerizes since it brings the colors inside the cliffs to life then as the sun grows brighter everything turns to white showing its amazing fragility and starkness. The Park’s map shows the Saddlepass Trail as curved since it goes up and over the badland’s wall. This curve is the best representation of going over to the other side. Einstein claimed that space (outer and inner) is curved and once joked that the curve assists us in getting over to the other side. The warmth feels nice after the cold desert night. But once steam rises from the rocks, releasing small fragments of dew left from the sunrise, she knows to get up and get going. She adds her descending, percussive footfalls as syncopation to the chant. It is a paean to morning, to awakening from a lifelong sleep, for the desire of sleeping is to wake. It's a miracle to wake from dreaming and see a whole new dream: a dream that is real. The horizon lit by thunder last night stays on her mind. The hills from her dreams were in that light and now she must go there. But in the ever brightening sun, she cannot see these hills and is unsure how to get to them.


On Top of Saddlepass Trail

The Saddlepass vantage point spreads the prairie out before her: decimation, desecration, desolation, an entire ecosystem profaned for contemporary regalia. She is disheartened by a wide trail where footprints and broken plants abound; she had been spared this sight climbing during the predawn’s gentle light. The PBS program about the badlands had showed its past: mountain goats kicking rocks in acrobatic fleeing, small color bursts of wildflowers growing in the cliffs' cracks, humbling any descent; tiny birds adding voice to the cliff's chant-but no more. Today there is nothing to hear or see, just an emptiness that feels lonely. It is almost like a ghost town. Is the loss of environmental variety a deciduous achievement? Is it merely a shedding after a stage of development? Is the variety we’ve known giving way to a different kind of variety? Or is nature stolen for simple, insidious additions to culture used to mark rank and membership? Even hiking certain trails provides selective membership and a personal ranking system, causing some hikers to hike on already depleted trails. Should this be? The solution surfaces once she sees herself as part of the problem, simply by being here she is contributing to the degradation of this fragile environment. Shadows show the sun pushing up from behind the Badlands' wall, drawing counterparts on the ground below and placing these ideas in her. She is glad to be here with dust rising, nature’s music playing and warmth rebelling from within the earth to meet the sun's similar reaction. Suddenly a snake crosses her path, electrifying her further with life's hidden diversity and the earth's unrelenting willingness to support everything. Shadows float over the hot desert floor like a realization of absent landscape, of missing pieces: stolen, crushed or absconded for cultural purposes. The shadows walk out fully showing a stark outline of the Badlands’ wall in a fun house reflection; then they walk in to lie close to the base of each formation waiting for dawn so they can walk out again, looking always for those missing pieces. She thought of the “leave no trace” campaign that asks hikers to leave no trace of their presence in an area. There is certainly no trash or graffiti, but a presence is here. Is this presence robbing these places of exactly what is loved about them? Does each hiker steal wilderness simply by their own presence? How much land should be protected from those who love it in order to continue its natural state? Is there a balance between


sustaining land in its natural state and allowing natural experiences? Maybe places like the Badlands National Park should be closed for a few years to empower nature's resurrection. Released from a constant flood of people, inherent natural tendencies may win out and return the land to itself. What if part of our nation's defense budget went toward defending nature and wilderness? What if the traces we left of ourselves were of stewardship and service to the earth? What if we released ourselves to our own natural will and necessity? Could we then be released to our own natural tendencies— learning how to be stewards of self? What if we visit places and take something of them away inside us? What if we visit places and leave something of ourselves behind? In the end, either no one should know we have been there or the places we visit should be better off from our having been there. The trace of hikers on these trails is like the ecosystem itself: both grow with interconnections. One footprint means an enlarged trail, a broken plant, a scared animal who chooses to go elsewhere. Like gravity being a distortion in space and time, hikers have become distortions of spaces in time. The subsequent gravity waves that emanate from every piece of mass also distort every piece of mass nearby. The tree she sits beneath has a harder time capturing water, the flower she stops to view has a few moments less of sunlight. Has her spirit been calling her here to realize this? Instead of telling people to come here and experience this place should she tell them not to? She decides to push on and go further west at that moment. One less person, she reasons, is better than one more right now, right here.


Juniper Berries Bleed (Tell the World About Us) My soul is still inside these rocks The sky is ruby behind my eyes Tell the world about us Tell them what we need Let the blue skies rain down Then let the sun shine free Tell the world about us Tell them who we are Learn that things are here for you to tell and learn Tell the world about us Tell them what we need Look at the sun setting and believe I could be my own warrior I could be my own conqueror I could be the one don’t you forget it for a moment Tell the world about us Tell them who we are When the juniper berries bleed We’ll know it’s time to leave When the juniper berries bleed We know to leave

Badlands Loop Road Sunrise Badlands National Park, South Dakota


Chapter 18 Memory: Everything had been perfect Everything had been perfect. She had never had a pair of shoes that cost so much: plaid, low heeled with tiny green velvet bows and bells surrounded by mink with a matching purse. She felt happy. “Shhh.” He had liked the shoes at his place, really liked them, and now they were too loud for him. But once inside the party clinking glasses mixed with the little bells on her feet and he smiled at her saying, “Thanks for learning how to walk in them, just leave no trace.” For a second she was offended, but soon forgot when someone wanted to see the purse. Later on, after meeting his business partners, being called his “girlfriend” and having sex in the limo on the way home; she felt uneasy. The shoes had not made her happy; they had simply replaced a need to be herself, to find herself. She was falling into a material consumption abyss. She couldn’t sleep and paced his condo for hours. Then he came up behind her naked figure watching dawn unfold over the lake and wrapped a diamond necklace around her neck. “Forgot to give this to you,” he laughed. As diamonds glittered in the window’s reflection, she instantly forgot who she was or any thought of who she could be. It took years to remember… Everything had been perfect. A single rose, a violinist, a dark secluded table and him on one knee with a beautiful ring in a black box. But she couldn’t say yes. She still remembered her late husband on one knee, on her parents’ patio with another ring another black box. Yes, she still remembered. So she cried; they held. He said, “No hurry.” She thought of the shoes, jewelry and clothing he had bought to make things seem perfect. At that moment the violinist hit a “C” and then she knew it was all lies. As long as she believed in the life he wanted, everything was fine. As long as she didn’t live her life, he was happy. He put down her teaching job and the students she taught. He put down her painting and writing one time saying, “Couldn’t you have picked the colors of my condo?” He even put down her family, saying, “They all want to work harder then they need to.” As long as she tended his gardens and let hers go fallow everything between them would be fine. Later that evening, she compared the new black box with the old black box to see both men had chosen the same jeweler. But she continued on with him even after saying “No.” to his proposal. She had merely nodded when asked if she needed more time. She didn’t need any more time.


Act Two: Dreams Are Real Season: Summer Direction: North



Chapter 19 Winged Victory She easily finds the Black Hills in the atlas just west of the Badlands and takes Route 44 leaving the desert behind, moving toward the hills lit last night by lightning. Each mile makes the hills rise higher in front of her, so that instead of getting closer they seem the same distance away. She thinks of Giacometti’s sculptures which were made for that exact purpose so that no matter how close or far away the viewer is the sculpture stays the same. Acres of tall grasses resemble windswept individuals surrounding badland formations that crumble as she passes. It blows through her dancing soul restoring wakefulness in this ongoing dream of life. But vigilance pays off and the curvy road begins to rise into the hills with evergreens from her dreams on either side of her, the dark green hills round off against the clear sky harmonizing with her movement. These are the hills from her dreams. Lush, oxygenated air hits her full force through open windows. She realizes how dry the desert was once she reaches the top of one of the hills and can see the great expanse of evergreen forest and rock. The Black Hills spreads out before her. In the atlas they had seemed small compared to the rest of South Dakota but parked on this hilltop, looking out upon them; she can see an entire world she has dreamt of for many years. She still feels alert and awake from the stimulating skeleton dances and visions in the badlands; she feels a renewed sense of connection to life as if her spirit has returned to her body to facilitate this connection. The expansive scenery each hilltop offers mirrors her inner state of expansion after so many years in contraction. Having danced to the beating of her heart and followed the reality contained in her dreams has caused her spirit to return and connect her to life. For the last few days and evenings instead of radio or tv, she listens to the wind and sun, the plants’ and rocks’ stories about spirit and light, beginnings and endings. The change in her mind is amazing since she thinks more clearly and sees her current life in stark relief against the badlands walls and now against towering ponderosa pines and steep hills. Sleeping on the ground the last few evenings has made her back stronger, making her posture better. And her breathing is deeper from the fresh air and outdoor activity. She is at peace. After looking at the scenery, she returns to her car and exhales. Had she been holding her breathe since the badlands? She inhales deeply, smelling the sweet pine resin and sun


heated needles. Exhaling deeply again—letting out toxins, stress and her fear. Not having known that she was without spirit, the difference in each moment is marked. There is intensity in her search for why she dreamt of these places, of what brought her here. She feels a deep concordance with her body and spirit: light on her feet, her head is clear and stilled, she has an ability to communicate with the land more fully to find that her body is a mere piece of grass in a worldly field. Poet Walt Whitman saw the grass as strands of hair on a giant head waving in the breeze, but maybe each strand is an individual, connected yet unique in movement. Each field or lawn is a mirror of all of us. She drives through a tourist town called Keystone and on the western edge of it stops for coffee, a cinnamon bun, and a nice phone chat with her mom who helps bring her closer to her Chicago home with news and gossip and love. Her mom tells stories of traveling with her dad in the Black Hills in the 1950’s and how much fun they had visiting the tourist places like Mt Rushmore. She describes photos and moments like they happened yesterday. She said it was a happy trip and one she would do again. After such a happy call with her mom she decides not to call her boyfriend since the materialistic life that has led her astray from her own life has also plagued these hills. Each tourist store reminds her of her boyfriend; she even thinks she sees him in front of one. She begins to understand that life is gone for her now and she once again wonders what life is now for her. Gold may have changed these hills from sacred land to capitalist playground; but the further development that currently takes place continues the capitalism. The Black Hills National Forest is a patchwork across these hills, now interspersed with homes and businesses. Most people must come here for the beauty but just like hiking a certain trail can deplete it, so can living in a scenic area degrade the value of that scenic experience. Yet, many now come here for simple recreation—which can be a ceremony in itself--and find the sacredness that is still here and thrives in recondite places in their own lives. Gutzon Borglum, Rushmore’s sculptor, found the hidden places in his life and attempted to carve a shrine to them on Mt. Rushmore. Although this monument shows man defying nature, recreating her, overpowering her for his needs, the igneous reactions used to chisel these faces are more like the fire from within--ignited by vision and exploded with belief in democracy shining in granite millions of years old. The “reveal” of Mt Rushmore is unexpected as most of her fellow drivers agree by stopping suddenly in the middle of the road to take a picture, perhaps their first picture of many of the white heads stark against a deep blue sky just as the


Badlands’ sky had been upon her arrival. The heads also seem to glow from within as many of the rocks and plants in the Badlands had done, only the heads seem to shoot rays of light forth from them just as the ideas these four men created regarding governance is still inspiring nations to try democracy and help the current U.S. citizens still believe in the dream of democracy (maybe not the execution) even after over 200 years. She parks in an old parking lot and joins her fellow citizens on a short pilgrimage to see the heads closer. She follows a path which winds around the eastern base of the mountain, looking away from the people who leave the trail to scramble among the large rocks that were blown off during the carving of the heads. The sun shines through pine needles and its filtered light speckles the trail gently. Two large birds are circling overhead; the sun catches the white feathers on one’s tail which makes her smile. She feels alone with this monument even though 100’s of people are all around her. She thinks how similar that is to her experience of democracy: it’s really become something about individuals working alone with a collective idea allowing them to share resources and space. Borglum once wrote about an ancient Greek statue named “Winged Victory” that had no head or arms left when he saw it, just its “…wings remained powerful and free.” He made analogies to this statue by comparing 1930 Americans with this wingless effigy by indirectly connecting Americans with the idea of not having a full body but still having their wings with the full body being the community of America. She saw Mt. Rushmore as winged as well since the heads rest upon partially finished bodies surely the wings would have been sketched and detonated next. Just as the crowds who visit Rushmore silently surrender to patriotic beliefs, knowing they are American, but still unsure how that looks unified. Individualism has created a well-defined individual American—but who are we as a country? Too many fellow Americans surrender to patriotic beliefs by looking through themselves, past countless compromises and defeats, emerging ever victorious after debilitating conflicts in their own hearts and starving moments in their lives. Circumstances sometimes force people to impale their eyes and see through different means in order to become part of a dream in democracy. As the granite president faces crack and fissure, stain and recess, so too do the ideals of democracy. But as long as the faithful continue collecting at the base, continue paying homage to these ideas and continue buying useless knick-knacks, then our current manifestation of democracy is still enshrined for the next generation.


She thought of her own personal democracy which had been marginalized because she wanted to forget her past and the broken pieces that had become her life. But looking at Mt Rushmore in the beauty of the Black Hills made her feel she still had her wings and could still fly. The sparkling mica in the cliffs around the monument reminded her of the sparkling badge of that police officer all those years ago but instead of running away from the memory or trying to forget it even happened she remembered those circumstances of loss and love that were buried deep but still a part of her. She had compromised her life by forgetfulness in order to believe in herself again, but the person she had believed in was not a whole person, was not even her. The artist, naturalist, community member that had been her had been buried and left alone and she realized that it was more than the badlands that was making her remember it was also these black hills and this monument. Part of her thanked these geologic wonders, another part of her was afraid of what it meant. In the Black Hill’s open spaces the sky embraces the trees and the rivers sparkle under sun and stars. Embraces between the sky and trees continue with firs caressing clouds and the sun tracing lines around each trunk, each branch as the blue sky tries to stay the background to such honest intimacy. In her own personal open spaces she decides to do the same, allowing others entrance to her domain just as the grass allows winds to move them. Democracy is a long, extended conversation between individuals with their own viewpoints. Each one of us embodies a certain belief. No side is right or wrong; instead, each side is a piece of the grand puzzle named democracy. It is here on Mt. Rushmore that she recognizes her need to allow everyone to be who they are, in that allowance she can be herself. So the families carrying their plastic knickknacks actually warm her spirit instead of causing her dismay. Other’s differences can become our united strength.


Chapter 20 Democracy is Sounding our Dreamings

Horsethief Lake Sunrise Black Hills National Forest, SD

She continues driving west on the road that leaves Mt Rushmore contemplating a democratic life while winding around the monument on a beautiful road which leads to a lake which she parks beside. After the dry heat of the Badlands, the lake’s sparkling waters beckon her to plunge in and capture some of that moisture for herself. She finds Horsethief Lake behind Mt Rushmore surrounded and filled with large slabs of rocks shining with imbedded mica constantly ground into tiny flakes winking and blinking under the water like precious gemstones in a jeweler’s case of deep harmony. There is another worldliness about this place, almost like there is something else going on here— something behind the scenes like the Wizard of Oz behind a curtain who turns out to be a real wizard and not the old man who’s turning knobs and pushing buttons; like how democracy could be a real wizard but the execution of democracy turns out to be old men turning knobs and pushing buttons. The winds splash water filled with stories. Time stands still here. Even the rushing of cars is a moving stillness as they whisk past, rarely stopping, moving like gleaming bullets through the chamber of the Route 244 gun. Today, Berlin and her are alone with the lake. She swims in the cold water marveling at the different colors of mica, another mirror of her shattered life, but their beauty helps her to see another side to tragedy. The gleaming schist make the lake peaceful, offering indulgences in reflection and illumination, so she can get lost in each. While swimming she starts to feel the depths of the lake and in concordance the depth of her thinking. She had read how soundings were taken to determine the depth of a lake and she felt she was now taking a sounding for the depth of her mind. She started following her thoughts down to where they


started just as she had followed her dreams to this place, the origin of her dreams. Such a miracle that these lifelong dreams of this place had stayed with her, had continued being dreamt until she could consciously be aware of them and find the actual, real places contained in her dreams. That she had not forgotten these dreams even after she had forgotten herself didn’t cease to amaze her. She dives down deep into the lake, seeing large rocks and fish dart out of her way. As she starts rising to the surface she feels her thinking is not only becoming reconnected to her past, to her dreams, but there is also another connection taking place a larger connection point is developing, one that will help her to see and understand the origins of her thoughts. She lays floating on her back, watching singular white clouds pass overhead reflected in the moving water beneath her, reflected in her blinking eyes looking upwards, reflected in her thawing heart seeing inward. A large bird passes by overhead and turns its white head to look down as if to see its connection to this lake, this world, to her floating quietly on this black hills lake. Large waves start to move under the sunshine, clouds and her asking questions: “Why does a lake get colder as it gets deeper?” She dives back into the water and feels the cold as she swims further down. When she starts to surface she feels the water grow warmer. On the surface the sun catches her wet skin making it glow and show crystals forming as it dries. A voice from within her answers the lake, “The deeper you go the colder it gets. Snow melt feeds this lake and the water nearest the bottom still holds onto its memory of snow, the sun never hits this water directly; so it remains cold. Like democracy still remembers the freedoms which inspired it but this memory is hidden deep so that the inspiration is not lost.” The lake questions, “Then, how is knowledge like a deep lake?” She meditates on this for a while. The sun starts curving west. The cars stop driving past. An owl hoots three times. It is dusk. “Deeper knowledge is like the deeper parts of a lake because it is cold to keep the mind moving. Just like you have to dive into a lake and push your body downward to reach the depths of a lake--so too you have to dive into knowledge and keep pushing your mind to comprehend or you will not understand. The memory of snow is just as important as the knowledge of it; both are needed to form an understanding of snow that is filled with awareness. This knowledge is cold like the depths of a lake to keep your mind moving and to keep many away. Like a swimmer in cold water it is important to keep moving to keep warm. It is the same with the mind-the deeper you go the more important it is to


keep moving, expanding, growing, and changing. Your mind can freeze just like a swimmer can freeze when the water is too deep.” She then wonders, what is the depth of democracy? Could it be our collective knowledge, beliefs, and values given life in our elected officials? Or maybe the depths of democracy are akin to her swimming in this lake: fresh, clean water surrounded by beauty where thousands of people are just a few miles away at Mt. Rushmore but here, for now, she swims alone with the sun and the mica—the depth being the beauty this scene creates inside her. Or could she measure the depth of democracy by sounding Horsethief Lake, with herself the weighted line thrown in to measure depth. How deep is she? How deep can she go? Could she use herself as a weighted line cast down into the waters to decide if legislation and appropriations is really democracy? Or is it to see if the water is still clean enough to swim in? Jimmy Carter once said, “Democracy is like the experience of life itself…” Her experience today was one of kinship with the land and realization that democracy can only be as deep as each citizen. Democracy can only last when each citizen is awake to their life connected with others. She tastes wild again here in this lake. The water holding her gently, it’s hydrating coolness exhilarating after the Badlands’ heat and dust. The stars start to gather overhead sparkling through pine fir and rocks creating new constellations from their division but she still sees familiar patterns in their math as she floats on her back wearing a Chanel bikini and splashing at the red Doberman on shore insisting she come out soon by pawing at the water and making throaty sounds. She inhales the west and holds her breath. The west enters her and understands her needs, letting the stars connect to her as she feels the web of life flowing through her from the oxygen coming off the lake and trees all connecting to her, the stars and planets sparkling above all draw their maps on her spirit so she can chart a course back to them when needed. She exhales to the waiting trees and grass.


She lingers until well after nightfall to leave, as the monument casts large shadows into the dark forest and the fine-grained granite sculpted smoothness glints as the flat mica schist catches the moon’s reflection of the sun’s rays. Flashing headlights of cars leaving the lighting ceremony make America march across the skyline, obscuring the stars for only moments as a greater starlight flashes from these patriotic Americans. She follows them west on Route 244 finding Horsethief Lake Campground with campsites on the lake and trails around it. She will swim in the morning. It will be cold.


Chapter 21 Memory: Flower Spell She hated all the cut roses they brought to her. They all just died. Then she complained to her latest boyfriend that she hated watching the flowers die, so he brought her a rose bush and planted it with her. The bush bloomed all summer then died after a harsh winter decided she should be alone again. She wondered if mulching the rosebush would have kept it all alive, but as she disposed of the dead bush she knew protection from the elements would not have helped her love life, let alone this bush. So she just told them all, “No flowers, no dead flowers.� She wonders when a man will come to break this spell.


Chapter 22 The Best Day is Life “We are able to destroy faster than nature can replenish.” Victor Groen, father of the shopping mall said after designing Randhurst Shopping Mall in suburban Illinois. As a child she would go to Randhurst and shop, look at boys and play with her friends. The mall was a huge library to her but instead of checking out books she would check out personas through clothing, personalities through flirting and psychosis while playing. She didn’t realize the shopping mall’s power until she revisited with her mom after Thanksgiving many years after her last visit. Walking through the familiar territory thinking about Christmas and enjoying her mom’s company helped her to see the communal aspect of the mall, the social fabric that hangs about the place like all those clothes that no one might buy. None of it mattered since her and mom were at peace with one another as they had never been before, laughing and talking and understanding each other. Now this memory brings tears, another pain to cut out or try to still her beating heart. She is almost ready to ask why it still beats.

The dawn steals through the evergreens and gently offers wakefulness and a profoundly cold swim that keeps her moving fast through the water--waking her even more to a life she has yet to live. While she swims a pick-up truck with a mom and several boys pulls alongside her car. She watches as the boys take off from the truck running into the lake and shrieking at its cold, breaking the silence of early morning. The mom lights a cigarette and leans inside the truck to turn up the music playing: Green Day’s “Time of Your Life”. The guitar echoes off the cliffs surrounding the lake and the ballad makes her smile. She has approached a fork in her road and instead of allowing time to direct her path she will direct it herself. As she joins Berlin onshore the song is ending and the mom says to her, “I just love that song. It makes me feel proud to be an American” She nods in agreement and the mom keeps talking, “I mean I don’t just want today to be the time of my life I want every day to be!” She smiles at the mom’s interpretation of the song as the boys finish swimming and run out of the lake just as loudly as they ran into it. She wonders


how to make each day the time of her life enjoying a different interpretation to the usual sad love song. She leaves the lake to walk in the woods taking an old backpack from high school loaded with paper and pens and granola. Once on the trail, it starts to rain. Even after two days in the Black Hills the oppressive heat in the Badlands is such a recent memory that this fresh rain is invigorating she’s also still damp from the cold swim so the warm rain doesn’t bother her at all. The rain says many things but this was the most remarkable: “Do not walk in nature without a purpose. You will miss much wisdom walking without a purpose. What is your purpose now?” She doesn’t know what to say. Her purpose in walking this trail is merely enjoyment-of nature and the rain. But as she continues walking and pondering purpose, she feels her spirit cooling and connecting to the trail. Her feet make a rhythm and the tall grass and flowers sway in time. This is a preparatory walk and the rain signifies words cascading down on her. They slide off her so that she will be unencumbered by them. The flowers along the trail also have stories. Their roots and blooms speak of the beauty in this forest, on this overgrown trail that leads into a Ponderosa Pine forest jutting out of huge ancient rocks that make up the west side of Mt. Rushmore. The fragrances melt into her senses as the warm wind gently dries their petals to a shine. But the flowers also speak of being picked only to be dropped in the dirt, lying there holding pollutants in their cut stems. She picks up these discarded flowers and places them upright in the ground. They take hold and thank her for their second chance. She remembers those purple flowers she had planted with others only knowing they would be purple from the picture on the package containing the bulbs and she wants to cry about not having seen the flowers grow but the beauty around her denies her tears existence. Maybe with her help and the help of others, nature will be able to replenish faster than we can destroy her. She begins to conjure how to make nature the communal space instead of malls or the burgeoning virtual world. How could nature be the space which connects everyone with everything? Her feet moving fall into the earth spinning and her breath inhaling connect nature firmly to her. She thinks of a song she had written that at first she thought was a simple love song to her someone now gone to her, but now after sounding for democracy in her spirit she feels it is also an ode to democracy:


Doing Battle with Time We could live atop a mesa We could live with sunshine We could watch sage and clouds grow We could do battle with time When nothing around you changes When geologic time captures every moment Slow seconds into time Roll minutes into why Hours pass by unseen We could live atop a mesa We could live with sunshine We could watch sage and clouds grow We could do battle with time We could ask the earth how it goes How the time goes on We could ask the earth how to slow our own volume of time And when our mesa turns blue and when the sun sets and when the stars all leave us we could count emptiness we could count endlessness we could count the moments in each other’s arms We could live atop a mesa We could live with sunshine We could watch sage and clouds grow We could do battle with time We could do battle with time


Chapter 23 Dream: Slide Show Seating

She was tired from running through the sunflower field so she stopped at a broken down cabin. Inside were rows of plank seating so she sat down and a slide show began about a mountain being carved. A man sat down right next her even though she was the only person in the cabin. After he sits he asks her, “Tell the world about us?” She would always respond, “No.” She woke and wondered why she always said “No.” in this dream. Why not ask him a question or say, “Yes.” This part of the sunflower dream always bothered her. Who was the man? Where was this mountain being carved? Who is us? Why would the bird and the man ask for the same thing? Were they the same?


Chapter 24 Memory: Du Sable Calming Two large African-American girls came crashing into her classroom as the class was reading Romeo and Juliet. The girls were violently fighting, some blood mixed with pieces of fabric were clinging to both. They moved into the front of the room where the most space was and started screaming and hitting each other, trying to draw more blood almost enacting a Shakespearean tragedy. She stood by and watched. Having taught at this school for several years she knew about these fights all too well. Students had even been killed due to these fights and some had been scarred for life by box cutters, sheet rock knives and fake fingernails. She stood, watched and waited for her chance to intervene. She had learned that she had to intervene at the right moment or she would not be able to stop the fighting. As the larger girl stopped to take a breath she saw her chance and stepped forward between them. She knew both of them, knew about their shared boyfriend and father, knew that inside they both wanted a better life. Since they were unsure how to get that they would fight. She placed a hand on both teenage girls’ shoulders and put forth her greatest effort to calm them. She stood there with eyes open seeing the sunflower fields from her dreams and hearing the wind rushing through their petals, smelling the fresh air. She took a breath in to fully embrace the calmness from this field. Then she remembered her wedding day and how strong the west wind had been coming in through the open church door. Upon reaching the altar and her waiting new husband, she turned her head to see autumn leaves struggling to reach her. The sound from those freed leaves was the same as the sound of the wind rushing through the sunflower petals. She saw the leaves’ oranges, reds and yellows tumbling over each other trying to follow her down the aisle. They seemed to be saying, “Wait.” “Come with us. Or let us come with you.” She saw two ushers struggling to close the church’s front door against an increasingly powerful West wind. The two girls on either side of her could not see her vision but they felt its calm, peace and freedom. In that feeling they let go of their present anger and looked at each other. The smaller girl said, “are we cool?” The larger one nodded kind of crying. They both left from opposite doors.


Chapter 25 Crazy Horse Wind After several days camping in the woods around Horsethief Lake, she needs to make phone calls to her parents, the school and maybe her boyfriend. The memories she was having each day alarmed her since she had forgotten whole parts of her life, she had fallen asleep to her own past and in doing so had forgotten the future she wanted. She wanted to call people she knew to make sure she remembered them correctly. She also badly needed a shower so her first stop is the modern convenience of the Mt Rushmore bathroom. Her camping dirty hands almost resisted the soap and arsenic laced water in the air conditioned bathroom as the brown lines running toward the drain become pieces of the wilderness she has let enter her spirit. She wonders, “Where does that drain let out? Where does that illusionary wilderness wash away to?” She considers the idea of manifest destiny and how it led people out west, just as her dreams could be seen as a manifest destiny for her to travel west. The west for America was its mold for initial formation. The seemingly free land that defined the western frontier also defined Manifest Destiny beyond its first appearance in an article in The United States Magazine and Democratic Review July 17, 1845. Manifest Destiny has plagued most Americans since then even though the frontier has been officially closed for over a hundred years and true resources are dwindling faster than they can be recreated even in laboratories. Fredrick Jackson Turner wrote a book called The Frontier in American History and presented a chapter from it in 1893 which exclaimed the closing of the American frontier had just occurred and meant that a new way to create the identity of an “American” was needed; however, most Americans then and now view manifest destiny as their right and as an identity builder. Turner’s “frontier thesis” was concerned with how Americans would find their identity absent the frontier, absent the west and all the mythology that had been attached to it. As the puritanical pilgrims gave way to a wilderness agricultural society, religious values were skewed to produce the idea that God had given Americans this land to subdue, to conquer, that whatever an American determines to be right for the land is right. This manifest destiny—that Americans have a god-given right to control their environment and take what they want with no thought to giving back—has created the current federal debt crisis as well as the current personal debt crisis, and the current environmental crisis. Couple this idea with thinking that these rights are divinely given and many people can justify atrocities


Mt Rushmore in July

against other people and the environment. Living beyond the means available is the gift of a manifest destiny view, yet manifest destiny still informs American identity and most Americans are still grappling with the problem Turner’s “frontier thesis” proposed—how will Americans construct an identity absent the 1800’s, mythologized west? Wilderness experiences have all but been lost as backyards have grown up to the line and even have blurred the line so that hiking in the Black Hills means walking through someone’s yard, someone’s home, someone’s sewage—no longer pristine (yet thankfully these hills still challenge with their beauty). True wilderness may have escaped and with it a chance for renewal, for communion with relatives like the birds, trees and rocks. In effect, the proverbial sand slipping through fingers is the west since it still holds onto its mythic importance in defining America, just as the sand remains sand the west remains west, yet in slipping through our fingers it has been displaced and the granules left on our hands have been washed down the sink. But as she watched those brown lines drain away to somewhere beyond Mt. Rushmore, hopefully to share her camping dirt with a good worm, she no longer questioned where the brown lines were going to end up. At first she was happy to have hands that were clean again, civilized, de-westernized. But once outside the ponderosa pines’ fragrance renewed her spirit’s longing for camping dirty hands. There are many people at Mt. Rushmore at 8am when she sits down to drink coffee, look out at the freshly clean window displaying a monument cut into pieces by mist pushed on by wind creating swirls in the trees, and make some phone calls. There is a strong patriotic feeling; everyone is moving slowly, almost reverently. The wind propelled mist makes the giant heads wake up slowly, resignedly shrugging off the cover of night. Four American leaders begin the search for what is America today. Her phone calls are mixed in feeling. Her students are doing better and the student she had spoken with a few days ago is helping out a great deal, so much so the substitute comes down to the office to thank her for his help, but she tells the substitute to thank the student, the substitute fumbles for an explanation but ends up agreeing. She understands the substitute’s dilemma since the same student had created problems in the beginning, so it will be hard for the substitute to thank him, but she hopes it happens. Her mom is glad to hear from her and asks about everywhere she’s been and then tells her more about her


parent’s trip to the Black Hills in the 1950’s. They connect and it is nice. Her mother talks about goats in the road, a monument still in infancy with none of the tourist trappings currently available, and of camping with her father and older sister. It is nice to be able to share an experience like this with her mother who she has been at odds with since high school began. But her boyfriend is mad, silent on the phone so she knows he is upset. She tries to talk with him about Mt Rushmore, but he interrupts her to say he misses her, but she feels nothing so she says nothing which makes him say, “I guess the trees have you more than me.” She wished she had called him first and not last since she has no idea how to reply to that and they hang up confusedly. She had wanted to make the call short so her need to appease him didn’t cause her to return home before she had experienced everything she was to experience on this trip. A little shaken by him, she walks into the gift ship but buying something will not help. She walks Berlin around the monument and then they sit on one of the metal pews. The sun behind them makes shadows deep and sharp. She breathes in the scene and feels the beauty rush inside her. She sits there for several hours, watching the visitors who are surprisingly not all families. Couples and individuals pay respect to time and stone and the effect of democracy on their lives. Dog lovers all want to pet the beautiful, regal Doberman. Altogether more than half who pass her sit in a pew and just silently look at the monument, the trees, themselves. Had she come all this way to find a place to dream in once again? Had sleeping on the ground, watching skeletons dance and being alone these past days produce a new found respect for her dreaming power? She felt there was something more but the mixture of scary and calm and being physically dirty made her feel uneasy and uncomfortable. She was beginning to understand that she is to tell the world about nature, about connecting with nature. She is to help end the abuse of nature which is made easier when living apart from it and justifying abuse in the name of progress just as a farmer justifies destroying a forest in order to plow a few more acres when a more thoughtful approach to farming would enable the current agricultural acres to produce the needed crops. Or when a new strip mall paves over a strip of land and is justified by believing that people need more things from the stores which will occupy the mall when it is obvious there are vacancies in current malls that still need to be filled. But she


knew there was something deeper going on when the raven and the man in her dreams say to “Tell the world about us.” So she knows she must continue forward. The longer she sits on the metal pew, the more a contrast between her and the other tourists starts to materialize. They are freshly scrubbed, morning soap smelling shine. She is dirtier from basic camping and extended hiking than just her hands. She looks down at them again and examines her fingernails; the past days are contained there. Her hands are relatively clean from the Mt Rushmore bathroom, but her nails are a mess: cracked bits of the last manicure persist over dirt under the nails. At first she is shocked by the filth but then she sees her fingers as remnants of her old life, a literal concrete example of the struggle she has quietly been waging for years trying to reclaim her life while she remained asleep. Now these struggles are simplified and contained in these last few days spilling over messages across her palms and under her fingernails. She decides to claim her democracy. The white heads with midmorning shadows nestled across their faces nod in agreement. She will reclaim her life through living it on her own terms, in her own way. Worries about alienation form again in her mind as a freshly scrubbed mother steers her young, curly girl away from her and the large red dog. But her dirty fingernails do not lie: they speak of nights watching the stars and keeping visions safe. They speak of waking up before dawn completely chilled and serenaded by the rising sun and its bird chorus. They speak of another way of life, one with nature, not one trapped within prescribed boxes, lost inside someone else’s dream. She loses the feeling of alienation and asks many people where the best shower is. She finds everyone friendly and their inquisitive looks and questions easy to sidestep. She finds that nearby Native Americans are carving a mountain called “Crazy Horse” and there is a campground with good showers just past it. Another dreamscape rises to greet her and just down the road. She still sits on the Rushmore pew and looks at her map to see curves representing mountains, one now called “Crazy Horse” Mountain. Then the wind picks up, turning her attention to the clouds racing past trees bending. In the sky she sees a man riding a horse with the wind. They are not clouds, but look more like muted red rocks that have been carved like animators animate so that the horse and rider appear to move, yet are set in stone. At first they are charging faster than the clouds, then the clouds overtake them and the horse and rider melt into the wind. Beyond Washington’s granite head the man and horse as wind swiftly materializes and breaks into a gallop, pulling the


wind even faster to race them until overtaking them again and causing the horse and rider to melt into the wind which comes swiftly around to where she is sitting picking up dust and papers littering the cement ground. People clutch at their loose things hastily trying to secure their possessions, letting half full cups fly sprays of coffee. The sun continues shining brightly as morning turns toward afternoon. “Crazy Horse is in the wind.� She thinks watching as the wind leaves the Rushmore pilgrims and swirls back up into the sky before turning back into the horse and rider who disappear into the evergreen forest in front of her. This wind reconnects her to a world she can create in, a world with reality integrated with creation. She leaves Rushmore to visit this man called Crazy Horse, maybe not specifically the mountain they carve in effigy, but to learn more about a man who rides with the wind, who is the wind. And even though her spirit still longs for camping dirt, she begins longing for a shower where her fingernails can be cleaned and made more acceptable as a challenge to her that even clean she can remember these times and live a democratic life, live her life.


Chapter 26 Dream: Prayer for Action She is seated in the cabin surrounded by sunflowers. A slide show with long rows of plank seating faces a small screen containing slides of a mountain being carved, dynamite and goats synchronized with a wheeling, taped narrator justifying the carving of a mountain Then a man sits down beside her and asks, “Tell the world about us?” She laughs since she knows the question and he is already seated. So she answers, “Yes.” They start falling down a tunnel as the cabin floor disappears into sparkling quanta, speeding along the tunnel’s curves until landing inside a deeply dug, muddy hole. She can see the shovel impressions on the sides and a tiny hole of light far away on top. It is dark and damp. The man stands up and says, “This is where you have to leave.” He disappears like the cabin floor in sparkles of quanta, leaving an outline of his feet in the mud. She’s left standing alone, breathing in fresh mud. It looks like her leg is broken since it is curved funny, but it doesn’t hurt and she’s able to stand without pain. Up above there is a small hole vibrating light. The tunnel has straight sides and a conical truth of how to get out. She tries jumping, climbing, and even digging footholds into the mud, but nothing works. Then she accepts the truth in prayer: kneeling, offering vertical mysteries proof, giving up horizontal action in place of vertical. Believing in peace and sanctity, her heart slows with her breathe, she feels connected to the mud, the tunnel and herself as the entire tunnel fades into a field of sweet grass after rain, each blade of the long grass holds a piece of dew reflecting back the tunnel, and the air is so sweet it has a taste that stays on her tongue. A man on a horse approaches her, the same one from the slide show, but he is younger. He smiles and says, “Now for your next lesson.” She follows him on foot feeling the muddy sweet grass between her toes, pushing fragrance upward with each footfall as they move forward. Each step brings the sweet grass smell. If her last lesson was intention toward resources, then this lesson must be about action to get resources. The young man stresses active language versus “asking” language as he rides slowly ahead. He says, “Say what you are going to do then do it. Pretty soon your prayers will be about what you are doing: telling the world about us. It is our only chance.” Then he gets off the horse, she can smell tobacco and sage on him. He raises his arms and prays:


Prayer for Action Give us strength to use our connection with everything to move our spirits to action We are connected to each other and ourselves, We are connected to the earth and to the sky. We are all connected The dirt we plant in gives abundance and unity The water that nourishes flows through us like love All life gains nourishment from the connection all death is a door to the next world, still connected, still in action We are connected to each other and ourselves, We are connected to the earth and to the sky. We are all connected Stars in our blood tell us we are not alone Blue skies surrounding us, protect us White clouds rolling overhead nurture us Clear rain keeps our connection alive We are connected to each other and ourselves, We are connected to the earth and to the sky. We are all connected Our connection brings action in our hearts The refinery of our spirits Give us strength to use our connection with everything to move our spirits to action Tent at Crazy Horse Mountain Crazy Horse Mountain, South Dakota


When he is done he eyes here, “How did you get out of the tunnel?” “Through intention.” She answers. He laughs, throwing back his head as he does, allowing his long hair to come out from the shirt he had it tucked into. Then he eyes her again, “No.” She is confused. “What are you to tell the world about?” She feels she knows this answer better each day and says, “Our connection with everything, how this connection should lead us to work in harmony with this world, with each other instead of competing against everything.” He smiles, his eyes lighting up into stars which overtake his body as he becomes a spinning galaxy of stars, planets and more, “You are close to understanding.” The collective galaxy says, “Very close.” Before the spin of the galaxy moves it off into the sky. She stands there looking at the galaxy now rotating far off in the night sky and thinks, “The land is a dream; we breathe life into one another, we keep our dreams alive.”


Chapter 27 Spiritually Reclaiming the Land She returns from remembering her dream from last night and the Prayer to Action to Route 16 construction between Mt. Rushmore and the new tourist attraction called Crazy Horse Mountain which has created ATV conditions that have stopped hundreds of vacation vehicles on the jagged and bruised road. The beautiful scenery helps her reflect on the dream that she has dreamt for years which makes it easier to view as a part of a continuing story and so understand it better. The man from the slide show is also the man on the horse, just younger. His prayer always sparkles in her mind since it took many years for her to remember all of it and write it down in her dream journals. She was happy when he said, “Very close.” for the first time in this dream. As she had written the dream down in her journal with the aid of a flashlight in the predawn darkness, she had been surprised by her answer to “What are you to tell the world about?” since she use to tell him she did not know what to tell the world about. She now “very close” to understanding. The bad road conditions don’t bother her at all since these black hills turn discontent into beauty like prayers into action with even the rocks vibrating purpose seen as a red rock raceway which geologically surrounds this round, mesa platform like a red circle around something special. These hills are more than just a geologic mesa uplift in a vast prairie flatland, they are also spirit up-lifters with gentle rolls and ripples from the schist uplifts and spiritual convergences, producing a calmness inside her that combines with the silence she has been cultivating. She would love to tell the world about this place but knows there is something more she is to tell. She wonders about her “leave no trace” experience in the Badlands. Could in telling of the beauty of this place endanger it? John Muir sought protection for his beloved natural places by telling people about them, but is the 21st Century conservationist better off staying silent? Unless there is a Wilderness Revisited piece of legislation to “rewilderness” areas of land so that they can garner Wilderness Protections, or institute a buffer zone policy between currently designated wilderness areas and development, then perhaps staying quiet about certain rogue treasures still containing wilderness is an idea worth pondering. She would not want these Black Hills overrun with people who would ruin its beauty by their presence. Until these people can experience the connection she spoke of in her dream, then any advancement of nature is threatened by their presence. She looks at the extreme


amount of traffic, barely moving down this road, almost like rush hour in Chicago—all these people have come here for a reason but almost all will not even hike on a trail or sit all day with a lake—most of these people will not do service for these hills, or give something back to these hills—most of these people have come here to take pictures, rocks, clean air away from here and leave behind trash, carbon and a sense for this community that tourist dollars should still be sought. She wonders how to effect a change in this mentality, how to help people see that giving could be a great vacation. Planting trees, cleaning areas, walking on a trail quietly, all while leaving no trace of themselves. She knows all the people on this road are good people, loving people, kind people who simply need to see a different way of vacationing, a different way to enjoy these black hills and other areas like this. The slow moving traffic also allows her to study Crazy Horse Mountain, and she stays in the parking lot to have lunch and look some more before venturing into the tourist building. The face of Crazy Horse has just been finished. It is different than the face carved by the Polish artist Korczak Ziolkowski on a smaller scale. The face of Crazy Horse Korczak had drawn and sculpted was of a beautiful, young man; even though no one is sure if there are pictures of Crazy Horse since there are pictures indicating him, but many say that it is not him, so no one is sure if the sculpture or the mountain are in fact his likeness. The mountain-sized face has a large flat nose and large, rounded eyes and through the pay-per-view binoculars on the viewing deck the face of Crazy Horse looks older, maybe even older then the real Crazy Horse attained. Korczak would say that “Crazy Horse is being carved not so much as a literal likeness but more as a memorial to the spirit of Crazy Horse — to his people.” The Crazy Horse carving is pointing south saying, “My land is where my dead are buried.” These lands are his as well as hers-senses, feelings, spirits, energy all pulsing through them both, sustaining them for the next day. She moves through the Rushmore families on the Crazy Horse observation deck--mainly white families some are connected and happily move about, others are disconnected from each other, the land, and their spirits; subsequently both types of families snap photos to remember their disconnection or connection. There are pictures hanging all over showing the recent ceremony for the finished face. Natives in regalia shake hands with the artist’s ten children. Everyone is smiling. Something doesn’t feel right to her. Carving a mountain does not seem like a way to reclaim the land. Originally, Native Americans in this area didn’t like Mt. Rushmore because nature should be left alone. Now they are doing the same thing here. If Native Americans are so


conscious and connected to nature wouldn’t they want to preserve Crazy Horse Mountain in its natural state? Wouldn’t they want to show others how to be connected with nature? Instead, Crazy Horse Mountain is being carved with dynamite and chisels never to look the same, never to offer sanctuary to the animals and plants that once called this mountain home, never again to offer itself honestly to the natural world. The Native Americans she had read about purported to be “in relation” with the earth. How could one blow-up a relation as they set dynamite off blowing off chunks off the mountain in loud reverberating blasts? She wondered if she could so much as carve her sister or cousin in such a way. She could probably change admission for something pertaining to her blowing up a relation if it had a comedic twist, she smiled. But then her thoughts become distracted from the mountain because she sees a small cabin within the main entry way. Inside a slide show, with plank seating, is running. Even though she has seen so much of her dreams alive in the Badlands and Black Hills the literal sharpness of seeing the cabin, slide show and plank seating from her dreams disarms her. She stands in the doorway watching the grainy images flash on a small screen. The tourists shuffle past her, oblivious to the scene’s meaning for her. Their bodies break up the slide show pictures, the pictures flash like a backdrop to a play they all write about themselves. Some of the white shirts and skirts are perfect for the projection to show on. Then the slide show room is empty, just like in her dream. She goes in and sits down reasoning with herself that if someone sits by her she must speak to them, but she should not expect them to know about her dreams. She watches the slide show several times and sees the attempt to make carving the mountain seem “cute”. Mountain goats are standing on machinery. The narrator says the goats have lived on this mountain for generations. Who will remember the goats once the tourists claim the mountain? Will the goats really be welcome for more than a photo opportunity? How will the goats deal with their altered ecosystem? She thinks of something her mother had said during their last conversation about the goats on the road when she visited two decades ago, “so sad because they could get hurt.” She is disappointed when no one comes to sit beside her at the slide show. She was excited at the plank seating, just like in the vision, and the empty room. The show started as she sat down, just like in the vision. But no one else came in to watch the show. She knows continuing to stay there is not going to produce a person so she leaves the slide show cabin sad. She had really thought her dream would play out, she had


hoped for another person to come and help her understand what was happening. But maybe she is missing some symbolism. Could the man she was to meet really be just a change in her perspective, or a composite of many people who bring about a transformation in her life? It would seem that Native Americans would uphold the earth and heal it--not carve it for money; Crazy Horse Mountain holds the conflict clearly framed since while extolling a naturalistic faith in the museum and gift shop, everywhere she went there were drills cutting into the mountain and making quite a racket. Did the romantic, 18th Century Native Americans ever exist? Have they been exposed to be just like the rest of us: human and ordinary? Not some superior being with a greater connection to nature and the natural worlds. Greed, territorial ownership, control dramas all exist within them, just like the rest of us. The Native Americans are no better, and no worse. Democracy shows that everyone is created equal. She looks again at Korczak’s idealized rendering of Crazy Horse and the more ethnic version being carved on the mountain. Did the artist recognize these discrepancies between who Native Americans would like to be and who they really are? In recognizing that discrepancy, did the artist consciously decide to portray Crazy Horse more hardened and less ideally on the mountain? Mt. Rushmore’s faces are smooth and consistent with photos of those four presidents, showing how precise sculptural mountain carving can be—Borglum’s drawings and renderings of the monument resemble the actual monument in an uncanny way. While both the sketches and model built by the Crazy Horse artist do not resemble the carving going on. Perhaps it’s all in the rock chosen, or maybe there is another reason. Carving a mountain for tourist dollars makes little spiritual sense. Korczak visioned this monument after Native American Chiefs like Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear asked him to carve, there were pictures of the artist shaking hands with chiefs in regalia. It was all hard for her to believe. Nature is alive and should be respected--not carved and sculpted into a man’s image. Exhibits suggest that frustration with Rushmore Monument made some Native Americans want to reclaim their land with this monument. Spiritually none of this made sense. But there is a conflict, even in her own mind, since she really enjoyed Mt. Rushmore and was inspired to continue to understand democracy and her nation. Could Crazy Horse Mountain inspire people to understand a naturalistic perspective as well as Native Americans? She is unsure why the Crazy Horse Mountain feels wrong when suddenly the wind comes upon her, blowing her hood onto her head. It


catches cups and plates left on many of the tables outside, and many people hold onto their hats as it goes past them. She is reminded of Crazy Horse as the wind that she experienced at Mt Rushmore. What kind of monument could that be? A monument like that would depend on the wind for its aesthetics, just as each mountain is carved by the wind and other natural elements. Reclaiming the land spiritually could be done by living on the land and seeing the land and capturing it in your sight and memory, of caring for the land and allowing it to care for you. The feeling of the breeze rolling over the hills rounding off from view, the breeze curling over her in the same pattern

as the hills it just flew over—taking her form with it could be a way to claim land, space, a place in history. She thought of Einstein’s theory of gravity waves and how mass displaces space and creates waves that can emanate the mass’s form throughout space catching other smaller masses in its wake, just as the moon is caught in the earth’s gravitational field and the earth is caught in the sun’s. Could the wind’s movement be another view of gravity waves? Could the wind take the pattern which is her form and move in that pattern across the earth? The smell of pine needles in the sun drying dew on their tips as feet dry after a pre-dawn hike could be another way to claim the land as yours no matter who pays the taxes on it. Just the feeling of walking on the ground with a purpose brings a sense of claim, of responsibility. All of this could capture the land making it a part of life. Those rhythms of


breezes and hills can lend to personal rhythm, to individual lives. The earth spinning under her right now, the air, water, and land around her is not for possession or ownership but for service and sharing. She knows how difficult this idea is to put into practice. She can barely share a towel rack with someone else let alone sharing property with strangers. She would have trouble giving up the land her family owns; yet, she does know inside that they belong to everyone. Her family is just a caretaker of the land, keeping it healthy for future generations; their claim on the land brings a responsibility to it. She finds a book about Ghost Dancers in the Crazy Horse gift shop and wonders again if the skeleton dancers from the Badlands wall are somehow connected. The original ghost dancers danced to raise the dead and bring back old ways. The skeleton dancers in the Badlands dance to raise the living. She was enflamed by their dance, walking a burning, red road afterwards; but she never felt it was a Native American experience. Instead, she experienced the land and the spirits inhabiting it; she felt to be native to a land is to learn how to communicate with the land and respond in a sacred manner. The skeleton dancers try to renew faith in a dying sacred way—a way that is more tied to the land, the air and the sky than any cultural tradition. That is why the skeleton dancers sleep as rocks and dust—they are the land. That is why the skeleton dancers dance with wind and sun—they dance to explain a connection to all of these. This connection seemed to span time and go beyond culture or other social artifices. She wondered if the skeleton dancers had reached out to the Native Americans in the 1890’s to try to help them and to see if the tribes could help the skeleton dancers since their message seems to be to tell the world about the connection she is just starting to understand, the connection that we need to recognize to keep our environment healthy for us and future generations. The timing of the ghost dance may seem like a last effort of a great civilization to reclaim its authority and relive its glory days, but the timing was also right before the industrial age had taken hold in the new United States making the skeleton dancer’s message even more important. What if we as a county at that time had chosen other means for energy production and transportation—would our environment be in a better position today? She also buys a recorded version of Black Elk Speaks. She was suppose to have read it for one of her college classes but instead had simply glanced through it. Now she figured was a good time to see what the book is about. As she’s leaving, she notices a stoplight and sees the purpose of the road construction is to widen the road so the connection between Crazy Horse and Rushmore is complete.


There is an odd little stone in the road which causes her pull over and get out to toss it off the road, she finds it is an acorn, she sees giant oaks growing far off and smiles that this little acorn had come so far even with all this construction. She throws it into a grassy area that doesn’t look like it gets cut so that it may have a chance to become a tree. When she returns to her car she sings the song the acorn gave her:

Acorn There was an acorn in the middle of the road I tried not to hit it It reminded me of you I’m thinking about you a little too much I’m hiking in the black hills The sun is striking me I feel the grass beneath my feet I take off my shoes to say a prayer But somehow that prayer includes you I took off all my clothes And walked into Lakota Lake The cold water hitting me Reminded me of you I’m thinking about you a little too much So I pitch my tent under the new moon cause its guiding me I count Venus and Mercury I wonder what’s the mystery Of why I feel this way (Of why I feel this way) I saw an acorn in the middle of the road I tried not hit it


The sunset begins marking the blue sky with long strands of gold and red, releasing her sadness and confusion over Crazy Horse Mountain, Mt Rushmore and the general sense that too many people strive to control a beautiful gift like the land. A single breeze blows past, signaling her to prepare for night and star shimmering skies that dream of being seen during daylight. The evergreens extend each needle to catch the last rays filled with color and life dripping off onto the ground. The sun is hidden behind clouds that turn red, purple and pink spilling onto the rest of the sky and mirrored in the east, taking over the hills and making the road get lost in shadows deepening in road construction potholes and fissures. She’s parked across the street from the monument entrance, watching the landscape change as its colored, undulating a rhythm of sensuous enjoyment in just being. The gold writing on the new Crazy Horse sign gleams like a nugget; further down the road an older sign for Crazy Horse shows its age and a message from Korczak, “Never let your dreams die.” As an artist she understands the adage but recognizes that art lives through others and for others who are inspired and find enjoyment in it. As a dreamer she smiles, since it is her dreams that have kept her alive and have stayed alive so that she could be here, now finding that dreams are real. “Never let your dreams die.” As in her dream she prays, “The land is a dream; we breathe life into one another; we keep our dreams alive.”


Chapter 28 Memory: “The Red Road Starts With a Tear” She was crying from a place she’d never felt before. It scared her. They had just been walking and talking and then the sorrow of life hit her and she found herself standing on the path crying. It took awhile to regain control, to submit to this shared reality once again. He had stood by her through it all. When she stopped he had stopped, when she started crying he had tried to help, when he recognized he couldn’t help he had just stood next to her. Once she could speak she thanked him for standing there. He smiled. Whenever it became wrong between them she would remember this time and stay with him. Believing he had been there for her. She never wanted to remember the reason why she had been crying: He didn’t want children, he didn’t like her family, he wanted only her. He wanted only her inside his life. Her tears that day were the beginning of their end.

The Red Road Starts with a Tear The Black Hills, South Dakota Even before she had heard about the Native American idea of the red road, a road of spiritual travel, she drew this after arriving in the Black Hills. She thought of the skeleton dancers’ Red Road Dance as she sketched.


Chapter 29 Dream: Following a Bear The sunflower field gives way to a lawn with hills just beyond in clouds. A great black bear comes out of nowhere, crossing the field from south to north. The moon shines on the bear’s rugged coat; it makes her hesitate in her east to west running through the sunflower field to the hills. She can smell berries and instantly is hungry so she follows the bear. Crossing a mild stream and heading toward trees the bear then stops at the berry bush. He stands on his two hind legs becoming twice the size. “Do not eat the berries. They will keep you from dreaming about me. You will be unable to tell the world about us.” The bear doesn’t interrupt his eating to tell her this; he just talks with berry juice falling out of his mouth. She returns to the stream to wash her feet and finds her running path through the sunflower field again. When she turns back to watch the bear eat she sees he has lain on the ground. A sharp, cold wind blows through the lawn and she hurries back to the bear and lies down alongside him. She sleeps. She dreams within her dream of driving a car a thousand miles to the place she is running to.

Sunflower Fields at Dusk


Chapter 30 Finding the Bear She finds a National Forest Campground just south of Crazy Horse Mountain but taking a site in the back does not help soften the sound and lights of cars rushing to the nearby town of Custer. Mentally exhausted from all the new information she is learning and from the tiny, constant worry over whether this will isolate and cause her pain; she cannot sleep. The cars that keep coming are reminders that she is lying there alone and unsure where she belongs. She finally sleeps; dreaming of the bear she’s dreamt of since childhood. In the morning she analyzes following the bear in her dream since the image of her lying alongside the bear is curious almost like she is a small bear. Just like the bird, the bear has always been in her dreams but he never spoke before. What was she to tell the world about? Why would the berries make her not dream of the bear again? Why had she been dreaming of this bear all her life? She looks on the tourist map of the Black Hills and finds nothing that says “bear”. Then she goes into Custer, smiling at the old Western town façade since it seems silly to have an entire town pay homage to one time period. She asks at a gas station where Bear Mountain is. The older man wearing a leather vest and cigarette behind the cash register looks puzzled, “You mean Bear Butte?” “What’s that?” “It’s these hills outside of Sturgis that people hike on.” Sitting in the driver’s seat she realizes she has to go to Bear Butte, so she reaches behind her to pull out her father’s atlas which is buried under her grade school sleeping bag, a bag of her students’ summer school homework she thought she would grade and a haphazard bag of groceries; as the atlas comes free the sleeping bag rolls over and shows the Smokey the Bear decal and the Winnie the Pooh image on her tent bag underneath. She laughs at the thought that she has been going towards Bear Butte since grade school. She remembered shopping for the sleeping bag with her father for a grade school sleep over. She had decided the Smokey the Bear bag was hers, but her father had to be convinced since he preferred another bag. It was the Smokey the Bear decal that won him over. Her mom had bought her the Winnie the Pooh tent to “camp out” in the backyard which she did complete with a popcorn maker and tv so her and the neighborhood kids could enjoy the evening. If she had been moving toward Bear Butte since grade school how had she gotten so far off track? Or maybe the life she’s been pursuing led to her in this gas station


now. Both perspectives rely on destiny to answer and she isn’t so sure she believes in destiny. On that old family atlas, she finds Sturgis and beyond that Bear Butte so she drives toward it. The wind rushes in with the colors of life radiating around her, bringing more tears of frustration released, imprisonment ended and loneliness still existing. The hills and curve of the road are beautiful, soothing and embrace her softly. She plays the Black Elk Speaks tape and hears Black Elk telling the interviewer John G. Neihardt that the “red road starts with a tear.” Black Elk said it and Neihardt wrote it down for her to hear and feel the red road rising up through her. At first she had thought Black Elk meant a tear as in to break apart, but now she understands it to also means the tears of crying—releasing those feelings that could still hold her back as she tries to vision a new life, a new way of seeing.

On the Way to Bear Butte


Chapter 31 Dream: Bear Butte

She turns from the mild stream to see the bear asleep. A road lies at her feet and leads to the bear so she starts walking. The road is yellow. She can see the sunflower fields off to her side quite far away. But then the road starts rolling like a large carpet being shook out and she has to watch her footing to keep balanced. “Need to pay admission,” a man’s voice says from inside a booth in front of the bear sleeping. She reaches for money in her white dress, but has none. She offers her wedding ring, but a large hand waves it away. “What can I pay?” “What you have held for so long.” She looks down at her hands to see what she is holding to find her fists are clenched, white knuckle clenched. She unclenches and sees the stress leave her and the large hand motions her onward. “To harvest we must plant. We can only plant with an open hand. You must tell the world about us.” When she turns around to say thanks the booth is gone and all that is left is the road rolling away from her quickly.


Chapter 32 Memory: Skin They turn onto a path she knows well, toward a tree curved in her memory. But she walked this path years ago, with someone else. He grabs her and kisses her roughly, opening her blouse as he kisses her chest. He sees the rose La Perla bra she has on and asks, “Has anyone else seen you in this?” “No.” she lies. “Good,” he smiles, “If there is anything like this that someone else has seen before we’ll just get you a new one.” He continues kissing her chest, pushing the bra away, as she wonders, “What then should we do about my skin?”


Chapter 33 Finding Dreams are Real, Again She drives through Spearfish Canyon on her way to Bear Butte. The tall canyon walls and river alongside the road beckon her to stop, but she is too excited. When she exits the canyon, the heat becomes oppressive. She hears voices saying, “Dance in the rain.” Within five minutes it is pouring rain so she stops the car to dance. It is wonderful. She gets soaked on the side of the road, spinning in the rain and listening to its stories. The sun still shines; creating rainbows everywhere. She then thinks of Masaru Emoto’s, Hidden Messages in Water which explains Emoto’s experiments with water that showed how water communicates through its crystalline structure. Could water also express itself more literally like when Horsethief Lake had asked her questions? Could it be like conversing with a friend? In Emoto’s experiments, the water had unformed crystals when negative ideas were presented; and when positive ideas were presented the water produced some beautiful crystal structures. When she had read this great book she had wondered even then if water could communicate even more—it was so wonderful to be remembering books she had read. She then remembers a song she had written about Water and how the land sighs for the rain so she sings it to the rain. The temperature drops to eighty degrees after the 40 minute rain that came from a clear blue sky making the drive to Bear Butte very comfortable. Once the winding road curves to show her Bear Butte she instantly recognizes it as the sleeping bear and her form lying alongside him from her dreams. As a child she would only dream of the sunflower fields. Then in high school the bird entered the sunflower field. But it wasn’t until her first year at college that she had dreamt of what she now knew to be the Badlands and Black Hills, these two places were where she was running to through the sunflower field. The bear entered the dream about a year later, but she had struggled for years to allow the bear to block the wind for her. She analyzes her dreams like never before. The clean air and walking outdoors has cleared her mind and memory for this task. As Bear Butte comes into view she knows she must incorporate nature into her life more fully as part of the new archetype she is just beginning to pursue.

Boulder Canyon to Bear Butte (Sketch)


Water: Rain (a sigh of waiting) Their crystals form a new language love, lust and trust compose messages The desert’s dry, red dust like tears, rolls down rocks’ sides simple messengers With short phrases needing the new words to form meaning They say it’s going to rain today The flowers search the sky in vain They say each wash could flood tonight The dust in them gives off a sigh A sigh of waiting The rocks out here, tell me to write, they know their beauty, runs past light Where water flows, under the ground, I tried to dig a well but found no water there, until I believed water is alive like me So I invited it in, and at that moment, the well became full Their crystals shine, but the desert’s dry My heart keeps beating, I won’t ask why I can’t live on without love It is the water my veins wait for It is the source of all life, the source of all life They say it’s going to rain to day The flowers search the sky in vain They say each wash could flood tonight The dust in them gives off a sigh A sigh of waiting

Boulder Canyon to Bear Butte (in the distance)


Bear Butte stands as a sentinel for the Black Hills. To the south is the uplift of the Black Hills, dark by the shadows of the pines. She sees signs for a campground, between the butte and the Black Hills. It is a state campground on Bear Butte Lake. She arrives at Bear Butte State Park around 4pm. Several signs along the road explain that this is sacred land to Native Americans. She feels strongly anywhere can be sacred but recognizes that certain places might have more meaning due to ritual or sacrifice or a shared experience. Tired from the long drive, she goes into the visitor’s center even though she wants to hike, thinking a little background and a bathroom break are indispensable. The exhibits in the visitor center explain Crazy Horse’s vision on Bear Butte which brought him the idea that he would be invincible during battle, that bullets could not penetrate him. Some people even believe Crazy Horse is buried somewhere on this butte, suggesting that his spirit is haunting the landscape. It seems strange to think of Native American spirits as haunting ghosts for some reason she thinks they would have some other place to go. Crazy Horse Mountain reminds her of the present day Native American attempt at being invincible during the current property battles. Their intentions may be more preservation based than many other groups trying to secure land, but to carve a mountain to conquer nature through manipulation of form seems wrong. Although inspired by both Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse Mountain, she believes that if both had remained un-carved and then designated as a shrines they may have had even more power. Could a mountain being carved try to communicate in some way attempting to express its wishes?


Chapter 34 Meeting Joe

Detail from Tent Smoke Black Hills National Forest, South Dakota

She wanders upstairs to look at the state park exhibits which are dusty and in need of updating. An old man comes from behind one of the glass display cases almost as if he had emerged from inside the case. He approaches her, extends his hand and says, “Hello I’m Joe.” “Hi, I’m Vicki.” They shake hands and smile at one another. There is a peacefulness and serenity to Joe and she feels safe and a familiarity with him. She wants to ask if they have met before but he questions her first. “How are you?” he asks wrinkling his forehead to punctuate the question. Images of her crying about her life, then stopping to dance in the rain with her outstretched palms holding her beating heart as a chance at a new baptism all flash “crazy” or at least “unstable” to her; but she answers, “Fine.” They begin talking about sacred sites since that is the display they are standing in front of. He explains the ley line theory as naturally occurring energy meridians that do not remain rooted in one place. “Over time their locations change, their power changes. When ley lines intersect the power of the place is astronomically strong. We can rob certain places of their power and bring it to other places if needed. But the power can not be transplanted easily and will leave the place we bring it to if there is not a meridian close by that the power can be funneled into. Even just natural changes in landscape and use can alter the ley line energy.” She asks him if there is a ley line intersection here at Bear Butte and he answers, “Yes, one of the strongest in the world. The intersection encompasses the black hills and the butte. There is a red rock raceway which encircles this area and reminds us of our path, or the red road.” “What is the red road?” she asks. “Only your spirit can walk the red road.” “Yes but if our flesh has any connection to our spirit then at the very least our flesh would know of the walk.” “Very good, never thought of it that way, but yes most probable.” He smiles and his face turns into a thousand wrinkles that resemble badland cliffs with his eyes faraway stars from another universe. For a moment he is no longer flesh but a spinning galaxy rotating in front of her. She feels a breeze from the rotation and then his form reappears. She begins to remember something like this happening in one of her dreams.


He suggests that she visit the ceremonial area with him, “It is one of the most powerful places I know,” he tells her once she has accepted. There is an ease about him, no threat, no fear, just peace. Berlin confirms her feeling of Joe, welcoming him into the car by jumping into the back seat and allowing a pet and thank-you from Joe. She drives him down the road to one of the lowest places at the base of the butte. They pass a sign saying “Keep Out”, a grove of trees and a wooden bridge that separates a clearing from the road. “The dog must stay here.” Joe states as he starts toward the clearing. She follows him with a leather satchel he had asked her to carry. There are many brown, makeshift lodges scattered around the clearing. Joe points to the whole clearing and the lodges and says, “Do you know about our sweat lodge ceremony?” No, she shook her head unsure if she wanted to know about it, still reluctant to accept her new life fully. There are fire rings in front of each lodge; some fires burn while others are silent. She feels like her fire is just getting started; she even feels warmer as they walk through the field to one of the lodges. He takes the brown, leather satchel she was carrying for him and places it on the grass by the fire circle before sitting next to it. She sits opposite him where different types of wood are stacked in piles. Joe places sage and long grass in the center of a burnt circle on the ground lined with beautiful stones of quartz, granite, mica and others which are not burnt at all. Joe constructs a tepee from the piles of wood before lighting with a match, blowing a few times then sitting back to watch it burn. The sage fires then smokes, scenting the air with a soft fragrance that she finds soothing. She sees the lodge behind Joe and forgets that he had called it a sweat lodge. So she asks him if he sleeps here, slightly concerned for an older man living like this, but he laughs and says, “No. This is a ceremonial area. You’ll go into this sweat lodge to purify yourself for a vision quest on the butte.” She looks up at the butte with scattered trees and bushes and a lot of dirt and feels excitement and fear at being left alone with such a piece of land. Excitement wins.

Bear Butte from the Ceremonial Area


Chapter 35 Talking with Joe They sit beside the fire, the ground still damp from the earlier rain. She sits facing the butte; he sits with his back to the butte, almost merging with it, becoming a part of it, shape shifting between his human form and that of the butte. “You should go on a vision quest.” He says quietly to the flames. “I’m following my dreams now. I’ve seen this place in my dreams and am trying to understand what it all means— maybe I’m on a vision quest right now.” She has no idea why she tells him all this. The thousand wrinkles return, “Yes,” he nods intent on the flames rising before him, “Yes, you are. Intention commands spirits most strong. Here you must expect a greater vision. The power here is strong and has much to share with you. Your past dreams have only been to create maps for you to follow; now you must expect true visions.” She marvels at how clearly he states her metaphysical dilemma, “How do you know?” She sees the man on a horse from her dreams in the distance, he starts riding toward them and she wonders if she is dreaming. “You have been lost in the unknown: like a medicine wheel walker, you have been intent on each curve and intersection thinking they will lead you to greater knowing, future healing, but missing the real reason for walking the wheel. Fortunately, those curves led you here so that you can make sense of your life. We do not visit the other side for selfish reasons; we go there to learn how to work with others. Disease, depression, and addiction these are a few things which pull some into the unknown, but people like us enter willingly so that we can understand how to help others return, so that we can go back and forth between the two worlds.” “But how do I integrate such wild things into my normal life?” “While driving here you recognized that visions can be normal, it is only the life you have been living up until now that has made you feel crazy or that your dreams are unreal. Dreams are real. Visions are not fortune telling; instead, they can explain the past, present or future because vision is from a place of timelessness. So, you do not have to integrate any of this into your life, you simply accept it and work with it, it will become your life over time.” She’s worried about that; about these crazy things becoming her life. Could that mean she’d end up in an insane asylum and not care? Could this mean that her boyfriend and friends will not be a part of her life? Could this mean she may


live a life of isolation and—Joe interrupts her spiraling thoughts. “Now you must bring what your medicine wheel walking has taught you to this hill. You must share your knowledge of the unknown with the known. You may have to reenter the unknown to have this conversation, but do not be seduced by the curves or colors of the wheel—you must return to the known.” She’s amazed how this stranger has put her past, crazy life into perspective. She had tinkered with visiting the unknown worlds while still in high school. Many kids tried drugs to reach them, but she found the library was much better and music maybe the best way to access a different state of mind. Bruce Springsteen had introduced her to Patti Smith who led her to Arthur Rimbaud who opened doors and blue bells for her to see a life outside of the one we all accept as the only reality. Rimbaud tried to derange his senses to visit the unknown, but perhaps he only constructed an unknown. Dante looked to love to give him the power to journey to other worlds. For many years she researched others who inspired her to continue searching for a connection point between this world and others, or at least a new perspective on this world. Studying Physics assisted in this pursuit since dimensionalities, time/space continuums and the idea that everything is relative, is changing led her closer to finding the connection point. She would look inside flowers or talk with trees. Then she married and had to concentrate on making a home and finishing school so she could work, she began to forget about searching for a connection point and even tried to make fun of herself for having spent any time on it. It was the first time she was able to put her marriage into a reality framework instead of a romanticized sentimentality that she had placed over the memory, like a film that could contain the pain of loss. After she found this didn’t work very well she began a dedicated attempt to forget and took on her boyfriend’s life as if she had just been born and had no history. As she thought about her transition to being asleep to her life she saw it had been slow but invasive so that by the time her husband died she was already lost to herself completely and asleep to who she had been since childhood. Her grief lasted many years and she fell deeply into caring for others and not herself and now, a new world is upon her, beckoning her to begin a new journey that will bring her back to connection with herself her art and those she loves. She looks tenderly at this old man who is better than a guesser but still unknown to her. She thinks at that moment that it is just the journey that has brought this greater awareness about her life and how she had fallen off her path, her walk of life. She


believes this is all she was to acquire on this journey, fully a life’s work to continue. Butterflies flutter in her stomach as she watches the sun trace leaves in the trees and she can almost feel a paint brush in her hand and an image in her heart. Just a few years ago, she recognized that she was running back towards the unknown so she decided that getting a straight job—teaching high school—straight friends, straight life could help keep her from living on the other side permanently. Being an artist was one thing, but allowing visions precedent over even artistic needs seemed strange. She often felt out of place and different, lately she had fit in after giving up certain traits that she use to hold dear and it was only once in a while, when a patch of sunlight caught her eye or an overheard conversation made her consider character development, that she felt out of place and even in the wrong place. As she remembered all these things she was amazed again at how deeply asleep she had been to her life, how she had forced herself to forget about her inner life and its workings. What had occurred in the badlands was familiar because it was familiar—she had spoken with rocks and trees before, just never danced with them. To consider taking an even greater leap into visionary practices and procedures frightens her. Her interest in the 19th Century Symbolists and their attempts at vision and the 1960’s radical attempts at the same never bothered her before, but never had she considered it a natural tendency she had always thought it was something studied and experimented with like an alchemist would, not something that just happens and then becomes your life. But right now she sees that she has never left the maze, even at her job, in her relationships, she is distant and lost in the unknown. She is unsure what the medicine wheel is, but understands that she has been walking circles for some time now. She also sees how nature has been pulling her back to the known world through beauty and communication. She had started to question herself and why she still sought the unknown “How do you know all this?” She asks him again. He ignores her question and continues, “You must enter the sweat lodge and pray for one day. Then you may go up on the butte for a few days and accept your vision. Afterwards, you may return to the sweat lodge so you can speak of your vision.” As he speaks, she sees trails leading away from this encampment draping brown lines against the green of the butte. They look well worn but self-contained. They look like tiny threads carefully placed in a quilt of earth: tying together visions like they’re individual words in a sentence, an answer, a command. She counts four trails; one for each direction.


They are glowing from within, like a low fire burning brown against the green, a song poem escaping closed lips: comprehension. The glow is like the gentle ghosts of lava flowing from an ancient volcano, but here the lava flows uphill as it comes from the ceremonial area flowing to hidden places on the butte where visions send prayers, like bottled messages, into the lava flow as it continues to the heavens. Following these glowing trails; she’s startled when they start to arch forth from the butte turning into multi-colored lightning bolts connecting with the sky.

Bear Butte Trails Bear Butte State Park, South Dakota Showing the ceremonial area and its vision quest trails. As she sat with Joe for the first time she saw four trails leaving from the ceremonial area that were glowing from within. She wanted to walk on one of those trails but knew she would have to wait.

She is even more frightened but also still excited and now mesmerized. To set foot on such a trail, to continue walking into heaven, to find understanding on a butte—could she dare? She always thought understanding would happen in a library or lecture hall, not on a butte. The glowing trails braid into one another and wind down to rest at her feet. “I don’t feel ready for that.” Joe nods his whole body, adding more sage branches to the fire, starting a soft song in his rocking. The sage crackles and hums expelling white smoke, which dances in circles before fading into the trees. Fragments of skeletons dance in the trees to the hum of the burning sage, the four burning trails, which start to turn red, blue, yellow then white as the lightning bolts in the sky retract downward, back onto the butte. She stares up at these glowing lines on the butte as the skeletons start to dance up them while Joe rocks softly singing to himself. She had always hoped for armchair visions like the tv


prophets who piece together sitcom parts into a reason why we’re here, but now she’s being asked to walk up a dirty hill with some crazy man she just met? Her mother’s worries and her father’s fears congeal into societal pressure to be a white American woman. She knows she is American, not Native American but native to America, born in America as the seventh generation of her family which places the land firmly inside her. It is the land that wants her to run up the butte and meet her vision, to see where it takes her. But societal pressure wins.

Bear Butte 4


Chapter 36 Seeing Joe for Who He Is “I don’t feel strong enough for such an experience, although I would like to build up my strength and return here and do this.” She thinks next summer would be a good time to undertake such an excursion. “You should do your vision quest as soon as possible. Next year may be too late.” She feels he has read her mind and she stays silent for a while letting the fire warm her skin and connect with her spirit. “Why might it be too late?” she finally asks. “I am not much longer with this world. I have waited many years for you.” “For me? Have we met before? Why are you waiting for me?” “I have seen you in my visions. You will have a great vision on the butte and you must take that vision and tell everyone who will listen. If I am still here I can help.” The fire lights his face differently and for the first time she realizes this man is special. As the flames grow larger the scene becomes surreal. “I wish I felt stronger, I would do this now if I felt I would be successful.” “The ancient ways have been at work on you for a long time, preparing first your unconscious, then preparing your consciousness by skillfully arranging circumstances that will lead to a crisis.” Joe stops to add more sage, “But your crisis was years ago, you did not understand its meaning until now, now when we have so little time left together…” he trails off looking at the ground, then looks up suddenly and howls out a short song in his language. “You must not let the ways shaped by modern culture lead you, you must come to understand there is another way.” He pokes at the fire reviving it to burn some forgotten sage, “That new way will include you and I sitting here and talking, that new way will include you on the butte, that new way can also include the life you now know. Those recurring images, and patterns in your dreams will lead you and they can be understood more directly, as they were originally intended.” She is a little confused since what he says sounds familiar, but she has trouble placing it within her schemata and therefore understanding it. She nods though since what she has understood makes sense, even though talk of this new way scares her. He nods back to her and stares into the flames. “You will still go up onto the butte and stay as long as you can.” “Yes.” For the first time she notices other people in this camp. Some are staring at fires, some are sewing and


others are staring at sticks stuck in the ground. She looks again at this old man who had introduced himself as Joe. In the Visitor’s Center he had looked like any old man. But here in this camp there is no mistaking it, he is Native American, maybe a medicine man. His braids, which were stuck down into his shirt fall onto his shoulders, the gray hairs signaling an end too soon. Joe starts singing songs in his language. She can almost make out what he is saying. They are definitely prayers to the spirits on this butte to protect her and speak with her. He throws a large amount of sage and cedar on the fire and she is covered in its smoke. The skeleton dancers from the Badlands take form in the smoke. They dance their weightless dance; rattling their bones at every chance and showing their teeth as some sort of smile. One extends a bony hand to her, as the smoke is pushed into the trees she sees they dance on red earth and it trails off to connect with the four, glowing trails on the butte. When the breeze pushes them completely away, Joe is sitting there holding his pipe. He prays again and lights his pipe. He blows smoke to the earth and to the fire. He blows smoke to the sky. He blows smoke behind him and then straight out in front of him. He touches the pipe to his heart and hands it, stem first, to her. She takes it with two hands, the stem in one and the red rock bowl in another turning the stem to her mouth. It is heavy and warm, the red rock slightly slick. She is very thirsty but as she takes the pipe’s smoke into her mouth, she loses thirst. She tastes cherries and feels satisfied. She sees cherry trees growing around her as they smoke. The cherry trees disappear when she takes the smoke into her mouth, making her taste cherries. She feels a strong connection to the earth and then when she exhales to the sky she becomes a conduit, a bridge for communication, a link between two worlds. She touches the bowl to her heart as she had seen Joe do, and something inside her moves; her heart starts beating another rhythm, slower and more sure, familiar yet new. “You may go up onto the butte now. But do not forget to return here when you are ready for a longer quest.” “Will you be here when I return?” “Yes.” He seems sad when he answers. She stretches out her legs to leave and sees how his form is silently melting into the ground. He holds his empty pipe in his cross-legged lap and tilts his head down. She wants to hug him. She feels she’s known him her whole life. And then he looks up and smiles the thousand wrinkles, “I will be with you on the butte.” She tastes wild again as he looks up at her with his badland, wrinkled face and constellations in his eyes. She can feel herself ingesting the wild, letting it inside her; she can feel


it start to run within her which causes her spirit to fly above her and yet still be attached to her. This gives her strength; she is no longer afraid of this wildness since it is her natural state.

Bear Butte Ceremonial Area, Bear Butte State Park, South Dakota After seeing the four trails that leave Bear Butte’s ceremonial area glowing on the butte she also was able to see them rolling down to the ceremonial area with the green one coming to glow under her feet. It was as if the trails were on fire but did not burn anything. Fear and a strong urge to follow her dreams and understand her visions worked on her for many years after this moment.


Chapter 37 Growing Rituals in Your Belly to find Time has no Boundaries She knows that Joe means he will metaphysically be with her on the butte, but she still wants to know how to keep in touch, “How do I find you then?” She is expecting a phone number or something. “The same way you found me today.” “How will I know I am doing things right?” “You will do what is right in your way. I can share with you my ways, but in the end you already know them. You are here as a bridge to a new time and you must trust yourself as that bridge. You must trust that you will do what is right— even if it is different from what was done in the past. Breaking with the past is not easy, as you have seen in your own life. Changing direction or ceremony is the same thing. It is not the motions or words we use when praying, when doing ceremony which matter. It is that we do the ceremony. It is that we do pray. I think you have come here to help others see that. I think many will understand.” Joe then says, “The past, present and future all occur at the same time.” He draws a diagram in the dust to illustrate how all three occur simultaneously because they are imbedded in each other. To him the magic of the present is its connection to both the past and the future at the same time. He darkens two intersection points between the three time references, then he squints at her and says, “The same things happen in both places.” She looks at the darkened areas he refers to and wonders how the past becoming present and the present becoming future could be the same. He then says that he was born into the present but quickly moved to the intersection between the past and present. “Then,” he told her conspiratorially, “Right before meeting you I moved to living in the intersection between the future and present,” he taps that darkened area with a smoldering branch from the fire. Like walking across a field it was, as I sauntered through a present-only consciousness finding myself at dusk camped on the edge of the intersection between the present and the future.”


Joe’s Rolled Out View

“If the same things happen in the past becoming the present and in the present becoming the future—how do you tell the difference?” she asks pointing at the two darkened areas, not lost to her was that he had made them dark. Joe’s hearty laugh rings through the trees as he draws some more in the dirt, drawing a small curve with a straight line. At first she thought he was laughing at her but he kept saying, “Good.” interspersed with his laughing and drawing in the dirt.

Joe points again at the two darkened areas in what he calls his “rolled out” view. “It’s a way of looking at life through the past or through the future—it’s really the direction you’re pointed like east or west—it doesn’t matter which way you’re pointed the same things will happen since you are in waiting—for the past or the future.” “Which way is the future?” He points to his heart; then he points to the earth; then he points to the sky. “It’s not a true direction like our east and west since it isn’t in this physical world—it’s more like positing where east is inside your thoughts.” She asks why he placed an arrow at the end by the future. “Because the future doesn’t end and I think there is a fourth state of time and the arrow, as with any vector, means the line continues on. It is in this continuation that I believe we will come to understand this fourth type of time.” He then takes his pipe and holds it to the sky. “Just as we can define time differently so we can also do ceremony differently. You did not smoke this pipe exactly as I did; you smoked it in your way. You did not dishonor the pipe by doing it like this. You have not gone to the lodge, but you will visit the butte. You do not dishonor the butte in doing so. You have been called here, and you came, that is how you are showing honor. You will leave this place and choose how to visit this butte, you will create your own ceremony and that ceremony will honor this place. All ritual and ceremony is changed by the participants. The leaders and the dreamers who grow rituals in their bellies cannot deny their creation. When their visions are laid to rot, their rotten bellies grow round and


distasteful. But when the vision is given life they are like mothers, protecting and nurturing as long as they can, before releasing their dreams and visions to the waiting world.” He motions to the others in this encampment, “They do not like how I speak now. They believe we will lose power from our ceremonies if we do not do them exactly the same way. But even they do not do them the same way! Each time I smoke my pipe it is different. Each time I pray for light, it is different. The earth is in a different position, the sun shines down only that way on only that day, the wind is unique for that moment. But they think that attempting to do the same ceremony, with the same words and motions will increase the power of the ceremony.” He laughs at this and eyes her carefully, “The power is in the intent. The power is in the right way of life. The power is in each step you take, each day, each minute. You can’t justify a wrong life by using old words. You can’t find sacredness in hollow steps. You must try to make each step sacred and then the intention will flow into your life becoming ceremony—the sacred ceremony of living your life. “The medicine men of just 200 years ago created new ceremony to adapt to their changing lives. Now, our lives are vastly changed but we try to use the same medicine. No wonder I can’t cure myself anymore! I am not living the life they lived who gave me my medicine. The ceremony I do does not fit the life I now live.” He looks at his pipe again. “I am not saying what we do is wrong, but it is not everything anymore. We must believe that new visions will occur and new medicine people, really let’s say new medicine, will venture into our lives. This means new ways and new words. That is why these people,” he looks around again at the others in this encampment and grows quiet, “that is why these people will erase me from their minds when I am gone. They will attempt to forget what I have said. That is why I must tell you, so that you will remember and that you will not forget.” He looks at her with dark, piercing eyes, seeing her frustration and confusion in this new way of life. He smiles. “It’s the quest for the grail, heh?” he looks at her with an ever-widening grin. She is scared and feels the wind chill her skin into goosebumps. She had been researching the grail legends to use as an analogy for how her students create “holy” grails that stay suspended, just out of reach. Things like a nice house in the suburbs, a brand new car, fancy clothing are things her students dream about and journey for but keep these grails just out of reach by doing drugs, having children while still in high school and dropping out of high school. She thinks again


that Joe must be a good guesser, how could he have known she was doing grail research? “You are right to think of the grail abstractly—but abstract it even further than money, family or home.” “Do you know I have been researching the grail?” she stammers clutching the grass around her as if she might fall. “Oh yes, I’ve seen you teaching with the tall, tall greenblackboard that reaches up to the ceiling.” Joe smiles at her and goes on to describe her large, hard wood floored classroom. The more detail he provides the more she clutches at the grass which somehow relaxes her with its softness and resiliency. Joe says to her, “Haven’t you seen me when I visit?” She shakes her head and says, “no” a little surprised that she accepts that he has visited her, how else would he know what her classroom looks like? How would he even know she is a teacher? She tries though to not think about it since it seems too ludicrous, too far flung to be real, she thinks she must be dreaming. Joe sees she is starting to fall asleep since she does not want to accept this new perspective so he pokes her and says, “Sing me that song you wrote about that Spike Lee movie 4 Little Girls.” She instantly wakes to the request, wondering how he could know her song called “Ribbons Needed” about four young black girls who were in a Birmingham church that was blown up by racists in the 1960’s. “You and I have dealt with racism” Joe winks at her, “Those civil rights workers, they were dreamers, they were visionaries. How do you think they were able to make such a profound change to our world? Do you think they were scared when they visioned what was needed?” She shakes her head yes, “Of course they were,” Joe continues, “Some of them needed help to keep going, to keep their eyes on the prize. Your songs are one way to keep your eyes on your prize—to tell the world about us.” She sings for him:


Ribbons Needed I’ll tie a ribbon around your heart To keep you at peace I’ll tie a ribbon around your heart To keep you at peace When I saw their burned out bodies When I saw their hearts had stopped Then I knew the anger for me Not me but my race When I teach there are no words To discuss the distance between us When I learn there are no words To defend this missing trust When I say goodbye to this Silently I walk away The war goes on inside Like a bomb it sets me up To return to you in pieces That we both try to pick up You blew me up You smoked me You tore me up You left me for dead I’ll tie a ribbon around your heart To keep you at peace I’ll tie a ribbon around your heart To keep you at peace When she finishes Joe smiles; nodding his approval. He then motions to colorful cloths tied to the trees around them and says, “We know ribbons are needed too.” Then Joe raises the pipe over his head and this wakes her even more to the moment. He says, “This is my symbolic grail. Just as Jesus did not imbibe his energy into a cup, I have not placed my energy into this pipe—but when I use it; it is a conduit for my energy to travel in prayer. I want to help you to wake up and find your energy.” He turns fully to her and she is scared again, slightly confused by all she has heard, yet feeling electrified. She wants to leave this place and forget everything; but gravity connects her too strongly. She feels the lava of the glowing trails flowing out of her veins connecting her firmly to


the Butte. The skeleton dancers are reaching the skies, and they turn back for a moment to reassure her of these feelings, of his words. But it isn’t much reassurance. She doesn’t really know what he means. She doesn’t know his ways; she doesn’t even know her own ways. She feels it would be easier to learn old ways and repeat past ceremonies. Having grown up Catholic makes that the most logical choice. If it worked once it must be able to again. There is strength in repetition. How hard it is to get anyone to change. Most religions cherish the idea that their ceremonies and actions are from thousands of years ago. But, she doesn’t want to disrespect Joe; she doesn’t want to disrespect the power that has pulled her to this place that has called to her since she was young to come here. She’s unsure what he is talking about, but she feels the strong intention and feels the rightness of it. Even so she says, “I really don’t know any of your ceremonies, I know very little of Native American ways.” “I am Lakota; I follow the ways I was taught. You are not Lakota; you must follow the ways you were taught. In spirit we all are taught our paths and our ways and it is up to you to find your own teachings on the butte.” “I do not remember being taught any ways. Who am I to even intrude in a place that is not mine?” He looks at her sharply, “Have you been called here?” “Yes, I had dreams.” “The dreams were given to you and not you given to the dreams. Are you here now?” “Yes, but I never saw what I was to do.” “You will do what you will do.” He says this offhandedly, turning his attention to his pipe. “I’m not sure I understand any of this. I don’t even know you. Although…” she trails off since this old man with leathery skin seems so familiar, seems like a tree she has been friendly with her whole life—sitting beneath it for hours at a time just thinking. Could Joe be a tree too? Such an odd thought rose forcefully in her mind, so she asked him, “Are you a tree too?” Joe smiles at her question and then he starts to laugh loudly, bellowing, shaking the trees and grass around them all while he laughs and laughs. The wrinkles on his face start to disappear as he laughs, making him look younger and younger. Joe’s youthful face looks even more familiar which makes her even more uneasy. She waits. Through his laughter Joe finally says, “Yes, yes I am the tree too.” And then he becomes serious, “You will do what is right.” He starts to take his pipe apart as he resumes laughing; he turns his attention completely to that. She is nothing to him now.


Chapter 38 The Earth Rocking Dreams This frustrates her, even with his surprising grasp of physics and philosophy and an uncanny knowledge of her life, she is unsure who he is and how he knows her. Her fear has turned to anger—if forces had brought her here why would they embody this laughing old man? So she gets up and leaves Joe sitting on the wet grass by his fire. As she walks away she thinks she hears him plaintively say, “But I am the tree.” But she doesn’t turn around. She goes to her car and drives to the trailhead, still upset for letting some old man get to her. The park ranger at the trailhead tells her the trail is closed at 7 pm so the “visionquesters can have the butte to themselves.” “How do I go on a vision quest?” She asks the ranger. “Well, it’s mainly for Indians but if a medicine man sponsors you then I guess it’s alright. I hear they spend four days in some sweat lodge, then four days on the butte, then four days back in the sweat lodge. They do all this without food or water, I really don’t know how.” She agrees with the ranger that 12 days without nourishment seems impossible. The way Joe had explained it, the vision quest is only for a few days. “Just don’t hike to the top today since it’s already late and I don’t want to hear any of those medicine men complaining to me that someone is still up on the butte.” The ranger motions to the ceremonial area she has just left. It is then that she knows that Joe is the man she was to meet at the slide show. He is also the young man riding a horse she often sees in her dreams. And he is the tree too. She wonders if she has just dreamt sitting with him by a sweat lodge. The familiarity she felt with Joe makes her pause as Berlin thankfully drinks water in the trailhead parking lot. The familiarity was a connection she had with him built from years knowing him in her dreams. She had mistaken her ease with Joe as an effect older people had on her, Joe could do her little physical harm and so she thought her ease stemmed from that. So she returns to the ceremonial area but he is not there. Even where the sweat lodge had been is empty. There are only a few people there not the others she had seen. They are laughing and talking to one another and she does not bother them to ask what has just happened. She knows instinctively that she has been in a timeless place maybe even with a timeless person. She takes a scary first step on a new path of belief in her dreams. Dreams are real. She returns to camp by Bear Butte Lake and fasts in preparation for tomorrow. Small piles of cedar, sage and sweat


grass form a half circle around the fire ring and on this summer night are the best kindling for a fire. The stars move as the incense frees her further to investigate this new path, this new way of thinking. Like the ley line ideas Joe told her about in the visitor center, she felt her life was full of similar intersections. These energy meridians flow throughout the earth; covering the land as veins cover our body, intersecting to form power places like the current intersections in her life creating moments powerful enough to alter her life. Thunder and little lightning glide across the sky etching abstract stories about connection and disconnection all in blue and white. The earth moves each time the thunder rumbles in gentle movements like a sheet billowing in the breeze, rocking her to sleep under intermittent stars and cedar tinged breezes and her trusty red blanket.


Chapter 39 Dream: Joe? Joe is a young man on a red horse. She is following him on foot through a field of tall, sweet smelling grass with the hills in the near distance. They enter a dark forest and she can only follow him by the sound of his horse breaking through the undergrowth. It is rough going and they seem to be moving too swiftly for such difficult terrain. She sees flickers of light ahead and knows they are reaching the end of this forest. When she emerges from the trees onto a field of short cut grass, she is alone with a white horse. It has a red, blue and black blanket upon its back and a bridle made from rope. It turns to her with a familiar neigh then starts eating the close cut grass. Beyond them are the lights she had seen, a city in the distance. She turns away from the city and walks with the horse back into the forest, back toward those hills knowing they are only separated by sunflower fields and time.

Tent beside Bear Butte


Chapter 40 Bear Butte = Ursa Major Rising before dawn, she drives to Bear Butte’s trailhead to start her hike. The warm 70 degrees is inviting now but it means heat later. Her dream from last night bothers her. Why would she turn away from the city? Was the young man on the red horse really the old man Joe she had met only yesterday? A beautiful dawn stretches across the eastern horizon first with watercolors of pinks, reds, oranges and blues before rays begin shooting out announcing the sun, the heat, the new day. The dawn’s watercolors are no match against the immense blue ink of the west and soon the sky is only blue and sun, but her and Berlin are well on the trail by then. Numerous signs explain the importance of this butte in Native American religion. One sign asks hikers to be off the butte by 7pm. Not sure what will happen on the Butte she only promises to try. Trees hold colorful strips of cloth fluttering in the breeze. They sing, “Remember me.” Colorful bundles on long cloth are tied to the trees and jangle branches up and down while not disturbing the stillness of the scene. Then a large, gray bird lands on the path in front of her allowing the sun to light on its few yellow feathers, it says, “remember me,” then flies off. Suddenly, a man rushes up behind her, almost jogging, his sweatshirt is drenched and his breathing labored. She can hear him saying, “Man, is this beautiful.” As he passes her he keeps repeating that and she only nods and moves out of his way. Just as she steps off the trail to let him pass, there is a sign directly in front of her asking hikers to maintain quiet so that others may pray. She can hear the man repeating his mantra as he runs up the side of the butte. She stops to get some distance between herself and the jogging man. The expanse of scenery rolls out, greeting her. Energy is coursing through the hillside--awakening her body to a clear connection between her and the butte. She holds onto a tree as she feels the energy explore her body and spirit which flies overhead watching intently. This is a powerful place. Berlin seems to know where she is, following the trail with trust and care, disturbing nothing and stopping often to glance back at her and give thanks for being here. Berlin chooses each stopping place, so when the red Doberman sits down next to a tree root that curves into a seat, she sits in the seat to survey the ceremonial area below. Bear Butte speaks. There is not one rock or branch that speaks alone. There is a union here, which speaks loudly and clearly. It is not just spirits who speak here; the very earth speaks and is heard.


Chapter 41 Vision: Eternity: when a tree’s seed is first imagined The root speaks in union with everything else, “Any branch on any tree will show you the circles of the whole tree’s age. Count each ring to find its growth in years. Add eternity to that number and that is when the tree’s seed was first imagined. Creation and growth are such short instances and mislead many away from the true nature of life. There are circles in our souls that indicate age, depth, wisdom. These circles are made by living, by spinning through space on Earth, by spinning galaxies and universes, by spinning atoms and breathe. All leave marks for us to examine and understand. Yet, many get dizzy or confused by the spinning and forget why we are here. We’re here to experience this form. We’re here to learn from this experience and produce a better environment for the next students. We’re here to prepare ourselves for what comes next." Bear Butte gently slopes toward the Black Hills. Wide circles of energy spin off the butte out over the land. She is deeply connected, her feet are firmly attached to the earth with a stronger attraction than gravity has ever provided. “What have you learned?” She asks the tree’s root. “I learn how dirt, sky and water work together to keep us alive. I learn how even you sitting here will affect my growth, my experience, my learning. I learn that we are all a part of this land. I learn that this land is a part of everyone, that you and I are the same. We are equal.” She thanks the tree’s roots. Having spoken with trees since childhood she is not frightened, but instead she smiles that Bear Butte decided to start her off with something she knows—trees speaking.

A Tree’s Root on Bear Butte


Chapter 42 Testing Courage

Talking with Bear Butte

She ventures further up the trail until a stiff wind starts whirling around her from the east. The sky is a motionless, cloudless blue; yet around her the wind has speed and intensity. It grows darker where she stands and surprises her because there are no clouds or other reasons to explain the sudden change. Looking further up the trail, the rest of the butte remains clam and motionless bathed in the diffuse sunlight of early morning; yet, where she stands is erupting in swirls of wind gusts and darkness. She continues walking and the wind and dust follow her, grass is bent flat and trees start rocking from their very roots pulling the earth forward and back and creaking within their hollow, ancient trunks. She enters into an unexpected debate. The sky carries words back and forth, but the conversation is inside this butte and inside her. She feels the darkness descend sharply commanding the wind to blow even harder. She is momentarily scared of these forceful elements but then an owl’s hoot calms her, makes her feel safe. Berlin merely closes her eyes to the rising dust as they continue hiking upwards. The argument is both literal and metaphorical, between purists and integrationists. The topic of concern is Native American Ancestry and Spirituality. Insults are flung at her as well as warnings to turn back, but neither of these detours her. “I am here to discuss more than America.” She says against the rising winds. A burst of air from beneath hits her full force, almost knocking her down, with voices saying, “That is not for us to discuss.” Then another force of wind pushes her strongly from behind saying, “No, we need to discuss this.” She’s pushed off trail into a ring of rocks. There is a confusion of voices arguing this point and she can only make out a few ideas. She sees the jogging man hurrying down the trail in full sunlight still chanting his mantra which comes to her disconnected in the fierce wind around her. Once his form vanishes on the lower trail the winds really take off, lifting her off the trail. Lightning and thunder join the wind in the argument. A sonic boom rocks the entire butte like an earthquake making


everything roll back and forth violently. The winds start picking up dirt and playing catch. She looks east and sees a huge swirling, silvery cloud rolling toward her. It looks like a tornado’s funnel cloud upside-down. This silver cloud rips through everything. The burnt out trees rock back and forth. The music of their roots banging in the ground underneath is like rhythmic drumming for the dust dancing in time. Yet all this calms her, brings a surreal peace over her. Looking away from the blowing dust and into the silver cloud, she tries to hear the voices more clearly. These are the same voices she heard when she was coming here yesterday and danced in the rain. Finally, the storm draws around her and viciously whips things to shreds; but where Berlin and her stand is silent. The sun still shines on the rest of the butte, but where they stand is immersed in storm. “We have something to tell you.” The voices say. “I also have something to say.”


Chapter 43 Vision: The Conversation The swirling winds produce a cacophony of voices. She can hear some say they will listen to her; others say they will not. Another powerful burst of wind descends upon her as this argument ensues. “I will listen.” she cries to the winds, “But you should listen too. I will remember you.” This seems to calm them and voices start chanting. She hums along not knowing what is being said but knowing the song well. They are chanting a prayer for this conversation. The rocking trees’ roots and thunder high overhead accompanies their chanting. Dust swirls in 100 foot gusts. It moves like long-robed dancers. She closes her eyes and sees images forming until she is back in the long grassed field with young Joe on his red horse. He turns the horse away from the dark forest ahead and starts to follow a river. The river winds through this valley of long grass. She follows along barefoot. There is an eerie calm surrounding her. She is surrounded by others she does not know. For a second unsure of her steps and direction from being a minority of one even the trees and dirt seem to be from another culture, one she has forgotten, one she doesn’t understand. Her steps feel clumsy and mismatched like two drunken kids trying to walk for the first time and finding it not what they wanted at all. She almost wants to turn back. The wind blows wildly around her yet doesn’t touch her, the dirt rises around her but never touches. The tall grass is bent flat in places and dances in other places. She can no longer see the horse and rider she was following. She stands in seclusion and wonderment, nature exposing tricks and clues. No wizard behind a curtain pulling strings; just spinning circles moving across space at varying speeds and distances, bright yellow lights and cold moon orbits so mathematical and precise she can only notate them saving equations for later. She must contrast this scene against her everyday reality and see where the fissures lie. She opens her eyes and sees the sun shining in the west and a huge rainbow coming from the silver cloud. It falls over where she stands and lands in the ceremonial area below. The rainbow comforts her as the shining silver cloud descends around her. The rest of the butte is still and calm while the storm still rages on around her. Now she is surrounded by the silver cloud, which is dazzling and warm. It lifts her up to some rocks in the distance and sets her gently down among them. The wind has not slackened at all and the thunder and lightning have increased. The grass is bent over as the tops of the trees bend over to touch the earth. The lightning comes crashing down all around her. She feels tiny, electric shocks as it strikes the earth. Then she hears the voices again. “You must teach.” They state through the lightning. “That is what I do, I teach high school,” she offers quietly.


“No, you must teach others about us.” The prayer bundles dance this way and that on the tree branches their colorful strips melt into the wind and coat it with colors. She is back in the dream. Joe gets off his horse and holds out his hand for her hand. He leads her to a field on the other side of the river. This field has many different colored flowers, all different shapes and sizes. The sun shines on them making them brilliant and gem like. “This is us.” Joe motions to the flowers. They all bow to him as if his motion is a strong breeze. Then they are in a canoe. He is sitting in the front with his back to her, his long hair caressed by a slight breeze as they flow downstream. “This is us.” He motions to the water flowing beneath the canoe. The water is so clear she can see the fish, rocks and plants beneath. Each is different from the others, yet each shares the river. Then she sees the same field of different colored flowers underneath the water. The shimmering sunlight makes them shine and speak. The water sparkles and sings as they slice through effortlessly. They get out of the canoe by the dark forest. He is walking into the forest and he motions to the trees, “This is us.” The trees become different colors, fantastic and brilliant. They enter the darkness of the forest and again she can only follow him by hearing his footsteps. Branches part to let her pass and it seems they are in the forest for a very long time. She can hear birds singing overhead and she looks up to see faint pieces of light through the treetops. Then she sees the faint light ahead. She steps through the last of the forest and onto the cut grass field. The field now has a sidewalk and in the distance she can see a city in a haze. Her white dress billows softly in the breeze as she stands in front of a sweat lodge with smoke curling from the top. “This is us.” She hears as she glances over the entire scene. Joe motions to the city in the distance, “This is us.” “Tell the world about us.” She opens her eyes and the silver cloud engulfs her. It is swirling and changing color like reflections of color shining off it. She can see nothing save for this densely packed cloud swarming around her. “This is us.” She hears again as she stares into the mass. She can slowly see the rest of the butte as the silver cloud lifts to show the storm still raging around her and the rest of the butte left alone. She sees young Joe near the start of the trail. He is turned toward her and smiling in the bright sunlight. A host of voices exclaim with him, “Tell the world about us.” The trees and grass blow the message fiercely around her. She turns to the rising silver cloud and says, “I will remember you, now listen to the message I have been given to tell you.” Blasts of wind surface all around her almost knocking her off balance. Berlin growls a little and leans against her. “We must share these lands; they are as much mine as yours. Spiritually we must share them with each other. I am an American. I am one of those


flowers in the field.” The thunder booms through the rock. “I am also the water flowing through the land.” Lightning strikes a rock overhead. “I am also those trees growing in the dark forest.” The burnt out trees rock in their grooves. “You say to tell the world about us—I am a part of that “us”. We must share this land and learn from each other as much as we can. There is much to be learned from everyone and everything. We both miss out on learning from each other. We should begin!”

The wind bursts again and causes the dust and clouds to lift away from her; the storm is subsiding. But still not even a breeze touches any other part of the butte save for where she stands. The grass all around her is still flattened like a horse’s mane as it races. Then the silence she had wondered about at the beginning of her journey returns but it works from inside her meeting the scene head-on. She feels the silence deep in her soul. It’s a resting place to regain energy, focus and motion. With the silence now firmly inside her she can reclaim her life. She starts down the trail. She has to climb down off the rocks where the cloud had placed her. Once her feet hit the dirt trail the winds dramatically subside. She keeps thinking in her mind, “We need each other to make our lives work. Our shared history is not a coincidence.” As she walks back down the trail the winds die down and she can now hear the voices agree, “Yes, we must learn from each other. You must tell the world about us.” There are dissenters but they are now less forceful and much softer. The “us” this time seems like the entire universe is possible. She can see a time when those born on this land allow the land to become a part of them and how that simple truth changes our time here. The land is alive. Recognize our ancestor: the land is alive, the sky is alive, the wind is alive just as she lives her life they live theirs. She listens to the voices all the way down. The sun is almost blinding as it reflects off the trail and into her face. She sees herself giving lectures, showing slides, generally talking to groups of people. She sees this book, in people’s hands. She sees people gathered together like those flowers in the field— all different colors, shapes, sizes. A slight breeze follows her to the end of the trail. Then the sun shines on her and shows an immaculate blue sky. It is exactly 7pm. She has been on the butte all day. She has kept her promise to return by 7pm. She sees three girls starting up the butte from the ceremonial area. She wishes she were the fourth. “Everyone born in North America today is a Native to America, a culture of our own making.” There are many spirits on the butte who will not listen and many more that do. She leaves the argument unsettled since it requires more discussion


and understanding since the tell is more than North America, more even than this world. Her perspective is completely changed by the storm and voices since both are connected to her, had come from her and for her. This intricate connection did not feel like oneness, but instead it felt like energy flowing together, mixing up the physicalities as they move. She returns to the ceremonial area but is disappointed that Joe is not there. She is not to see Joe again until the following spring when she finds him in the Cedar Pass Lodge in the Badlands National Park. He is drinking coffee and he scolds her saying, “I have been waiting three days.� It is May and she normally would not even be there but something makes her take time off from teaching and drive up there. Once she sees Joe she knows why.


Chapter 44 Mystical Dream Tending Does any experience really change us? Or are we enlarged or reformed or just prodded along in the right direction? If it is all a dream that we sleep through, how do we awaken? She camps again in the Bear Butte Campground on Bear Butte Lake. It is a basic campground but someone keeps leaving wonderful smelling dried plants by her fire. She swims even though the lake is dirty since she is covered in dirt and pieces of tree and sky from her hike, her conversation, her vision. Berlin barks for a long time into the darkening night sky, seemingly at nothing, standing alert looking at the butte. She feels the spirits are still discussing and Berlin senses it. She’s exhausted and wonders again how to survive four days and nights on the butte. She hears an owl hoot one time as the fire catches the different smelling plants and small pieces of wood, some dry others wet giving, off smoke and fire alternately, lifting into the starry sky and toward the looming dark hill she sleeps beside. She realizes it is her dream of sleeping next to the bear. After all the outdoors travel, her fatigue and renewed natural senses combine to create a new perspective on each moment. Each leaf that catches the sun is notated as are the patterns on the butterfly’s wings; a scent on the wind can be detected as a certain flower before she sees it, just as a twist in the trail is negotiated with more humility and care. She sees the Big Dipper hanging over the butte and uses if to find the constellation of Ursa Major—the Great Bear-which contains the group of stars commonly called the Big Dipper. The handle of the Dipper is the Great Bear's tail and the Dipper's cup is the Bear's flank. The Big Dipper is not a constellation itself, but an asterism, which is a distinctive group of stars that is easier for her to find then Ursa Major, sometimes she can’t see the full outline of the Bear but tonight she can see the legs, head and body of the bear, upside-down over the butte. It’s all about bears she smiles while sitting on her Smokey the Bear sleeping bag glancing over at the Winnie the Pooh image on her tent. While not the best camping gear, they have made their point! She thought how she had dreamt of herself lying down next to the bear and could see how Bear Butte had a “little bear” lying next to it in the form of a smaller, sloping hill. If she was the little bear then she would also be Ursa Minor, the little bear asterism in the sky also known as the Little Dipper which contains Polaris, the north star which is used for navigation since it remains almost fixed


in the nightly sky. She was the navigation for a new way if she followed what Joe had told her. Figures start dancing in the fire built like a teepee with dry grasses underneath and small sticks waiting for the covering of flames. A storm is building above. Flashes of lightning in green and white catch passing clouds in a spotlight. Large, dark birds fly high over head where the darkest clouds are and she wonders if the rain could even make it down this far? With all that has happened, she lies awake all night thinking about the future. For a few hours she worries over how all this might change her, rearrange her into someone that may not be able to live in polite society. She thinks of her boyfriend. He would definitely not want to hear about these experiences. She wonders, “Should I choose a comfortable life with someone who makes me feel good physically but who lives a completely separate life from mine, or should I brave it alone and see where all this weird stuff might take me? Should I just burn-out from teaching in the inner city or find another form of employment? What kind of employment could I retain if I plunge too deeply into this lake of mystical dreamtending?” After worrying, she lies down on her back in her east facing tent to gaze at the stars through the tent’s skylight. There are symbols in the stars like an “L”—an arrow pointing toward the butte sleeping close by. Dreams of future visits to Bear Butte are covered over by the slight rain and thunder overhead. Images of her as a child waking from a dream of this butte startle her into a sharper sense of purpose, place, of here, of now. She feels at home, at peace and silent. She knows there really is no choice in her future life, she now knows some of her truth and just as she learned in the Badlands, once knowing your truth means no more lies. Then she wakes inside a dream with the dawn and swims in the dirty lake once more. After breaking camp, she goes back to the butte’s trail and hikes to the top. The trail rises in elevation 1000 feet to reach the butte’s elevation of 4000 feet. She walks slowly and listens to the wind. Near the top, she stops to rest and picks up a rock. Inside the rock there is a buffalo and two horses. The buffalo is huge and rooted in this rock. She gets onto one of the horses and starts riding bareback. The horse stops in the field of different colored flowers. Their fragrance is strong and exhilarating. Another rock she picks up has a cross and three dots that resemble the dominant constellation from the night before that hung over the butte as she gazed at the sky. The last rock she finds in this dream has a scene on it: stars, waxing moon and a coyote howling underneath it. She


knows she’s the coyote howling at those who will not listen to her message and at herself to allow this change to take place and embrace the future. She howls to begin a new life archetype that she can use to replace the handed down archetype she has been working with. She continues hiking and almost gives up due to the heat but winds come up and push her from behind. At the summit the sun shines through deep green pine needles with multi-colored fabric tied to the branches. It is a perfect picture. “Tell the world about us.” The cloth ties flutter. She wakes with a rock in her hand. It has a coyote howling on it—a shadow of what she brilliantly dreamt. She watches the dawn rise with the rock still in her hand. She is a different person. She feels different in her skin after camping and dreaming. She walks down to the lake and sees her reflection—how different she looks! Hair free from product or blow dryer is shining and healthy, her clothes are looser and the sheer Chanel top is a mess; her skin is brown. She says to the eastern sun, “I will tell the world about us.”


Chapter 45 “On the way home…stars, stones and tears” Storm Over Place Between Two Rocks Badlands National park, South Dakota This is a powerful place that just grows in power with each year she visits. She has seen the future and the past here. The present is in each inhale of the fragrant air and the future is in each exhale which makes her feel so at home that sometimes she cries.

She returns to the Badlands’ Place Between Two Rocks on her way home. She stands there in silence before saying the Prayer to the Four Directions. The winds pick up as she prays for each direction’s guidance, swirling around her gently. She stands for a long time letting the sun soak into her and the wind flow through her. Then a small stone shines brightly speaking: “You now have the power to help others find peace. Use this power to help others find the land within them, the peace we all hold. Your purpose is contained in these actions. You must do this even in the city.”

She starts crying when the small stone mentions the city. She remembers the noises, masses of people and the pollution. She almost doesn’t want to return. She remembers a philosophy teacher who often spoke about purpose so she created this equation: Purpose =

what you want to do what is needed

Purpose is defined as what you want to do divided by what is needed. As an unbalanced equation it is not meant to be solved; instead, it is meant to express a state of being. She remembers then the brightly shining stones she saw during one of her first days in the badlands and the mirrors that reflected images for her to see. She looks at the small, shining stone calmed by this recent memory. The small stone continues, “The red road starts with a tear. The red road

starts with compassion. The compassion you show yourself is the same compassion you can show others. You are walking a scared path, you must continue.


“Life is not what it seems. Dust may blow in your eyes, yet you still see. Winds may storm around you, but the sun still shines and you are untouched. Skies may darken with rain and then a rainbow over a sweat lodge appears. Peaceful stars out a tent window are the same stars seen on a city street all are the same stones on the ground now, they are the tears you cry at discovering yourself, all glisten with wetness and pride. “Many people say we are the only ones, but these stars do not lie. Their multitude belies the question-not what if life exists out there, but instead where is it and how will we communicate? “Life is not what it seems. A sunset over the Badlands brings good. People smile as they drive by knowing we are all travelers but are we not always travelers? Should we not smile and bring peace to one another every day? “Life is not what is seems. You appear tourist but instead you are pilgrim. You have been born on this land for a purpose. You must claim this land within you; the land has claimed you already; it has been calling you forever, it is the stage you can stand on to tell the world about us. “Poets before you have risen to the challenge. Mystics of the past have alchemated their havens. Shamans today accept you with wind and suns setting over hills. Circles within circles collide within you.” She asks the colors washing over her with their words of support and encouragement, “How am I to live? How am I to teach?” “Dance to the beating of your heart with each step sacred. Tell the World about us.”

As Above, So Below


Chapter 46 Misty Eyes Dried with Backs of Hands

Dawn in the Badlands Badland National Park, South Dakota

She sleeps near the Place Between Two Rocks with only her red blanket and tears of intermittent happiness in the reality that dreams are real and with fear in the reality that dreams are real. She drives through the Badlands early the next morning as the sun lights the road but has yet to fully rise. The trees, rocks, grasses all speak to her, “Remember us.” “I will remember you.” She promises, “I will tell the world about us.” Chills run across her arms as the cliffs in the badlands wall come into view. Frightened by how real they are, she looks away to the acres of grass for comfort but her loneliness has now been filled by crumbling cliffs composing the last of an ancient sea. The loop road turns to the north and she looks west again to see the banded cliffs releasing her held breathe and inhaling the same air that swirls around her. With each inhale, with each exhale she is more at peace then questioning. How can it be rock and dust are more connected to her than any lover before? The chills that creep up her arms to her back are at first caused by the thrill of seeing these cliffs again, these cliffs that she had dreamt of for so many years. But now she is worried about why these cliffs make her feel so alive, worried that no one will be able to stand up against them or create these feelings inside her. Like an intense love, her stomach releases butterflies and her hands are slippery on the steering wheel as she parks at the overlook parking. She tries to calm herself, telling herself she is just excited by dreams being real, by having conversations with wind and rock on bear butte, by meeting Joe. She almost convinces herself as she ties her gym shoes for one last walk before driving home. She straightens her socks and stands up straight and is confronted by those cliffs and the feelings of love and contentment come back like a flood knocking down walls she had built around her heart and opening her mind to another life. She thought of something Ralph Waldo Emerson said about understanding nature, that to do so we need to have “an original relationship to the universe.” She was experiencing an original relationship with these cliffs, this place. The badlands wall draws closer with each step. She thinks it has been etching its outline on her soul since her childhood. That etching is now being transferred to her mind and then to her life as a peaceful surrender to wilderness. Last night’s stars touched the still smooth horizon, teaching her more about dreaming, today those stars have landed at her feet—sparkling and sincerely beckoning to be seen, to be incorporated into her new life.


She is thrilled to see the deeply pooled blue sky behind those ancient, fragile badlands. Sun rays cascade in large tracts to highlight areas of the cliffs by stripping away color and definition while the angular sections have clearly defined shadows which show many colors. Red, gold, brown, tan, white all follow patterns exposing dried rivers, fossils and lost rocks. Once close enough to see each fissure and color, tears crash down on her face causing her to worry more. She wants to remember who she is. She wants to remember her past, her present and dream her future. She wants to remember us. She knows it will be hard work allowing her past a presence in her life, making decisions about who can be in her life. She knows that she has to take the first steps in this new way of thinking when she returns to her life as a high school teacher, an artist, a woman who needs to be loved. Will she ever be the same? Could she ever be the same? The power she felt while looking at the Missouri River and tasting wild for the first time was a power from the outlines of the badlands and black hills, a power that has been transformed into this intimacy she feels with these cliffs. The outlines on that horizon were familiar and comforting. At first she had felt the power was from the moment before she was to cross into The West, the moment when she understood the courage needed to make such a trip, the moment when she decided to truthfully examine her life. But now, confronted with an immediate rush of love through her being for these gentle outlines of hills and cliffs made up of fossils, dust and dirt she wonders at the power in these badlands and black hills. It is also the power inside her; the power of faith felt in love thrilled her and gave her that first taste of wild. Freely letting these emotions cycle through her, the wind starts circling around her—drying her face and hands and causing dust to rise up, glittering like dense constellations in the swiftly rising sun. She exhales and inhales the scene, the stars, the cliffs; feeling them glowing from within her. The skeleton dancers come softly, gently moving almost reverently around her before including her in their circle, in their Red Road Dance. She dances happily, glad for the familiarity and familial contact. She can hear the drumming coming from her heart beating. She will remember us, she will work to understand how to tell the world about us. As she hits the interstate she wonders how she will remember them when she even forgets herself. She’s always been afraid of losing herself in something or someone, and then when she’s awake she recognizes that she has lost pieces of herself and does not know where to start looking for them. It will be hard to forget these past few days and the experiences

Dawn in the Badlands 4


that have proven to her that dreams can be real, that dreams are visions of timelessness and roadmaps for the here and now. But she could fall back into the old habits and patterns and be unable to find the courage to speak of what she has seen, to speak what she now knows. She says as a mantra, “I will remember us; I will remember to have faith in myself. I will remember to walk with each step sacred and dance to the beating of my heart. I will tell the world about us.” She drives for hours in silence before stopping at a gas station to call her mom who says to stop by the family farm in Wisconsin on her way home since her dad had gone there for the weekend. She decides instead of telling the world about us literally to her dad; she would just tell him she loves him. As she gets closer to the farm energy fills her, lights her up like the night sky turns lighter blues with dawn. The fields are already bursting with the potential fall harvest—ready crops as she realizes the disparity between three generations of her family: her grandfather a Wisconsin dairy farmer, her father a carpenter in the suburbs, and now her—still unsure where she fits but with a better understanding of the ratio between what she wants and what is needed—she understands better her purpose which is unlike the purpose so clearly defined for her grandfather and creatively defined by her father, now she must continue creating. A wilderness of stars greets her arrival at the farm, even as dawn shows a storm brewing far to the east, the stars are bright. Her early rising father is in the kitchen making coffee and is happy to see her. She hugs him and says, “I love you.” He smiles and says, “That’s why I work so hard, everyday, because I love you all so much.” Misty eyes are dried with the backs of hands. She realizes standing in that ancient farmhouse kitchen with her father that this is also part of the “us” she is to tell the world about, the “us” of family, of community, of the potential we all have to live rightly, to live sacredly, to live together. She enjoys working with her father on the farm, mowing the ever growing lawn and tending to the ever growing trees. They are quiet with each other and glad to have each other. She has vivid dreams as the evening exposes more delights in shining stars.


Act Three: Beautiful Dream: the sacred ceremony of living one’s life Season: Spring Direction: South



Chapter 47 Dream: Beautiful Dream She is riding a white horse over vast, open prairies with a giant sky above. No saddle or bridle just the freedom of wind, horse and rider pushing through the tall grass. The horse is swift with a pure white mane softly flowing around her. She barely holds on to the liquid movement beneath her. They stop for shade under a lone cottonwood tree near a slight creek. They linger by the tree’s trunk watching clouds roll in to cover the sun, to predict rain in their own way. Suddenly the tree becomes a man who says, “It is Joe.” She turns to look but once facing the tree the man is no longer there, just tree. But in her turning she saw the shadow of the tree change from man to tree and knew something had happened. But the sky and clouds and prairie are all too beautiful, so she continues riding swiftly on the liquid moving white horse, momentarily forgetting the man and the tree.


Chapter 48 3 Suns and a Moon She knew it was him ringing the doorbell. She had hoped to leave soon, to drive with only the moon lighting the road once she was free of the city. But he stood on her front porch ringing the jingly bell of the 1880’s decadent mansion she lived in; sharing the first floor with roommates that left as soon as they arrived since 2 blocks east was Wicker Park in its height of partying. “Hi,” was all she could say to her boyfriend. Some punk dressed artists were walking down the street and rang out their hellos to her. His Armani suit was such a contrast to their tattooed and pierced hipster perspective. She did not feel attached to either: the beautiful, wealthy man on her front porch or the punks in the street, her path lay somewhere in between. He handed her a brightly colored bag with contrasting tissue paper as he walked past her into the apartment. The tall, tall doors moved easily open for him as she shoved the equally tall front door closed. He patted the seated Doberman on the head once and went to sit on the couch; she dutifully sat next to him. The Doberman, Berlin, came to sit on the floor leaning against her leg. Inside the bag was a pair of Ray ban sunglasses. She put them on and said, “Thanks, is there an occasion?” “I just didn’t want you to go away angry. You know I don’t understand why you go to South Dakota, but I want you to know that I…” he trailed off as he roughly took her hand in his. The feeling between them grew in silence. “I just didn’t want you to go off angry.” He mumbled squeezing her still empty ring finger for effect. She thought of the diamond ring sitting in the black jewelry box, hidden in the bottom drawer of her bedroom dresser. She would sometimes take the ring out to let it shine in the sun, but she never put it on, not since that one time when he put it on her finger. “Well, thanks again. I wasn’t angry, I left this morning to go hang out with the girls and now I’m packing which is why I didn’t come by your place.” It all sounded reasonable to her. “So you would’ve left without seeing me?” he sat back on the couch bringing her hand to the inside of his thigh. Such an obvious move usually ruined the feeling for her since she loved how mysteriously this feeling hung between them. Neither of them owned it or could control it, which made it hard to leave alone. It was a bridge they could both take to an


out of time place, an out of body experience. It was one of the reasons she still dated him even though she knew he would never support her work in telling the world about us, she hadn’t even told him anything about it.. He always chose the in time place, the in body experience but she was wet with anticipation for him anyway. They had been together so many years now; they both knew what the other needed physically, sometimes in uncanny ways that thrilled her even more. His hands moved toward her so she spread her legs for him. He groaned as he moved to kiss her neck and then chest before unbuttoning her blouse and pushing aside the lace Victoria’s Secret bra he had just bought her for no reason. His mouth sucked on her nipples for a long time; she began to need him so much she unzipped his pants and wrapped her hand around him. She wanted him inside her but he kept sucking on her breasts taking mouthful pieces of flesh deep into his mouth then sucking hard on her swollen and tender nipples which he made hard and red. She pulled her pants down and laid on the couch taking his sucking with her while his erection lay on her stomach and she moved her hands to place it inside her if he wasn’t going to when he said, “I just want you like you are now, you come back a little different each time and I don’t like it.” He pulled back so she could see him wet for her and he could admire his work on her nipples which included several large hickies that were deep purple and red across her breasts. “They were his.” He thought licking his lips, knowing he would soon be inside her no matter what her answer. “I would have called you.” She attempted, knowing that wasn’t the answer he wanted. He showed his displeasure by grabbing his erection and stroking it. Was he blackmailing her, teasing her into this state to make her agree to something? He had never tried manipulation with her before, but she had never done her own thing as much as she was now, doing things he actually disapproved of like going back to the badlands to work more with Joe. “What do you want me to say?” she asked. “That you’ll stay like this and not come back all different. It takes me weeks to get you back to normal. I need you like this.” He pushed himself toward her getting her stomach wet, she was hoping he couldn’t resist but he just kept touching her stomach. Even though his slow southern drawl usually put her over the top this time it annoyed her. She had never thought about why he treated her so strange when she returned, now she saw that he was trying to undo the progress she had made in finding her true self and her true work. She knew now that she was going to have to break up with him, but


then he pushed himself inside her and whispered in her ear, “just say ‘yes’.” As he fully entered her she said yes many times but not for the reason he wanted. She thought of her attachment to him and felt blinded by it as if he were three suns and a moon blazing down on her. She could only see his outline then since the suns and moon were behind him. He was all shadow, no features and she saw how he was featureless since he was who she had made him up to be. With only a strong physical connection as a bond, a true relationship had never occurred; instead, she had made him who she needed him to be but who she needed now was a real love, a man who would get to know her and build a relationship based in love and not just sex. “You know I love you.” He said as she allowed all thought to disappear. “Yes.” Yes she did know that. Yes she did.


Chapter 49 for myself and for you

The Zig Zag Path Badlands, South Dakota

She hadn’t seen the smoke rising on the horizon beyond the disparate buildings which made up the small reservation community of Lakotas in western South Dakota. She had to ask the old woman who was always sweeping the desert floor in front of her home. The woman’s answer was merely a wrinkled hand pointing toward the thin line of smoke rising into the clear blue sky. The woman eyed her carefully then resumed sweeping. She turned back to her car but the old woman said, “No, you must walk.” So walk she did after parking her car on the outskirts of the reservation next to a lonesome shack. She reaches for the hawk feather handing from her rear view mirror. An Egyptologist had gifted it to her when his work at the Field Museum of Chicago was completed. She had assisted him in translating large slabs of stone with an older form of hieroglyphics on them. It was a love song about eternity and eternal love. She had held a tiny vacuum cleaner that sucked tiny dust fragments away that may have misconstrued the meaning of the chiseled forms. She had wondered why he had hired her since he hadn’t seemed to like her very much when she was an English major in his classes. But they got along quite well and discussed all types of topics as he scribbled ideas down on a small spiral notebook, checking several volumes he had with him to make sure he was reading it right, then he would take his notebook home to his voluminous library to make sure he had translated everything correctly. On their last day of work he had taken her out to


lunch and gifted her the hawk feather telling her how the Egyptians had believed that to reach the afterlife their hearts would be weighed against a feather. She had felt honored and kept the feather close by for many years until she had lost track of it in her many moves once her teaching career began. It resurfaced once she started working with Joe and she felt strongly that she should give the feather to him. He would never accept money from her, sometimes he would accept a lunch or dinner, but he did enjoy the occasional rock or sage she had picked or some tobacco so she thought the feather would be a nice addition to those gifts. The sun had only recently risen but the desert was already glowing with heat. As she approached the smoke, she saw a lodge made of animal skins and brightly colored blankets thrown over simple branches. A fire spoke outside the lodge with rocks glowing in the center, Joe seemed to be sitting beside it facing east his back to the lodge door. But the closer she got the less she saw. Joe wasn’t sitting by this open fire on the vast desert floor next to a sweatlodge, so she waited outside the lodge for a while. Then the door flap opened and she heard Joe say something from inside so she said, “Hi Joe.” The response was a brown hand motioning her to come inside. She crawled in on hands and knees through the eastfacing door, surprised how cool the desert was in her hands. The circular space asked for clockwise motion until she was sitting across from Joe who was covered in darkness once the door flap descended. The darkness became a canvas for her to paint memories, fantasies and a little reality. Joe poured water over the hot stones releasing the sage and pinion into fragrant steam not unlike the smell of a sage field at dawn as the dew dries. Joe sang softly and then spoke in both Lakota and English “To honor,” Joe said, “both his nations.” Then he was silent as the heat started to gather and make it hard to breathe. She clutched at the still cold desert floor seeking solace and some certain absolution in the coolness of the ground. In the dark and silence she felt her spirit move toward understanding why she was sitting in the dirt, sweating. She saw glowing sticks dancing in the air in front of her. She had not created them and she watched how each stick paired off with another to form a cross then disappear. Over and over this happened until all the sticks were gone. Then she felt as if she had been transported to the side of Mt. Harney. She was sitting with many elder Lakota women who were singing and moaning as dark clouds gathered overhead. She was seated on white fur and moaned with them. Then she came back to sitting on the desert floor with Joe looking at those burning rocks between them. Many times Joe and her had simply sat on the ground in the extreme heat of the


desert and sweated. Joe said he only built a lodge when he needed some help so she wondered what he needed help with today. She told her dreams to Joe in the sweatlodge. Each time she finished with a dream, Joe would pour water on the smoldering rocks, then lean outside to bring more in. She told four dreams to Joe. All were about her journey on a white horse. She had dreamt of this horse since childhood and had only recently begun to ride him having to step on a rock to straddle his back. Joe had laughed heartily at the thought the horse was a Freudian symbol. Then his tone and demeanor became serious as he explained the “end of times”, the fully walked medicine wheel, the last season, the white season. A time of great change, white symbolized the light of good intentions. The dark forests she traveled through were surely her unconscious but also the darkness of the “right way” the ceremonial rules that trapped spiritual possibilities in a labyrinth of laws, prescriptions and codified ritualistic motion. Joe often lamented about why people participate in rituals like a sweatlodge with no idea where the lodge idea came from, what its uses have been, or even how to feel or experience it. These people rely on teachers and others to explain how to “do” the ritual but the original, foundational experience is lost to them as is knowing how to feel during the ritual. Joe would talk about Carl Jung said that copying ritualistic behavior to reach someone else’s experience was to become “petrified” and incapable of understanding or making use of the ritual as it was intended. Making things worse, many people participate in rituals never believing in the foundational experiences which created the rituals. Things like having visions, questing, shape shifting, activation of unconscious knowledge and many more attributes of foundational experiences are illusionary to many people, or in the realm of fantasy rather than reality. Some people try to bring these attributes into reality but then keep them as “fixed” experiences that are rituals in themselves which negate the need for creative alterations that are necessary in order for all rituals to remain as bridges between consciousness and unconsciousness, physical realities and spiritual ones. Without such creative development these rituals and these people become dead to the true life of spiritual consciousness which is ever in a state of becoming, changing and adapting to the necessities found in lives which are also in the state of becoming, evolving into the future present all true rituals seek to attain. Joe felt much


of the information we needed about life, about rituals could be found in our dreams. She knew now her dreams were of the Badlands and Black Hills because the details matched the reality of these places. Even specific formations had been in her dreams for years. But there were also other places she dreamt of which she knew were real places she would eventually find. Joe said, “Dreams are our strongest ally and our weakest defense.� Joe attributed all his powers and knowledge to his dreams. She had begun to feel the same of hers. Before the fourth and last round of the sweat lodge Joe asked her to sing one of his favorite songs that she had written called Sweatlodge: Sweatlodge I. People lift off and leave Go to speak with clouds and breeze With spirits crawling in the trees Water kisses all their leaves Roots hidden in Bear Butte Telling dreams and visions Can bring us new life Where we cannot hide People lift off and leave Go to speak With clouds and breeze Water kisses all our fears Making them all disappear Transformed by smoke and love They change into courage People lift off and leave Go to speak With clouds and breeze Let the bright sun blind us Entering a new world Let our love embrace us As we dry off and smile Me and the Butte

People lift off and leave Go to speak With clouds and breeze When the fourth round was over, she was completely drenched in sweat with the desert firmly imbedded under her


fingernails. Joe moved outside spreading the brilliant sun into the lodge as she finished her clockwise circle to exit toward it. But once her hand moved the door flap further open it turned out to be Joe’s shoulder. She stood next to him between the fire and lodge watching the shadows creep over the jagged dust toward them. He turned to her and smiled. She was not surprised by the scene changing nor by the lack of rational explanation for it. She clasped hands with him the way he had shown her: hands crossed over one another. She gave him the hawk feather and he held it up, slowly turning it around in the bright sun. His murmuring meant he liked the gift and would accept it. He said, “You know the ancient Egyptians would think to get to the other side their physical hearts would have to be weighed against a metaphorical feather.” She was shocked and told Joe about the origin of the feather. Joe nodded thoughtfully, “Sounds like he had a bit of a crush on you.” He winked for emphasis. “No. He was just giving me something after a project we worked on was over.” “Don’t underestimate your power as a woman. You see those Egyptians felt that if they had not fared well in love they would have to relive this existence until they got love right and their heart would be lighter than the feather. Everyone needs love. Medicine people usually get theirs from the rocks, sky and earth; but some try to have physical love as well. It usually doesn’t work out.” Joe rarely spoke like this so she was quiet when he finished. She wondered if Joe had tried to love and how that had worked out. She also wondered if she would have love in her life beyond the rocks, sky and earth. She hoped so. They sat and watched the shadows envelope the cliffs until Joe finally said, “You have come for more tradition because you still have the dreams.” “Yes,” she reluctantly agreed. “You need to search yourself for your answers. History doesn’t hold a key to it; tradition is not what you want. You have enough information now to start telling the world about us.” She knew tradition was not what she wanted, never had wanted it throughout her life, and had even rebelled against it many times. She knew she needed to start telling the world about us but felt stuck. After a year in Chicago she was confused and disconnected. With the new insight provided by her boyfriend she could see how some of the people in her life actively tried to undo the work she was doing with Joe, the work of finding herself and living her life. While in the lodge she had tried to unchain her heart and unshackle her spirit so that she could be free to understand herself. Joe’s mind games


took a little getting used to even though she had had a thousand miles to prepare; he always caught her unprepared. Slowly she felt the dust enter her with each breathe, attempting a more intimate connection between the land and her like two lovers nakedly embracing after sex. But Joe tried to be obliging, “Sometimes we look for things we do not need, once we find them we forget what started the search.” He poked at the fire that felt cold compared to the afternoon sun. “My search started because I dreamt of you and this place. Once I knew this place was real I felt you must be too and I found you.” Once the words came out she realized they were wrong since she still questioned her purpose, her new life even now after several years. “No,” he interrupted her circular thoughts, “that is what first brought you out here, what is it brings you back?” At first she thought they had already covered that since she still dreamt of him and this place, but then for some reason she thought the answer was imbedded in his question and searched for it there, “I bring myself back…” she started out hesitantly. Joe threw the poking stick into the fire angrily, “This isn’t some class you can think your way out of or some business deal you can twist—this is life! Don’t answer me like you have no idea! Don’t give me simplistic logic when I ask for life! What is the most sacred ceremony?” he demands her to answer. “Living my life,” she says with little enthusiasm since she dislikes his anger. He rises without effort, dusts himself off and walks away. She followed his lead but realized she had left her new sunglasses on the ground where they were sitting so she returned to the place only to find the fire and lodge gone, vanished but the tracings in the dust made by her and Joe’s circular movements in then out of the lodge remained with the burnt center where the stones had been marking the center making the markings look like a Tibetan Buddhist mandala while the markings of Joe and her sitting outside the lodge made the whole scene look like a new kind of Navajo sand painting. She stood looking at the markings as the wind came in to erase the desert floor of their presence. She was more surprised by her lack of surprise at the vanished lodge and the wind’s erasing but she slowly understood how the scene was cleaned of the ceremony—like how the sand painting or mandala was also cleared away as part of the ceremony and produced a greater effect, a greater chance at healing since healing is returning to our harmonious state, in balance within ourselves and with our environment. Being out of balance or


using ceremonial rituals outside of a scared moment could be as dangerous as leaving a sand painting intact after the ceremony is over. She was not surprised to find those sunglasses waiting, their black shine showing which reality she still held onto more strongly but as she started walking back to Joe, who had stopped to converse with a tall rock, she felt the wind following her, erasing her footsteps, her movement on this desert floor, her past life and all its attachments. She had gone to see Tibetan Buddhists making a sand mandala in Chicago one evening and one of the monks spoke about the mandala and its power to heal, facilitate change and bring things into balance. He said that certain patterns were painted with sand depending on the need for the ceremony but that the strongest mandalas were those that had yet to be formed or even imagined. He said the searching through imagination or directed fantasy is also part of the ceremony. She remembered how powerful it had been to watch the monks sweep up the sand when the mandala was finished. Each person had been given some of the sand and then the rest was taken to the Chicago River. She thought how similar what she had just witnessed was. She caught up with Joe just outside his home. For an old man who continually told her he was “not much longer with this world” he moved extremely fast. “You got a new van.” Joe said eyeing her inherited already pushing 150,000 miles van. “Yes,” she laughed, “Someone hit the other car, totaled it. This van was my mom’s” Joe nodded silent for the passing of her mother then went over to touch the hood of the van and then to say hello to Berlin sitting in the driver’s seat like a person touching the side of Berlin’s face before scratching behind the ears—the greeting the dog most approved of. “What were you doing when the other car was totaled?” She thought back to the accident and remembered driving home after walking in the forest with Berlin. She had felt lonely that late afternoon and thought of stopping by a friend’s house when the accident had occurred. She relayed this to Joe who stood petting the large Doberman’s head pushed through the partially open window. “You talk with me as if I know nothing, as if I am nothing, as if I don’t know you.” She had forgotten how dismissive he was to her, how rude. Last time she had seen him the visit was ended simply by him walking away and her not following. Even now, if he had not been blocking the driver’s seat, petting the dog so tenderly and with a familiarity that spoke of more time with her than the few days a year he actually had spent. If not for this, she might have left.


Then Joe reminds her of what he has told her many times before, “What does Jung ask: Why did this happen? Was there a purpose? Is there a meaning behind why this happened or why you thought this way?” She thought about this when the entire scene dipped from view and all that was left was— “Nothing,” she said, “I was doing nothing. I should have been doing something but I wasn’t” Joe nodded in agreement. “So you have come here to do something?” “Something that matters,” she quoted the Nine Inch Nails song that she would blast to keep her awake on the drive up here. “Matters to who?” “The world.” was her impulsive answer, which caused Joe to laugh. “The world doesn’t need you or me.” “To people,” she tried again. “They could care even less.” Joe said as he opened the car door to let Berlin out. She realized how out of place she was as she watched the pedigreed, watch dog contrast against the dilapidated shack. Berlin’s precise movements cut through the poverty and chaos, even as the dust began to collect almost instantly on the dog’s dark coat. A piece of yellowed newspaper blew against Berlin’s paw only blowing away after the Doberman shook it loose. She answered again softly, “To myself, to you,” Ah,” Joe noticeably relaxed, “Now we are getting somewhere.” He went into his home leaving the door open for her. She followed and Berlin ran inside with a wagging, cropped tail obviously remembering the place. “Yes, yes” Joe said to the dog, “I have your favorite here. He extended a piece of buffalo jerky which made the dog sit then graciously accept it from him. He smiled and turned to filling a tea pot with water from a plastic jug as Berlin went to the rug by the foot of his bed that he had said many years before was “for dogs”. He bent over to light the wood in the old cast iron stove the tea kettle waited on and then sat down at a small sturdy table with four just as sturdy chairs. Joe’s home was this one room shack. A twin bed with a Lakota star quilt on it, the table and chairs, a stove, a basin to wash up in and shelves lining every wall they could, crammed with books and bottles filled with herbs and liquids. Joe lived on the outskirts of the reservation town because he said he wanted peace, but it meant he had no running water and a generator for electricity. “You chase after things you think you need.”


She sat, feeling the table and chairs like she had felt the dust earlier—everything trying to connect with her. She knew she needed very little, but her bulging closets and huge shoe collection provoked her to sigh, “I know.” “You get lost in chasing the future or sometimes in still trying to forget the past. You spend very little time in the present.” Again she had to agree. No matter how many experiences, books or attempts at being in the present she tried, she always woke up to find herself thinking about the past or future. Sometimes months would pass with her asleep to her real life. She would catch herself shopping for an outfit for some perceived future outing or because of some past wardrobe mistake. It seemed she was still spending too much energy in trying to forget her past or trying to reach the future, afraid to live in the moment for there the truth of her loneliness, the seemingly fruitless search for meaning, for peace, for love were all too sharp and respective of their work on her. She wondered what those purple flower bulbs she had planted all those years ago looked like and at least felt more calm about this part of her past. As she thought, Joe sat nodding. After many such visits with him she knew he could guess what she was thinking. “I fall asleep—“she started when Joe interrupted. “Asleep, yes that’s a good way to describe how you have been.” He rose in answer to the boiling kettle, taking two brown cups down from a shelf above the stove. He threw what looked like grass into the cups and poured the steaming water over it. As he set a cup on the table for each of them a sweet smell wafted upwards in the steam. He sighed, “It takes a lot of energy for me to wake you. When you first arrive you are almost completely asleep. You should arrive awake so we can save time and I can use my energy to teach you to help you to see you are ready to tell.” She took a sip of the still steaming tea, getting a piece of the long grass in her mouth. She started to spit it out but Joe waved “no” so she swallowed. Was she ready to tell? “I’d like to be awake all the time.” “That’s one of our goals here.” “I guess I feel afraid of the sharpness of some of my feelings…” as she stumbled through this weak explanation she felt herself starting to awaken, it was like she was coming to life again. Erroneously attributing it to the tea she took another hot sip. It was like she had literally been asleep for days and now her body started its ascent towards wakefulness. It wasn’t like a jolt from caffeine or from working out, it was more like she was deep underwater and had to swim upwards while holding her breathe. A simple act of concentration on being


awake was enough to wake her. She had forgotten how easy it was to wake herself simply by paying attention. “Being asleep is more than just not being awake. It also means that a de-sensitization has occurred, emotions are held in check, personalities are sublimated, and spiritual intents are blurred.” Joe said pointedly. She offers him her current deliberations, “A main reason for that happening is to be within a group, share in a community. 100 individuals without a shared sense of reality will have trouble communicating and living together.” She counters. Joe cuts her off sharply, “Or is it because no one in that group of 100 knows himself or herself at all! If someone is clear about who they are then communication can occur. If someone cannot be clear about who they are…isn’t it all lies then?” He rose to get the little squirrel that holds his brown sugar. Watching him put two teaspoons into his cup she is amazed how sharp and decided these simple actions are. “Yes.” Was all she could say since she knew part of her telling was to tell the world about community and how important it is, so how did she get so off track thinking people had to not be themselves but be a person who could fit into a predesigned role in a community? How weak such a community would be without the variety of unique individuals sharing themselves openly and honestly. Joe was staring intently at her, drilling holes in her mind with his dark eyes. “You know who you are but for some reason refuse to be that person” She nodded in agreement and defeat. He continued, “Your past dreams have only been to create maps for you to follow; now you must accept your visions, learn from them, create with them, allow them space in your life. Why do you continue to disrespect yourself? Almost like you’re not in control?” “I feel apprehensive about the results. I’m unsure where that person lives, what she does for work, who would love her.” “So it is better to live a lie?” He crosses his legs and begins drinking tea. They sit silently for some time until the dog approaches her to go outside. The setting sun’s shimmer makes everything surreal and softens the shacks’ appearance. Joe comes to his doorway with his pipe bag and drum. Motioning to the dog he says, “The dog should stay in the car.” and starts walking toward the setting sun then turning around he says, “It’s good that you are here.” and continues walking. She follows him saying, “Yes.” She did know it was good to be here. Yes she did.


Chapter 50 Memory: shopping with the girls “So what do you think of this?” Claris held up a spaghetti strapped Roberto Cavalli little black dress with a band of leopard print on the hem. “Oh black is so over, so wrong,” Cicely said to the five friends all dressed in casual black. “You’re right black is the new pink, so over.” Josie chimed in looking at a striped Missoni dress that cost $2,500.00. At that moment Ray, the salesman, appeared with a shining silver platter of champagne, coffee and water to replenish his shoppers. She liked Ray because he helped her buy expensive clothes using his employee discount, now she liked him because he was bringing her a new glass of champagne. “How are you ladies doing?” Ray asked in his falsetto voice and smile sipping the coffee he had brought for himself. “I’ll take this.” Claris threw the Missoni dress at him. Ray started to say how great it would be for day when Claris interrupted him, “I was thinking about it for a fundraiser.” Ray lifted his eyebrow conspiratorially toward her; she smiled already checked out of this scene with the help of good champagne and racing thoughts of the trip that lay ahead of her. “What do you think?” was punctuated by Claris pulling her arm. She awoke to the question, slightly buzzed and said, “I have to go and start packing.” “Oh why go to the desert with that old man. You always come back grumpy and exhausted.” Claris answered. “And Steven misses you so much when you’re gone.” Josie adds. “It’s something I have to do.” “Come to Paris with me and I’ll show you exhausted.” Claris tempts. She smiles, finishes the champagne, gives them each a hug, and leaves. She knows Paris would mean non-stop shopping compliments of Claris’ new husband, but she knows that more things in her closet won’t fill the emptiness inside her. As they watch her go Claris says conspiratorially, “We may have to do an intervention that old man in the Badlands may have put a spell on her.” Claris had thought she was out of earshot but she wasn’t.


Chapter 51 Galaxies, Universes or them? After ceremony, Joe shows her a place on the north side of his home where she can pitch her tent. She is surprised since she usually has to drive 60 miles back into the Badlands National Park to find a campsite and then rise well before dawn to make it back to him before the sunrise. She says nothing about the change of affairs and begins to set up her tent in the dark as Berlin eats dinner. She sits down in the dust to watch the first stars come out when Joe appears and claps his hands while saying, “Tomorrow we go camping.” He smiles, showing constellations in his eyes. Watching his figure get lost to darkness she questioned why she came out here each year. As crazy as it sounded, she felt like she was escaping her current life. She would drive the 75mph west on I-90 like an escaped convict and feel as if forces were following her, trying to stop her. Metaphysical hands held onto her, trying to return her to a socially acceptable way of life, but her spirit would simply pass through these abstract barriers and pull her material body through to the other side. But this year had felt different in her leaving. Even her parents had stopped trying to understand why she vacationed alone. Could she lose people she had in her life because she chased after a rude, old Lakota man who taught in riddles that she had to unravel for years? She had recognized several years ago that she needed new people in her life, people who shared her value system. But finding quality people is hard to do. She crawls into her tent, wrapping her aging Wall Drug red blanket around her like some kind of ghost shirt. She was always surprised by her and Joe’s shared enthusiasm for camping in the Black Hills and hiking on Harney Peak. He had taught her the importance of hiking with the mountain and for the mountain that oftentimes meant not reaching the summit. “Tourists,” Joe would say, “change each place they visit.” Joe loved dualistic simple statements like this one. Sitting at the Harney Peak trailhead after returning from a walk, Joe would look for the “tourists” returning from their hike; for the most part they were red faced, ill prepared (or a recent addition the over-prepared), and exhausted. A few locals would be in the mix, returning as fresh as when they started. Joe shared his Prayer to Replenish (or Prayer for the Tourists) with her many times as they watched the returning hikers:


Prayer to Replenish Or Prayer for the Tourists Oh Great Spirit help the tourists Cleanse our spirits! Sound democracy! Dispel our ignorance! Help us all see nature as friend as a true part of our community, as surely as we breathe in the oxygen from the trees. Oh Great Spirit help the tourists to love nature so they will not snap a soon discarded photo of discontent Help us all feel peace in our souls as surely as the wind blows through these pines Help us trust the night and its darkness so we will need no flashlights We will look at the stars, the moon We will feel peace in our souls as surely as the robins sing in the lilac bushes Help the tourists to leave no trace Help us meditate and harmonize with our surroundings We will leave nothing and we will take nothing Help the tourists to embrace life, not escape it Help the tourists put out their fires so the forests stay green and the sky blue The land will be better for the tourists having visited Help us feel love deep inside, a love that can sew up our communities Oh Great Spirit help the tourists Cleanse our spirits! Sound democracy! Dispel our ignorance! Sunrise on Sheridan Lake Black Hills National Forest, South Dakota

What brought her back each year was communing with the mountains and evergreens, becoming awake and watching


Joe’s “magic tricks” as she had come to call some of the experiences she had with Joe. What brought her back each year was growing closer to herself and getting closer to telling the world about us. Yes, those are the reasons she returned. But as she tried to sleep, loud rock music from the reservation down the road kept her awake. People started yelling around 2am with loud crashes driving the entire night into restlessness. Her calm exterior when she had first arrived had been because she was asleep and now that she was awake she fully questioned her sanity. How crazy was she to be on a Native American Reservation sleeping in her tent? Each year she came out here, she questioned herself; but this night reached a new level of disapproval in her own thoughts. Each year her boyfriend threatened to leave her but this year he had given her a manipulative send off. Each year her spa friends questioned her sanity, offered luxurious trips to faraway places to keep her involved in their lives. And when she declined their trips, they would threaten to “not know her” anymore. When she returned they would not ask where she had gone, or what had happened at all. They would just pick up where they had left off which meant running in the same patterns and living through the same habits. How could she return to her life and remain renewed, changed, and awake? She thought about that problem to ease her mind about a greater worry—would everyone pick up where they had left off with her when she returned this time? Would all the threats materialize into action? She thought of the comment she had overheard Claris making to the rest of the girls that she might need an intervention. Who knew, maybe she did need an intervention? And really what if anything would she lose? Her boyfriend is uninterested in spiritual pursuits, believing carnal pursuits a better use of time, and attended her church only so he could sit with the governor. Her friends are true illusions of themselves with their Saks survival kits and urban decay. Her past has begun to hurt less and the foundation it should provide for her future was finally feeling solid. She concluded it was more a worry of pride, that she would rather control the situation by breaking it off with her boyfriend and other friends that no longer share her values instead of allowing them to break it off with her. Her worry wasn’t really about losing them; it was about losing face if they left her. Once seeing all this for what it was: illusion, she knew it didn’t matter as long as she remained true to herself. She finally falls asleep. Her relaxed mind knowing that losing them she could live through, but losing a chance to understand her inner needs and soul meant not living her life, some certain death. She will tell the world about us.


Chapter 52 Vision: The Red Road to Pipestone She had found her family’s ancestral farm in central Wisconsin was closer to the badlands than Chicago so she often would go there and spend a few days before leaving for the West. She enjoyed spending time there alone or with her father and mother if they happened to be up. Each year she spent more time there and with her family, since each year she learned how important family is and how sacred their farm is. After inheriting her mom’s white Pontiac Transport van, she started to look for different routes to the Badlands to alter the journey and drive more slowly. Although she loved the Interstate 90, smaller roads afforded better scenery and peace. After finding a diagonal road out of the Twin Cities she decided to visit Pipestone National Monument. The winds were howling and talking as she drove through the Minnesota farmland, bursts of wind seemed to follow gullies in the land. Giant windmills barely turning in the forceful gale were placed in these gullies, showing that these gusts of wind must have followed the same path for some time, maybe even making the gullies in the land. Each gust would push her van onto the gravel shoulder. Sometimes dust would swirl amongst the gust warning her of the approaching sideways push or grasses would flatten just along the wind gust gullies. The clouds rose higher creating more room for the wind to build up speed. She felt completely embraced as her van was buffeted north as she drove west; she felt completely at ease. Before the wind started howling and buffeting her she had been thinking, every so often, of turning back and to stop acting like a lunatic driving out west because of some dream, some old Indian with magic tricks, some hills that loved her, some wisdom contained in beauty. But the wind’s embrace as she entered the beginnings of the prairie made any thought of turning back disappear. Then the sun started to break through the swiftly rising clouds sending down shafts of light as she turned onto another 2 lane back road paved in red cement. Driving toward the shafts of light was a promise between her and the road, between her and herself. But the shafts were not mirages, once inside the shafts her white van became the white horse from her dreams making her laugh out loud as the van shone brilliantly almost galloping over the red road, as if the van’s frame became transparent and she was flying through the air. The shafts started entering her, securing a connection between land and sky, asking her why she had not followed through on her lessons of life? Why is lunacy such an issue? She thought of Joseph Campbell who saw similarities between shaman and schizophrenics and wondered how a healer could also need healing or was it that those in need of healing share what


they have learned during their own search for healing? The shafts of light awakened her to the building years spent driving west, alone, hoping for a sign or a piece of beauty to show her the next step. And here it was in these beautiful shafts of light! The sunlight’s rays and the strong arms of the wind embraced her. They started asking her questions again: How can you understand your path but still not follow it? Why don’t you take up your mantle as an artist explaining the connections? She then thought how questions hold answers, how often she held an answer to a question that has not yet been asked. She had to preserver through the struggles remembering moments like these are also inside the moments of everyday. She arrived at Pipestone under heavy, expansive gray clouds and a steady fierce wind. The creek still ran backwards and the falls were under suspicion, a goose stood in the water silently watching her pass. The sun broke through the darkness lighting on the water showing her both the sun’s and the water’s energy, both asking to be used as intended: for our energy needs. She closed her eyes to pray ending with, “Yes, I will continue on this path with more conscious choice. I will be more awake to my life. I will begin to tell the world about us” Visions of windmills and solar panels mixed with forests of ancient trees sheltering the next generation of the leaf ancestors.


Chapter 53 Dream: Planting She rides fast over the prairie with the sun on her back, as dark clouds collect around her. She is unconcerned by their collection. The white horse needs no rest, so they continue onward. In an instant the sky opens to rain. Torrents rip the ground into holes. In an instant the sun shines again and seeds from the heavens fall into the rain’s holes. The wind covers each hole with earth and the prairie around her starts growing. The wind moving through her hair whispers, “It is Joe.� then the wind turns into images of Joe his face, his hands, his hair before being torn apart by gusts. Seven foot tall sunflowers by sundown.

Sunflower Field 2


Chapter 54 Vision: A Badland’s Wind One vision came to her over several years. At first she only faintly connected the experiences as similar, but then the Badlands Wind told her different. After driving through the gust gullies in Minnesota and South Dakota, feeling embraced but also tired from steering against the wind, she was glad the sun came out as she parked by the Medicine Root Trail to walk toward the Badland’s Wall. Once within the cliffs she remembered the ghost dancers rising to dance with the blue sky. One time she met Joe unexpectedly on this trail and sat outside with him until dawn. This time the sky darkened and the winds started circling around her, gusting at her in circles, swirling up and over her head sometimes moving her un-tucked shirt up. At first she was frustrated by the force, the circling and the drop in temperature until she looked up and remembered where she was. Then she remembered other experiences of the wind. The last time she had visited Bear Butte the same thing had occurred with the wind circling and gusting into an unexpected temperature drop with blinding, wet snow which was still ok with her; but when ice shards started pelting down she knew it was time to leave. The sudden storm made the road impassable, so she sat in her van at first frustrated and then she started thinking about why she was there and for the first time she did not disparage herself; instead, she supported herself by starting this book. Then she remembered the winds circling her in Chicago as she walked to her car from the Art Institute, she had just returned to Chicago after a lengthy trip and wanted to catch an exhibit before it closed; when she reached her car the temperature dropped and the ice shards started. She had watched them hit the windshield and slide down to melt on the still warm hood as she drew some scenes from her trip which she soon saw was to be called The Red Road Collection. She remembered a strong west wind on her wedding day pushing autumn colored leaves down the aisle after her and how strong it had been against the ushers trying to close the church doors. She thought of the Crazy Horse wind which she saw almost every time she was in the Black Hills and how she had come to understand the wind and herself better by watching it. Standing amongst those 100 foot high badland cliffs she realized that the wind had been greeting her all those times as it was now! In its exuberance she was finding it uncomfortable to be outside. As she felt the temperature continue to drop she knew the ice shards would begin soon so she turned back to her van. She smiled as the winds became stronger and stayed outside until the ice shards pelting her hurt too much. Then she thought of the skeleton dancers whose very forms had been made by the winds and she understood: The wind is alive and a part of the “us” in her mission to “Tell the world about us.”


Chapter 55 Heartbeats matching Drumbeats Joe was up before the sun, a time when the badlands formations around took on the hues of the awakening sky. She smelled the tobacco and then heard him start howling at the moon, which still hung close to the Western horizon. She rose to join him on the cold ground. His drum always found the rhythm of her heart as if the wooden stick he struck the stretched elk skin with was an extension of her heart. She sometimes thought her heart merely changed its rhythm in accordance with the drumbeats, but sometimes she could swear it was the drum finding her heartbeat. But if her heart was changing to match the beating could it mean she was bending her life, her inner needs, and her spirituality to match Joe’s? Being native to America means she cannot deny the land inside her, she cannot deny the dreams she has leading her to this place, this time. She cannot deny the emptiness inside her when her spirit leaves her to come here on its own. But she also cannot deny her fear of being alone. Once he finishes they sit for a while watching the moon-less, still star-laden sky mix sunrise colors onto the formations surrounding them. They see a star fall toward the black hills and Joe starts singing a song. The tune is catchy and familiar. She asks Joe to teach her the song and he smiles and says, “Don’t you remember teaching it to me?” his smile makes her think he is joking with her but as he sings she slowly remembers. By the time he ends the song for the second time she is singing along with him having fully remembered it. She had first encountered the words in a college English Literature class and the minute she saw them in the textbook she had heard the tune. The music was so strong she had to leave the classroom and go to a piano practice room to write down the notes; when she got home that day she recorded it with a tape recorder inherited from her maternal grandmother. She finds herself crying a little as she recalls this memory, still picking up the pieces of her life that she had tried to forget. She recently found these tapes that she had made all those years ago and when she finds time she listens to a tape and tries to reconstruct each song on it like an archeologist plumbing her past for clues as to who she is now. She is happy to remember but she still gets angry with herself that she has forgotten at all. In her telling the world about us she knows in that telling there must be connections to the past which produced the present and rewards everyone with the future. To actually catch a falling star would be like that reward.


Go and Catch a Falling Star (Adapted by Joe from John Donne’s 1605 song) Go and catch a falling star Tell me where all past years are Teach me to hear the wind speaking Or to keep off the bees stinging, and find What wind serves to ransom the honest mind? What trees speak languages I can learn? What star falls in order for me to catch? If you were born to strange sights Things invisible to me Ride 10 thousand days and nights Till each show white hairs on you Or strange wonders befell you And swear nowhere Lives a man so true and fair If you find one let me know Such a pilgrimage I would go Yet to wonder, If the next door, I pass through, I’ll meet you (Repeat above stanzas) Go and catch a falling star My wishes have been placed upon them, now I’ll try to catch one home to you. “Yes,” Joe says after they finish singing, “It’s good to remember.” He goes inside his home for breakfast, she follows to have some of his espresso strength coffee and then it’s time for camping. Joe talks about the land as she drives Highway 40 into the Black Hills. He talks about some of the formations along the road as if they are relatives, he compares the land to women and children, cars and then he says to her, “You are the land.” “From ash to ash,” is her Catholic response. “No, you are a manifestation of the land. The land has called you to be a guardian, a keeper, a herald of change.” “But I am still so uncertain. Am I to know what the change will bring, or even what the change is? Shouldn’t I already know how to keep and guard the land, how to produce change?” The only time she feels Joe’s statement makes any sense is when she is on her family’s Wisconsin farm where her father has put aside part of the land to let it “go back to nature”.


When she is walking on this part then she feels strongly she understands being a guardian. “You’re driving down this road with me so you must know something.” “That my dreams are real.” “Well it sure isn’t for hiking with this old man even though my magic tricks are pretty good.” They drive in silence for a while. She dislikes his rationalizations that only make sense if driving in the car with him right now makes sense. “What else do your dreams tell you?” he quizzes her as they start climbing into the Black Hills. “That you will teach me something that is important for me to learn. But it is always so vague, never specific, more like an impression or a shadow than anything else.” “Have you ever been specific with it?” She shrugs. “You need to wake up in your dreams.” “What do you mean?” “Before you fall asleep tell your mind that you want to wake up in your dream and see what is really there.” The dark pines spread out before them creating the blackness of the Black Hills. Large birds circle overhead, high above the trees. “I’ve come to you in your dreams, but I couldn’t wake you. Sometimes you have run away, but most of the time you try to change my appearance to play a part in whatever story you’re currently writing in your dream.” “I have seen you in my dreams.” “Yes, but glimpses only glimpses. There is much I can teach you on that side that I cannot teach you here.” “I’ll try to wake up.” “Good.”

Driving on Hwy 44 into the Black Hills


Chapter 56 Iron Mountains with Dream Roads Trail in the Black Hills Black Hills National Forest, South Dakota

After turning onto 244, they drive through the tourist town of Keystone and then start to climb toward Mt. Rushmore but suddenly Joe tells her to turn left onto a side road she never knew was there. “They call this Iron Mountain Road, but it has been a path through this land for a long time. My dad would take me here while they were building it.” Iron bridge upon iron bridge carries the curvy road up a mountain, but it is surprisingly predictable because the next bridge to be crossed can clearly be seen ahead. A couple of short tunnels and then Joe motions another left. She turns slowly since it doesn’t look like a place to park, but as she pulls in she finds her van fits long ways with room to spare and slightly hidden from the road. They get out and stretch to the sky. She enjoys getting up at dawn to participate in Joe’s ceremony; it sets the tone for the rest of the day. She has tried to set this tone at home but with little success. As she watches Joe stretch, she begins her guessing game of how old he is. The last two times she has visited he has sent his nurse away. The nurse is a Native woman who seems friendly but Joe would say, “Too noisy, wants to know things she has no business knowing.” With Joe’s nurse gone the extent of helping him falls on her which sometimes bothers her. Carrying his bundle for ceremony is an honor, chopping wood and carrying it almost a mile through a decidedly hostile Native Reservation to Joe’s shack on the outskirts is something that seems more insane than honor. After Joe showed her the wood pile the first time he had turned to go back and frightened she had said, “Where are you going?” He turned back around and smiled at her, “You walk with God, how can they,” he motioned his arms to the


reservation homes in various stages of economic despair, “do anything to you?” His words hadn’t comforted her anymore than the actual walk past dark, unblinking eyes and one foul word shouted at her. But nothing had happened. And for some reason she accepted that. Carrying wood through that reservation made her more fearless each time she did it so she stored up that fearlessness for a time when she knew she’d need it. Joe had finished his stretch to the sky and tells her the dog should remain in the van “to do her job of guarding” and then he begins to climb the sheer face of rock they had parked beside. Her guessing game continued, his age still undetermined. “Come along and walk with God.” Joe said as he found a place to stand about 20 feet up, “Be as a wheel rolling itself, be as a wheel rolling itself uphill.” Gripping the rock’s natural holds and ledges carved from the elements, she easily reaches Joe and sees the beginning of a trail. Joe winks as she follows the climbing trail with her eyes and he says, “The trail doesn’t start till here. Done so the wrong people wouldn’t find the trail.” After a short easy hike they come to what would be the top of the tunnel that they had just driven through. There is a large deep hole to one side and shining rocks strewn all around it. “But sometimes tricks like that don’t always work and someone found this place and took it away.” “What?” she asks peering into the hole that is so deep the bottom is lost in darkness and the radius is about 30 feet across. “A large piece of quartz.” Joe states flatly. Staring incredulously, she asks, “How large was it?” Joe motions to the hole “About 50-60 feet over our heads, it would be shining in the sun right now.” There are scattered chunks of quartz around the hole and down the trail easily showing that something large had been removed from this place. “Did this happen recently?” “Oh no, first I saw it was with my dad. We would come here and talk with it. It would hum and glow and whistle with the wind sometimes like a boom other times like a soft murmur that could keep you awake.” Joe moves cautiously past the hole as it’s obviously loose soil and then climbs onto the rocks above, so she follows him. It is then she can see Mt. Rushmore’s heads in the distance. The view over the pines is tremendous. They go further up and as they reach the top a wind strikes them hard,

Toward The Seats


so hard she has to grab onto the rock and lean over to avoid getting blown off. Then she sees Joe sit down, so she works her way through the wind and finds perfectly formed seats in the rock, seats facing Mt. Rushmore. She chooses one closest to the right of Joe and sits down still hearing the wind which is behind her now and almost crying. Then she feels it. A strong positive emotion washes over her as she sits there looking out at those gleaming white heads. It feels as if loved ones are holding her tightly and as if the world is connecting to this feeling. She doesn’t have to do anything but sit in peace and look. Two large birds circle high in the sky as the sun flickers through the pines. “The rock was a marker.” She says softly. “Yes and also a decoy,” Joe replies. “But definitely a marker for this place like nature saying, ‘Here is this brilliant piece of quartz so you know this place is sacred.’ But most will only know in their unconscious since they are still asleep to what this world can offer.” They sit in silence. She thinks of other markers she has come across while hiking, some of them she had thought were used to reference places of meaning for just her, but now she knows they are there for a greater purpose. These natural markers confirm that something special is in these places. She feels so rooted to this place and the good feelings here. “I’ve been told before they carved those heads the mountains would vibrate and hum and medicine men would say they heard their visions so clearly they could see them like you and me. It was them that knew when to move the tribe and them who warned about a change to our culture. But it was also them the tribe didn’t want to listen to. Too much peace had made our young warriors misunderstand that war means death. Many people just wanted to fight the new people moving in.” The effortless clouds floated across the blue sky, casting shadows on the dark evergreen hills in the distance. The scenery was like a literal representation of peace. Each breath in a thought of peace, each breath out a prayer for it. “But after the heads were completed the mountains remained silent. The winds still go there and I sometimes visit with the monument to speak with them. But the mountains are silent now.” She remembers the wind which blew through the Mt. Rushmore pavilion that she had thought was Crazy Horse. She tells Joe the story who nods his approval in her understanding and says, “probably was”.


Chapter 57 Memory: Sewing a New Length All she could smell was the hairspray laboriously applied to her bun. The dress with tiny yellow flowers was too long and baggy with itchy fabric that was turning her skin red. “The way she was growing.” Her grandmother told her cousin, the bride. She felt naked in the church dressing room as her grandmother hand sewed a new length and a new size. She didn’t know how to sew so her grandmother showed her as she hurried the new hem along. She never forgot that lesson. She had on briefs and a tank top as bra. Her aunt said, “I’m going to buy you a real bra.” She was eight years old and hated bras ever after that day. A few years later there was an uncomfortable exchange between her, her aunt and a lingerie sales lady in a changing room at Marshall Fields. The only thing she kept for years was a wide deep green velvet ribbon that had gone around her waist. She would take it out and try it on and remember that strange morning. When she was cleaning out her room so they could sell her parents’ house, she found that ribbon and mold had collected on it so she threw it away and with it any more feelings of inadequacy she had gained because of that day. She had learned the fake flower girl smile that day. (“Flower girls always smile,” her grandmother had told her, “even when they feel like crying.”) But in learning that fake smile she had also learned years later to tell the difference between fake and real, illusion and reality. She had found how not to allow other people’s version of reality or illusion to infiltrate her own. She knew she would never have figured these things out if she had not been a flower girl that day and gone down the path many flower girls go down, marriage cut short and then a chance to become something real: herself. She thanked her relatives for helping her find these things, even if it was too late to save her from the heartbreak that illusion and living someone else’s life brought, at least she had learned. She thought of that green ribbon more than anything else, seeing the mold on it had been one of the most truthful moments in her life.


Chapter 58 Vision: Stars in a new constellation

View from the Seats Norbeck Wildlife Preserve

An entire world of trees and monuments stretches before them; the beauty of pines showing off many hues of green and the gentle slope of the black hills silences them. The clean air and quiet allows them both a chance to examine issues placed in their lives. A hawk circles overhead before diving out of sight. There is a gentle rumble coming from the sun which starts to speed up in its westward movement and the afternoon clouds come in from all sides. But something is different. Everything is speeding up so that she can actually see the sun moving westward at almost breakneck speed. And then it is night and the stars populate the sky but in a new pattern. There is no Milky Way; instead, a cross is formed from all the stars and planets visible. Or was it like an “X� that could mark the spot for something to happen? Then the sun comes up and the cycle repeats itself. Weeks fly by, months then years in what seems a few minutes. And then just as suddenly as it had started the sun stops moving and turns red making everything a slightly different color before vanishing completely from the sky without setting. Yet still there is light. Her eyes are closed but she can see the scene before her as if they are open. Then like a bird she soars over the pines and swoops down around Mt. Rushmore. She can see the tourists and cement as if she is there. She looks down to see a fringe bag waving in the breeze and realizes she is the raven from her dreams. She flies over the mountain and sees Horsethief Lake shining so brightly it becomes more light than water. She circles the lake low before heading back. She sees a light directly in front of her and realizes it’s her inner light projecting in front of her, shining on the tall grass across the road from the lake which is blowing and shining, bending to expose the semi hidden trail she loves to walk on with a purpose. She looks back to see a glowing thread spiraling out from her heart along with her inner light so she follows them back to the rock seats, seeing her and Joe seated together as she approaches. When her light and heart thread are nestled snugly in her chest she can see two bicyclists riding up the road toward


them. She opens her eyes and sees an empty road and then suddenly the bicyclists ride past her. She can see them continue on the road behind her as if she is looking out the back of her head and through the rock she leans against.

She comes back to sitting next to Joe and sees he is dozing. She sighs deeply accidentally waking him. “Was the sun or moon in your vision?” “The sun—“ He cuts her off, “And it circled days and days and days?” he asks smiling his thousand wrinkles. “And nights.” He frowns, “With the moon?” “No just stars,” she motions how they went since it was not the Milky Way that she is accustomed to but a distinct cross like two Milky Ways bisecting each other. “The sun would travel through then the stars and continue on like that.” “Anything else happen?” he asks with caution. His tone throws her off so she has to swallow hard, “It was like the sun stopped right there in front of us and then it disappeared.” “Exploded?” Joe asks, concerned. “No it just vanished, but there was still light.” They sit in silence for some time. She tries to tell Joe about her flight as the raven from her dreams, but he waves it away saying, “Yes you’ve always been that bird.” Then Joe takes his pipe out and puts it together, filling it with a sweet smelling tobacco and puffing on it for a while before handing it to her. She knows better than to try to perform this ceremony “the right way” for Joe the right way is how the spirit moves you, “If you’re firmly connected and doing things in a good way with the right intention how then could you do wrong?” He has said this enough times that she can recite it. And she doesn’t just recite it, she understands it as well. Since first meeting Joe she has researched his culture and even him. Although the census bureau and most voter registration camps didn’t bother with someone like him, she collected enough info from just simple glances around his shack to know he was real enough to get a bill for the little gas tank he used to heat his home in the winter. But after reading about the “right way” for Lakota ceremony (and surprised to find no books written about any other way) she asked Joe why he didn’t follow the accepted way for smoking the sacred pipe. This had angered him. “What do you mean the ‘accepted way’? It is the same as the right way. It is not just their pipe it is mine as well. You must believe me when I tell you the right way means with the right intention in a good way, as the spirit moves you!” He had been so angry he had paced in his shack for some time before


quietly telling her to “go find someone who will show you the right way.” But she stood her ground. She told him, no, she would not leave. She told him she agreed with him but no one else seemed to. She believed what he said about the right intention and in a good way. Following the spirit was a harder instruction and meant she had to be connected with life and love, which is hard in and of itself. She understood his way because it was how she had been raised and how she tried to live her life: not as others would have it for her but as she saw fit to live it. Sure she had gotten off track the last few years but she was getting it together. Sure she had been living a socially acceptable right way. But, she told him, those ways were dying. That had settled him down enough for him to sit and say, “And what ceremony is more sacred then the ceremony of living one’s life?” She apologized for asking about the right way and he waved it away, “No it is I who should apologize. I am an old man and I forget that as much as I know you hold, there is still much for you to remember.” He took her hand at that moment, the first of only two times during all the years she would know him, and he gently held it. His hand felt lightly cold, like a stone warmed by yesterday’s setting sun. “You see the right way was invented by those who were not connected to the spirit but who wanted to be connected or maybe they just wanted to act like they were connected. So they came up with rules anyone could follow but the result they wanted never happened so they said it was because the rules weren’t being followed correctly. If one person at the ceremony wasn’t doing things exactly right then the ceremony could not produce the needed effect. So the people who weren’t connected could go on practicing like they were connected even though there were no results! Soon the rules became the right way and any real results were shunned, and still are shunned, as fantasy.” He let go of her hand to poke at his fire that enlivened the flames to eat at the wood more quickly. She sighed since it meant she would be back at the woodpile. He had sighed too, “But the right way is really a cover up for wrong intentions or at least unfocused ones. Doing things in a good way could also be left behind as long as you know where your hand belongs who needs to be connected with spirit? “What have surprised me, lately, are these medicine men who are telling everyone the right way. I can’t tell if they believe it or not. But I do know the wind never blows the same way twice, every time it rains the puddles look different and


each time the sun comes up I know I am not the same. Even that physicist Heisenberg thought that we could only really know our position or our forward motion but not both equally well, depending on our measurements and our perspective we may find our position different each time we measure because we are never the same. We might need rules in our lives for some things like driving a car, but not in our sacred ceremonies! How can I try to put temporal limits on experiences that are timeless? If I did things the right way how could the spirit move me and if it did would I be wrong to follow? If the spirit doesn’t move you then what is the purpose of ceremony? If you aren’t connected then what is sacred?” She comes back from reminiscing as Joe hands her the pipe. She accepts it in a good way, with the right intentions and lets the spirit move her. After smoking she asks Joe what her vision means. There is a long silence before Joe replies, “The medicine people in my tradition have all come here and visioned either the sun or the moon. The sun means your power is during the day and you should seek to do ceremony during the day and if you do ceremony at night something that represents the sun should be present.” “And did they also see stars?” “No.” “What about how the sun vanished?” “No.” “What do you think it means?” Although from Joe’s brief explanation she could see maybe her power would also be at night—but why such a different grouping of stars so unlike the constellations she knew and what about the two Milky Ways bisecting each other? “I cannot lie to you that the vanishing sun bothers me, the stars in a new constellation could just be obvious” he stood to go. He hated stating the obvious. “That my power could be at night too?” she tries to grasp the obvious as Joe sits back down. “You must continue the work the old ways have started on you. For a long time the work was done while you slept; that’s why all you remember from those times are the dreams that led you here. But even as you slept, events happened that led you to see the profound dissatisfaction that those awake have with a surface life, with a life controlled simply by the physical world. You keep reliving the main crisis that shocked you awake but in reliving it you fall back asleep since you do not want to relive it. So don’t! Move on from it! You’ve lived it a thousand times by now, you’re done with it! Move forward, into your life--awake!”


Joe pauses as she thinks about the moment she was told about her husband, how she keeps remembering that officer’s shining badge and how she often thinks of those purple flowers. Joe was right, that crisis had shocked her into wakefulness and now she needed to move on; she needed to live her life. She needed stars in new constellations to study. Joe continues thoughtfully, “Joseph Campbell said that ‘every moment of time bursts free from the fetters of the moment before’ which is true to a point since each moment is linked through our memories, through our experience, like links in a chain we can be fettered to the past if we do not move fully into the present. But it is also more an awakening to those linkages that breaks the fetters of being asleep to our life and to the time we spend living it. To live in the present is to also break those fetters of the past and the future since both can hold us fast to an illusion of what was and what could be instead of living what is. “But you cannot slay your past self just as you cannot slay your future self since all are you. The past, if remembered accurately and through the lens of the present, is the instructor; the future is the instruction learned which makes the present the act of learning, dissolving any illusion of time revolving with myriad choices seen as outcomes and forever in a state of change. How then do you learn about yourself, your life on such a shifting stage as these heavens have just shown you? By remaining steadfast to who you are and remembering where you have come from, what you have gone through, and learned so that when you meet your future self, as you continually do in the present, you are then prepared to accept, embrace and understand the person you have become. “When I went to college, I wanted a different life, separate from the reservation. But events would always pull me back there—a death in the family, a wedding, a birth. I could have turned my back on my family and remained on campus during these events, but my future self kept beckoning to me through the open doorway of time. My father would embrace me when I would first arrive home and I would immediately feel real again. I can’t explain it any better than that, but somehow when I was at school I would lose touch with myself and somehow when I returned home my father’s embrace would return me to myself. One time an old medicine man said my spirit would leave me when I was at school and return to me with that embrace. “I remember sitting in the library at school one evening during my last semester, studying Plato. I was ready to take a job in some big corporation, satisfied even though I was probably to be their token Indian. I looked out the window and saw my white girlfriend walking toward the library. The sun


was playing with the clouds as it does in the springtime and it would shine on her, then not. Then I saw her disappear.” Joe paused to see the scene again in his mind, smiling. “Then she would reappear. I thought I was maybe tired or something but when she came up to me to say hi and see how my studying was going, I could not feel her in anyway. Even her hand on my hand was non-existent. She asked me what was wrong, I said, ‘nothing, just want to finish studying’ so she left. I knew then I would be going home for Spring Break instead of going to meet her parents. I wanted to feel real again, to have my father embrace me. I knew then her world would not contain me. Once I knew that I felt real, there in the library, and realized I hadn’t felt that way since Christmas vacation when I had been on the reservation. “It took a while before I came to understand that it was not the reservation, or even my father’s embrace that made me real. It was me accepting myself and staying true to who I am—completely true—so that even my past self would recognize, embrace and understand my future self. All I have done—the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful— I hold within as the tools I need to remain real. “But we cannot drag the past around with us, no; instead, we must use it to move beyond it to see it as a preparation for what has yet to come. As surely as we attempt to be who we are destined to be, just as surely we are to be something else. Perhaps I was destined to be sitting here talking with you now; perhaps the same for you. But when we view the circuitous path we have traveled it is easy to see how one misstep, one wrong turn would have me sitting here alone or with someone else, could have you standing in suburbia— we both would know discontent then but we might be unable to calm it—but now we can—we have been given this opportunity to learn from each other and grow toward something beyond our destiny. I think destiny is for those who can’t understand their choices so they follow a predestined path; but for those who know their choices then we can see the path we’re on and also see other possible paths and beyond that see the unknown path, the unmarked trail, the new way through the forest. “You and I have embarked on such a path; it may be lonely since no one has yet to walk this path. But once we clear the way many will come to know it and then have to find their own unmarked trail, their undestined outcome.” Joe shifted in the rock seat as he took a deep breath and released it, “Now that you are waking up don’t let society pull you back into being asleep, the images and forms you saw in the sky today, the images from your dreams are sometimes referred to as archetypes. And yes, they very well may be. But


those people that identify them as such say that they are unknowable and I disagree; we must begin to know the basic building blocks of our spirits, of the metaphysical worlds around us so that we can evolve into what we are meant to be.” Joe then eyes her and smiles at her astonished look, he winks at the sky and continues. “Astrology as it is commonly practiced today is not what I refer to when I say, ‘know your stars’. You should understand astrological intersections in your life as they were understood long ago. If you are awake when reading an ephermis you can glean patterns and understand more fully what your stars look like. There is also a higher truth to the stars. That you have seen stars in a new constellation might mean you need to explore astrology as part of your medicine work, but take the higher truth to the stars as well as the basic astrological predictions. Consider an astrology that is not dependant on math or space, one that is unbounded by time and physical manifestation. Study the astrology of eternity and love.” From his plaintive tone she knew he wasn’t finished. They sit together for a long time before she looks over at him to find him looking off at the distant hills. He turns to her when he feels her gaze upon him and says softly, “You might have also seen the future, yours or mine.” With that he stands up and waits for her to stand and start down the path, changing the subject as they walk to talk about a new flag they were raising at Mt Rushmore and that it might be nice to see it. Ever the surprise Joe was! The idea of “stars in a new constellation” stayed with her for years until she finds a U.S. Congressional order of 1777 authorizing a new flag with “stars in a new constellation” to symbolize the new independence of the United States. That Joe had used this exact phrase wasn’t a surprise since by then she knew Joe to be well read. She wrote a song called Stars in a New Constellation for chorus and jazz piano and each time a choir sings it she is transported back to those rock seats and she is sitting next to Joe all over again. She realizes how dramatically her life has changed after this vision; each change helps her to understand better what she had seen on the Iron Mountain Road that day. The new skies she had seen held her future and Joe’s future. But they also held a warning: Take heed when you see things that are different it means a change is imminent.


The Lighting Ceremony at Mt Rushmore with Venus setting behind

Stars in a new constellation Beneath the star, we live our lives with the love that our God gives to us. We can smile at rain we can believe death is no end God makes new, everyone Beneath the star, we choose our way Praising God With all life Loving all My soul flies to heaven and my God All the graves below are empty My tears are rain that water the land making rivers run to the east The past is gone there is a new world where we love and our love ends all tears no more death just our love The past is gone there is a new world where we love and our love brings new life My soul flies to heaven and my God All the graves below are empty My tears are rain that water the land making rivers run to the east to the east to the east to the east!


Chapter 59 Memory: Souvenir Bullets from the War I Won She heard the shooting as she drove toward school. After going underneath the Metro Train viaduct, the pop, pop, pop was unmistakable. Then she sees about 20 people running past her, in front of her car and around it. All the cars around her have come to a complete stop so she is trapped where she is. She hears the glass in the car behind her shatter from a bullets’ impact. Three men are running toward her now, shooting as they run. She lays on the floor of her car, investigating what is underneath her seat to take her mind off all this. She is late for work. After a long day of teaching, she finds radiator fluid all around her car. She has the car towed to the suburbs after going through many towing companies that would not come into the school’s neighborhood to pick it up. Her suburban mechanic said, “I found a bullet in your radiator. Do you want it as a souvenir?” “No,” is her reply. Then the mechanic asks, “Do you work in a war zone?” “Yes.” She replies. Yes she does.

Storm over Lake Pactola Black Hills National Forest, South Dakota


Chapter 60 the cave Taking care of Joe when his nurse had been dismissed also meant getting him to take his western medicine. He would lament as he placed the little prescription pills on his tongue how the plants and rocks that could have cured him were killed off or altered by the very thing that he said was killing him: progress. She guessed Joe’s shack was contributing and had suggested it and Joe would agree since “those Methodists” had built it over his garden where his family had painstakingly collected all the medicinal herbs they could collect on stealth missions off the reservation. To them it was still such a strange way to live. Joe would quote his mother, “Why live within six walls when outside there are no walls?” And dismiss his nurse is saying it lightly since Joe was abrupt and non-talkative with the nurse. The nurse had been present twice when she visited Joe. And Joe said roughly to the nurse, “Go away,” pushing the middle-aged Native woman away while saying it. One time she had run into the nurse in a store in Rapid City. The nurse had walked up to her and said, “Who are you to keep coming here? He is to teach me.” “He says he won’t teach you. I have dreams of this place. I have to come here.” This somehow softened the nurse who said, “I’m Gloria. I’m thinking of going to Oregon, to my tribe, and help an older medicine woman there since Joe is so against teaching me.” “So the only reason you are Joe’s nurse is to learn from him?” “Right.” “Does he pay you?” “No.” the nurse answered defiantly. This perplexed her, “How do you live?” “On the reservation with my aunt, who I also take care of.” “Well it’s good of you to take care of them. What will happen to Joe when you leave?” Detail from Tent Smoke Black Hills, South Dakota This is a drawing of Joe’s nurse Gloria doing ceremony.


“I thought you’d want to come up here to be his nurse.” Gloria’s sarcasm was thick. “No, I don’t even want to come here now. I’d rather go on a regular vacation with my boyfriend then use my vacation time to come here.” This seemed to perplex Gloria who said, “I don’t understand, you don’t think it an honor that Joe teaches you?” “Of course, but I also need to honor my dreams and my spirit which is why I come here.” Gloria looked past her and said, “So you think you’re a medicine woman?” with no detectable sarcasm. “I’ve been told that I am”-- with that Gloria turned and left. So she had to smile as she sat down across from Joe for lunch today and saw the pills on his tongue and a glass of water in hand. After swallowing he said, “I wonder if you could drive me toward Hot Springs after lunch?” She thought the question odd since he knew she was there to see him, “Why ask? You know I’ll take you.” “Well it’s a little far and we might not get back until midnight.” “That’s fine. What’s in Hot Springs?” Joe answered that a woman in town had brought a dream to him to explain. The woman had dreamt of a plant that seemed to glow from within and had four buttons that could be used for a healing tea. She wonders if that was why Joe had built the sweat lodge yesterday, but she finds later she is wrong. “Yes,” she said, “I saw that plant the first time I came out here.” “Did it have four buttons?” “Yes.” “Did you know to make the tea?” “The plant told me to dry it hanging upside down tied with a red string and to make it into a tea but I did not.” “Well most healing plants glow from within so I’ll be curious to see if we find this one and if it is the same one you spoke to. The woman said it had red flowers.” “I don’t think mine had red flowers it was all green.” “Yes I know that one and I think it is the same one the woman saw only I don’t think it has red flowers. But that is what this woman saw so that is why we go.” The rugged beauty of the inner Black Hills becomes more expansive as they head closer to Hot Springs. Joe asks her to slow down about half way there and then tells her to turn down a gravel road that is hidden to her until he points it out several times.


The ruts and unevenness of the road worries her as Joe continues pointing to go down a two lane path until he points at a small field of grass and says to park there. Reluctantly she does by following the curve of a large rock, creating a parking space in the middle of nowhere. While she is still maneuvering Joe says, “Stop.” But he opens the door and gets out before she does. She gets out and lets Berlin run free. She feels a cold breeze blowing but is unsure where it is coming from. Then she looks out across the field Joe is striding through and there’s a cave! She glances at the large solitary rock she parked beside and recognizes it as a marker. She also does a quick calculation to find Joe wanted the car parked in a position so the sun would not heat it. She gathers Berlin back into the well shaded car and hurries to catch up with Joe. At the cave entrance the source of the cold breeze is apparent—it’s coming from inside. Joe starts to walk into the cave and turns around, “Are you afraid of coming along?” “A little.” “Leave as many of your fears as you can outside because they will multiple when you are inside.” She tries to leave fear behind but it holds on so well! Her basic fear of the dark still comes back to her every now and again, so she tries to make sure at least that won’t happen. But fears of the unknown, of even herself, are not likely to let go any time soon. “We walk with my God here.” And with that Joe disappears into the darkness. She follows Joe’s scent of tobacco and sweet grass through the dark passages. The scent comforts her and helps ease her fears. They haven’t walked far when she hears water flowing strongly. There’s little chance she’ll be able to see the water since the darkness is so dense she can’t see her hand in front of her face. Then something brushes up against her. Startled she lets out a little yell but Joe says nothing. Since his scent is much fainter she hurries to catch up with him when another person standing in front of her blocking the way stops her! She tries to calm herself and just go around it but cannot so she says “Excuse me.” But the figure doesn’t move. She tries pushing but feels slimy, sweaty flesh that seems rooted to the ground. Then she hears Joe saying come along. “There’s someone else here blocking my way,” she accurately reports to Joe. Then she can smell Joe again and feels his hand reach through the darkness where the figure should be and pull her through. “There’s only you.” He says plainly unhanding her and continuing forward. “But there was a person there I could feel it.” “Our minds can create many things that aren’t real but


seem to be, or maybe we want them to be and they are. To be or not to be…” The air becomes thicker and the water sounds nearer, the complete darkness starts to really get to her. Joe stops to drop a rock into the water. A deep plunk resounds as the rock drops into a very deep body of water. The sound vibrates and echoes for some time through the caverns. The walls of the cave dissolve and there is a sense of space, of openness even in the darkness. As they walk back to the entrance it is almost as if she can see what is truly there and not what she has created. But she still meets the figure in the same space. Joe says, “Walk through.” But she cannot get past her own creation. Joe reaches through it to pull her forward as before. The brilliance outside is a welcome sight. She looks at the trees and rocks as if they are old friends she has longed to see. Each detail means more, each color more unique than the next. Joe stops to examine a plant a few feet in front of the cave. It has red flowers but no buttons. “What was that in there?” she finally asks after waiting for Joe to stand up again without picking the plant. He looks at her as if to say “what?” “When I thought there was a person but there was not.” At that moment they both hear a low plunk reverberate through the cave. “Then who threw that rock?” Joe asks slightly amused. “Inside you told me I created the person now you’re telling me there was a person?” “If you create something does it disappear when you leave?” “It felt moist and spongy not like you or me.” “You didn’t have a chance to put the skin on it yet.” She was to find out later the form in the cave was not flesh. Instead it was pulsating energy—raw and ragged, like electricity falling off high voltage electric lines. At the time she wanted to understand what was happening and she felt let down by her lack of comprehension. Her scientific mind always searched for the sum of all parts, and even though she knew this was a revelatory experience that may not fold easily into a scientific inquiry; she hoped for a greater understanding. She felt mislaid; she wanted an experience like this to be imbued with facts and reality not conjecture and illusion. Many years later the energetic being in the cave made much more sense as she understood herself to be, in essence, pure energy. Put into that context all her clothing, orgasms, happiness, sadness means little when faced with pure energy. Joe asks if they can stay the night here and she agrees. It has a different beauty then the center of the black hills and she wants to understand what happened in the cave. They start


to pull their tents out of the van as Berlin cases the area in her watchdog way. She wanted to ask more questions and try to understand at least a part of the experience, but she was scared of the answers, and scared of herself that she might recognize the answers upon hearing them. This effect always unsettled her since she would chastise herself that she should have known. She also wanted to feel the community Joe spoke of so often, this sharing a campsite, viewing natural beauty and just plain breathing, which Joe said was highly under-rated. He said the next big fad should surely be breathing. She also knew better than to continue asking Joe questions, too much information at this point might scare her all the way back to Chicago.


Chapter 61 Dream: Crescent Moon Harvest The sunflower heads were being plucked and torn as she rode past. Thousands of ravens with velvet bags were at work. Then she saw a dark, large hill. So dark she could only see it as one whole mass with a smaller hill at its base. By night they arrived at the base of the dark hill rising a thousand feet above her. She slept there watching the new moon rise and leaving as it set with the dawn. At times the moon would say, “Wake up it is Joe.” She would look up and see a man instead of the crescent moon in the sky but when she blinked he was gone. The white horse stood guard all night. They rode into the dark forested hill, the white horse underneath her glowed as they worked their way through the dense lumber. The further inside this dark hill they went the lighter in color she became until her hair was completely white. It matched the horse’s mane.


Chapter 62 Vision: Transforming Fear with Love

By the Cave Black Hills, South Dakota Joe asked for discretion about the location of this powerful and sacred place. She has not told anyone the exact location.

They set about putting up tents and starting a small fire. The drought conditions in the Black Hills make them both cautious about the fire and once the water is boiling for tea, Joe puts it out. Tea and hard bread for dinner then some conversation about the Bureau of Land Management area they are camping on, lastly some star gazing which reminds her of the vision from this morning before she falls asleep. She wakes well past midnight and is completely awake. She had dreamt of

returning to the cave and finding the “person” she had created and having a conversation with him or her, so she rises to go back to the cave, alone. The full moon lights the field between her and the cave entrance with the cool breeze leading her closer. The moon clears a cloud and shines on the thin trees radiating shafts of light inside their trunks. It is the dancing sticks from the sweat lodge, only this time they quiver inside the trees. She feels connected to them as she now knows the dancing sticks are life energies and that she has one inside her, waiting to dance. Knowing she is not alone gives her courage to continue. But she hesitates at the entrance, afraid to go in. She stands there a long time trying to loosen herself from her fears. Energy is radiating out of the cave, pushing rainbows in ribbons like a thin mist through the natural opening coating it with wetness. Then she sees the tree to her left is also radiating. She takes a step back to see the entire cliff face, the bushes, the grasses—everything—starts radiating the rainbow energy in waves of similar rhythm their vibrations pulse through her and enters her heart pouring courage into her. Then she remembers having lain on the floor of her car when there was shooting in the neighborhood where she taught and thinks to herself, “Well that’s pretty fearless.” And with that memory and the knowledge of the dancing sticks she walks into the cave.


Once inside she steps slowly trying to imagine what might be hidden in the cave and in herself. She sees images of her husband and daughter as they had been planting those purple flower bulbs in front of their little house. That was the morning before they were taken from her, before the police man with the shining shoes and sparkling badge had come to the door. Now she was left to stand in a cave alone as she had been for so many years now. The deep darkness in the cave was the deep sleep she had fallen into as a coping mechanism for the tragedies she had lived through; but instead of coping, instead of allowing those experiences the chance to exert their transcendental power to transmute her from a slave to the experience into a transformed person capable of using experience as a tool for evolution, instead she had fallen asleep to herself because of those experiences. She had attempted to forget who she had been, what she had been through. Now she had to wake up and remember in order to move forward in her life, in order to find love in her heart, in order to tell the world about us. She had no more tears for the memories. The people lost to her were still inside her heart and mind and she could move forward with their love and the power of accepting life. She saw how they could live again if she lived again. Having lost her life to forgetfulness, to materialism and a controlling man meant those who had died were lost too. If she could hold onto those memories in the pure light of love and thankfulness for having experienced that love then she could have a chance at having love in her life again—and not just the sages’ wisdom of love for herself, but also love for others, love for this heaven here on earth, love for everything she was to tell about. The darkness in the cave shifted as she grasped her situation more and more clearly. Like Rembrandt’s black on black technique of applying many layers of black paint to produce a before then unknown depth to painting; the dark in the cave took on a depth and dimension that she had not seen before. It caused her to exhale. Then she feels the moisture and knows the “person” is just ahead so she stops and says, “Tell me who you are.” No answer. She repeats her command and still, no answer. She continues forward until she is again blocked by the sponge like creature in front of her. She puts her hand out to touch it but feels nothing this time. Disappointed, she steps forward but is unable to move. This is a different situation than the one earlier since she can’t move at all! She won’t let her fear guide her so she becomes angry instead and says, “If I created you then tell me who you are.” She waits for some time for an answer but nothing happens. She is sweaty in the cold cave and decides if she can’t go forward she would go back, but finds she really can’t move at all! She tries a different tactic, “What do you want?” Then she sees in her mind her skin being ripped off her body and applied to a sponge like creature. “No!” she yells into the darkness. “You cannot have my skin; you should not even be here now. My fears created you and my courage can dissolve you!” She stands for a long time focusing on extinguishing her fears and in so doing


dissolving this creature; recognizing while doing this that she has at least taken ownership of her fears as never before. She thought of love and all its intricacies, she followed those thoughts to their beginning, to the beginning of life itself. As she breathed in and out, she knew the hopefulness of the breathe in was a wish fulfilled in the breathe out. Each breathe was a prayer of thankfulness and destiny. A cold wind slaps at her face and she smiles at the recognition of ownership and of responsibility, “Be gone.” She says with a wave of her hand as she feels her fears fall to the cave floor. She then hears the water and feels a warm breeze from outside coming into the cave. A rumbling commences as if coming from the air around her. She then knows that courage isn’t enough to expel fear; she also needs love, not only for the creature but also for herself. She thinks of her work at the school, of her new found appreciation for her family, of her knowledge that she has to break up with her boyfriend, that she has to search out new friends that she...suddenly a light shines in front of her. In her thinking, she has let her fears go and has let love in. She has been turned inside out to show her insides are sparkling stars she had inhaled all those years ago in the Badlands. The stars that make up her insides light the cave’s interior as she moves fully from fear to love. She feels the same as when she had met the Badlands for the first time, chills run up and down her arms making her smile at how innocent, yet intimate, that relationship is. In telling the world about us she must remember love triumphs over fear every time. The constellations, galaxies and universes within her spin around her dissolving her fears in their spinning. She is one of the Milky Ways that bisected the Milky Way she knows when she saw her vision earlier. She knows that those stars in a new constellation were her. The creature in the cave is no longer sponge-like but a beam of light. She places her hand out and sees it illumined in the rose-colored light emanating from nothing, nothing but love. “See,” she tells the light, “you didn’t need my skin after all.” As if in response the light shifts and flies out of the cave behind her.


Chapter 63 Galaxies and Grails Inside Her She emerges from the cave a new person. She is happy and lighthearted and she believes in herself. She understands now that she does not need to sit in a cave and meditate on life since life is within her. She also understands she does not need to come into the Black Hills to find herself since she is also within her. These seem like simple ideas as she comes to them, but it clearly took a long time for her to figure them out! She remembers Joe telling her often, “It may be easier to connect with spirit here in these hills, but once your connection point is found it is always within you, not outside of you.” She was a walking temple with a strong fire burning eternally, not even fear can hide such light, not even darkness can obscure her true nature. As she approaches the “campsite” she sees Joe sitting with a cup in one hand, petting Berlin with the other. The sun had risen as she grappled with her fears in the cave. She looks at the rock the car is parked beside and sees a rose colored tint on it and knows the light from the cave is hanging there. She thought about Plato’s allegory of the cave and understood better how the freed captive of the cave felt upon understanding that the cave reality was only shadow, allusion; where the world as it is has form, color, perspective and wisdom. The sponge-like creature was from the world of the cave, of shadow and she had helped set it free. Joe had often talked about Plato, saying that he agreed with Plato that philosophy is medicine making. Joe felt Plato was a medicine man. Joe could find references of the allegory of the cave everywhere they went. He saw it as a four part story. First is the setting, allowing us to understand how the captives in the cave live, a sometimes literal explanation of how we live while asleep. Second is the game the captives played, guessing what the shadows in front of them are, which is another literal explanation for how some people choose ignorance over knowledge, cultural beliefs instead of tested and true individual truths, entertainment instead of life. Third is when a captive is freed by knowledge of the real world, yet upon first looking the light is very bright and hurts the freed captive’s eyes and then the freed have trouble naming what is seen since it is not in shadow. This stage is the most important in Joe’s opinion since he says it is where many people turn back to the cave and the shadows and stay there due to discomfort, fear, loneliness and other negative feelings the freed associate with change. Some people, Joe said, would also just stay in this stage, never fulfilling their life’s work, thinking that seeing the truth for themselves is the goal of life. But in Plato’s allegory there is


the last part when the freed return to the cave to try to free others. The freed can barely see since it is so dark and can no longer name what the shadows are so the resident captives don’t respect the freed because they are no longer competent in their shadow world. She knew that also like the freed, if she were to try and return to the cave that had been her shadow world everyone still captured by the shadows would not understand her and she would have a hard time seeing in their darkness. This was not a reassuring thought, since she had always hoped to balance her social life with her metaphysical one, but now she knew she couldn’t go back to viewing shadows she wanted the real thing. In making this decision she also knew that she would need to return to those caves she had known and try to Tell the captives about us. “So you went back into the cave?” Joe asks slightly amused. “Yes, I had to.” “Of course you did, that’s why we camped here.” She is no longer angry at how Joe does things, without warning or direct instruction. She understands this is the only way she could really learn—if she taught herself. “So the creature didn’t need any skin.” She tells her teacher. “Nope.” He continues petting the Doberman’s head, which rests on his leg. “It became a rose colored light.” “Yes.” He stops petting Berlin for a moment to point at the rock covered in the rosy glow. “Yes.” She says and sits down on her red blanket which Joe had neatly folded as a cushion for her beside him to find he had made a cup of tea for her. Sipping the sweet tea she thinks about the cave and how she can more easily understand the experience if she accepts that the known universe is not all there is. She understood a current physics theory pertaining to a multiverse since dimensionally speaking; there are more universes than one. The cave she had just visited is equal to a universe where her matter and the sponge like creature’s antimatter collide to form a photon—a ray of light like the one gracing the rocks overhead—that then forms a positively charged quark and a negatively charged quark. But she still wondered, are the quarks the entropy of a photon’s movement? Sloughing off as the photon moves through space, so that all her movements would also produce these alternately charged quarks since she is a ray of light—a photon? Like gravitational waves, does she leave a piece of herself behind wherever she goes like the constant dust we all leave behind? She wondered then if physics was getting it wrong—perhaps these positive and


negative aspects could cohabitate, balancing each other in an eternal dance. Or is it all just another piece in the maze, the wall, the gray suit we all wear at one time or another? Is it just nothing? She had always seen the photon as an end product, but now to suggest that it has to neutralize itself by splitting into the positive and negative quarks—what do these physics theories mean for her experience? Will the two energies of the photon ever cohabitate? As the two energies are produced they repel each other, but sometimes what attracts us also repels us, if we refuse to comprehend or follow our attractions to their eventual unfoldment, we run serious risk of repelling the very life we long for. Joe interrupts her theories with a sigh, “So my work with you is done.” throwing a large piece of sage into the small campfire as emphasis. “What do you mean?” she asks completely taken by surprise but calmed by the swiftly fragrant burning sage. “You have met your fears and released them, not only did you release them but you transformed them. Fear was your greatest obstacle in telling the world about us. When you told me your dreams in the sweat lodge a couple of days ago I knew this to be true.” Joe states this matter-of-factly, like describing how she might cross the street. She thinks for a while. What had been the purpose of seeking out Joe? To find her dreams to be real, that was the reason at first. Then she realizes that she had hoped he would teach her more about her inner life, her spiritual quest, her purpose in being here, now. In essence, she had hoped Joe’s teachings could be transmitted in a classical education manner like reading a book or listening to a lecture. That Joe did use critical inquiry and the Socratic Method in his instruction was not lost to her but she also knows now the value of learning about her life by living it. She understood the importance of accepting the spiritual quest by continually pursuing it. She had learned her purpose was to “Tell the world about us” and in that telling assist in creating the 21st Century Healer, not only a physical healing, but also a spiritual one. She thought about the holy grail and the knights of the round table going out in search of it. The search led them back to themselves, gave them a sense of purpose, but how many found the grail is within them? It was the first time she had allowed herself to think about these past years in this way. But wasn’t there another reason—to tell the world about us? Joe spoke again reading her mind, “Medicine people are a thing of the past. There is so much more to healing today then there was in the past. Herbs, ceremonies, songs, dances are just a part of the healing that needs to take place when


someone is no longer whole. True medicine people know their path is a lonely one; they know that the spirits and separation that consume people, that create ill health, can also consume them and surely do consume them since they are sent to places to heal people and sometimes there is little choice on their part. “But your path is a different one. You are a medicine woman, a healer for sure, but one for today not yesterday. Even medicine is different since it can be a word or a touch, a look or a feeling, a walk or a stretch. You must work to help heal through joining the disparate pieces that are all of our lives right now. You must tell the world about us, the four of us sitting here now: you, me, this dog, the light on that rock overhead and the rest of us out here in this world that all of us have created but that is really just an illusion. Your path is to transform the separateness we have into wholeness just like you transformed that fear into light.” Joe continued petting Berlin’s head softly. “We are spirits in physical bodies for the experience. Our spirits are pure energy and when in that state it is hard to tell the difference between our energy and the energy of a tree. It is up to you to help others see this similarity. The tree’s spirit asks you as much as my spirit does.”


Chapter 64 Living Without Time

All My Relations Sundance Tree

They sit in silence for over an hour. Her mind keeps working over the last years, trying to piece everything together. Dreams had led her out here and now reality will lead her back home. She thinks about the Black Elk quote that had stayed with her all these years at times troubling her and at other times almost releasing her from her obligations. Black Elk spoke about his experience at Wounded Knee in 1891 and what it meant to him. He said he did not fully understand the ramifications of the “butchered women and children” at Wounded Knee until he was much older. He realized more than people had died on that winter day, “A people’s dream died there. It was a beautiful dream.” That beautiful dream Black Elk spoke of was something she understood since the Native Americans of the late 19th Century were close to understanding much of what she still struggled to understand— the convergences between people and nature and the unseen world that Western culture still distrusts. Black Elk went on to say that he also felt that “the nation’s hoop is broken and scattered. There is no center any longer, the sacred tree is dead.” After several years learning from Joe, she ventured out to Native American ceremonies quickly finding out that Joe held some rare beliefs. At a Sundance Ceremony she saw the tree start to vibrate like the area around the cave in the Black Hills and even saw how that energy went into and came out from the earth. She knew the sacred tree was not dead and the center of the broken hoop was not gone. She felt the center had been changed so that many people could come to understand this kind of wholeness. The universe or multiverse seeks balance so the sacred hoop Black Elk saw as his broken culture would actually produce a new culture or a new idea for living together. She agreed with Black Elk that more than people had died at Wounded Knee, a thriving culture had been ended, but that did not mean such a culture could not grow again just as the natural world sleeps during a cold winter and rises again in the spring. Individual hoops had been created, were still being created, as people came to grasp the idea of wholeness, of living together. Soon these individual hoops could come together. Just as the dancing sticks had joined together, and the cross of stars she had seen in her vision on Iron Mountain Road was like her as a Milky Way intersecting with the Milky Way, so too the individual hoops would intersect and at the points of intersection there would be understanding, love and wholeness would return so that all people could find harmony and balance


in each other. There could not be one hoop for everyone; there are instead individual hoops that join to make a stronger, more inclusive hoop sometimes overlapping, other times intersecting or sometimes simply touching. She often thought of the beautiful dream Black Elk spoke of and hoped that a new beautiful dream could occur. She wrote a song called Beautiful Dream after she had her vision about falling into a hole while at the Crazy Horse Mountain slide show. After reading Black Elk’s beautiful dream idea she had to search for a song she had written with the title of Beautiful Dream and this led to searching for other songs she had written and now she has collected 100’s of songs. So for her, the song Beautiful Dream is not only about Black Elk’s beautiful dream but also about the beautiful dream she has to stay awake to her life: Beautiful Dream My leg is curved funny But it ain’t hurt, it ain’t broken I stand and straighten it Its dark and damp I believe dreams are real I believe in the beautiful dream I believe dreaming is sacred But we must wake to understand I kneel, praying Dirt stains my bare knees brown Offer vertical mysteries some proof Giving up horizontal actions To gain some clarity in my dreams I believe dreams are real I believe in the beautiful dream I believe dreaming is sacred But we must wake to understand She knew she would have to reevaluate much of her spiritual foundations and boundaries. She had investigated Native American spirituality out of respect for Joe, but now she understood she could not stop there. Her Christian upbringing was firmly rooted within her since she had never stopped attending and participating in church. Moving from her childhood’s Catholicism to United Church of Christ then Methodism to understanding that she is simply a Christian took many years to develop. Now her creative mind will allow for


new interpretations, perspectives and spiritualities to be understood, not as a buffet of choices but as a way of understanding how to tell the world—with all its myriad forms of praise—how to tell the world about us. Just as she had to incorporate new ways of looking at how she wrote after teaching English, she would now have to learn new ways to communicate beyond the ink, paper, virtual worlds currently in use. She knew this meant to find similarities between spiritual beliefs instead of differences. She thought about the ghost dancers from 1890 and wondered again how the skeleton dancers she had encountered in her first and subsequent visits to the Badlands might be connected. Were the skeleton dancers also ghost dancers? Did they dance to raise the dead or to make the dancers ghosts? She thought how strange it was that the weather during December 1890 had been so harsh—why hadn’t nature supported the ghost dancers? Why did the dancers persist in dancing even when the weather turned dangerously cold? Was the weather a true sign that the white season was beginning? Was the weather a choice nature had made? A Triad of Discontent is how she viewed the Wounded Knee Tragedy after researching the event through 1890’s newspapers and historical accounts from Natives, Government Officials and others which all contained information about the Ghost Dance movement in the 1890’s. This Triad represents the three main groups involved in the tragedy: the media that sent more journalists than some of the small South Dakota towns could even put up, the U.S. Army that was warned by political and community leaders as well as the sensationalistic newspaper stories that the ghost dancers were dangerous; and the Natives who were working with two unknowns: the unknown outcome of the ghost dance and the unknown outcome if they were to enter the reservation system created for them. All three groups created a Triad of Discontent that continues to this day the confusion and frustration surrounding Wounded Knee. Triad of Discontent The Media: creating the future through sensationalism

The Native Americans: Praying for the past, wanting the future to be the past.

The United States military: forcing the present, wanting the future to replace the past.


Was the ghost dance maybe a chance to raise the connection between consciousness and what Carl Jung called the “Ghostland” which is the unconscious? Joe worked on this connection through dreaming—a time when physical constraints based in reality are unbounded and the unconsciousness able to directly communicate with the sleeping consciousness. Joe urged her to be more aware of her dreams in this way, that her dreamtime was a chance to walk awake through her “ghostland” Joe felt Jung had “good ideas” but that he never went far enough, he never said that such a connection point was possible and that is was the connection between consciousness and unconsciousness that truly made a person an individual worthy of using the innate powers each person has available. She worried though about pushing herself too far toward the connection point since she feared it could cause her to be too far removed from other people in her understanding of this world. A shared reality concept still plagued her since she wanted to live with others but agreed with Joe that to live with others who know themselves as individuals would be the only peaceful chance at community. She was well aware how alone Joe lived, even though he suggested he did so since he had “well lived” his life. She did not want to live alone, or be a ghost within the world others lived. As an artist she had always accepted her role as an outsider looking in and seeing life from another perspective that would help others come to a true aesthetic experience; however, she wanted to be able to have those opportunities of watching and listening and gleaning the pieces of life she used in her art while also being able to cuddle with a man she loved. Perhaps Jung did not go as far as Joe for this simple reason. She also thought about how the American Indian Movement had attempted to reclaim Wounded Knee, South Dakota in the 1970’s, how they had occupied Wounded Knee in order to be heard by the U.S. government, by the world, and although the confusion surrounding this siege was hard for her to unravel, she could see the symbolic gesture of trying to reclaim Wounded Knee in order to shed light on injustice and to help the people who were still unable to move past the events of 1890 and in staying in a shocked position many of the people had fallen asleep to their lives, to their potential, and the world was lacking because of this. She could see parallels between the Native Americans who could not let go of events from the late 19th Century like the Wounded Knee of 1890 and her inner city students who still identified with slavery and allowed it to keep them from fully living their lives. Just as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. tried to reclaim the potential, pride and wakefulness of his people in the 1960’s with various tactics


like the march on Washington D.C. and his “I have a dream” speech commemorating 100 years since the Emancipation Proclamation; the American Indian Movement tried to reclaim the same for their people. Both attempts tried to use other experiences to shock their people back into wakefulness. But in the end both attempts must have realized, on some level, that each individual has to reclaim their life and bring that reclaimed life into their communities in order for everyone to move forward. So the questions still remain—how to help and support each individual on their path toward wakefulness and how deeply must the conscious life and the unconscious life be connected for individualism to flourish? She thought about her vision on Bear Butte all those years ago when she had first met Joe. The winds, thunder and lightning had spoken to her and told her to, “Tell the world about us.” She had struggled ever since to understand what she was to tell or who “us” is. Now it was as clear as the morning sky outside the cave that the two are the same. The “us” is the point of intersection between individual hoops that had already taken place like Joe and her meeting and learning from each other and finding harmony together. What she is to tell is what the intersection means and how to gain it. Joe drew this diagram to show her the elevation gains of Bear Butte so she could plan her visionquest accordingly. Before she left he wrote, “Past, present, and future” inside the spiral saying, “Present, present always trumps the past or future because it is what we can see the clearest; it is what connects all time. Time and space exist together; our physical understanding of the past creates the future with the present a simple bystander facilitating an exchange of ideas. Many people say to live in the present—I say to live without time.” Joe spoke often about living without time since he felt the current structure of time left little room for time travel or better, “rising above” time or “living without time”. “Until the structure of our perception of time changes I say live without it.”

Bear Butte Ceremonial Area with Joe’s conception of time which he compared to the elevation gains involved in hiking to the top of Bear Butte.


The next year at Bear Butte, Joe drew the same spiral shape but instead of writing time markers like present and future inside the spiral he wrote, “Physical, Mental and Spiritual” saying, “The past ties us to our physical lives, the present causes us to question that connection in light of the future which releases us all.” She was hesitant to mention her incomprehension since Joe had been so gruff with her all day, but he noticed her hesitancy and said, “It’s like hiking to the summit of Bear Butte. You start up the butte with spiritual intentions that soon turn to mental deliberations and finally to physical exertion which causes us to question our spiritual intent. As you stay longer on the butte and particularly when you start back down you let go of the physical exhaustion through mental deliberations which turn back to spiritual contemplation by the time you arrive back to the trail head.” She once asked Joe if “living without time” could be the fourth type of time and Joe said, “No, but in that state we may come to understand the fourth time.”

Another Way to Look At Joe’s Sense of Time


Chapter 65 Memory: Hoops Intersecting

Then, she thought about the last time she had visited Bear Butte. It was October and she had made a special trip to take Joe to a Yuwipi ceremony. After the ceremony she dropped Joe off and felt a need to visit Bear Butte. The sunny sixty degree day had no clouds in the sky. She had her van window rolled down and was listening to the wind rushing past her. But as she stopped for gas in Sturgis, South Dakota it started to snow! As she drove on toward Bear Butte her thought of camping was gone because it was a complete blizzard! She found the turn off for Bear Butte and felt committed to going there but had to drive 20 mph because it was a complete white out. When she reached the ceremonial area inside the state park, she got out to find the wind ferocious and the snow piling up on her van. She thought of Joe’s theory of sacred spaces including powerful weather and smiled at the harshness of the north wind. She took the rattle Joe had given her after the ceremony this time, the first of a few gifts he gave to her, and started rattling it at the butte that she knew was there but couldn’t see through the snow. She said loudly, “I am not afraid of my vision; I just need to understand it better.” She kept repeating it louder and louder, shaking the rattle. Her lightweight clothing was no match for these elements and she thought for a moment of returning to her van and finding a hotel when she heard it. At first she thought maybe her ears were playing tricks on her so she stopped and listened. Boom, boom, boom. And then a bolt of lightning came down just to the left of her sizzling the ground, making a puddle out of the collecting snow and ice. She realized at that moment that it truly was the last season, the white season. That the medicine wheel had been walked and the time for new was coming. She walked over to the steaming puddle and looked down to see different colored grass waving deep in the puddle and then she saw Joe as she always saw him in her dreams as a young man on a horse. “What does my vision mean?” she asked the figure in the puddle.


All Joe did was point at the rattle in her hand which rattled without her moving it. At that time she had become more confused than ever before. She left Bear Butte and it took hours to get back to a hotel. She asked Joe about the experience while they had been driving to Hot Springs this trip but he had only smiled and said, “It should be obvious.” Well now it was obvious: the rattle in her hand showed the intersection between her individual hoop and Joe’s individual hoop and in that intersection they had found harmony. It was that harmony she was to ask people to find after telling them about these intersections.

Intersections


Chapter 66 Wood Carrier Satisfied with her recall of those memories, she lies back on the short, soft grass and sighs. How amazing love is that it can transmute fear and in so doing create a space for rebalancing to occur. She knew Joe telling her his work with her is finished is part of his way since he recognized an imbalance could occur if they continued on in their present relationship without allowing for her new insights, beliefs and values to have full sunlight for growth. She understood change is needed. She didn’t know what to say. She didn’t want to say goodbye to Joe. They had much work to do now that she understood. She had to clear her throat before saying, “I feel there is much more we can do together.” “Yes, there is. When the winds blew in telling me you were on your way here, I built a lodge to find out what I am to tell you this time. The answer I got was, ‘everything’. So I have attempted to show you everything, but in doing so I know ‘everything’ also means my teaching has come to an end. I have been waiting for this moment since you are the last student I am to instruct.” He took a long pause. She wanted to protest but understood what he said from both a student and a teacher’s perspective. “I have seen you in my dreams since I was a very young boy. Think of me as a dirty, little Indian dreaming of a beautiful white lady with long flowing hair that looks like the goldenrods in full bloom and a perfect smile. Can you imagine my parent’s dismay when I recollected my dreams in extreme detail—dreams of you and I in the Badlands? Then I would recount my dreams of you while I was in the sweat lodge; I would tell of us camping together, like right now, and everyone in the lodge would chuckle and say I had imagination until one time the water pourer said, “Leave him alone. I too have seen this lady in my visions and only he will meet her.” After that lodge I should have been happy that someone supported me, but instead I became angry. I think now I was mad that someone else had seen you, had dreamt you since by then my dreams of you were a kind of lifeline for me as the reservation started to fall apart and fall into violent ways. After that lodge I no longer wanted to be an Indian. I didn’t really want to meet you; I just wanted to keep your dream image to myself, since to me you had become a chance at something better. I became angrier, at my dreams, my community, myself. I tried drinking and drugs, but I didn’t want them in my life, so I left the reservation. I went out into the world to see all I could. I


somehow got scholarships to attend college and did many degrees but that knowledge seemed stale compared to walking in the Badlands with my father. “It wasn’t until my father showed me my inheritance that I saw how “the world” had taken the place of drinking and drugs. Just as they had muted my dreams of you and my confusion as to who I was, the world also did that and sometimes even more powerfully. I had fallen asleep to my life. “But it was those dreams of you that made me relaxed in white society, during a time that Indians were not well thought of. I even fell deeply in love with a white woman…When I accepted my true calling of being a medicine man for my community, I found my community in pieces, on fire, like soldiers everyone seemed to walk toward their graves. The Wounded Knee problems of the 1890’s had never been settled and there were many in my community who wanted to settle it. But that’s the funny thing about history, it is what it is, more a tool to use for growth then actions that need to be righted. “And when I returned to my community I was now seen as “white”. I was the imaginative boy who had run away to the white world, I was not respected.” Joe stopped to watch a large bluebird alight on the ground nearby to choose from a multitude of twigs picking each one up until it found the right one and flew away with it. “But I found that I also did not respect myself, so I worked on that and over time I gained a respect for myself that spilled over to many others. Once that happened my dreams of you came flooding back. Maybe they had never left and I had just ignored them, but now I could not turn away from them and I did not want to. Many of the days we have spent together I have dreamt about, although really you and some of your ideas were unknown to me. It was then I saw so openly that this life is illusion, an illusion we create in order to experience it. You once told me that you didn’t feel like a teacher since you seemed to learn more from you students then you thought they learned from you—well I feel the same way about you!” Joe stops to look deeply into her eyes and at that moment she sees him for what he truly is—pure energy, no form at all. She feels secure and warm in this seeing. She then remembers the first time she met Joe and how he had changed into stars and planets—all other expressions of energy—all revolving around where he had been standing. Joe continued, “But there are also others in your life that need to teach you as well. I am not much longer with this world and can only hope that when my time comes you will help me up the mountain.”


“Of course,” she replies hoarsely since she is misty eyed at all Joe has just told her, “I’ll do my best.” Joe smiles, “That’s what I’ve come to expect from you.” “May I visit you still?” “Yes, yes I always need wood.” With that Joe rises and goes to collect his tent. She notices he had taken her tent down and folded everything neatly so she takes it all and puts it in the van. Berlin jumps in and they are off. They ride in silence for a while. As they enter the forest again Joe says, “There is one more thing I should show you.”

Sunrise on Horsethief Lake Black Hills National Forest, South Dakota


Chapter 67 The Place Between Two Rocks Badland’s Sunrise Badlands National Park, South Dakota

The sky behind her was becoming steel grays like a city in the heavens made of gleaming metals. Underneath the grays the sun rose richly in smoldering golds and yellows. She knew it would be some time before she was to return to these hills and she was sad. The miles lengthened her view of the hills, pulling over to a view area she sees their silhouette against the rising storm making them seem fragile and small enough to carry with her; instead, she places the idea of them inside her spirit, to draw on like a deep, clean well. She stayed there all day looking, reading, thinking before driving toward the Badlands. As she arrives at the Badlands National Park the storm begins to overtake her. The rain is so high it simply mists the air as thunder rumbles for miles. She goes to the Place Between Two Rocks to pray and burn incense. This was her power place. No one knew about this place, although Joe had once guessed there were two rocks which gave it its name, but he knew not where it was. She walks into the circular area where different geologic formations rise from the cracking desert floor. A unique place in that almost all the geologic possibilities within 100 miles are found here, even hard quartzite shines in the setting sun, colored by the fierce reds overhead. She prays and watches the storm cloud descend around her until it is almost too dark to see. “Tell the world about us.” She hears all around her. She stands there nodding and thinking. “Who is us?” she asks again. But the cloud lifts without dropping any rain. The thunder continues yet further off. The sun is almost set. She turns to leave and a single ray from the horizon hits the path she walks. She nods silently contemplating it all.


The morning is well under way as she drives east on I90. The silence within her greets the fields of sunflowers growing on either side of her. Their heliotropic heads turned eastward as if looking in advance of her travels. Their yellow petals shimmer in the sun as it moves free of the clouds. The sunflowers then start to turn to face I90 as the sun tracks its southern route across the sky. Their seeded faces prepared for the upcoming harvest, just as her mind and spirit are prepared to harvest what she has learned and experienced. She sings to the flowers as her white horse races down the road, “I’ll tell the world about us, I’ll tell them what we know, I’ll share with them this moment, and let them know this world.” She returns to the Wisconsin farm after midnight the following evening. The sky is a blazing glory of celestial objects winking, dancing, and falling to her feet. The lightning bugs bring the glory to earth, signaling the beginning of her work in their physical Morse code she cannot yet read. What had she gone into the wilderness to see? The real places she had seen in her dreams? Or a vision brought to life, a prophet ready to read her vision and explain it? Or maybe she had gone into the frontier to find work. She use to envy her ancestors who had worked this farm since their work was so clear, the progress they made each day a reality. Her work had been so unclear all these years, even while teaching she did not feel she was doing her work. Had she finally been given her field to sow? Is that what she had gone into the wilderness for: to find her work? Or was it a clearer sense of her identity seen through her work? Joe had always chided her when she spoke of work. He had said work was never the same, each day was different. He use to say, “Have you ever left a room and while walking away had the sense that the room was gone? Upon turning around you’re surprised to see the door still intact but something prevents you from opening the door again, to find the room is gone: a construct of your own imaging’s or constructed for your own experience? “You can’t walk into the same room twice. You can’t walk the same trail twice you will be different, the trail will be different the construct changed.” Joe had taught her many things, but he had given her only this story to tell. At least she had deciphered part of the lightning bugs’ Morse code signaling dawn approaching since their glow faded into the growing light. She went to sleep in a bed for the first time in a week. Her dreams were of the future, mountains and beyond.


Chapter 68 Dream: Mountains Beyond the Black Hills She rode through the dark forest where occasional bursts of sunlight blinded her and shined right through her. Trees started talking to her through their roots, leaves, and bark. She listened. After riding through the forest for several days the trees abruptly stopped and the prairie started again. Beyond were snow-capped mountains. She sat by a large evergreen to look at them. “It is Joe.” The tree said and suddenly Joe was sitting beside her. They stared at the mountains for days, letting the clouds and sky speak for them.

Visionquesting on Mount Harney Black Elk Wilderness, South Dakota The Lakota name for Harney Peak is Hinhan Kaga Paha which translates roughly into sacred dark and truthful owl. Joe had told her about the translation meaning “sacred dark” so that she would not be afraid the first time she did a vision quest on Mount Harney during a new moon. The dark had comforted her and embraced her and shown her a light inside her.


Act Four: Beautiful Dreamer Season: Fall turning to Winter Direction: East


Chapter 69 Loss and Rebirth Standing in the ankle deep maple leaves, she considered fall having firmly taken hold. In one day the tallest maple on the hill had lost all its leaves. A strong, eastern wind danced them all to the ground last night since yesterday morning the tree was full of its blazing red and yellow leaves. She had been staying on her family’s Wisconsin farm and each dawn she walked a path that cut straight through the property. She walked past a lake her father coaxed into existence through digging and a small, makeshift dam. She would inadvertently disturb the wild Canada geese that came here to have their young, train them and then fly further north for the remainder of the summer only to come back a couple of months later to enjoy the warm fall days on the lake until it was time to fly further south. They flew over a 1000 miles a year and this fact had helped her to learn how to coexist with them and help them to stop shitting all over her path. There were about 40 geese on the lake since the fall days were still warm and enjoyable. She’d cross the rock n’ tumble dam, before mounting the high ridge line that acted like a geographical boundary line between a slice of heaven on her side and the drain tiled fields and narrow pasture her dairy farmer neighbor managed. She could hear the milking machines whirring with the sound of metal friction and didn’t even notice the empty tree because movement beyond it caught her attention. The movement was by the large, oak tree that had staked its claim many years ago and now nursed seedlings, saplings and burgeoning oak trees on its east side. Its large trunk and many branches protected the trees from the fierce west winds. So at first she glanced at the movement by the oak tree and didn’t even notice that all the maple tree leaves had left. Once she saw the reluctant branches now bare, her mind was transfixed by the rising sun catching certain parts of the tree in rose colored light, almost highlighting its nudity until spring, and lighting on certain fallen leaves covering her feet. She held onto this moment as the crisp fall air was being changed to 70 degrees by the start of day. Her and the trees all accepted that loss means rebirth when she saw the movement again by the oak tree. At first she thought it a large bird, maybe an eagle hunting or one of the great blue herons that migrated at the same time as the geese, but it was on the ground. Then she thought it one of her Old Order Mennonite neighbors who would cross from the West and walk on her path to talk with her, but the figure remained by the tree so she


threw the tall grass caution to the now gentle eastern breeze and walked over. It was Joe. He was leaning against the tree’s enormous trunk and she knew it was him before she even saw him since the smell of sweet grass; sage and tobacco that forever scented him met her first. “Hi,” she said, wondering if she was still sleeping since Joe had never appeared to her outside of her dreaming. “I thought you might miss me here the way you were studying that naked tree.” She could see him smiling as he leaned and gazed west. “I was thinking about loss and rebirth.” He turned to her, his eyes shining like two stars fixed in the orbit of his brain and clapped his hands together with a larger smile, “Good, that is precisely my last lesson for you.” She smiled, wondering again if she was dreaming or still awake and on her dawn walk. She also wondered if Joe had taken all the leaves off that tree to start the lesson since the other trees like it still had all their leaves. “I need you to come to the Black Hills.” Joe moved away from her, west, in the direction he wanted her to go. She looked down at the ground all twisted with long grass and broken oak branches that had a disarming complexity that was beautiful. She was searching for how to explain to Joe that she was unable to come to him this time. She thought of her new job and the need she had to get back to Chicago to start it. But then why was she in Wisconsin now? She was to begin working in a scant few days and should already be in Chicago getting ready, but instead she had driven up to the farm within hours of getting the phone call that she had been hired to direct another not for profit. She shook her head, deciding to just tell Joe the truth; she could not come to him. But when she looked up he was gone. Only his fragrance was present and she breathed it in looking at the tall grass he had pushed down as he walked west since it was the only physical marker that he had been there. The wind dramatically shifted from the east and started blowing from the west, calling her with persistence. She sighed, knowing yet another job was going to fall away while she pursued her “other” life. She knew her inability to merge her life with her “other” life was the root of her problems. She had learned to live with little income which had helped her see she didn’t need much. So she thought, as she walked back to the house for coffee and packing, that she would just have to learn to live with even less. She went to her camping gear neatly packed in a plastic tub and pulled out her Lowe backpacking backpack. After


pulling everything out of the pack to check it and make sure she had her backpacking tent, Kelty down sleeping bag and then to swap her summer hiking clothes for fall and winter ones, rain and cold nights which included a down coat that became incredibly small when packed into its pocket, she put everything back in, turning on the two flashlights and checking the strength of their light as well as making sure she had matches and fire starter. Her compass, notebook, set of short colored pencils and her two main topographic maps of the badlands and the south east part of the Black Hills were in one side pocket; in the other side pocket were health bars, dried fruit, peanuts, vitamin C tablets and chocolate which had some dubious expiration dates but were left in case she didn’t have time to replenish her supplies. In the top pocket, which kindly zipped off for easy carrying were her soaps, teeth cleaning essentials, lotions for softness and sun block, fast drying towels for face and body and her camping lingerie which was a recent addition since she had decided that lace was a camping essential. That she could still be a girl while camping had been a revelation after going into a campground shower one day and not recognizing the person looking back at her in the mirror. She tightened the cords around her sleeping pad on the bottom of the pack and looked into the rest of the plastic tub at her solar coffee maker to see that she needed filters and her small cook stove that needed propane. All her camping cookware was clean and ready to go as well as the pasta, dried mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, olive oil and silverware. She packed some hard cheese and apples from the refrigerator and made several sandwiches throwing the rest of the peanut butter and bread into the tub. She closed the lid and smiled at the efficiency she had developed over these years of camping. She put several pairs of hiking shoes and good wool socks of various thicknesses in a duffle bag that was also stored in the tub and placed the filled duffle on top of the tub. She thought of her first trip out to the badlands when she slept in the backseat of a 1992 Buick Park Avenue and ate horrible gas station and fast food. She had worn a sheer Chanel blouse for most of the trip which had caused her to get such severe sunburn it was hard to even move for weeks as well as having ruined the blouse. Now the long sleeve shirts she wore on the road were SPF rated and the sun block lotion ready to go. She had returned from that first trip with so much spiritual growth but a sore back and sore stomach that it took weeks for her to physically recover. Now when she returned from her western sojourns she was physically and spiritually rejuvenated and ready for hard work. With the supplies she had just packed she could easily last a week or more and need only gas for her van and water for herself. She marveled at the


accoutrements of her other life. Like the nice shoes and planned outfits of her business life, her camping and on the road life also had certain shoes and planned outfits. She had learned that she wanted clean fingernails in an office and on a trail and had learned how to keep her hair clean from reading French Vogue. She still packed a separate duffle bag with cute outfits she could wear at tourist places and in the car but for the most part she could live out of her backpack and be happy. Pulling on her worn Ralph Lauren jean jacket with a Bill Worrell pin on the label she smiled again at how she felt comfortable in either life she led and how each life had informed the other with her work outfits becoming more comfortable, natural organic fibers and cute but comfortable shoes and her camping/hiking outfits becoming more girlish and higher quality. If only she could figure out how to merge the two lives so that she could consistently make money and have the time to travel. Her thoughts drifted back to Joe as she pulled out of the driveway and onto the rural gravel road the farm was on. Joe didn’t really physically travel very far from his home on the reservation since he had learned how to spiritually travel. The more she had traveled; she had come to love her family’s ancestral farm in Wisconsin and could see herself living there full time and being happy. Could the travel she had already done have prepared her for just such a life? From such a remote location how would she tell the world about us?


Chapter 70 Helping Joe up the Mountain She was sitting on a sewn rabbit fur blanket when a lightning bolt hit the ground a few feet to her right. No one moved. The elder woman who had given her the fur blanket many years ago turned to her and winked. The chanting stopped She thought of that day many years before when the older woman had given her the fur blanket. She was leaving the reservation town that morning and the older woman had walked out of one of the decaying reservation structures called home, carrying what looked like a sacred bundle. She did not know the older woman but when their eyes met she felt related. The older woman thrust the bundle of fur into her arms and said, “It will be cold, you will need this.” then turned and walked back home through the 100 degree July day. She had said “Aho,” to the woman’s retreating figure, bewildered by what turned out to be a rabbit fur blanket, the pelts all sewn together. As she turned to get into her car Joe had said, “Very cold.” Then he too turned to walk away disappearing in the heat coming from the sun and earth simultaneously. Returning from this memory she thought of why she was here. She had gone to Pine Ridge Reservation after seeing Joe on her family farm and because she had had another dream. Again the vivid displays flashed through her: driving through a snowstorm, scrapping ice off her car and then Joe’s shack loomed large in the dream so sharp and real she felt she could get cut by it before waking. She knew she had to go and did just that upon waking in the early morning darkness. She called in to her new job when she was somewhere in Minnesota, knowing full well they would revoke their offer of employment which they politely did. She arrived in front of Joe’s shack just after dawn the next day. She didn’t expect to find him there since he always rose early so he could do ceremony, thanking the rising sun for another day. Joe was a sun and stars person and she knew that to mean he followed a lineage that included the ghost dance religion. He never spoke much about this lineage except to tell her that her appearance that day years ago at Bear Butte had renewed his faith—people of the earth were returning and that meant hope, still uncertain, but still hope in the future. No matter how hard she pressed him, he would say no more which led her to research the ghost dance as best she could. Even though disappointed with much of her ghost dance research she did enjoy researching the ghost dance prophet, Wovoka, whose ghost dance letter described the dance and manner to approach


the dance. Some historians claim Wovoka, son of a Paiute shaman, converted to Christianity and later had visions in which Jesus promised to be the Indians’ messiah. As Wovoka told others about these visions the Ghost Dance Society came into consciousness mixing Christianity and Indian beliefs into a messianic cult that centered on a dance ritual which would cause Jesus to return and save the Indian from the White man and also bring back dead relatives. She also found many descriptions of natives and others from all over the states going to visit Wovoka in the 1890’s. One such visit was described by one of a group of Plains natives going to “Pine Grove to visit with the Messiah. We come up on a man in the road and sure enough it was the Messiah out hunting jack rabbits.” which she found in James Mooney’s ethnographic study called The Ghost Dance Religion and the Sioux Outbreak of 1890 first published in 1896 as a U.S. government report. She had bought this tome at a recent visit to Crazy Horse Mountain. She loved this account of Wovoka since it made her think of Joe. Mooney’s life’s work was documenting the culture of North American Native Americans. His detailed narratives and translations helped her to understand Native Americans in a more humanistic light as real people with families and love and loss she could easily relate to and helped her to understand Joe much better. Mooney also wrote in his detailed account of the Ghost Dance religion that the ghost dance had helped bring the savage to civilization. She thought how the skeleton dancers’ Red Road Dance had helped bring her civilized self back in harmony with her natural self. Since starting to accept her natural self she struggled intently with balancing her civilized self with her natural one, balancing her conscious life with her unconscious one. Upon her arrival she went to Joe’s shack and knew something was awry that cold, late fall morning. Even though he didn’t lock his door, it was always closed with a sticky latch, it was unlike him to leave it open so she walked in saying, “Hi Joe, I had another dream.” The sight of his one room stopped her. It was as if a whirlwind had blown through. She righted one of the two chairs lying on the ground and could see his drum gone, his rattle gone, many of the bottled herbs were gone—some smashed on the floor still pungent after many sealed years. She went to the bed, with his


star quilt gone a frayed sheet and thin mattress were evident. The star quilt had hidden what many would feel to be poor sleeping conditions. Joe felt he had been asleep for a long time and did not like closing his eyes or mind for any length of time. In the afternoon she would find him napping, trying to catch up on some lost sleep. She leaned on the creaking bed and knelt down on her knees to look under it. The box was gone. The deep red cloths Joe used to wrap his ceremonial objects lay in a frustrated heap where the box they were kept in had sat. The box was gone.


Chapter 71 Dream: As Above, So Below The white horse had been covering the vast foothills for days as the snow capped mountains slowly came closer. She would nap as the horse would move forward. She never saw anyone, just the grasses, rivers and shadows passing swiftly beneath them as the clouds, stars and moon took their time passing over her and the white horse. She thought of the alchemical emerald tablet which purportedly held the directions for alchemy, as they rode along a still lake holding the slow moving sky within it—as above, so below. Then the mountains were upon them, looming large and cold and she was frightened so the horse stopped. She built a fire and watched the sun set behind the huge uplifts tilted into sharp angles and buttresses. She sang a song about the mountains and the horse neighed. At dawn she was ready to climb her first mountain. As they ascended through evergreen forests, raging rivers and reluctant to melt snow; she had to catch her breath and learn how to breathe more deeply. She became lightheaded from the lessons and turned to see Joe sitting under a large oak tree. He smiled and waved her on. She summated at dusk, Mars glowing red in the east.


Chapter 72 Shooting Star—the real color of stars As she was rising from looking under the empty bed, brushing dust off her knees which was quietly collecting inside Joe’s shack since the door had been open, she heard a familiar “Aho” which made her turn and smile. It was Gloria, once nurse to Joe and now a friend of hers. They embraced and held hands as Joe had shown both of them. No tears since they both knew Joe was still out there. “Did he see the sky?” she asked, since Joe had long told her he wanted to move on while looking at the sky. Gloria smiled and nodded, “It was full of stars and he said, ‘that one shooting there is me. Now the stars are in a new constellation.’” They both smiled at such power. Joe had told her how the Milky Way was seen as a path to take after death since it led to the spirit world. As those who knew walked the Milky Way the different constellations the spirit would pass through would change, momentarily. When Joe and her would sit and talk outside at night, he would stretch his arms out wide following the galaxy as it touched one horizon, arched over them touching the opposite horizon. It was like a star-filled dome, a celestial rooftop. He would say, “Doesn’t matter where you pick it up” then he would point to sections of the Milky Way, “since it will take you where you need to go.” Gloria had come out a week ago at the urging of the medicine woman she nursed in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Gloria hadn’t wanted to come; newly married Gloria was enjoying herself. “Older people know how marriage can be fun.” When Gloria arrived, she wanted to call her and tell her to come out too, but Joe had waved his hand and said, “She will be here when she is needed.” After a short catching up and some gentle scolding from Gloria that another dream had led her out here, Gloria said, “When will you know dreams are as real as you and me— this is all a construction we’ve created?” They turned to leave the shack. She did not have to ask who the whirlwind was, who had taken Joe’s box, for she knew it was Joe’s nephew. Outside in the sunlight it was still cold with patches of last night’s weak snow collecting toward winter. The curve of the snow and the shine of some of its crystals looked like the Milky Way spread out at her feet, what was usually soaring overhead was now underfoot. Gloria turned to her and said, “Joe showed me what to give to you and he even said I could have some things and now this.” She motioned toward the shack. “I’m going to the elders to complain. If I could even get it back…” She knew the nephew had probably already sold everything for drinking money, she could see her and Gloria

Detail from Tent Smoke Badlands moon and star Black Hills, SD


Detail from Tent Smoke Gloria Doing Ceremony Black Hills, SD

driving to the usual pawnshops and collector’s homes to inquire—but chances were not good since much of Joe’s possessions that were in the box were pre-Reservation era inherited items. Those kinds of items many people would love to own and not let on that they do. Another piece of history was gone forever, the new owners making up their own tales and believing in the drunken nephew’s claims, so that a made up history would take precedence over the truth. It was good that Joe had imbued his powers into people he could trust instead of the belongings he used in ceremony as the ‘oldtimers’ had. Joe recognized early on that pipes get broken, lost and stolen so why imbibe power into an item that could be easily used by another person in the wrong way? Instead, Joe had decided to give his powers away to the people he called. He called to them through their dreams. They closed the shack door tightly and walked toward the reservation town and she said to Gloria, “I don’t need anything. Joe has given me so much more than any material construction.” Gloria nodded, still lost in the words she would say to the elders, when a hawk feather tied with red thread came bounding toward them. She bent over to pick it up, recognizing the feather as the one she had gifted to Joe after a sweatlodge they had done in the badlands behind his shack. She turned it around admiring the red thread that Joe had wrapped around the point. “I want you to have this” she shoved the feather into Gloria’s hand. “I couldn’t take this, you should have it.” “I gifted it to Joe and now I will gift it to you.” Gloria smiled and nodded lifting the feather to the sun and turning it around, murmuring just as Joe had done that day many years before, the familial similarity in how each person had accepted this simple gift of a hawk feather brought tears to her eyes which she hastily wiped away with a hand and smile. They walked in silence and she thought of another day with Joe when he had given her a shovel and they had walked this same path through the reservation town and then several miles to a large pink rock on a hill. Joe had motioned for her to dig and she did, easily unearthing a very old coffee can. “Open it,” Joe said leaning against the pink rock, his blue shirt contrasting against it. Inside the coffee can was money, some of it very old maybe from the 1800’s. She fanned the different bills out 100’s, 50’s, 20’s and stared up at Joe. “Some of it was given to my great grandfather for his land. Others were given to my grandfather and father for some ceremonies.” She remembered how Joe’s nephew wanted Joe to go “on tour” and show the world his magic tricks, the nephew had dreams of the money he could make off the “old man”. One


of the times the nephew confronted her in Rapid City was outside the Native American gift shop Prairie Edge. She had enjoyed this visit until she exited the side door to the sidewalk and was confronted by the nephew who walked up to her like he was going to hit her and started shouting in Lakota. His breath was alcohol and his words incomprehensible. She started to back away from him when he grabbed her by the shoulders and started a diatribe in English, “How can you keep coming up here to steal our knowledge? I know you are making money from it and because of you he won’t teach anyone else, he won’t make the money he could. You see how he lives and you won’t lift a finger to help…” until a gentle woman from Prairie Edge came outside and put a stop to his yelling allowing her to leave. She had lifted many fingers to change Joe’s circumstances but Joe wanted it the way it was. He wanted no money, clothes or food from her. There was a revolving collection of twenty dollar bills that she would leave for him in a jacket pocket or shelf in his shack and that he would return equally stealth. He did accept tobacco and sweet grass and the occasional odd rock she would bring him. Kneeling on the ground with the coffee can that was surely an antique any tourist would buy empty, she better understood Joe’s choices. “There are a couple hundred cans here.” Joe said motioning around the pink rock. She had no idea how much money that could be. The older money felt more like paper then the newer bills. “My father was the one who stopped teaching for money. He told me he was going to give me his pipe, his drum and his rattle the same ones his father had given to him. He told me I could do what I wanted with them. I could sell them. I could use them at Pow Wows. I could use them for ceremony as they have been used for many, many years. Or I could silence them. ‘But,’ my father then said, ‘they have the power of many generations of medicine men, you are a medicine man and whatever you choose to do with them will be their destiny. But if I were you I would take the power out of them and give it to people you can trust because a time is coming that these powers will not be safe inside these instruments.’” Joe looked up at the pink rock, “It was at this place he gave these three to me: his pipe, drum and rattle. I took them in silence and shock. I had just returned from the University with my fancy degrees that Uncle Sam had paid for and I was undecided about what to do next. At times I wanted to move to a city and live a white man’s life. At other times I wanted to find another life that I could feel real in, that I could feel myself in, but I didn’t know what kind of life that would be. I had decided to move to Rapid City, I thought it was a good


Detail from Tent Smoke Tent Stars Black Hills, SD

compromise since it was close enough to the reservation and far enough away, but the woman I loved did not want to come here, she wanted New York City, or maybe LA so I had to decide. I kind of wanted to leave and never return, but I knew I couldn’t since I didn’t feel real when I was gone for too long. I hadn’t told my father any of this, but I think he knew all the same. As I stood here with my father holding these three things I knew I would never leave. I understood immediately that there were only three medicine tools because I was the fourth tool. I was like the pipe, the drum and the rattle in that I held the medicine power of my family and this land. “As I heard him telling me that it was in this place that his father had given him these three, and in that giving had changed his life. Well it sure did change mine! We hugged for the last time in my life and I realized that he was giving me four things not three and that the fourth was him! He told me how proud he was of me going off to the University because it meant that for the first time in our medicine man lineage one of us would make a choice to walk the medicine path knowing what that choice meant. When we let go of each other we both wiped the tears from our faces and he smiled. I never had to tell him my choice. It’s like someone handing you the sun and saying, ‘You can hold on to the sun or live a life in darkness.’ No choice there, no choice then.” She had sat back on her heels to listen to Joe and at that moment the sun came from behind the looming, pink rock to momentarily blind her so that it seemed Joe was the rays of the sun itself. She looked down at the money still in her hands and folded it back up and stuffed it back into the can. “You take that can and bury it somewhere no one knows.” Joe urged her. She looked back at him, still blinded by the sun, and leaned down to put the can back into its original hole and cover it up. “How’s this spot?” she asked as she got up dusting herself off. Joe smiled, “You understand none of this matters. You understand we create our worlds in our dreams and live them anew each morning.” Joe embraced her then for the first and only time, “I’d give you those three if they meant anything anymore, but they don’t. I’ve given you the power inside them. You’ll be the first medicine woman in our lineage that will make the choice after actually living a fully different life. I knew what I was going to give up, but I never had it. You will make the choice to give up what you already have.” When he let go of her they both stood there wiping the tears from their faces. His tears made trails in his brown skin, her tears made her white skin glow, these differences didn’t matter. It was the only time they held each other; it had felt like she was holding the wind in her arms.


She thought of seeing Crazy Horse as the wind while she was at Mt Rushmore and then again at Crazy Horse Mountain. She also thought of a quote from a ghost dancer collected by Mooney who said the prophet was like a cloud, like the wind that moves the clouds. Both these ideas characterized her one time giving Joe a hug. She sang a song she had written about the Wind. Joe clapped and beat on his chest as an accompaniment: Wind: Air (It’s Alive!) Oh the wind on the waves Oh the wind in the trees Oh the wind in my hair Come down over me Share your life’s story Tell the world you are free. Oh the wind that’s my love Oh the wind in my veins Oh the wind over graves Blowing wildly Life’s eternity Oh the wind on these rocks Writes notes for the fall Balances red rocks Like a sculptor’s dream It’s the wind’s gallery Oh the wind in my arms Says I can’t capture it Oh the wind in my thoughts Use to confuse me Now it releases me Shows me I can be free Oh the wind in my dreams Frees all who I love Shows them they are free So we all can be Blowing wildly In life’s eternity Detail from Tent Smoke The Wind Black Hills, SD


Joe then took the shovel from her to smooth out their tracks as they walked away. He did this for almost a mile before directing their walking in another direction and handing the shovel to her. “My nephew does not understand. He has heard stories of these cans but he will never find them—right?” Joe asked her. “Right,” she agreed. “He thinks the world is money and drink and he does not understand the spirit inside him begging to be released from such slavery, to be released by right actions. My nephew has tried to convince me that he knows more than me because of tv, radio, cars—all constructions that could, and will, disappear. “The work begun on you a long time ago is coming to harvest, you are waking up to other ways of being in this world and with that awakening you will come to understand how those skillfully arranged circumstances that brought you to these moments were your own construction. You’ve known where you should be, who you should be and the only crises you’ve had to experience were when you did not follow what you had planned for yourself, what was needed of you. Your dreams will start to shift and change so take heed to listen to them, interpret them and come to understand your past, present and future through them. Even when awakened there is so much work to be done we must continue working while we rest and our minds leave us instructions of the work we have done in the form of dreams. Now that you are awake your dreams will make more sense and the images, forms and ideas presented will start to fall into recognizable patterns until you start to understand the basic building blocks of all life.” He waved away her instant questions about those blocks and smiled, “It is for you to discover, it is your journey to walk.” They walked toward a small grove of cottonwoods and he showed her a dead root to dig up since the root balls always burned the longest. Joe would say the root burned the longest because it held the most potential energy. “E = MC2” was always his response when she complained about the weight of those root balls. She dug it up and carried it in one hand with the shovel in the other as they walked back to the reservation. Inside the house the nephew lived in, he was watching them walk through the town with the root ball. His mother was getting ready to go to the bar and she asked him what he was doing. “Just watching that old man and foolish white girl.” “You respect your uncle now,” Joe’s sister told her son sharply. But the nephew knew after one drink his mother would agree with him, again, that those money cans were important to find.


Her and Joe burned the root ball that evening. Joe told her about the moon and stars and sun and the symbolism it meant for the ghost dancers. “Will you teach me the dance?” she asked. “You already know it.” While dust on the root ball caught fire and sizzled sending sparks up into the sky so crowded with stars one almost fell into her lap. When she returned to Chicago after this trip she thought of her own father and their distant relationship. She had been purposefully rebuilding the relationship with her mother after recognizing the love that was between them, but now she had to do the same with her father. There were no drums, or rattles, or pipes that would pass between them, instead she would get to know her father and accept the gifts he would give her from his heart. She would get frustrated with him at times and then a vision of standing on that little hill with the pink rock and Joe in his blue shirt would come back to her and make her laugh— her frustration was because she was too much like her father! She thought how strange that this Lakota medicine man would give her one of the truly greatest gifts—a love and respect for her parents and a chance to use those two gifts to create a new relationship with them both.

Tent Smoke Black Hills, SD


Chapter 73 Vision: Lightning from the Sky On Harney Black Elk Wilderness, South Dakota

The women chanting on their fur blankets made her tremble. They had come from all over: Montana, Wyoming, Washington to chant for Joe. No real phone calls or messages were relayed, just as she had come because of a dream; others came because of similar reasons. One elder lady with no teeth said, “When the rope is pulled tight I come.” The toothless smile was infectious and pretty soon she didn’t even notice the missing teeth because of the joy in this older lady. She sat with them, silent since she did not know the words or the tunes and then they broke into the “Stars Spangled Banner”. They knew all the words; she did not and was ashamed vowing to learn her nation’s anthem. Joe had wanted to move on while outside and she was glad Gloria had made that happen. Joe had wanted his body buried outside, “Let the animals and weather expose me for what I am—nothing.” He had said more than once. But everyone knew that would be impossible in this day and age. So they had hiked his favorite trail on Mount Harney with what appeared to be his body wrapped in buckskin. She never asked, not wanting to know if they intended to “bury” him outside as he had requested. She felt to ask would have been disrespectful. Gloria chanted with the rest of the women while the few old men had taken the bundle to higher ground. This group stayed there for three days--the men unseen and the women chanting. Water, hard bread, and buffalo beef jerky kept them going. Her new Doberman, Greta, had to stay in the reservation with an older woman who could not make the trip. When she had been told the dog could not go, she had understood but was concerned since this Doberman was not as friendly as Berlin had been with strangers, but once the door to the older woman’s home was open, Greta just walked right in


and sat next to the woman’s chair. “See,” the woman said in singing, broken English, “she knows me.” She asked the dog if it was ok and the Doberman seemed to be nodding “yes”. So at least she didn’t have to worry about the woman or the dog, they seemed ok with each other. For three days they chanted, drank water, ate jerky and barely slept. It was cold. The sewn rabbit fur kept her warm, it seemed to retain some of the heat from that hot July day when it had been given to her. There was always someone chanting, even in the deep of night. Then the sky grew dark on the third day in the morning and a lightning bolt came down just a few feet from them. The ground sizzled where the lightning had struck and inside the sizzle pine needles, rock, sandy soil all started to burn. She walked over to look at the place of striking. Inside the burning she saw a road leading through tall red rocks, it was sunny and heat trailed from the road like a fog. Alongside the road were red rocks shaped like arches. “You’ll find me here.” Joe said to her. She saw a deep red rock that was towering over her as she sang a song called “Water”. “How far is here?” she asked the sizzling scene. The road inside it started to unravel and curling up and out of the burning circle, up and out towards the sky and into the clouds then around back to her. She smiled; it was kind of far then…

She looked around to find everyone had started to gather their things and start down the mountain. No one else had looked inside the puddle where the lightning bolt had struck. It was still emitting steam as scorched pine needles gave up their moisture. She looked at Gloria and saw no recognition of what had just happened.


Chapter 74 Lightning from Her Heart She followed everyone else down the mountain, walking alongside Gloria. “So we would have chanted for one day if the lightning had struck sooner?” Gloria nodded, “I’ve chanted for as long as a week once and still no sign, we had to give up and leave from pure exhaustion. After that, many said the person we had been chanting for had become a ghost and had chosen not to move on. Others said we had been chanting the wrong way, or for the wrong person.” “What did you believe?” “That he liked our chanting so much he didn’t want it to stop!” The two women held hands and walked, laughing at the idea that someone could chant in the wrong way. Hesitatingly Gloria asked, “Did he say I was to know anything or learn anything from you?” Joe had said that she should tell Gloria nothing. But how should she answer this good woman’s question? She breathed the scent of Gloria in, all tobacco, sage and life searching for the answer that would not offend or hurt her. She looked up at the sky and then into her heart. She thought about how far the relationship between Gloria and her had come. From animosity based on stereotypes, to resigned indifference based on Joe’s request, to finally friendship based on understanding and respect. She counted Gloria as one of her good friends, someone she could count on, someone who told her, “Whenever you’re on my side of the Rockies you have to visit, and if you ever need help out there you don’t hesitate to ask.” Gloria was one of the few people who profoundly understood Joe’s calling and work and who lived a life hoping for some of what Joe had given freely to others. She did not want to lie and in doing so disrespect Joe, so she hesitated before answering Gloria’s question, until she remembered one of Joe’s prayers. As his prayer went through her mind she knew the answer, “Joe said he can still teach in our dreams, waking and sleeping.” At least this answer left it open for Joe in case he changed his mind about Gloria. She did not have to look at Gloria to know she was smiling, so she also thought it a good idea to recite Joe’s Prayer to the Clouds for Gloria:


Prayer to the Clouds Come down over me Release your pent up energy Water or wind, lightning or sun, or all! Nourish me with your spirit You gave me my name You gave me my mind You gave me a chance to reason thru life Come down over me Release your pent up energy Water or wind, lightning or sun, or all! Nourish me with your spirit Now I can sit here and watch Clouds shift and change Telling stories about Rain and shadows Moving across the prairie Come down over me Release your pent up energy Water or wind, lightning or sun, or all! Nourish me with your spirit Thank you for my name Thank you for my mind Thank you for the chance to reason thru life

Gloria smiled and her eyes became tiny dark slits lost in the advancing wrinkles, “Thank-you.” Gloria said with a hug and a kiss on her cheek, “Thank-you.” They both wiped tears before continuing to walk. She wanted to ask Gloria about the bundle that could have been Joe’s body, but did not. She decided then that fire would consume her flesh, at least in the end the ashes would prove the same thing—her flesh is nothing without her spirit. They all went out for breakfast, she paid for almost everyone. She noticed how many of the patrons eyed the disheveled band of Indians suspiciously. In the rest room she eyed herself suspiciously since she could see how dirty she was with sticky pine needles in her hair and her skin several shades darker from being outside and not washing—she was quite a sight. Upon returning to the table she could see how different

Sunset on Milewski Lake


her group looked when set against the scrubbed clean tourists and locals. Most of the group was elders, over 60 years old at least. As she looked at each good person sitting with her she noticed how gray Gloria’s hair had become and realized that Gloria was much older than she had ever remembered. She thought it must have been Gloria’s spirit that she was more familiar with. She drove many people to the small Rapid City airport and then some by Pine Ridge. The stark badlands’ formations were a visual relief after the complexity of the scenery in the hills. The women were all chatting in Lakota, English and other languages she could not decipher. Listening to their good natured talking in all these languages made her feel American as never before—how peaceful if we could all accept each other like the variety of people traveling with her accepted one another. The two lane, bleached road wound toward Pine Ridge as the afternoon sun behind them made longer and longer shadows. She smiled as one woman asked a question in Lakota and was answered in English. The fields of prairie grass waved and clattered against each other like dried musical instruments played by the wind and the earth’s rotation; the interspersed badland castles and small buttes were the eternal audience as her van contributed to this symphony. The cloudless blue sky seemed to hold answers as if behind its deep and endless color stretching over them for miles a question had been asked and answered. The blue outlined the badland formations making them appear four dimensional, almost breathing while allowing three large ravens to float overhead— she glanced playfully to see if any of the large birds were carrying a velvet bag.


Chapter 75 Memory: Black Elk’s Pipe She had attended a wedding the current Black Elk’s nephew. She didn’t really know anyone but two Indians she did know needed a ride so she drove them. The nephew was marrying a fellow prison guard, a white woman with two kids. The white family sat in the sun and heat having the wedding meal. The Native American family sat under a large tent that had enough room for everyone. She was invited under the tent but declined and chose to sit in the middle on some lawn chairs under a linden tree where many of the mixed bloods sat. She was not sure how this seating arrangement had been decided. Afterwards, her passengers and her gathered in the nearby motel’s parking lot, but her three passengers went inside the motel to help another one gather his belongings leaving her to enjoy the declining day. Then Black Elk’s daughters came out with many bags to start packing a van, she assisted the happy, youngest daughter while the eldest warily hung back and then left. The shining, youngest chatted with many different people as she was pulling bags out of the van to start packing it from scratch. The youngest laid a violin case at her feet and winked at her. She knew what the case meant and the wink, she looked at the worn leather case with dulled gold fastenings and could almost use x-ray eyes to see Black Elk’s pipe inside. The daughter continued packing as darkness set in. Many hands came to help and joke and for over an hour she stood by the case almost on guard for it. Then her passengers came out and she knew their voyage home should begin. She felt an overpowering force willing her to pick up the violin case and take it with her but she fought the feeling with better judgment wondering if tricksters were trying to trick her into taking it. The daughter powerfully hugged her goodbye saying, “Dad likes you.” A few months later she heard Black Elk’s pipe had been stolen and sold to unknown people. The lineage of the pipe was shattered, the pipe lost to its believers. Was its power still intact or had Black Elk hidden it? Why had she not taken it that evening, if only for safe keeping? But perhaps the current owner felt the same way? She thought of the original owner of the pipe, Black Elk who lived at the turn of the 19th Century, and how this experience helped her agree with him that the people’s hoop was broken since there are people with broken hoops, but not that the sacred tree was dead It also helped her to fully understand why Joe did not put faith into any material object; instead he gave it to a person.


Chapter 76 Dream: New Manifest Destiny For some time she had been dreaming of soaking in the hot springs in Glenwood Springs, Colorado so she took off for a weekend of soaking and a detox mud wrap at Yampah Spa. After the detox wrap she soaked in the mineral hot springs and felt completely at ease as she walked into the hotel and into her room to pass out on the bed. She felt herself floating and lifting off from the bed. She looked down and could see the earth as a tiny blue ball floating beneath her. She looked above and saw the universe. There was a blue cord connecting her to the earth and the cord passed through her heart and up into the universe. She knew her manifest destiny lay out there in the stars and planets and black holes. She knew that universe was also inside her, inside her heart, her love. She turned to look down the cord at the earth and saw something white moving along it. Before long the form came into view, it was her white horse! It galloped toward her and she got onto it as it passed her. They galloped off into the universe with a blue cord running through both their hearts connecting them to Earth.


Chapter 77 The Ledge Now what happens? From the faraway vantage point of the reservation, the storm begun on Mt Harney continued thundering and lightning then raining over those hills. She knew weather signified sacred places—just as the storm over the hills did now. The deep cold on her family’s Wisconsin farm was another weather signifier; she had also seen how the clouds there moved in opposite directions depending on their height and had learned that the farm was at a crossroads for the winds, the weather and her life. The storm over the hills now called to her. She watched the blurry sections of rain from her dry desert spot as she waited for everyone to unload and thank her, offering her trinkets and other remembrances and addresses that she quickly, accidentally, lost and could never find again. She had always looked outside herself for the tools to change her life and now she knew the tools were inside her. She had thought a blade of grass an alchemical tool or another person could effect change within her; but now she knew it is her who precipitates change since it is her then that changes. After many hugs and exchanges of ceremonial tools everyone parted ways while Gloria and her walked out past Joe’s shack to smoke Gloria’s pipe, doing it with the right intention and in a good way. A single tear rolled down her face and hit the desert floor. She looked at the small pool the teardrop formed on the hard ground. It grew into a window to see into another world. She saw grasses blowing and a river and then a horse and rider approaching. The horse and rider stopped and the rider looked up and waved at her. It was Joe. She smiled. She sang one of her songs for Gloria since Joe had said she should hear it, “Maybe it will help her to stop chasing after things.”


Cloud Spirits There’s spirits In these clouds I’d stop to ask them for a name But they change and they shift And I wonder if a name is what I needed And now I see just sky The clouds are racing westward They say, “Hurry along.” They say, “Hurry now nameless.” There’s spirits In these clouds I’d stop to ask them for a name But they change and they shift And I wonder if a name is what I needed The pines and the mountains They’ll capture their radiance They’ll change their shapes just by standing there They’ll change their lives just by being there And I wonder why I’d ask For a name to begin with The one my mother gave me She said it was so impressive But instead I use to change it Like the clouds Gloria was quiet for a long time after telling her she had a beautiful voice. They sat in silence and companionship. Gloria grabbed her hand suddenly and said, “That is what Joe wanted me to hear, not his Prayer to the Clouds but your Cloud Spirit song.” She nodded, looking up to make eye contact with her friend. Gloria sighed, “For so long I have chased after a “spirit name”, one I could use on the other side, one I could use as part of my medicine. But all I could think about as you sang was how beautiful the name Gloria is. I remembered you telling me that it means praise and glory and is meant to be used for ceremony. I never once thought I had everything I needed! I never once thought that I did not need any of Joe’s magical knowledge! But now I see; I have everything I need.” Gloria hugged her and cried a little at the recognition of how powerful a Gloria could be. As they walked back to the reservation, they planned the ceremony that would happen in a


year’s time as was the custom per Joe’s teaching. Gloria said she would return to the Black Hills and they would also have a few days to camp. Gloria then made her promise to come to Klamath Falls and she did promise… Once she thanked the lady for watching Greta, handing her money and tobacco which she graciously accepted, and was back by her van, she sees the storm has moved on so she drives back into the Black Hills alone to ponder her choices. She considered all her trips out here as road trips through her consciousness, each mile providing ideas, feelings and memories. While people had vacationed around her, many captives of Plato’s cave, she had been a ghost, floating thru the tourist crowds as if passing bodily thru them to get to the other side, to get to an understanding, to see past their shadows on the cave wall. She learned with each trip how to accept and then embrace her life as hers, no one else’s, not her family’s, not her boyfriend’s, just her’s. But now on the other side, now outside the cave seeing reality clearly, she felt the weight of being alone, seemingly always alone. She thought of that sparkling badge and shining black shoes of the police officer from all those years ago. She had married young because she had fallen in love and everything had been quite nice since both of them worked and were able to buy a tiny house in a nice suburb. Each month it was hard to pay the bills since she could only work part time since she was trying to finish college. She had gotten a full scholarship to finish her music degree and that weekend was the first performance of a choral piece she had written. They had spent the morning before the performance planting bulbs in the front yard that would bloom into purple flowers according to the box the bulbs came in. Her husband and daughter had gone to buy some yellow flower bulbs while she had stayed at home to make lunch. When she answered the door a short time later she saw the shovel still by the stoop and the child sized rake before seeing the officer. She had left that house within an hour of hearing the news. She had never gone back not physically, emotionally or spiritually. She had begun sleepwalking through her life at that moment and in doing so had made sure no other man could become someone she couldn’t bear to lose. Joe would talk endlessly about the multiple layers of life built up around them. Joe would ask her, “Does energy die?” Physicists say it doesn’t. To which he would question, “Does our life force die?” She knew Joe felt it did not, could not since our life force is pure energy and the basic building block of all life. “So where does the life force go?” Joe would ask her after she would agree with him that the life force does not die. Joe believed the life force returns here and after


almost one million years of human living all this returning now clouds our attempts to know who we are. We know there is something else going on here, more than a heart or nervous system could detect. Each life force returns and starts a new life but the previous living is like a layer which sits over the current life. Each layer is like saving a JPEG image—the image quality lessens with each save because there is more information to save. This information is like a film or covering over the original. One time she explained to Joe about Kodak’s way around all these saved versions with a function called “return to the original” so with one click all the extra information added can be stripped away. Underneath all the changes still lies the original image. She told Joe about this function to ask him if it is a good idea to try to reach our original. Would a stripped down representation of ourselves even be recognizable or knowable? How much of the pathways of my arterial system resemble the original life force? Is it our incapability to strip away these layers that results in our spiritual seeking and maybe even our material greed? Joe would always laugh at her questions and remind her that living is good—no matter how many layers. He once told her that many indigenous peoples around the world have ceremonies for soul retrieval but that he recognized that it isn’t really soul retrieval they are doing. Instead they are really connecting with the original life force—creating pathways for a current self to gain understanding from the original self and with this understanding to become reconnected to their spirit that is never really lost just forgotten. She thought of the geologic time the Black Hills represented since this island in the prairie was an up thrust two billion years old. How to understand a two billion year old life? She recognized that sometimes after he told her this he had accurately described her experiences in the Badlands and Black Hills—as if the layers and walls built up around her had become see through and in looking she would see her true essence—the pure energy force of love. She drove through the hardy tourists enjoying the cold with sparse crowds and decided to return to her visionquest place on Mt. Harney which she called The Ledge since it was a granite ledge that jutted out over the forest offering phenomenal views of the hills. Her Lowe backpack was ready with her tent and sleeping bag, as was Greta’s backpack ready with dog food and water, so once she parked she just put the packs on and they started walking. Going up on the side opposite where Joe’s ceremony had taken place gave her a pleasure in the familiarity and deep meanings each footstep provided.


She thought of an Eleanor Roosevelt quote about doing what needs to be done, doing things that take courage will give you courage. But she wasn’t’ so sure that was right. But once on her visionquest ledge, she remembered staying there many nights scared, tired and confused which changed to revelatory, energized and clear headed the longer she stayed and she realized that Eleanor Roosevelt may be right after all because of how this visionquest place was no longer scary. Because she had pushed herself to go to this ledge in the past, going to this ledge now was much easier. Had those past trips instilled the courage that Roosevelt spoke of? The spectacular view from this familiar ledge showed the Black Elk Wilderness cut thru with several trails to Harney’s summit. The healthy ponderosa pine forest made the night seem warmer as the setting sun warmed the earth for the night. She watched the sun setting west where she had traveled to the Pacific coast searching for how to tell the world about us. A wind blew from the south warming the night further. She remembered how Black Elk’s vision put him “on the sacred, central mountain of the world” which at first he had thought was Mt Harney. She too had felt Mt Harney held insights no other place could help her see. But then, Black Elk saw in his old age that “the central mountain is everywhere” and as she came to know this prophet’s later thoughts she too saw how insights and wisdom could come from anywhere and everywhere. She knew she would go home and try to continue this life there. The first stars to the east reminded her of home and how much her life had changed. She no longer taught high school but instead had been directing a not for profit and was about to begin a new position with anew not for profit when Joe had appeared to ask her to return to him. She had joined environmental groups only to find she is a conservationist, only to find her passion for the environment a singularity in either group. She felt at peace with everything, yet still so unsure how to proceed with telling the world about us. She had changed her individual life, shopping differently, recycling but there was so much more she could do. A circle of stars transited the sky during her watch, making her feel stronger about her purpose. She knew this circle to be the body of one of the fishes in the Pisces constellation; specifically it is the western fish with the other fish known as the northern fish. Pisces is typically represented as two fishes, each tied with a string at the tail, and the two strings joined with a knot. One fish heads west, and the other fish heads north. The rest of the Pisces constellation was not visible but the circlet asterism was and it soothed her mind since she knew she was in the right


place, out west, and so watched the circlet’s transit during the early part of the evening. She stayed on her ledge until the next afternoon. The hills never ceased to thrill her with their lush evergreen air and stillness at peace. In these hills she could peer through her layers to see her true essence—the energy force of love reminding her of all the ideas and times she had spent in these hills with Joe—completing a circle. She realized that it wasn’t the hills calling her now, instead it was Bear Butte. To complete the circle she would return to where she had met him in hope for further glimpses into the infinite awareness that Joe cultivated into her fields, leaving her responsible for the harvest. It would be like returning to the original layer of her relationship with Joe. The ledge on Mt Harney, SD


Chapter 78 Vision: Tall Trees and Flaming Faces She was camped on Mt Harney’s southern side among tall evergreens with huge red trunks. She was quiet for the entire evening watching the stars come and go and the new crescent moon hanging low in the western sky as the sun started rising in the east making the moon glow red. For hours she watched the colors stretch across the sky and through the trees until the sun was finally visible. Sitting for hours was one way Joe liked to do his “modified sweat lodge ceremony”. “Sometimes,” he would say, “I just don’t want to sweat.” Joe thought a sweat lodge could happen without a lodge. He would sit in the badlands and observe the world sometimes watching shadows move, over the course of a day, from one vantage point. He said, “People who only go into a sweat lodge are missing out on the lodge of this earth, really the lodge of their life.” He would sit outside in hot or cold in the badlands observing natural worlds and his spiritual world since he felt both of these mirrored each other as long as the mind of the observer is in control. Joe would question, “Why is it a sweat lodge is only hot? I also sweat when I am cold. This is an unbalanced arrangement since hot and cold are a part of nature so it is a part of our lives. No one wants to explore the cold because of its associations with dying. I was afraid to even think about the cold, but now that my time is here I see I should have thought on it more than I have.” Joe most enjoyed observing shadows around badland formations. She would ask him where he wanted to go and he would reply, “Right up against the rock.” She would smile since that meant an outside sweat lodge ceremony (how nature distinctly creates each round!) while watching shadows trace over a formation. Joe would then make a multitude of connections—some surprising to her like his comparison of the shadow angles to the four parts of the Johari Window which was a self actualization method of finding out what you know about yourself, what others know about you and what is unknown. Other comparisons were expected like comparing Johari Window position #3 which is the moment when the sun completely illuminates the rock as the moment of spiritual recognition.

Right up Against the Rock: Watching the sun move from east to west across a badland formation and how the shadows and light correspond to knowledge of self and others as seen in the Johari Window. Johari Wind ow:

3-- Known to self

1-- Unknown to

and others-social

self known to others--blind 4--Unknown to self and others-nighttime

2-- Known to self, unknown to others-secret 1. 2. 3. 4.

Fullest shadow 55 degree tilt Less shadow approaching noontime at 40 degree tilt Minimal shadow at 15 degree tilt—finally lit for a momen as sun sets Nighttime, deepest shadows


Lost in her memories she is brought back to Mt Harney when suddenly the trees start to sing:

Tall Trees Tall trees and flaming faces Cedar rooms holding me Reading ancient words to me You say you love me Split tongues and suspect phrases Holy Ghost changes them Receiving knowledge and love Together we’re one We cut down all those cedars We replant sycamores We build many cedar rooms To worship love in I live with trees and flowers Don’t ask me to explain Just go deep into life My friends are mountains We gaze at clouds and haze We let the blossoms fall A path with ten thousand trees We walk upon Tall trees and flaming faces Forests surrounding me Walking on old trails You stretch your hands to me The new day’s sun shining on ponderosa pine needles urges her to tell the world about them. To tell the world to plant trees. To tell the world to replace what they have taken. There was a militant urgency to the telling and she tried to ask where to get the courage from. Before she could form the question the trees answered, “Simply breathe!” There were seven stars hanging around the rising sun, making eight total. They all shone with the same luminosity as she breathed in the reality that we are all the same, we are all related, each person, animal, plant, building, machine, each star. She cried as thanks and instead of a dream she slept with a memory of visiting Jewel Cave with Joe.

Chapter 79


Memory: Jewel Cave One morning Joe wanted to visit Jewel Cave National Monument. He hoped to enter the cave’s natural opening but they were told it was closed, so they took the tour. Dropping down 20 stories in an elevator with other tourists , Joe’s tobacco and sweet grass perfume intoxicated everyone in the elevator so that they had to be told several times not to take pictures of him. She didn’t see what they saw in an elderly Indian with jewelry and long hair and a frayed flannel shirt but tried to protect Joe from their digital intrusions. The elevator doors opened onto a metal walkway that wound through a small part of the cave. Joe was not happy. After the tour, they strolled through the gift shop purposefully placed between the elevator and exit and she saw a colorful map of the passageways of Jewel Cave. She was drawn to it and asked the tour guide about it who told her that only a tenth of the cave had been explored and mapped and that only about half an inch of the map was where the tour had gone. The jagged edges representing the cave’s interior and the color coded legend corresponding to cave’s depths made her purchase the map. Joe was waiting by the picnic area, having let her Doberman out of the car. “So they got you?” Joe smiled at the map tucked under her arm. She nodded her answer. “Let’s go and see the real entrance to this cave.” The three of them set off down an overgrown trail for about an hour before coming to the natural opening that had thick metal bars across it to keep people out. They rested by the opening. The cool air rushing out from inside the cave was needed as the early afternoon warmth started penetrating the deep woods around them. Joe spoke about caves and how medicine people had used them to travel “to and fro” and how many felt all the caves were connected. “In the whole world?” she joked but he seriously nodded yes. “So even under the oceans?” she countered to which he nodded yes again. As they walked back to the car, Joe pointed out that they were walking over the cave they had toured. She wondered how many caves she had unknowingly walked over. Since meeting Joe she had flung herself into camping and hiking. She had become a Sierra Club trip leader, she had pursued Wilderness First Responder Certification and she had learned how to backpack into wilderness areas and stay there for weeks. She had learned how to live in the wilderness. Each time she was planning a trip she would ask Joe if he wanted to go to Colorado, California, Oregon or many other states she traveled to. He would either just say no, or he would tell her to meet someone he knew.


At first she preferred that he just say no since the first two people she met were not very nice. One was an old man living in the Wind River Range in Wyoming at about 10,000 feet above sea level. When she arrived there she was beginning to get elevation sickness so she told the old man who said, “It’s like a sweat lodge, your ego is too strong for you to be here.” She disagreed, even more so when the old man had asked for her help, but how could she say no to one of Joe’s friends? Several hours later she emerged from the tiny smoke house stinking of fish and raw meats and completely drained from having thrown up several times. The old man thanked her profusely and asked if she would like some dinner. “No,” she told him incredulously, she said she needed to leave; and she just got into her car and drove away. When she had told Joe this story he had shown his disapproval, but he said, “You need to go back there and find out why I sent you to him.” She thought at the time she would be crazy to take that road up into the Wind River Range again but one morning, a few years later, she found the camp host at Jenny Lake Campground in the Tetons National Park asking her if she would go along with him to visit a friend. The host said he liked to take his time getting to the upper part of the range because if you go straight up you could get sick. She told the host about her first visit to the range and she confirmed that she had just driven straight to the upper regions. The host said she would have a different experience if they went slow, so she agreed to go. The host showed her many wonders she had missed on her first visit and the slow pace they took worked well with her. The host’s friend turned out to be the Joe’s friend, who hugged her hard and long when he saw her, saying, “I had hoped you’d return.” They all then sat around a fire with the old man singing many songs that all sounded familiar to her. Then he asked her to sing a poem she had written about Jenny Lake and it burst forth from her as a song! Half way through the old man started drumming softly in time with her singing. It took many years after that for her to find all the songs she had been writing her whole life. These times it made her happy that she had held onto to so much from her childhood, after finding cassette tapes and music written out—all songs she had written---she knew the reason Joe had sent her to see the old man. She did not know how she could have forgotten having written 100’s of songs, but as she organized and renewed her understanding of each song it was clearer: she would fall asleep then wake up continually, now she just wanted to stay awake. So now, when she asked Joe if he wanted to come along she hoped he would not just say no.


When they returned to the car Joe wanted to see the map she had bought. His murmuring over it showed his approval as he examined it on the car’s hood. The sun broke from the prevailing trees and shone directly on the map making the oranges and yellows glow from within similar to the Bear Butte trails she saw leaving the ceremonial area and she thought that this map could also be a map of her life—the center would be her birth as the many paths she had followed would be extended from that center some as vectors with arrows and some without all the lines radiating out from her birth would show the direction certain choosing had created. Life as a Jewel Cave Map Black Hills, South Dakota The jagged lines indicate passageways in the cave, which are different colors to represent the different levels of depth, width, height. Most believe only one fourth of the cave has been explored that this cave connects to Wind Cave almost 50 miles away. Some also believe that this cave represents psychic or energy passageways or a vein system that runs underneath the Black Hills and are passageways Shamans and others might use.

Chapter 80 Speaking with the Sun


Bear Butte Trails leaving ceremonial area, as if they are going to set fire to the sky but instead they only show another path to take, another choice to consider, another way to live her life.

She drove during the late afternoon to Bear Butte. The roads were empty and she was glad for that. When she arrived, the evening sky started to open up and show some twinkling stars. She set up her tent at Bear Butte Campground and let Greta roam the empty campground, too cold for everyone else. Once Greta returned to the blanket by the campfire, she relaxed. Both were content. She knew she was to tell the world about us, but she had faltered in her courage to do so. Somehow fear had bottled up inside her, exploding when she most needed it gone. She allowed people to lie and steal right in front of her, but that was doing business and so she said nothing. She had known Joe such a short time and yet the wealth he had bestowed will take a lifetime to utilize. Yet was she still poor in courage? She wondered why she hadn’t told Gloria about the coffee cans, she wondered who else knew about them. She wondered if she would ever be able to tell the world about us? She dreamt of past experiences with Joe. One time while they were cleaning up after one of the last ceremonies she would do with Joe, he tugged on her arm as he drew in the dirt with a stick. He drew a small cone shaped leaf delineating two sections by drawing one line. Joe pointed to each section as he said, “Past and present.” Then he pointed to the open ends of the curled leaf, “The future is the center—you can’t see the bottom just the intersection between the present and future. It’s like the present is the leaf itself, the past is the stalk it hangs on and the future is the air inside the curl.” He pointed further into the curve of the leaf as he spoke.


He spoke of places like Pipestone and even the Black Hills as representations of this idea since the future is the air around Pipestone, the present is the actual place with its trails and buildings, but it is the past everyone clings to as a cob clings to the corn stalk, a past that no longer resembles what actually occurred. He would then go into a long diatribe about the “romanticized Indian” and how that idea has hurt Native Americans and probably been the true undoing of their culture. “Even older Natives like me are starting to believe we always rode around on horses and hunted buffalo when history shows something different.” He would then connect the idea of people who choose to live in the intersection between the past and present with people who choose to see a world that does not exist. “Present, present is just an illusion since it is not a real point in time, it is a go between.” The spiral he had made in the dirt that day helped her understand the simultaneity of the past, present and future; instead of just having connection points, the idea of all three imbedded in each other helped move her closer to living without time. Corn Stalk Farm in Wisconsin

.

After Joe’s third explanation about time, she saw how the future was also inside the corn growing on her farm in Wisconsin and drew this to help her remember. The space around the top curl is the future

After drawing in the dirt he would always mess it up to


“leave no trace.” After messing up the dirt this time he picked up a slightly scorched and curled sage leaf from the recent fire, “Here’s the side angle of the thing.” He growled, pushing her on her way. The next morning cold woke her early. They started up the butte in the dark to keep warm. Prayer flags waved disjointedly, still frozen from the night. The upward hike thawed her of the cold sleep. She thought of what Joe had taught her. The most important was respect for herself and in that respect there is hope for the future. Respecting herself was also the doorway to reacquainting herself with her family, her parents in particular and seeing certain friends as family. Joe had helped her to see the wealth of knowledge they all held for her and this made it almost urgent for her to learn from them. The hike was uneventful. Secretly she had hoped for a majestic sign or symbol, maybe even Joe himself. Something that was more literal than the teardrop window she had looked through after smoking with Gloria. That should have been enough, but for some reason it wasn’t. She had wanted something to happen that would shake her soul and the absence of the shaking was disturbing her. Why could she not shake her own soul? She left Bear Butte without the majestic sign she longed for. Considering the teardrop window, she thought maybe that would be the only sign. She decided to camp one more night in those hills before heading home. Joe had shown her many “magic tricks” but he never revealed their secrets since, “All medicine people gain strength from different things. I could teach you everything I know and it would be useless to you, maybe even harmful since you might think you can handle a situation with my tricks instead of your own. You strongest tool is trust in yourself which leads to the self respect necessary to receive your tricks, to understand them.” Joe was right, certainly, but how to go on with what she felt was inadequate knowledge? She had investigated other medicine people but had found all of them lacked a vast majority of what Joe held simply in grasp. None could, or maybe none would, share their magic tricks. The trees and sky showed her more of her medicine way than anyone else besides Joe. The sun filtering through red cedars spoke with her, frightened her in their speaking. Was she insane? Could she lose the power to communicate with anyone if she followed the trees and sky to the eventual meeting place? If she told others what she experienced without cloaking it in fiction or creative non-fiction, would she be locked up? Would she be pronounced insane?


Joe always complained about contemporary western culture since it had removed these spiritual experiences from actual existence. Even the transcendentalists were read with a jaundiced eye; surely Emerson was not speaking with the sun. Surely Whitman was not reading the grass blades. “These are just literary devices used to make a point.” A college professor had lectured, “No one really speaks with the sun.” But she did.

Boulder Canyon to Bear Butte


Chapter 81 Memory: The Goal: Eternity? One time in Mt Shasta City Park she had sat in her van writing notes to family and friends when the sun hit the card she was writing and she suddenly felt an immense love and security. It was as if the sun were wrapping her in unconditional love. Fallen cedar needles shining in the sun spoke with urgency, “You are me, I am you, together we move forward, apart we disintegrate.” This idea was familiar to her, but how to tell others about these experiences? Maybe she was like a Van Gogh, experiencing some psychosis that is the current explanation for his inspirations? Or maybe she was simply insane—like all the other mystics, artists and priests locked up in their schools, galleries and churches? As she pondered these things, the cedar fragrance grew stronger as sun stayed on them it was almost like both were speaking the same words, making them even stronger. She knew from her conversations with Joe that she was to tell the world about these experiences, she had to share her visions so that others could find courage to share theirs and in doing so renew their belief in themselves and each other. Connecting others through shared experiences is one way to renew belief; instead of allowing the current cultural framework to scare everyone into believing these experiences don’t happen, or were simply imaginative ideas. She found rocks, hills, mountains, trees, sky and more teaching how to be alive in the moment in order to see the connections which exist. Now she would actively seek other people. When she climaxed with her boyfriend she felt alive and connected to the moment. But afterward, lying in his arms she knew all the contradictions and even utter lies that flowed between them since she feared being alone. She had doubted there could be anyone who would make her climax and who would also understand the sun and cedar speaking, but had her doubting made it so? There were some men who had pretended to understand. Many of her hiking friends understood nature speaking, but on a more literal, weather inspired level. She decided her doubts about finding a man who could share everything with her and her doubts about sharing her conversations about nature were one and the same—a doubt about herself.


Chapter 82 The power that lies between us After her disappointment at Bear Butte with no clear sign on where she should go next, she drove toward Rapid City wanting to climb into the Black Hills on 16 rather than threading through Spearfish Canyon and then drop down into the badlands from there before heading home. She stopped at the Native American gift shop/book store Prairie Edge, but walking through the store actually made her sad so she turned to leave and in her hurry ran right into Joe’s nephew. He stood in front of her scowling and swaying. He hadn’t even participated in the ceremony on Mt. Harney so she felt it best to just walk past him and say nothing. Joe’s sister had passed a few years ago so she also knew the nephew had little holding him in place. He grabbed her though, and she smelled liquor and cigarettes. He called her a bitch then shoved her into a display of star quilts. The tourists shopping all turned to watch and there was a collective gasp as the star quilts started to domino onto the ground. Then a tall man in a cowboy hat and shining black boots helped her up and asked the out of shape and obviously drunk Indian if there was still a problem. “No,” the nephew sneered, “She’s with her people now.” And with that he staggered out onto the street. She thanked the tall cowboy who offered to buy her lunch, but she declined since the disappointment that had begun on Bear Butte was growing deeper. Shadows were dark on the streets as the sun leaned west and the wind softly caressed her face, drying tears she had not even known were there. She felt sorry for the nephew. She wondered if he would have had a better chance at changing if she had not been a part of Joe’s life. She thought this as she stood by her van and found she had locked the keys in it! As she watched the sun hit the keys in the ignition she realized that she could not lose her self-respect, she could not blame herself for others not choosing a better life. She had realized this with the inner city students who were firmly trapped by generational welfare and project life. She had realized this with former friends that she had to let go of in order to live her life. Why did she have to continually learn the same lesson? Joe would to say, “There is a difference between the pain of life and your reaction to it. Each step taken heightens the mountain. All your progress but lengthens the goal.” The goal is understanding her eternal self and in that understanding to tell the world about us. Once eternity is reached what will the next goal be? How will eternity’s mountain heighten? Or is the actual journey with no true end, the true eternity?


She walked around to the passenger side, wishing Greta could open the door, but hoping the side door had not locked completely with the electronic lock. Luckily, slight shaking unhinged the door and it slid open. Once inside the van she calmly wiped her face and smiled, remembering Joe had told her she was not responsible for other’s choices, like the nephew’s choices and Joe’s choice not to teach his nephew, “In the old days medicine men would pass on their instruments and knowledge to someone in their family. This was only because that was all there was. In the past there was no chance of you and I finding each other and recognizing the power that lies between us. I cannot teach my nephew and you should not listen to him when he blames you. I cannot teach Gloria, a distant cousin of mine, and you should not believe her when she blames you. I can teach you, and you have come to be taught. I count that as lucky not blame. One reason my culture has lost so much knowledge is because of the sense that you can only pass your knowledge on to family members. But have we forgotten that we are all related? Have we forgotten that we are all one family? I have taught some trees that are open to my teaching and they will teach those that they find open. We are all related means we are all related. “Being related brings a sense of responsibility—but only for our actions, we can’t be responsible for other’s actions, we each have to live our lives and learn from that living in any way we can.” She thought of her drive out here this time. She had found a diagonal road out of the Twin Cities of St Paul and Minneapolis that made the journey through Minnesota half what it used to be. But this road cut through the suburbs of Minneapolis and meant some stoplights and city traffic. As she started on this road a few days ago the sun was setting right in front of her and the suburban house lights started turning on like the faint gleam of stars during a total eclipse of the sun. The beautiful, red waxing moon to her left could not save her from crying as she passed house after house, yard after yard realizing that there were many more homes along this road than ever before. As these homes had multiplied so had the years she had spent driving out west, first to the badlands and black hills and then to Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington. She had spent years with rocks, sky, wind, hills and the road. She had remembered her past life, she had grieved the loss of her husband and daughter, but she had not remarried. She had released the initial shock of the officer with the shining shoes and badge at her door telling her they were gone. It had baffled her that is was that moment more than all the funeral arrangements that had stayed with her and kept her


grieving for a life she was not to have for those flowers she had never seen bloom. After breaking up with her boyfriend she had kept others at a distance still afraid of being hurt, but now that fear was met with the fear of being alone. She saw how she had gravitated between the four stages of grief for years: Denial, Anger, Bargaining and now Acceptance. She had accepted that people she loved are gone, now she needed to respect herself and another man enough to love again openly, honestly. Rebuilding her life after waking up to its disconnections was taking longer than she cared to admit. These houses on either side of her contained families, communities she wanted for her life, knowing that she would love a man to be in her life, a man she could love and who would love her. Having accepted her work as a medicine woman meant accepting loneliness as a tincture to most of her medicines, but only while she was doing her medicine; once the work was done she knew she could go home and be held in her lover’s arms and smile in his eyes each morning. As she thought of the countless people she had helped, she could see through the walls of these suburban homes and see those same people inside these houses, living their lives without a thought or concern for her. She had reconnected to her parents and brother, she still struggled with her sister but she had even kept them at a distance afraid her medicines would disrupt their lives, afraid of losing them too. But now she knew she could keep the people she loved separate from her medicine work but still involve them in telling the world about us. Now she understood that loss means rebirth even though it hurts. She was ready to be open to love, allowing it entrance into her life and to share her life with a lover. She had started falling apart there on that diagonal road. She had to pull over and stop driving as she reasoned why she was once again upending her life because a tree, or was it Joe, had spoken to her, had asked her to come. Years of magic tricks and silver jewelry shoved into a hand me down Chanel red quilted purse couldn’t soothe the loneliness she felt driving past these newly minted subdivisions. As this new suburbia of Minneapolis poised to pronounce the West was won by lawnmowers, SUV’s and conformity she caught herself holding her breathe as if inhaling the same air as these householders might cause her to throw down a gauntlet of dishes, laundry and subsumed desires for a freedom of ideas, action and love. As her mind orbited the constellations of yard lights with streetlight suns blazing to block out the night and its possibilities, she found herself more a satellite passing through familiar yet unknown planetary systems and sending the collected data back to her heart. Her spirit sat beside her


incredulously organizing the data with disbelief that other spirits would allow such conformed, imprisoned existences. But then her spirit smiled and pointed at breaks in the collected data, whole places of empty space like the vast prairies awaiting them—which meant the absence of these people’s spirits. “Tell the world about us.” Her traveling companion said easing back in the passenger seat, satisfied with the interpreted data showing that some of these spirits had had enough and left. She glanced over to see her spirit resting after confirming for them both that everything is fine as long as they stay true to who they are. On such a path she knew her love would stay alive and be open for another to share in the paradise of life. Then the setting sun colors fully entered her van, climbing inside her like a thick, liquid elixir being poured into her through her tear soaked eyes, making her glow from within. “You are needed.” The colors spoke from within, “You are loved.” The colors continued pouring into her. And she felt love, not like an orgasm from sex, or the love of her mother, or a gentle hand holding hers that she dreamt another man would do, but more like eyes looking deeply into hers and understanding her, knowing her. She nodded, ready to continue driving west on this diagonal road she had found while reading maps during the cold, snowy winter; letting the colors drip out of her mouth and eyes as she told the road she needed someone in her life, someone she could love. She was ready to risk loving again, really loving. She was done playing with relationships that were good, but not the real thing. She was ready to allow her past a place in her present, a rock she could stand upon so she could see her future with someone just over the horizon. The fears she had of being hurt and being alone, of losing and working had finished claiming her and now she just wanted to be so she could discover the power that lay between her and another. Driving into the Black Hills now the clouds started lifting to show a deep blue sky outlining the hills’ contours and she recognized how the gentle sloping lines were like her personal lines that she loved to draw and paint when thinking about the west. Georgia O’Keefe described her personal lines in the hills around Abiquiu, New Mexico as the main reason the painter made New Mexico home. Seeing the Black Hills’ contours resembling her personal lines, she knew the Black Hills is not to be home, but maybe a different kind of home. Then the sunset erupted as clouds flew in quickly, changing the sky’s colors and producing small fires in the sky that lit and then shifted into other forms.


Iron Mountain Road

She thanks the hills and suddenly feels their intense connection, like she is literally connected to the pines and the rocks and the sunset. “Tell the world about us.” they all say and she gains a better understanding of the connection she is to tell about. How each tree is sacred and alive and a part of us, to cut one down could be seen as murder of a relative. Rays from the setting sun shoot into her heart, warming it and moving it to continue working. She tastes wild again but this time it is the wild unknown of her new life. She feels she is the rays coming from the sun, the colors in the sky, the pines growing darker as the sun continues setting. Each grass blade is connected, is her, is others. Each leaf, pine needle, each piece of blue in the sky is her, is others. She is alive in her knowing that this life is what she will make it. She decides then she will not be alone, she will have people around her who will support her and inspire her and love her. She drives to Iron Mountain Road and climbs up to the seats over the tunnel to look at the green vista of the hills and Rushmore’s heads. She notices that the seat Joe use to sit in has a tree growing in it while her seat is still open for sitting. She is alone again. She had never told Joe about her losses that had happened so early in her life and the subsequent repression of all the memories because it had not seemed relevant to the work they did together. Once she understood her calling to tell the world about us was both an ecological calling and a calling for community she had firmly thought it was simply about the natural world: the trees, rocks, hills, sky, water and air; but now as she sat in her lone seat, she knew she was also telling the world about those who are starting to awaken, and those who are awake. As she considered the ecological meaning of her calling she also understood that in this telling lay her true medicine. She thought about the word “ecology” which was about relationships among living things and smiled that within her calling also lay her opportunity to be in a relationship with someone she loved. Just as ecology was about relationship, ecosystem was about community and that also made her smile to think she could be in a community again, one that would support and know her. And just as James Lovelock posited in his Gaia Theory that the earth is a living entity evolving through its physical manifestations within the ecosystem, she too would continue to evolve with the right people, and the whole ecosystem, around her would benefit. She knew those people still asleep did not understand these ideas and in the past it was these people who had made her remain quiet about her experiences. Those people still awakening would have moments of clarity then confusion on these ideas and they too would confuse her in the past. But people who are awake understand the interconnectedness of


Camped at Willow Creek Horse Camp Black Hills National Forest, SD

everything and the life flowing through everything and that everything in this world is needed and needs love. As she felt these ideas rise fully to her consciousness the cold rocks she sat on warmed to her knowing, the sky in front of her paused in its rotating and the very air she breathed in and out exclaimed in unison, “Tell the world about us.” She thought of those signs recently installed in desert regions in the Southwest which said, “It’s alive” and then explained how the soil is alive and especially vulnerable in desert areas to trampling by too much foot traffic. She smiled knowing the soil everywhere to be alive. She thought of the winds greeting her and issuing goodbyes to her that at first she had misunderstood as simple weather changes that meant to stop hiking or driving and she smiled again in her recognition that those winds were wrapping around her to let her know the wind is alive. She remembered swimming in Horsethief Lake and hearing voices asking questions which she had thought was her active imagination and again she smiled as she understood that it was the lake speaking to her and as she accepted this understanding she thought of other lakes like Meadowlark Lake in the Bighorn Mountains, Lake Michigan in Chicago and the lake on her ancestral farm in Wisconsin—all these lakes speak to her, even the rain and the water coming out of the faucet communicated just as Dr. Emoto found in the Secret Life of Water that water does communicate, that water is alive. She looked into the cloudless, stilled sky before her with deep variations of blue that seemed to go into infinity even though she now understood the sky as a thin atmosphere around the earth protecting the earth’s inhabitants from the vacuum and radiation of outer space. As the sky began its revolutions around the earth again, shifting hues of blue to signal its movements, she realized how the sky above her now would be above California in a short time, then it would be above China, Europe, New York before returning to her forever changed by its travels, just as she was forever changed by hers, but still this living sky was still sky as she is still her. She felt embraced by it all. Peace surrounded her and came from her as it had never before; it was the connection point between herself and the living world around her. She smiled. She was alive too. She drove further into the hills, past Mt. Rushmore and past Horsethief Lake to Willow Creek Horse Camp and parked at the site on the hill. The cold campground was empty. She starts a fire and decides to do ceremony. She takes some sage and starts to smolder it and then holds a pipestone, in her hand and a small red pipe in the other and sits for a long time


thinking, praying, meditating before connecting the stem to the bowl and placing tobacco in the bowl before lighting it. She blows smoke out and watches it grow in the cold air until she realizes it is growing quite large. A breeze blows it away and leaves Joe sitting across the fire from her. Greta sits up but stays beside her, looking at Joe too. She offers him the pipe and he waves his hand, “No.” and then he says, “We do ceremony different here.” “Where is here?” He waves his hand, “No.” and then says, “Just wanted you to know we can talk. Many changes are headed your way and you need to stay focused: tell the world about us.” With that statement he is gone but the smell of his unique tobacco and sweet grass hangs in the air. She bends her head down and cries. The tears are more for her than for Joe. Losing him was harsh but harder yet is going it alone. She gains comfort from knowing she is ready to tell the world about us. She is glad she can still talk with Joe, but even better is that he has shown her how to talk with herself. In the city she has forgotten these things even when birds fly into her windows to remind her, it still takes great effort to reawaken herself to nature and herself. Now she knows she is on the path to Tell. She first learned she could explore the world outside and then she learned about her world inside, but extensive work is needed to explore how they work together and she had somehow gotten lost in that exploration for many years, until now. She knows transcendence is not what she works toward; she does not want to transcend this world but to work within it and allow it to continue teaching her, helping her to continue understanding that her inner work is also her outer work. She continues ceremony until the tobacco is gone and then she sits looking at the fire. The night is beautiful and silent. She throws more sage on the fire and breathes it in deeply. For the first time in a long time her thoughts deconstruct problems and create solutions instead of the extensive fantasy world she usually creates when her thoughts are unrestricted. She knows now she is on her way to Telling the world about us.


Chapter 83 Memory: Making Contact with the Wind They stood at the back of the church waiting for the cue: a father and daughter waiting for ceremony. He smiled at her and said, “You look beautiful.” kissing her on the cheek. A strong wind came in through the open door, blowing in fall colored leaves. She said, “Thanks.” Unable to remember her father ever having said that before; her eyes held tears and she caught her breath watching leaves blowing down the long aisle. The music started, they moved forward, crunching leaves as they began. Upon reaching the altar and her waiting new husband, she turned her head to see the leaves struggling to reach her. She saw their oranges, reds and yellows tumbling over each other trying to follow her down the aisle. They seemed to be saying, “Wait.” “Come with us. Or let us come with you.” She saw two ushers struggling to close the church’s front door against an increasingly powerful West wind. It took four ushers to close that door. Now the signs of that moment are clear; then she thought it was just her artist’s eyes finding more meaning on this important day, but each time she tried to paint those leaves in the aisle she would end up painting light colored hills and rocks. She had no idea then how nature and The West had been calling her for years and how in that calling lay her dormant life. The sparkling badge and shining, black shoes of the officer at her suburban door made her think of a drawing she had made with the sun shining just as brightly. She could not understand what the policeman was saying to her but she broke down crying anyways. Her husband and daughter had died at the hands of a drunk driver. It took over a decade for her to say these words out loud. It happened many years after she had been learning from Joe and she found herself holding one of the leaf drawings she had made about her wedding day. The drawing held only hills and rocks made into the colors of those autumn leaves. She was packing up the things she had brought to her parents’ house after that shining badge and shoes had made her mute. Now she was packing those things to take them out of her parents’ house, to her new home. A corner of the drawing had been torn off, the corner which had the sun and she cried thinking that torn corner was like the experience of losing her husband, remembering again those shining shoes, that sparkling badge. Many years later, she found the torn off sun in her late husbands’ belongings that she had been unable to go through until more time had passed. She was happy to see the sun and


instantly knew where it had come from but then she saw the phone number written over the sun in her husbands’ handwriting and knew her husband had torn off the sun from something he had considered scrap paper she realized the life she would have led with him was vastly different than the life she currently leading. She thought of those purple flowers she had never seen bloom and knew she would plant more flowers elsewhere with someone else. Her romanticized memories of life with her late husband became more grounded in reality and she gave thanks for remembering since for too many years she had fought hard to forget. As she rummaged through her files looking for the torn picture to reunite the sun with the rest of the scene a strong wind came through the open farmhouse window and scattered the pictures she was looking through all around the room. She smiled at the power of the wind and understood how the natural world, and the West as its ambassador, was still calling to her. The wind continued tossing the pictures around until she saw the torn one she had been looking for. Scooping it up off the floor she sat at her desk to reattach the sun. Once attached, the winds returned to their gentle dawn movement. The rising sun suddenly came through the same open window and she saw it breaking free from the horizon and felt she had also attached herself back together, now if she could only continue on that way: free and whole.

Vision of Water


Chapter 84 Dream: Joe and Josef The white horse and her careened down the blue cord connecting them to earth. They had visited many places and could have continued their universal tour but she decided to return for a time to search for Joe. They descended onto a red desert and the horse just took off running towards towering rocks she had seen in her Mt Harney vision. She liked the feeling of gravity and ground beneath them. The horse stopped beside a dark red rock that rose several hundred feet above them. She heard songs on the wind and in the rain clouds above. She saw how the white clouds above were like the snow-capped, white mountains beyond them and the white horse beneath her. All three were a continuous representation of the same thing. Then she heard Joe welcome her. She got down and knew the rock had spoken, or was it Joe?


Chapter 85 The Place Between Two Rocks—the Self-Mirrored Mystery She wakes before dawn in an utter cold that makes her break camp quickly. It is time to go home. She didn’t even start a fire or have breakfast—she just packed and turned the van on for some heat! As she drives east toward Mt Rushmore the sun is just beginning to show light over Horsethief Lake. The rising mist and sunrise sky make her stop to walk around the lake. She sings a song this lake had taught her as she presses snow into hiking shoe prints alongside Greta’s paw prints. Once the sun breaks free from the horizon, steam merges with the rising mist creating shining, silent bodies hanging respectfully just over the water. She stops for a moment to watch this merging, but the cold pushes her to continue her walk and song.

Gospel of Mary Recognize me My soul says to the sky I am like you We both fly free and high I am not just Taking up space here I am instead Reaching out to you Is there a chance at touching? Is there a chance at touching? Recognize me My soul says to the sky I am like you We both fly free and high

She watches Venus rising in the east, growing brighter as the sun starts to break from the horizon. Venus hangs in an opening in the pine canopy and then it slides along a pine needle to another opening before starting to shine even brighter mirroring the pine needles’ star formation almost exactly. Amazing how this planet’s form is so similar to the pine needles on these trees. It seems like an intelligent design was at work between this planet and these trees. But then she realizes that Venus is a part of her calling to “Tell the World About Us,” Venus is a part of the “us”, a part of this

Sunrise over Horsethief Lake Black Hills, South Dakota


ecosystem, a part of her life. She had just learned how Venus was the morning star for several months each year before disappearing for a few days and then becoming the night star. IT would change places with Mercury. The Mayans kept a separate calendar just for Venus and knew exactly when it would shift from the morning to the night. Did Venus’ spinning and revolving inspire or influence Earth’s movement? And then she realizes that we’re all in this together, not just Venus and not just the Earth, but the entire universe. We’re all in this together. She smiles, maybe even the multiverses her and Joe had talked about could be a part of this idea as well. She drives toward the Badlands National Park as the sun rises in front of her. She arrives at Wall Drug before the breakfast buffet ends and enjoys the familiar setting, traditional breakfast and the paintings in the dining room. Watching the tourists move through the space helps her to understand that they are also a part of what she has been working on. An elderly couple sits by her, they smiles at her and then says grace before their meal. So calm and peaceful, she considers how to tell them about us and knows she must consider everyone and everything in the telling. Driving into the Badlands still feels like coming home, but this time she is slightly sad since she knows it might be a while before returning here. She packs a backpack with food, water and other necessities before starting out towards the Place Between Two Rocks to pray, burn incense and think. She has her old red blanket stuffed into the backpack as well and smiles at the memory of when she bought it many years ago during her first visit to Wall Drug. The blanket has been a good security blanket, helping her during visionquesting, camping and just talking with Joe. Joe had told her red was a sacred color, and he showed her how he used a deep red cloth to wrap his sacred objects, so each time she wrapped herself up in this red blanket she felt she was doing the same. The sun cast hard shadows around the rocks as she walked into the circular opening between those two rocks. Once she finished praying the dust and sun mixed into luminescent risings from the desert floor. Then the stones around her start shining brightly, glinting and catching her eyes. Their shine starts to transform their surfaces into mirrors that she remembers from many years ago, during one of the first days she had been within the Badlands. On the mirrors, images start to slowly flash, people she had met like Joe, places she had been to like Bear Butte, the sun, the moon, the earth. The flashing images start repeating themselves on the rocks’ surfaces adding her family, the farm, the oak tree that all continue flashing on the rocks.


And then the flashing stops and there is an image of her standing there now looking at the rocks, each rocks holds one part of her image so that it takes all the rocks to make the picture of her. She smiles and the image on the rocks smiles, she waves and the image waves. She then understands that the rocks were showing her images of her power—what Joe had taught her, her family, the farm, her experiences on Bear Butte. But the greatest power she has is herself. A tear rolls down her face and in the rocks’ mirror the tear is highlighted by the sun which makes it shine so brightly she is momentarily blinded. When her sight returns the rocks are rocks again, no mirrors. Eyeing the rocks she sees that they are symbols of her and in becoming mirrors they have shown her greatest power is herself. But just as thinking of herself as permanent makes no sense, she cannot think of these rocks as permanent either. She had found the Place Between Two Rocks to be one of her greatest power places so it is fitting that the knowledge of her greatest power would be given to her here; but now it is clear that since these rocks are symbols of her they are as impermanent as she is. She cannot depend on a place like the Place Between Two Rocks to be here as she has always found it. And it does not need to be since it is not this place that holds her power but herself! In Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, he explains the multiplicity of our realities as a “selfmirrored mystery” in that the other images mirrored on these rocks are her as well as the image of herself that needed all the rocks to complete. Part of telling the world about us is to tell how she is others; they are her, about how what she seeks is what she is. Campbell writes, “The seeker and the found are thus understood as the outside and the inside of a single, selfmirrored mystery which is identical to the mystery of the manifest world.” So what she sees in the mirrors is herself as well as those images being mirrored back to her which are also her. Werner Heisenberg also thought that “man encounters himself” instead of finding objective qualities when examining nature and the universe. Each of the mirrored images is her and she is them. She also remembers what Carl Jung has said about seeing yourself as one with the universe, “the dream is you, you as the subject are surprised by yourself as object. So subject and object, though they seem to be two, are the same just as I and you are the same. This is the breakthrough of the metaphysical realization that the two that seem to be separate are really one.” All this time she had felt her power, her gifts were something separate from her; instead, it was one with her. Joe placing his power into people makes even more sense since


Spirits at the Place Between Two Rocks Badlands National Park, South Dakota

that power was already there, he did not have to place it there just help her remember it was there. She stands back and smiles at the magic trick and its gift of further self understanding. Joe was not physically here but the spirits still showed themselves, twirling and sweeping up into the blue sky. The sage she burns joins with the dancing luminescence and adds another color: green. This dust and smoke swirls higher and turns into the skeleton dancers she has danced with for years. The road red with fire rolls out from under their skeletal feet and rolls beneath her continuing on behind her. She rises to dance with them, trying to use the rhythm and steps as a chance to fashion a way to tell the world about us. She is concentrating on how to continue with her message, her calling; she is planning her first moves in telling, so when she looks up to see transparent people dancing in the sky with the skeletons she is surprised and stands still to watch them dance before resuming her own earthly movements. She knows the time has come that she must venture back into the world and leave the Badlands for a time. Just as Black Elk had at first understood his vision on Mt. Harney and had seen that mountain as the “sacred, central mountain” but much later Black Elk understood that the sacred, central mountain “is everywhere” so too she now understood her power place was everywhere. For all these years she had been working on herself, now she had to work outside of herself as well merging the two orientations so that she can Tell. She wakes with the dawn and walks toward it. The colors vitiate from purple to red to peach—all with their own personal lines and shapes. The crystal clear air is marvelous to breathe; the silence makes even her soft footfalls guilty. The Badlands radiate peace through their changing colors, yellows highlighted by the sunrise purples, their pinks highlighted by the dawn reds: inspiring and magical. The grasses and trees wave hellos while reminding her to “Tell the world about us.” She turns to leave and hears voices singing:

Tell the world about us, tell them what you know, share with them this moment, and let them know this world.

Yes, she will tell the world about us.


Chapter 86 Coming Home Driving toward the dawn she marvels at the beauty of the badland formations along the road. As the Missouri River approaches the formations become sparser until they disappear completely as she climbs the last large hill before her descent to cross over the river. On the low bridge she sees for the first time the moon setting behind her, shining gold in the slow moving waters. The cloudy eastern sky has afforded the moon some more time in the morning sky before the sunlight covers it. She pulls into the rest area with the overlook of the Missouri so Greta and her can walk to the look out. The path is empty and she takes her time. At the new half circle fence built to persuade people not to continue walking down to the river, she stops to view the water and the west. She breathes in the clean air and breathes out a new way to live. After many years of pursuing this new way, it is now clearly in front of her. She had stopped teaching high school and moved to working with not for profits and now she is planning her own not for profit to educate about environmental concerns. She has had to walk away from many people who did not share her values and ethics and has slowly been finding new friends and old ones that are more positive. She longs for a man to share her life with and feels strongly that she will meet someone that will love her and who she can love freely and openly and honestly. She tastes wild again on her lips as the westerly winds blow her hair back from her face. The thrill of living her life free of facades and circus tricks makes her feel more alive with each day. The beauty at being awake to her life brings gentle tears that caress her face and are quickly dried by the breeze. She gives thanks for all she has learned and praises the forthcoming opportunities to learn more and to tell the world about us. As she says the words, “Tell the world about us,” the breeze becomes so strong it nearly pushes her backward. She nods knowing that the west will come with her as she travels further east. She pulls into the gravel driveway of her family’s Wisconsin farm. Her father is sitting on a lawn chair, covered in grass from having mowed the acres long yard. He rises to greet her with a smile and then a long hug, both uncharacteristic but welcome. “How are you?” he asks with a smile. “I’m tired and glad to be here.” she smiles back. Then they walk over the entire property as they talk about what is needed to be done in five, ten, twenty years time. She watches the white clay from the badlands mix with the black dirt of the farm, all on her shoes. She is glad for a


reconnection to her family. After traveling toward her manifest destiny out west she has realized her manifest destiny is here with her family. It is now the frontiers of feeling, connection and truth that she wants to explore, forging new relationships built on honor and love. She has grown closer to her family and has begun to understand her respect and trust of them. How an old Indian, even older rocks and sky, talking trees and flowers; how all of them had led her to this place now: a firmer connection with herself and her family and her land. While walking with her father talking about the work they would do together and envisioning a community of family and friends she knew then Joe’s greatest lesson of all: A spiritual life is a chance to connect with others and our selves more fully. A spiritual life is not a chance to escape or transcend but a chance to union more completely. All the lessons Joe had taught all pointed to this simple truth about community. She was glad to have learned this lesson. She knew then that this was the place where she would begin to tell the world about us. Father’s Barn Farm in Wisconsin


Postlude This is not a new age book This is not a Native American book This is an American book about living in the 21st Century. Yellow A small yellow bird perched on the black metal gate outside my window the whole time I read through the final draft of TELL: the world about us. Once I turned the page to these final thoughts, it flew away. I marveled then how it had stayed on the perch throughout my reading of the whole book and thought about that bird and the color yellow for some time after. On a hot, late July afternoon I was looking for a place that might publish this book close to the farm I live on in Wisconsin. After locating it I drove past since my appointment was for the next week. The hills ahead looked beautiful so, despite the heat, I drove south and toward them. Once in the hills I started to look for a place to turn around since the setting sun could help me to get lost on the curving two lane road. After turning down a side street and making a U turn on it I saw across the street I had been driving on was a large field filled with sunflowers, at least 40 acres of almost full grown sunflowers. I thought of my dreams of running west through a sunflower field that looked just like this one; always running toward the Black Hills. I smiled that this field could be a sign that TELL would soon be published. I took some photos of the field before realizing that all the sunflower heads were facing me, their heliotropic design would have had them facing the setting sun—also in front of me—but instead they faced me and then broke into song, “Tell the world about us, tell them what we know, let the sun inside you shine for all to see.” The sun shone through their glorious, yellow petals and their seeds harbored deep shadows of potential. It was a brilliant moment that found me crying gently there in that field. I walked into it so that I was surrounded by these friends mesmerized how dreams are real as my loose skirt skimmed my calves and danced with the hot breeze. A few days later I was filling my van with more fossil fuels and I saw a yellow butterfly fluttering on the ground in front of the van. I watched its wings moved by the wind and thought it might be dead. But then after paying I looked and saw it take off in flight with the sun shining through its wings. I was on my way to the first of many appointments as I searched for the right publisher.


A White River Valley: TELL: the world about us Manifesto TELL is strongly about community—the community of everything living in harmony. Any community reaches a harmonic state through communication with self and others. Sometimes our greatest obstacle is fear of ourself and others. Fear is based in the unknown, what is unknown is not understood and we fear that lack of comprehension. Even when we think we grasp an idea, situation, person or member of our world we sometimes do not know how they fit into our life, we might even fear how the fitting in could change us. If a tree speaks to you do not be afraid to listen and respond if possible. Do not think this an imaginary experience— it is real. Ideas to consider: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Live harmoniously with all of creation including ourselves Accept the inherent right to clean pure life for everything Protect that right to life for everything including those members who cannot protect themselves Communicate openly and honestly with all of creation

Could we believe our manifest destiny was not to conquer but to live in communion? If a core issue of modernization was a loss of connection to the land and to others, surely we can make our contemporary society one that will seek to reconnect with the land and others. Even as more buildings, parking lots and people accumulate as barriers to these connections—a tree still grows in the city, a cloud still floats past in the sky, water still rains down on us…why then have we not instigated a connection to these and more and through that connection learn respect, trust and dare I say love?


The Desire of Dreaming is Waking Even though Joe’s ceremonial items have never been recovered, it seems worse for whoever has them since they know not what they are. Material belongings mean nothing. Our personal comforts sometimes cloud our view of spirit that on the spirit side there is nothing of shape or form just feeling, just love. We’re each awakened at different times. We never speak of it to others because we all continue on in our lives trying to place the new perspective somewhere in our familiarity. We must speak of these experiences in hope others choose to speak of theirs. I thought to call this book The Desire of Dreaming is Waking, but found that title spoke of my past and I wanted the title to speak of my future. To tell the world about us is to start the conversation that may resemble two people talking with words or it may resemble a farmer tilling his field, a hiker respectful on a trail or a dreamer waking from a lifelong dream. Start these and many more conversations, tell the world about us. Travel can cleanse, spirit lands can allow us to enter another dimension of travel, shown how to walk with each step sacred, how to listen to the beating of our hearts and dance to its natural rhythm while living a 21 st Century life is a challenge. We all know much of life is not whole, how different places attempt to disconnect us from our spirits, how we leave bread crumbs for our children where fields of wheat have been. We all know the fullness of life that is whole, where the sky touches the earth in a simple caress, where each breath in is a prayer for self and each breath out a prayer for this world. I have been to a place such as this. I have been to the Black Hills.


TELL: the world about us Endnotes and Sources Chapter One Dreams are a predominant theme in this book since dreams started her journey west. Keep a dream journal and analyze your own dreams since you are the author of your life. “Annexation” an editorial by John O'Sullivan in The United States Magazine and Democratic Review, 7/17/1845 is where the term “Manifest Destiny” is first found. It propelled an American mindset which drove people to move west as a part of their destiny that was manifest; some believed this manifestation was god given while others simply saw themselves in the right place at the right time. The spirit of nationalism that swept the nation in the next two decades demanded more territory. The "every man is equal" mentality of President Jackson’s time fueled this optimism. Chapter Two Who’s Who Among America's Teachers 2005, Educational Communications Breaking Ranks: Changing an American Institution National Assc of Principals,1996 Chapter Three Spiritual Alchemy, Aivanhov, Omraam Mikhael, 1989, Prosveta—Transmuting self instead of baser metals as traditional alchemists have done was of more interest to her. Secret of the Emerald Tablet, Hauck, William, 1996, Alchemical Press—Historical and conjectural data is used to posit that the tablets may exist. The Alchemist, Coelho, Paul—an excellent book Chapter Four Practical Archaeologist, how we know what we know about the past, McIntosh, Jane, 1999, Checkmark Books—The fossils around the Badlands speak of more than the past, but also a present and future lie in those bleached bones turned to stone in their waiting. Chapter Five Consolation of Philosophy Boethius translated by Richard Green, 1987, Macmillan Publishing—A visionary text from 400 BC that has Boethius in jail for speaking his mind on philosophical matters so Philosophy visits him to answer some questions. Dream Seekers, Native American Visionary Traditions of the Great Plains Irwin, Lee, 1994, University of Oklahoma Press—After finding dreams are real and having waking visions, she continues to research how other people have dealt with this. Early Christian writings the Apostolic Fathers translation from Greek by Stamforth, Maxwell, 1987, Penguin Classics—The early Christians not only believed in visionary experiences they embraced them as possible for anyone at anytime. The Gnostic Gospels Pagels, Elaine, 1981, Vintage—An excellent discussion of the early Christians who were called Gnostics. Gnosis “involves an intuitive process of knowing oneself” (Pagel) Nag Hammadi Library Robinson, James editor, 1990, Harper Collins—The first collection of early Christian writings found in 1945. In it Jesus said, "If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you." Tell the world about us! Last Ghost Dance a Guide for Earth Mages Medicine Eagle, Brooke, 2000, Ballatine Publishing—An interesting take on modern day ghost dancers who try to pretend that the original dance was not about the whites leaving the U.S. (through death or other means). Multiple Intelligences the Theory in Practice, Gardner, Howard, 1993, Basic Books, Inc Publishers—This book is a teacher’s friend and a healer’s guide. Rich Christians in an age of Hunger a biblical study, Sider, Ronald 1984, Inter-varsity Press— A help in understanding how to share. The Ghost Dance Religion and the Sioux Outbreak of 1890, Mooney, James, 1991 (1893) Bison Books An ethnographic study first published in 1896 as Part 2 of the 14th Annual Report of the U.S. Bureau of Ethnology 1892. Chapter Seven The New American Bible Man and His Symbols, edited by Carl Jung 1964, Dell Publishing—a great collection of essays that informed Jung’s practice, the last book Jung compiled. Shamanism: Archaic techniques in Ecstasy, Eliade, Mircea translated by Trask, Willard, 1974, Princeton University Press—An academic study of visionary experiences that occur in many cultures. The Hero With A Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell, 2008 (1949), New World Library—to view her journey through the eyes of this book! Chapter Eight 1999 Small Schools Directory she ran the Small School of Radio and Television Broadcasting at Du Sable High School a part of the CPS winning many awards. Chapter Nine Sixth Extinction Patterns of Life and the Future of Humankind, Leakey, Richard, 1995, Doubleday—Leakey posits extinction of species as a natural cycle that we can speed up Chapter Ten Practicing Pitchforks, Milewski, Vicki, 1998—Younger gang members practice their pitchfork gang hand signs in a group of poems about how similar we all are.


Chapter Twelve Einstein Decoding the Universe Balibar, Francoise, 1993, Harry N. Abrams Inc Einstein's Clocks, Poincare's Maps Galison, Peter, 2003, W.W. Norton and Co—A look at two individuals who shaped our understanding of time and our geographical world. It elucidates that maps were vastly inaccurate before the beginning of the 20th Century and that the concept of time was needed to make maps more accurate. Relativity The Special and General Theory, Einstein, Albert, 1961, Einstein's Estate—These essays help elucidate the theories surrounding energy and its potential—great analogies for time and linking metaphysics with science. Ideas and Opinions, Einstein, Albert translated by Bargmann, Sonja, 1982, Science Crown Publishers—a foundation for how Joe looked at the world. Power of Place Sacred Ground in Natural and Human Environments, Swan, James, 1993, Quest Books Theosophical Society—Ideas on commonly held power places. Sacred Power of Place Scared Ground in Natural and Human Environment, Swan, James, 1991, Theosophical Society—After finding The Place Between Two Rocks, she continues to research sacred places and their powers. The House at Pooh Corner, A.A. Milne, 1976, Dell Publishing Winnie The-Pooh, A.A. Milne, 1961, E. P. Duntton & co Such a great bear! Pooh and the Millennium, Williams, John T, 1997, Dutton Books Tao of Pooh, Hoff, Benjamin, 1982, Penguin--an insightful book about a great bear. Chapter Fourteen American Medicinal Plants Millspaugh, Charles, 1974, Dover Publications Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs Cunningham, Scott, 1998, Llewellyn Plants of Power, Savinelli, Alfred, 1997 Chapter Fifteen Little House in the Big Woods, Wilder, Laura Ingalls, 1953, Harper & Row—A fear of the unknown that is conquered and a wildness creeps into Wilder after experiencing wild. Little House on the Prairie, Wilder, Laura Ingalls, 1971, Harper & Row—The Saddlepass trail in the Badlands brings connections and transformations and questions hikers—why cross here when elsewhere is an easier crossing? Chapter Nineteen Abraham Lincoln Great Speeches unabridged, 1991 Dover Publications Jane Eyre, Brone, Charlotte (1847), 1978, Penguin—A nice connection with mom Leaves of Grass, Whitman, Walt, 1980 (1885), New American Library—from “Whispers of Heavenly Death” the poem Assurances has a line which says “I do not doubt I am limitless, and that the universes are limitless, in vain I try to think how limitless,” Joe encountered Whitman through her and once said he liked her old battered copy tied up in leather string so she gave it to him. She was happy the nephew did not like Whitman or know of his true value since after seeing Joe up the mountain, her and Gloria found the copy, still bound, amidst herbs and shattered glass. Wuthering heights, Bronte, Emily, 1978, Penguin—Mom’s favorite book. “Winged Victory” of Samothrace also known as the Nike Statue (circa 220-185 BC, sculptor unknown) now housed in Paris’ Musée du Louvre was found with one wing intact the other was applied to it with plaster in the late 1800’s and the addition is now known to be an incorrect representation of how that wing looked, but will remain in place. The original white marble has become a dirty yellow and there is a push to clean her to her original whiteness. Chapter Twenty Open Space for Democracy, Williams, Terry Tempest, 2004, The Orion Society Chapter Twenty-two An Inconvenient Truth the Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can do About It, Gore, Al 2006--Our planetary crisis is based more on climate change than just global warming, but much of the fact and fiction in this book is a good primer for anyone wishing to find alternative solutions to these pressing problems. Chapter Twenty-five Beyond the Wall, Abbey, Edward, 1984, Holt, Rinehart and Winston—Wilderness ethics shift like the dirt going down the drain—is wilderness only possible if there is civilization? Where will the balance be struck between the two? The Significance of the American Frontier by Fredrick Jackson Turner—this book contains the chapter Turner presented at the 1895 Columbian Exposition which examined the U.S. Census Bureau’s conclusion that the frontier was now closed; Turner posited that American identity would need to be found elsewhere since up until this point that identity had been found in the frontier’s myths and open space. But the mythologizing of the frontier has continued to this day, sublimating other realities which could have assisted in forming a modern day American identity. Chapter Twenty-seven Black Elk Speaks as told to Neihardt, John G., 1979, University of Nebraska Press Soul of the Indian an interpretation,Eastman, Charles (Ohiyesa), 1980, Univ of Nebraska Chapter Thirty-three Hidden Messsages in Water, Emoto, Masaru translated by Thayne, David, 2004, Beyond Words Publishing--Japanese thinker Emoto has some solid evidence of communication with water supporting her theory that water is alive.


The Secret Life of Water, Emoto, Masaru translated by Thayne, David, 2005, Atria books Beyond Words Publishing Simon and Schuster Shamanism and the Mystery Lines, Devereux, Paul, 1994, Llewellyn—A good introduction to ley lines The Celestine Prophecy, Redfield, James, 1993, Time Warner Books—Quite a synchronistic event as meeting Joe. Chapter Thirty-four 9 1/2 Mystics The Kabbalah Today Weiner, Herbert, 1992, Macmillan—Mystics from different faiths have much in common. Joe was a mystic. Chapter Thirty-five Babel, Smith, Patti,1978, G.P. Putnams's Sons—Smith’s music led to Arthur Rimbaud who opened my mind to other worlds and ways of being. Rimbaud and Jim Morrison, Fowlie, Wallace, 1993, Duke UniversityPress—Fowlie merges two tracks she had been researching: 19 th Century Symbolists and 1960’s experimentation. Neither of these tracks ended well for those involved. Rimbaud's Illuminations: A Study in Angelism, Rimbaud, Arthur translated by Fowlie, Wallace,1953, Grove Press The best translation. The Divine Comedy Vol. 1: the Inferno, Alghieri, Dante translated by Musa, Mark, 1984, Penguin—A must read for most visionquesters, but all three volumes should be read to understand the nature of the quest. The Divine Comedy Vol 2: Purgatory Alghieri, Dante (Musa, Mark) 1984, Penguin The Divine Comedy Vol 3: Paradise Alghieri, Dante It’s all about love. Chapter Thirty-six Pipe and Christ, Stolzman, William, 1995, Tipi Press—An interesting comparative analysis that would make Joe smile. Chapter Thirty-seven Ancient Christian magic, Coptic texts of ritual power, Ed. Meyer, Marvin and Smith, Richard, 1999, Princeton University Press--Ancient Christians knew intent trumps rules during sacred rituals—have we all fallen asleep to that? Joe was adamant that intention and connection were the true sacred powers, not rules and dogma. Lakota Ceremonial Songs (book and tape), translated by Albert White Hat, 1983, Sinte Gleska College—Showed her some of her songs are for ceremony 4 Little Girls 1997 documentary about the 1963 murder of four African-American girls in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, directed by Spike Lee. Tao of Physics Capra, Fritjof, 1984 (1976), Bantam books Chapter Thirty-eight Vision Quest Personal Transformation in the Wilderness, Sun Bear, 1992, Fireside Chapter Forty-one Trees North American Trees Identified by Leaf, Bark and Seed, Aronson, Steve, 1997, Nature Workman Publishing Company--Get to know a relative. Chapter Forty-eight Bergdorf Blondes, Sykes, Plum, 2004, Miramax—The HBO series Sex and the City was fun, but this book helped show how mismatched she was with this way of life. Vogue, any issue, any year is healthy reading if anyone thinks of venturing out in public. Although materialism is a karmic trap weighing down anyone’s heart, seeing fashion as an art form that one can wear helps to put our attempts at costuming ourselves in a better light. To suggest that no one wear clothes is ludicrous, but somehow to suggest everyone read Vogue comes off the same way. Balance is needed in order to proceed! Burn: A blind girl describing the sun, Milewski, Vicki, 2000—Been burned a lot but she keeps lighting her fires. Chapter Forty-nine Ways of Seeing, Berger, John, 1977, Penguin—being an artist has helped in understanding Joe’s magic tricks since artists also manipulate physical realities. Chapter Fifty-one Rule of Saint Benedict, Translated by Meisel, Anthony, 1975, Doubleday—A guide for monastic living but also a guide for living with yourself. Science of Being and Art of Living Transcendental Meditation, Mahesh, Maharishi Yogi, 2001, Penguin Plume—The act of staying connected to the source is like staying awake while dreaming during sleep and life. As long as we let our minds direct, we should be fine. But what happens when our hearts direct us? There must be a balance! The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology, Campbell, Joseph, 1991, Penguin Books Introduces a world that is familiar and connected to historical, anthropological facts. Chapter Fifty-six City of God St. Augustine, translated by Bettenson, Henry, 1984, penguin—Augustine indirectly spoke of certain places having power just as Joe did. Chapter Fifty-eight Astronomy Peterson first Guides, Pasachoff, Jay M., 1997, Houghton Mifflin Exploring the night sky with binoculars Chandler, David, 1983 The Last Wilderness Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Ward, Kennan,2001, Wildlight Press Inc –The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge should be protected from exploitation The Serpents of Paradise, Abbey, Edward, 1995, Holt, Rinehart and Winston—a good touchstone.


The Skywatcher's Handbook, Ronan, Colin and Dunlop, Storm, 1989, Crown Publishers Thinking Like a Mountain, Milewski, Vicki, 2001—Not only did Joe talk about hiking with a mountain or for a mountain (with summiting a secondary consideration) but we must think like a mountain sometimes, when inflexibility is needed, just as long as we can also bend like a willow in the breeze as these poems express. Chapter Sixty Divine Encounters a Guide to Visions, Angels and other Emissaries Sitchin, Zecharia, 1995, Avon--Stichin has some ideas based on his scientific study of the worlds we live in Five dialogues of Plato bearing on poetic inspiration Plato translated by Percy Bysshe Shelley 1913, E.P.Dutton and Co—The cave allegory is a part of this translation as well as some of Plato’s thoughts on vision, dreams and inspiration. Myths to Live by How We Recreate Ancient Legends in Our Daily Lives to Release Human Potential, Campbell, Joseph, 1972, Penguin Group—Campbell shows how shared and personal myths can be used to release our potentialities. The Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil,Aivanhov, Omraam Mikhael, 1988, Provesta U.S.A Thoughts are things, Walker, Edward, Yogi Publishing co Chicago—Transmuting fear thru love is hard; but recognizing that thoughts are things has helped a lot. true love a practice for awakening the heart, Hanh, Thich Nhat, 2004, Shambhala—Loving self has to happen before loving others. Chapter Sixty-three Archetypes in Life, Literature and Myth. Tuama, Shelly, 1997 Center for New Learning Man and His Symbols, Jung, Carl, 1969, Dell Publishing—How we construct our personal myths often mirrors the myth construction of others. Possibility of Being, Rilke, Maria Rainer Translated by J.B. Leishman, 1977, New Directions Publishing—Healer instruction from a different perspective. Collected Writings of Edward Bach Bach, Edward Dr. ,1998, Ashgrove Press—a healthy way of life includes proper diet, thoughts and actions. Instruction on how to be a healer. Heal Thyself Bach, Edward Dr., 1994, C.W Daniel Company Limited—main points of health from Bach’s perspective. healers understand healing from a positive perspective. Healthy Aging Weil, Andrew M.D., 2005, Alfred Knopf New Foods for Healing Capture the powerful cures of more than 100 common foods, Edited by Yeager, Selene, 1998, Rodale Press—Healer instruction Herbs RD Home Handbook Bremness, Lesley, 1990, Reader's Digest Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Balch, Phyllis and James Balch, 2000, Penguin The Human Body in Health and Disease, Memmler, Ruth L and Wood, Dena, 1977, Lippincott Co—Understanding anatomy is important for healers. The Human Nervous System An Anatomical Viewpoint, Barr, Murray, 1974, Harper International Edition QI Gong for beginners eight easy movements for vibrant health, Wilson, Stanley, 1997, Rudra Press—These movements can give so much energy, a great healer instruction. Buddhist Scriptures, Translated by Edward Conze, 1959, Penguin Sacred and Profane, Eliade, Mircea, 1987, Harcourt Brace and Company—Still searching for why so many of us have stars inside us. Physical Universe, Krauskopf and Arthur Beiser, 2003, Mcgraw Hill Galapagos Islands, essay, Darwin, Charles, 1995, Penguin Superforce: The Search for a Grand Unified Theory of Nature, Davies, Paul, 1984, Touchstone—This books has helped elucidate the Cave experience. Galileo's Commandment: An anthology of Science Writing Edited by Bolles, Edmund, 1997, Freeman Books Chakras (facsimile of 1927 ed), Leadbeater, C.W., 1997, Quest Books—Leadbeater has written the best book on the chakras and in 1927. Just shows again how we fall asleep to ideas and have to “rediscover” them decades later. It is too bad some New Age charlatans incorporated chakras into their lexicon since it will take more time before we return to where Leadbeater left off. Chakras Roots of Power, Bohm, Werner, 1991—An interesting guide through the primary seven chakras that tries to distance itself from the hoopla of New Age charlatans. Chakras the truth about , Judith, Anodea, 1998, Llewellyn—a succinct book Chakras, Vicki Milewski, 2000, an unfinished manuscript explaining chakras and includes the paintings Vicki has made for each chakra she has seen during yogic meditation on them. As part of healing herself and others the chakras are indispensible. Below are her Chakra paintings:

1 Root Muladhara

2Desire Svadhisthana

Chapter Sixty-four

3 Solar Plexus Manipura

4 Heart Chakra Anahata

5 Throat Chakra Visuddha

6 Third Eye Ajna

7 Crown Shahasrara


Black Elk Speaks as told to Neihardt, John G., 1979, University of Nebraska Press—the quote from Black Elk found in this chapter has given her pause for reflection many times. Sometimes it seemed her personal hoop had been broken, her sacred tree cut down; but once she centered herself it was clear neither had happened it was only a moment of crisis that made it seem so. She wondered if Black Elk always thought this about his culture’s tree and hoop, or if the book made this statement seem true for all time. In writing Tell, she considered these issues but moved forward anyway. Sacred Pipe Black Elk's Account of the Seven Rituals of the Oglala Sioux, edited by Joeseph Epes Brown, 1989, University of Oklahoma Press Confessions Augustine, St. translated by Pine-Coffin, R.S., 1980, Penguin—How can a saint have confessions? OR do confessions make a saint? Contemplative Prayer Merton, Thomas, 1990, Doubleday—another instruction guide for healers as well as a manual for sustaining a healing practice. Einstein Decoding the Universe Balibar, Francoise, 1993, Harry N. Abrams Inc Great Ages of Philosophy I Belief, Adventure, and Reason, II Ages of Enlightenment, Ideology and Analysis 1962, Houghton Mifflin This two volume set traces philosophy chronologically and examines most religions through explaining philosophy. Holy Fire: Nine Visionary Poets and the Quest for Enlightenment, editor Daniel Halpern, 1994, Harper Collins—Somehow we all search similarly. Kabbalah for the Layman Volume I, Berg, Rabbi, 1993, Berg Man the Myth Maker, edited by Jewkes, W.T., 1973 Harcourt Brace Jovanich Publishers Moon of Popping Trees The tragedy of Wounded Knee, Smith, Rex Alan, 1981, First Bison Printing—This one sided account of the events at Wounded Knee in the 1890’s helps to elucidate the events at Wounded Knee in the 197 Nag Hammadi Library, Robinson, James editor, 1990, Harper Collins—The scriptures left out of the traditional Christian bible. Religions of Man, Smith, Huston, 1965, Harper and Row Shambala The Sacred Path of the Warrior, Trungpa, Chogyam, 1988, Shambala—Another avenue for healer instruction Tao Te Ching, Lao Tze, 1963 Penguin The Ghost Dance Religion and the Sioux Outbreak of 1890, Mooney, James, 1991 (1893) Bison Books—The absolute guide to understanding the ghost Dance as it was understood by Native Americans told to ethnographer Mooney. The songs, the prophet’s letter explaining the dance to its believers, and other historical documents are used to set a context for the triad of discontent. The Perennial Philosophy an Interpretation of the Great Mystics, East and West, Huxley, Aldous, 1991 (1944), First Perennial—Comparative religion study shows our similarities. The Power of Myth, Campbell, Joseph, 1991 , Anchor Books Doubleday—another good comparative look at religion through their myths. The Prophet, Gibran, Kahlil, 1997 (1926), Tiger Books—Throughout history prophets and visionaries have led hard lives that are often misunderstood. The Revenge of Gaia Earth's Climate Crisis & the Fate of Humanity, Lovelock, James, 2006, Perseus Books Group—Lovelock introduced “ecosystem” in 1970 as system Gaia. Gaia means more than just the Earth alone, it also means all environmental, atmospheric, evolutionary based life and energy which exists on and around the planet Earth. Theosophical Society: the first 50 years, Blavatsky, H.P., 1925, Theosophical Society—Such a great organization that is in need of a revitalization. Chapter Sixty-seven Geologic Story of the Great Plains Trimble, Donald, 1993, Theodore Roosevelt Nature and History Association Chapter Sixty-eight Yoga of Nutrition, Aivanhov, Omraam Mikhael, 1991, Provesta Chapter Seventy Native American Songs and Poems, Edited by Swann, Brian, 1996, Dover Publications Plains Indian Mythology, Marriot, Alice and Rachlin, Carolyn, 1975, Meridian—still building a theory about how a geographic location informs a people’s dreams and myths. Indian Story & Song from North America, Fletcher, Alice, 1900/1995, Bison Book University of Nebraska Press--songs from the last generations of Indians. Joe knew some of the old songs but felt strongly that singing new songs was a better idea. Chapter Seventy-one Emerald Tablet Alchemy for Personal Transformation Hauck, Dennis William, 1999, Penguin—“As above so below” is one of the tenets said to be found on Hermes Emerald Tablet. Alchemists search for it and that in the end it may be within us. Chapter Seventy-two Sacred Objects and Sacred Places preserving tribal traditions, Guilliford, Andrew, 2000, University Press of Colorado—Joe felt the only way to preserve ceremonial energy was to imbue it into people not objects, in that way the “traditions” would be alive Chapter Seventy-six Just as the astronauts’ picture of the earth from the moon spurred on the environmental movements in the later 20th Century so too did my vision of traveling beyond the earth spur her to work on behalf of the environment, first starting local and then eventually seeing that places like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge need to be protected as wilderness for the health of


our planet. Following are some books that help with both my local efforts and international ones: Crimes Against Nature, Kennedy, Robert F. Jr., 2004, Harper Collins—passionate and written by a lawyer who hikes and loves the natural world. Deep Economy the wealth of communities and the durable future McKibben, Bill, 2007, Holt and Co.—McKibben’s thoughts on community are inspiring, his ideas on a durable future show he has not had to work to support himself. Arctic Melting (transcribed) Kister, Chad, 2005, Common Courage Press—Kister walked across the Arctic Refuge and traveled across the world telling people about the it. Arctic Refuge: A Circle of Testimony Pat Garret inscribed Edited by Lentfer, Hank and Servid, Carolyn 2001, Mikweed—A nice collection of testimonies regarding the refuge. Desert Solitaire a Season in the Wilderness Abbey, Edward, 1971, Ballatine Publishing— Abbey’s irreverent life and perspective help make sense of wilderness wanderings which attempt to assemble a wilderness ethic. Chapter Seventy-seven Autobiography of an Idea, Sullivan, Louis, 1956, Dover publications Louis Sullivan and the Chicago School, Frazier, Nancy, 1991, Brompton books—A coffee table book which highlights Louis’s adherence to nature in architecture. Louis Sullivan: The Public Papers, Sullivan, Louis edited by Twombly, Robert, 1988, University of Chicago Press—Helps to explain Louis’s idea of seed germination in art and in life showing how “form follows function” which occurs in nature. The seed for Louis meant the potential energy of life and energy following closely Einstein’s ideas which were “germinating” during the same time period. Beowolf, translated by Burton Raffel 1963, Penguin Understanding origins to understand self led to reading Beowolf, the first classic written in old English involving overcoming fears and a hero who helps others through finding himself. History of Art: The Spirit of the forms, Faure, Elie, 1937, Garden City Publishing—This book is not only a good source for symbolic dream imagery interpretation but also another chance at connecting with our archetypical center. Journals of Lewis and Clark, Lewis, Meriwether and William Clark, 2002 edition, Science Signet--Their journeys help inform other’s journeys. Lame Deer Seeker of Visions, Lame Deer, John and Erodes, Richard, 1972 c 1994 p, Washington Square Press—An autobiography of an irreverent seeker in the 1970’s. Last days of Socrates, Plato translated by Hugh Tredennick, 1987, Penguin—Seeking a translation of this text that might accept Socrates as teaching beyond the grave. Origin of Humankind, Leakey, Richard, 1994, Harper Collins—to heal we should know the theories about where we all started. Origin of species, Darwin, Charles, 1993, Random House—To understand our current lives we try to understand our origins. Paradise Lost, Milton, John, 1981, Signet—This poem from 1674 was written by a seeker and believer. When the angel Michael says that Adam may find "a paradise within thee, happier far" after Adam has been cast out of Eden, this brings to mind the “as above so below” idea contained in alchemy and the “go inside to go outside” (and vice versa) idea held by the transcendentalists along with a myriad of other faiths. Chapter Seventy-nine The badlands and black hills have inspired artists for centuries. The following books help shape an experience of these places while also supporting a formation of an ethical approach to nature. Dakota, a spiritual geography Norris, Kathleen, 1993, Houghton Mifflin Dances with Wolves, Blake, Michael, 1988, Ballatine—Kevin Costner’s movie is a true American classic. Deadwood, Hirt, Douglas, 1998, Berkley Publishing Group—The myths portrayed still resound with people today-- do they want to mine for the gold of their spirits? Delicate Dancing Milewski, Vicki, 1999—a collection of poems written about the delicate dancing that must accompany walking sacred through one’s life. Chapter Eighty Ralph Waldo Emerson collected, editor Richard Poirier, 1990, Oxford University Press Chapter Eighty-two Georgia O'Keefe and New Mexico A Sense of Place, Lynes, Barbara Buhler and PolingKempes, Lesley and Turner, Fredrick W., 2004, Princeton University Press—O’Keefe’s expression of finding her “personal lines” in New Mexico resonates. Chapter Eighty-three Peace Pilgrim her life and work in her own words, Peace Pilgrim, 1994, Ocean Tree Books— Both books written by the Peace Pilgrim, an elderly lady who decided to walk the rest of her life for peace owning nothing and staying wherever she could. The Hero Within Six Archetypes we live by, Pearson, Carol S., 1989, Harper Collins—This book has a nice archetype quiz in the back to determine which archetype you are. Chapter Eighty-seven The Faraway Nearby Milewski, Vicki, 2009--This is a songbook about special places like the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota. The Mission of Art, Grey, Alex, 1998, Shambhala—Grey says artists must tell the world— about their art!


A White River Valley Learning the Ceremony of Living One’s Life by Vicki Milewski She needed stars in new constellations to study. Joe continues thoughtfully, “Joseph Campbell said that ‘every moment of time bursts free from the fetters of the moment before’ which is true to a point since each moment is linked through our memories, through our experience, like links in a chain we can be fettered to the past if we do not move fully into the present. But it is also more an awakening to those linkages that breaks the fetters of being asleep to our life and to the time we spend living it. To live in the present is to also break those fetters of the past and the future since both can hold us fast to an illusion of what was and what could be instead of living what is. “But you cannot slay your past self just as you cannot slay your future self since all are you. The past, if remembered accurately and through the lens of the present, is the instructor; the future is the instruction learned which makes the present the act of learning, dissolving any illusion of time revolving with myriad choices seen as outcomes and forever in a state of change. “You and I have embarked on such a path; it may be lonely since no one has yet to walk this path. But once we clear the way many will come to know it and then have to find their own unmarked trail, their undestined outcome.” vickimilewski@gmail.com This page photo:

Place Between 2 Rocks,

Badlands National Park, SD Cover Photo:

Tell the World About U