April 16, 2004 - Aug 3, 2004

 

08-03-2004  The art show and sale are over and now I have to unpack things and later go back to our show site to dismantle the tent shelter that I used.  the weather was great and I had a good time meeting and interacting with my fellow exhibitors and our guests.  (We also ate very well!)

Tent that ordinarily shelters my lumber at home

Display inside of tent

Colleen Watson's Display at show

Sample of Donna Smith's work

Sample of Myles MacDonald's work

Sample of Tim Moore's work

I continue to take great delight in the character of my dog companion King.  He stayed home over the past days, and though not happy to be left alone, guarded the home and was totally responsible in a great way. 

Sales activity at the show for my products was nearly double that of last year, so I am pleased.  In general show attendance was down.  I suspect our recent weather may have played a role in that.

Later this week I plan to return to the Pipe Fast location to just touch base with that holy place and reconnect.  One of my prayer support persons will join with me on this return journey.  This morning as I prayed, and just as my prayer focus  was directed to the North, a chorus of what sounds like wolves could be heard from that direction.  This has happened before during morning prayer, and always reconnects me with part of my Pipe Fast experience.  Creator is good to me !!


08-01-2004  Sunday morning.  I have just finished making a huge pot of stew to bring to our Art Show for supper.  My meal-making partner for this evening is making fry bread and a good salad, and is bringing ice-cream.  My contribution was to be the stew and ice cream toppings. The house is filled with great smells.

The all purpose shelter that I put up to display my items is a great setting and a good protector against the elements.  Day one was slow and we hope that things will improve on the remaining two days.

I continue to rethink the kind of time and resources I put into making my things.  I am getting better, but is this what I really should be doing?  My line has been that I need to sell my old mistakes so I can afford to make new ones.  That is still correct.  If I only made for myself or a few friends, I would never undertake the range and number of things that I have done, and I would not have been able to hone my skills.

I brought three pieces of art / furniture that are not for sale, to illustrate the kinds of things I can do and would do in consultation with a client.  They have been getting great comments, especially the "Secret Spaces" sculpture. or this view

One of my post-sale goals is to properly update my Products section with better photos and descriptors of recent work.  If you have been looking and not finding, I thank you for your patience.


 

07-29-2004  I have reorganized a bit and placed links to Spiritual Journey materials on the new "Hoop Boy" page.  This is now linked from the main navigation bar that is at the top of main section lead pages.

I have left another link to the Hoop Boy page in the image of the "Hoop" / medicine wheel photo to the left of the Journal Column.  Just click on the image.

I have packed away most of the items I am taking to the weekend sale.  I am taking fewer items than last year, though I am tentatively planning to take a few special furniture pieces to illustrate the custom work I can do.  I dismantled the "multi-purpose" plastic shelter that I had been using to keep my lumber supplies dry, and will reassemble it at our sale location.  It is 11.5 X 20 feet in size, and will give good shelter to people and products.

The second bowl illustrated below has been sold as a wedding gift, and the first two Silver Maple bark-on bowls are also gone.  I had intended them as gifts to the persons responsible for getting me the log sections in the first place.

I did not get the chess Knights carved and then the three sets finished and felted.  I ran out of time, though I might get to carve one or two as a sample and take them along to the show / sale in any case.

It was raining last night so I did my Pipe Prayer indoors for the first time in a long while. 

07-27-2004  I am starting to update parts of this web site, and you may have noticed an addition to the main navigation bar.  I have added a link to a new section called "Hoop Boy".  This will deal with the elements of the Spiritual Journey I walk.  I am finding that I have been adding more and more of such material on this site, but that it has been scattered and is hard to follow.  To simplify things I am collecting things in a more rational manner.

For the time being, I am leaving the links  box found on the left edge of this page.  Later I will remove it as I restructure this page as well.

Thanks for your patience.


I am scrambling to prepare for an Art Show and Sale to take place this weekend, on Saturday, Sunday and Monday at the home of Myles MacDonald, located  just West of Hanson's Hill, which is about 29 km north of Prince Albert Saskatchewan on Highway No. 2 on the way to the Prince Albert National Park.  Hours are 12:00 noon till 8:00 PM

07-21-2004

A sampling of some recent work:


I am back a few days and back at work in the shop.  I am working on some trays and have to be very patient with them at a time I feel in a rush.  the tray bottoms were a special glued-up block and then laminated onto a firm plywood base, and then relief carvings added and stained.  Now I am making the sides out of Padauk.  They are mitre and bevel cut to make a slanted side to the tray.  That is the most frustrating thing to glue up properly!  I made a jig to hold the pieces and then clamped them in place within the jig.  Now I have to finish the sides and attach it to the bases and then proceed to finish the whole items.  In the mean while I have been turning a few items and finishing others, and still have the knights of three chess sets to carve and then all pieces to finish and felt.  Things just may not get done as hoped for. 


The final day of the Sundance was grand.  The power of the full  dance seemed to coalesce during those final four rounds.  I was very impressed with the commitment and courage of all the dancers and the support  persons who attended.  During the opening round on Sunday morning while the dancers were lined up in front of the East Gate, I looked into the sky above them and saw eagles soaring.  I moved a bit so I could get a better view around the edge of the arbor and counted at least ten eagles before they veered off to the North-East.  I have never seen that many eagles in one place  before.  The dancers were blowing their eagle bone whistles in imitation of the eagle cry, and they were facing the west, so I do not think they would have seen them.  What a powerful sign that Eagle was taking their sacrifice and their prayers to Creator and showing them tribute for the ceremony.  My prayer throughout was that  Wakan Tanka bring to fulfillment the prayers of all participants. 

07-17-2004  The Dakota Sundance at Whapeton First Nations (North of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan) is currently underway.  Wednesday was the "tree day", and I missed the selection and placing of the Sacred Tree in the middle of the Sundance lodge.  I was able to be present for most of the following two days.  I am not camping at the site and still have to attend to other business during the day.

I wanted to take part in this year's ceremonies as a completion / anniversary of what began for me last summer at these ceremonies.  As this loop is joined to completion it will also mark the beginning of the next that forms the spiral of the spiritual journey of my life.  My Pipe Fast / Vision Quest / Hanblecheyapi marked my own prayer high point for the year and was preparing me for this next spiral of the Sacred Hoop on which I journey to Wakan Tanka.  Being able to attend and pray at this year's Sundance is a great blessing for which I thank Creator and all of the people who have prepared the events and whose generous welcome to me and others allows us to pray with this community.

I have had several other invitations to attend Sundance days in the Cree tradition; one the week earlier, and one two weeks away.  Unfortunately for me, both have been in conflict with other commitments.  I have learned a little about the Cree traditions of Sundance, and I would be honoured to attend and pray  with such  a prayer gathering.  Perhaps it will be available to me next year.


I am trying to dry the sage and bear berry that I have recently collected.  when I pick it it seems like a lot, but once dried I think that I will need more.  I find that I am also supplying some to others who wish to use it in prayer and were not able to find or collect their own.  It is the generosity of a friend that supplied me with my own in the beginning, and I need to keep that generosity flowing.

I also was able to trade some of my kinnickinick / traditional tobacco  mixture for some sweetgrass braids.  A friend wished to have access to some of my mixture as it does not contain the poisons of commercial tobacco, and so would be a more fitting gift  offering.  I was very pleased to be able to support this request.  I will not sell such materials but am open to respectful trading of items.

I am trying to grow some organic tobacco in my greenhouse and in an out-of-doors location.  A slow start and a cold spring have delayed growth, so I do not know how successful my  efforts to grow my own tobacco leaves will be.  If they are successful, I would add this to my smoking mixture.

07-13-2004

  Medicine Table with morning dew, July 13, 2004

Medicine Table with morning dew catching the rays of Father Sun

(Note:  recently a friend came to visit.  She had three young children in tow who were more interested in playing with my dog than in adult conversation.  Spontaneously one child perched herself on to top of this table.  The mother responded immediately by asking the child to get down, commenting to me that the table was sacred and the child should not be sitting on it.  My immediate reply was that the child too was Sacred.  The table was wood and paint that served a holy purpose,  but I could think of nothing more sacred or holy than a little child, so please do not be disturbed that the child was sitting on the table.  If the child had been older it might have been appropriate to try to explain that showing respect for the role of objects like that table would make one refrain from using it as a chair.  However,  the child would best learn by seeing us treat it with that respect.)

Father Sun, We honour you Wi!

Mist and Sun over the Pond at Friendly Forest

"Any time is a good time for prayer, and any place is a good place for prayer, but there are some times and some places where it is a special gift and a special experience."  -- Candesna Cun Wakan Oksina

07-11-2004 Sunday morning.  I have baking in the oven.  This is something I do rarely, but I have been instructed that each participant is expected to bring 6 dozen home made cookies as part of the food supply for the month-end sale of art at Myles MacDonald's place.  In  a short while the five participants ( Myles MacDonald, Donna Smith, Colleen Watson, Tim Moore and I will meet to go over last minute planning and preparations to mail out invitations to the three day event.

I also am drying some bear berry leaves that I recently harvested.  They will be part of my kinickinnik  / traditional tobacco mixture for pipe prayer.  Yesterday afternoon I had a few hours while glue was drying and resin setting, to try to find some prairie sage for smuding over the next year.  I looked in the places I had found  some last summer and for the most part found little, and that very short.  When I neared the City, I found a few stands on a higher bank along the ditch that was sun-facing and had received a bit more sun and warmth this spring.  But even there they were not very mature.   I also came across a patch of tansy.  I know it can be medicinal, and I know that it can be dangerous because of its toxic effects.  This old European medicinal  herb is now a weed across Canada.   I also have some more yarrow dried and ready to bag for later use.

In the shop I have been working  quite diligently.  I have completed  some cremation urns (which just need a few more coats of oil / varnish.  I have been turning some bowls and vases and coated some of them with poly-resin to give it a moisture-proof coating on the inner side.  I have glued up and sliced a block that will be the base of special serving trays.  They are glued to a 1/4 inch baltic birch plywood to give it strength and stability.  I used a polyurethane glue and that takes about 24 hours to set properly. when that is done I will do the carving of forest floor plants on the centre panel and then only will I add the tray sides.  The first time I did that I constructed the full tray andthen had to work over the edges to do the carving.  It is much easier to work on a simple flat piece than trying to work carving knives and tools into corners, etc.

I dropped off five prayer flags and two pouches of tobacco at Whapeton.  They will be offered during the Sundance that will be held there later this week.  I hope to take in as much as possible.  The experience I had last summer at the Sundance marked the acceleration of my spiritual journey on the red path which reached a kind of climax during my pipe fast.  Praying at this Sundance seems like a good way of bring this circle to completion and to begin the next circle that becomes a spiral journey on the red path to Wakan Tanka. 


I have been led to understand that my aging mother is concerned that I might be "losing" my Catholic / Christian beliefs.  Her concerns arise from the traditional upbringing she had in the Church in which anything that was different from current practice must be wrong. 

On the July long Weekend in my home parish we had a Lay-led service of the Word and Communion.  I had been asked to do the reflection on the readings.  We had a large congregation with people having to stand.  These services that we have when a priest is not available to lead in the Eucharist are well done and well received here ... but not by all.  A few "traditional" people do not feel that a lay-led service is a proper Sunday observance, and will drive a long way to seek out a service presided over by an ordained priest.  I understand that sentiment though I do not consider it an informed sentiment.  Those who are really caught up in the "traditional" approach are not at ease with variations on how we worship, even if those variations have the full sanction of the church officialdom.  I expect that similar reactions will exist regarding my pursuit of another way of praying and connecting to my God, while retaining all that I have come to know to be true from the past.  I suspect that this is the same kind of thing that the early Christians had to deal with.  How could they be true to Yahweh, the God of Israel, without being fully practicing and accepted members of Jewish Orthodoxy.  The variations that gradually happened to prayer and worship within the first Jewish Christians presented a serious dilemma for the early Church, and the Council Of Jerusalem did not solve the issues once and for all. 

 

07-06-2004   I have had a run of visitors both short-term and over-night, so I can attest that summer is definitely here! 

I have five cremation urns in progress and things in the shop are looking a mess and in bad need of a total cleaning.  I have had very bad experience with my Craftsman power tools.  I should qualify that, I am having trouble with the later versions of Craftsman tools.  The older versions that I have go and go and are accurate and reliable.  However, all of the more recent purchases have proven that they are shoddy and unreliable.  I have vowed to never buy a Craftsman tool again.  Check the link to see the correspondence I have had with Sears about this.

I have had good experiences with Makita, and recently  purchased a quality router and a few days ago, a Makita LS1013 Compound Slide Mitre Saw.  I was using it for the first time in the construction of the urns, and the experience was delightful!

I will be a participant in the art sale that takes place in the yard of Myles MacDonald and Meg Shatilla just south of Northside Saskatchewan during the August long weekend.  I still have a few things I want to have finished to bring to this sale, but I am not sure how much I will accomplish in the next few weeks.

I recently completed an analysis of the business side of Friendly Forest Products, and had the clear realization that I am not making any money for all of my efforts.  I know why that is so, and I am not ready to change the fundamental things I do because I am still making quality items and usually unique things.  Efficiencies that would make a profit are not realized with one-of-a-kind things.  I also will not compromise the quality of the materials I use.  What I have determined though is that I will not make so much effort to create a lot of items for general purchase, and just stick to making things that are special creations  etc.  Why put myself under stress only to break even on the statement of Expenses and Income?


I have pretty well decided that I will not record the journal of my Hanblecheyapi / Pipe Fast experience on the web.  It was too powerful and personal an experience to be able to be communicated in that manner at this time.  I am prepared to discuss it with others in a dialogue if I can determine that they are genuinely interested in understanding that kind of spiritual journey.


On July 3 our R. C. Parish did not have a priest to lead in the Eucharistic Celebration and a team of lay people prepared the service.  They asked me to do the reflection on the readings for the Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C.  I prayed about it and finally put it together a few days before I had to present the reflection.  I have placed it on the new section I am developing that links from the menu to the left of this Journal column under the heading Reflections of the Spirit Within.  That menu also links to sections that relate to the spiritual journey that I try to walk.   These are personal reflections and must be understood to be just that.  I make no pretence to speak for any group or religion or belief or prayer system.


 

 

 

07-01-2004  Today is "Canada Day"  The sky is overcast this morning but it looks to be a great day to celebrate the anniversary of the creation of my country.  This morning I was doing a bit of reflecting on what we humans do when we create different kinds of communities.  We are doing two divergent things;  one the one hand we unite and combine different people and recognize positive connections between us, and on the other hand we use that same process to tell others that they do not belong.

Which aspect of that process of making a community is stronger seems to give it the character of being a good thing or a bad thing, and tends to direct our decisions in a good or bad way.  I know that my use of the terms "good" and "bad" are value judgements and are based on my own moral sense, but that is OK as that is the only value base that I have to work from.

If my sense of being a Canadian focused on what I share in common with the others of this nation and creates within me a sense of common purpose and common concern and common good, then it is a creative and positive force within me to encourage me to support the needs of all who dwell within this land and concern for the land itself.

If my sense of being Canadian focused on being "not" like others on this planet, on "not" sharing common concerns and common responsibilities, then my being Canadian is a negative force within me and within this single small world we all share. 

When my spirit matures and opens to the wisdom of the Creator and of the Earth I will come to value both the smaller communities to which I belong and which support me as  "my People", and I will also understand and appreciate the membership in the global community and the common humanity we all share.  When that awareness is deep within me, I will also be open to understanding that the Spirit that is my life and which gives me my being and my life, is from the same single source within Wakan Tanka / Creator / Yahweh .  That will enable me to say with deep understanding;  "We are all related" / "All my relatives" / "Mitakuye Oyasin".

Then my prayer will have real power because it is in line with the total prayer / communication of all creation with its source in Creator.


I have been busy with so many tasks that I have neglected others.  The grass beside my home has yet to be cut and as I walked beside it yesterday I noted that it was so tall that it reached my ears!  I have never seen the grass grow to such a length here.  Granted, it is in a space near the house what was well watered and well fertilized from the winter fertilizing efforts of my dog King, yet it is still remarkable to see how life has flourished with the gift of rain that we had over the past month.  During the first two weeks of June my rain gauge here showed  a gift of 9.25 inches / 23.5 cm!

I have finally finished the rubbing out process on the three chess tables I made.  I still have to carve the knights on the walnut and birch chess pieces.  I have turned some nice pieces and will take photos soon and post them to this site's Gallery pages.  I will provide a link here when I do that.


Since my return from my Pipe Prayer I have had the great experience of being asked to pray with some friends using the power of the Pipe to direct our prayers to Creator.  With the weather being so nice doing Pipe Prayer out of doors is very appropriate.  I have finished (at long last) reading James Walker's Lakota Belief and Ritual and have begun reading Lakota Myth.  Reading the transcriptions of the understandings of Lakota Medicine Men of many years ago is like reaching back in time and listening to these sacred understandings myself.  It is the same sense that I sometimes have when reading Old and New Testament selections.  When we hear the testimony of those who are our spiritual ancestors we experience the spiritual continuity of a people.  More and more I understand that I have one foot walking the Judeo-Christian tradition and the other foot now walking the Dakota-Lakota Red Path.  While that is one way of speaking of the spiritual journey, it is more accurate to say that I have both feet walking both paths.  Since I have only two feet, that would mean that the two journeys / paths are really one and the same.  That is truly what I am coming to understand. 

Recently an Anglican / Episcopal priest and I were discussing things at a supper we shared at a mutual friend's home.  In response to a question / comment from him, I pointed out that in our Christian tradition we have no trouble praying with Old Testament / Hebrew prayers and songs, and move quite smoothly from that to New Testament-based prayer and song.  We see no problem because we know that it is the same God that is being prayed to in all cases.  I pointed out that the understanding of that God as revealed in some of the Old Testament writings is really quite different from the God as revealed by Jesus.  We have no trouble with that and understand that all knowledge we humans have is incomplete and the understandings of a people and their relationship with Creator does evolve and grow.  In the same manner I can  experience spiritual understandings and teachings from the Lakota - Dakota traditions and find within it spiritual truth and a call to live my life by the Red Path without there being any conflict with the Path my Baptism called me to follow.

If anyone reading this has thoughts on this I would invite you to share your reflections with me:  Sacred Tree Sacred Hoop Boy EMAIL .

06-10-2004  For those who have been following this journal and have an interest, I have completed my Pipe Fast / Vision Quest / Hanblecheyapi ceremony and returned home yesterday afternoon, a half day sooner than anticipated as my Prayer Supporter had to leave to attend to a dying uncle.

It has been anticipated for many months and its experience as a part of my spiritual journey far exceeded any expectation that I may have had at the outset.

I was truly blessed on all levels and I want to thank from the depths of my being the many people who have supported me and prayed for me and wished me well at this time.

I will post a few images today and more later.  Click on this link to go to the section of this site to which I am posting materials.

Whether I will share  what I saw or experienced on the www is something I will still ponder and decide later.

I have largely recovered my strength by this morning and will prepare for the formal conclusion of the Hanblecheyapi with the feast at Friendly Forest this evening.  Again, thank you to my prayer supporters.  The "Principle of Generosity' will apply; what you have sent out will return to you fourfold!  May it be so!

06-05-2004  The Sacred Hoop / Medicine Wheel I illustrated below was not to be long in my keeping.  It was appreciated and has been gifted to a Spiritual Elder who is helping me in my prayer journey.  I have started on another, having learned how to do things in a better manner.

If I get good enough at making these I would consider making them for sale.  They are attractive, and if I leave loops to make attachments it can be customized for the person wanting the item.  The colours might have to be customized though, and even the colour sequence as these are different for different groups and even for different individuals within a group.  What I assumed was a rather simple thing really is not.  Now I understand why I was having difficulty finding any single colour description and colour sequence in my Web searches.  There is no one answer to the query.

I have found that nylon braided cord takes a hot dye rather well and the smooth fibres give a shine and richness to the finished / dyed cord that cotton does not have.  The other issue I have with cotton is that it is not as strong and is more likely to stretch or sag after it has been woven into the wheel design. 

I took the wasna / pemmican out of the freezer yesterday and when I tried to form it into a ball it crumbled.  I was disgusted. Then I used the microwave to warm it and then wrapped it in  plastic wrap in a ball shape and put that in the fridge to cool.  That produced a nice solid ball of wasna.  It really smells good and if it were not for the chunks of chokecherry pits in the mixture I might even enjoy eating it.  As  it is, it will be food for Eagle.

I will bring my bison skull and bones to an Inipi ceremony this evening and they will be "blessed" / "consecrated" for use in my prayer times.  I purchased a print of Robert Bateman's painting; "Chief", and I have hung it above the place where I rest the bison skull between prayer times.  It is a great and powerful painting that communicates to me the emotional impact of this great beast and its gift of life for the people.

06-02-2004  The morning began with a dense fog over the forest and the water.  The sun came over a bank of low clouds and made for the most incredible view. The frogs and birds were calling and the smells of the newly opened leaves and the newly-watered earth perfumed the air.  It was very easy to pray.  I will take the sensory memory with me for those times when it is harder to "feel" like praying.

The time for my Pipe Fast / Vision Quest  nears and I am preparing food for the feast that will follow as I will not have the time on the day itself.  Invited friends will bring other things.  I am also preparing some of the food my two prayer supporters will need while I am in prayer and hunger and thirst mode in the forest.  ( I am sure that I will taste that food many times in my memory as I sit there.)  I am also quite sure that one of the outcomes of this experience will be that I will never take food and water for granted again, knowing just how significant  and life-supporting these daily gifts are for me.

I had bent a few wooden hoops for drums for people in the past.  Recently I needed to bend some more wood and had a few steamed pieces in reserve to compensate for wood failure during a bend attempt.  I had a few of these pieces remaining and I bent them around some of the drum hoop forms that I had and so got some birch hoops for my own use.  Over the past few days I have been making one into a Sacred Hoop / Medicine Wheel.  I had to purchase white cord and re-learn how to dye fibre with a hot dye.  I am sure any subsequent efforts will look better and be easier to accomplish as I learned a lot this time.  Never the less I am very pleased with the outcome.  The Hoop will remind me of what I pray about ( and is part of my name; Candesna Cun Wakan Oksina)

 

05-31-2004  The weekend brought some much needed rain.  This morning the rain gauge showed 21mm at Friendly Forest.  That is not much, but for a critically dry forest it is a significant blessing.

Some of the ground cover which had not emerged because of cold and dry conditions grew 7 inches in two days!  The greening of the forest under story is critical to reduce fire hazards in the early part of the season.  Perhaps the rain will be enough for the beginning of a recovery.

I have finished making the wood for two eagle staffs for two friends.  The top crook was to be a 3 inch radius curve. In attempting to make these we learned some things;  fresh green wood does not hold its bend and any natural sapling with a branch / twig emerging anywhere on the bend will be enough of a flaw to cause wood failure.  I tried some oak I had and had no luck.  I am sure it had been kiln died (Also a vorbotten consideration).  Then I tried some of my air dried birch, but did not have pieces that had straight enough grain to handle that tight a curvature.  Learning as I went along, I opted for lamination, cutting  .25 inch wide strips and steaming them in my steam tube.  Five of these, with a steel strap, made their way around the bending form with only minor flaws on some of the internal strips.  When these had cooled and dried in place, I took them apart, applied glue, and re clamped them on the bending form till dry. 

Because I had just made the top 20 inches of the staffs, I then took a straight, un steamed portion shaped to fit the staggered end of the top piece, and glued them together with polyurethane glue.  When that had cured I ran the edges through my thickness planer and sliced the piece on the table saw to make my two nicely shaped staff pieces.  After rounding the edges on the router table and a bit of sanding, I have two strong and attractive pieces to give to my friends.  These will be decorated and have 12 eagle feathers attached.  One is intended to be used at the "One Voice One Nation" Dakota Lakota Nakota Summit to be convened July 3 at Sioux Valley.  This will be at the conclusion of a Sacred Sundance Ceremony.

I have been working at adding the multiple coats of varnish to three chess tables I have made, and I am turning additional chess sets in walnut and birch.  At the end of that I have to once again become a carver and  carve 12 knights.  That is a much more laborious task and I do not look forward to it.  The finishing of all those pieces is not a lot of fun  either.  I fully understand why wood turners choose to NOT make wooden chess sets.  You never recover the materials and time invested in making them.   ... But what a beautiful and satisfying finished product. 

These are images of a set I did the other year.

The rest of the week will be busy making final preparations for the Pipe Fast / Vision Quest and supporting a friend who is having medical problems.

05-23-2004   Early Sunday morning.  I rose at 04:50 and built a small fire outside and prayed as the sun rose.  Two special people I have come to know are very ill and in great need of healing. My heart feels sorrow for their suffering and the anxiety of their loved ones.  Today I will visit one of them in the hospital.

The Parish Confirmation Retreat went well yesterday.  I was up early and asked Creator to be with us as the young people reflected and prayed.  I then started to prepare the food that  had not been finished the day earlier.  I baked pancakes and heated sausages and set table and the other stuff.  At 09:00 they arrived.  We started outdoors around the grill.  I started the fire that would burn all day, and we said our welcome prayers and called on blessings on the food we would soon eat.  Then we had a good breakfast.  The young people had good appetites but there was still food remaining.

Most of the morning common time was a reflection on the baptism they had experienced as infants.  We went through the ceremony and the signs of their adoption.  I then asked them to begin a personal letter to the Holy Spirit  ... their reply to the many "letters / Journal Directives" the Holy spirit had sent them throughout the past year.  They scattered through Friendly Forest and that gave me time to take out and warm up the noon meal.

The self-serve wraps and other food worked well and they had good appetites again.  Each said their own blessing prayer on the food and on us as we all gathered in the kitchen area.

The afternoon saw us reflect  and go through the ceremony of Confirmation that would be celebrated that evening with the Bishop of Prince Albert.  We reflected on the signs of God's presence  ... on fire and wind, and why these were chosen by Creator to represent Creator's presence to the people.  I was impressed by how much they understood and how much they remembered from our sunday sessions throughout the year.  sometimes I had the sense that they were not really focused on what was being talked about from week to week, but they knew and they understood.  They especially had an understanding of what it means to be "holy", and what makes people or other things "holy / wakan".  They also seemed very comfortable in talking to the Holy Spirit / praying.  Those had been my primary goals and it was great to see that this had happened during their journey with their Creator.  After personal time  (for many on the trails at Friendly Forest), they gathered  with their completed letters to the Holy Spirit and we sent those letters as prayer in smoke as they were placed on the fire.

Parent started to arrive as we did final logistics checks for the evening service and a review of the program and the day. 

I arrived at the church early and it is fortunate that I did.  Our parish priest was looking everywhere for the church copy of the Sacramentary.  It had disappeared, and we suspected that the Deacon had borrowed it and failed to return it.  I have a copy of my own and I went back home to bring it to the church.  I got back there will still enough time to help the young people and their families  get ready for the service.  Bishop Blaise Morand did a fine job of involving the young people and the whole congregation in understanding the importance of what we celebrated and letting the Candidates know just how important this was and how important they were.

05-20-2004  "You were on a steep hillside, maybe like a mountain with different levels or steps, and you were having a difficult time to climb higher.  You said; 'why is it so hard?'  There were seven eagles that came and were flying around you and one of them landed on your shoulder.  That eagle said to you; ' You chose this way.  You did not have to choose it, but now you must go on and complete what you have begun.'  You had a hard time of it.  Bear came to you and you were very afraid.  But bear lay down near you to let you know he was there to help you and you stopped being afraid.  And wolf came also and bear and wolf went with you.

One of the eagles took you by the shoulders and lifted you up and carried you forward.  Eagle carried you and you went much further than you had ever expected to go when you started."

That was the description of a dream of a Dene healer as he told it to me on May 17.  He asked me what I thought it might mean, and what I had been doing over the weekend, as he had the dream late Sunday evening or early in the morning hours of Monday.

I answered that I had been at the New Green Alliance Annual Convention in Regina, and that some things had been good and others that had disturbed me and had interfered with my sleep that night.  I said I would think about his dream further.

I am not sure.  It was not my dream, but that of the Dene healer.  Whatever it meant, I could appreciate the images and symbols of the dream as he described it, and whether the dream came from Creator or from his own imagination, I appreciated the positive character it had. 

Perhaps it foreshadowed the experience of the Vision Quest ceremony I plan to do in a few weeks.  If so, it would suggest that the suffering will be greater than I anticipated.  That ceremony was not forced on me, but one that I freely chose, and I am expected to complete what I have begun.  Eagle is one of my helpers, and the fact that a full sacred number of seven eagles had come to help me is a profound sign of great support from my Creator.  I have not seen bear as a spirit helper, nor wolf, but the Dene healer explained that they represent medicine for me, and that they proceeded with me meant that I would have their help.  I do not know if the medicine was for my needs or if they represent medicines that I need to learn about to use to help others.

I do not know what this means for me, but it is a nice affirmation that I am doing a good thing for me by proceeding with the quest.  I had the sense that the dream was like the apocalyptic literature of the bible; images on many levels that are intended to support and comfort a people who are suffering and afraid.

 I am not prone to remembering dreams that I know I must have when I sleep.  Even when I think that I want to remember a dream that I have when I awake, after a few minutes of being awake, I soon forget what I had wanted to remember.  My Freudian psychology background also tends to prevent me from giving any spiritual significance to what I dream.  Perhaps that is why I have been given a dream from someone else ... Creator is trying to tell me something and I have lost my capacity to hear it and need to hear it from another ?  Perhaps, perhaps not.  I do not know.

05-12-2004  Today I drove out to Tobin Lake to check out a proposed site for the Vision Quest.  As we arrived an eagle came to greet us, and immediately I and my prayer companion knew that this is the site Creator has planned for me.  The majesty of the location is great.  Though any time is a good time for prayer and any location is a good location for prayer, there are special places that will support that kind of communication.

I began the day at 05:20 and was joined by a neighbour for early morning Pipe Prayer. Then I headed off to pick up two companions to go with me to the location at Tobin Lake.  For those unfamiliar, Tobin Lake is a dammed portion of the Saskatchewan River in Northern Saskatchewan, north east of Nipawin.

Click here for images that I took while out at the site.

05-10-2004  This morning a brilliant rising sun  sheds it light over a nearly completely frozen pond at Friendly Forest.  Mother's Day (yesterday) was very cold and the night temperatures dropped  again. 

I was told to get new clothing for  the vision quest later this spring ...  that the Spirits were making a new connection and should find me with new clothes.  The symbolism is something that I understand.  It is the same sign that Christian baptism employs; a new garment of white is placed on the newly reborn Christian as a sign of that new life in Christ.  Although I do not have money for new clothing, I will see what sort of bargains I can find.  Wakan Tanka would not expect me to squander gifts given on expensive clothing when simple things will carry the same import.

Late last week I made a visit to the home / farm of some friends from whom I had previously obtained some bison meat and who had supplied the raw bison hide that I still hope will be tanned before the end of this month.  I made my purchase and then was supplied with a huge amount of free  bison soup bones.  They make a very delicious broth that is the base of many soups.

The sons of the family had been taking bones and the skulls of  slaughtered bison and cleaning them with the help of Turkey Vultures (yes they live up here) and ants and the bleaching effects of the sun.  I was able to obtain a beautiful bison skull, two vertebrae from the shoulder hump and a rib.

I have come to understand that  the spirit of Bison remains with the skull and these bones represent all of the great gifts of Creator what we receive through our mother the earth.  For plains  peoples that meant food, shelter and even fuel at times. The bison stood firmly on the earth, received its total sustenance from the growing vegetation given by the earth, and became the source for  life giving and life sustaining gifts for the people.  When I place the skull before me in prayer I  clearly have before me the understanding that it is from the gift of brother bison that I have nourishment for my body, a robe to keep me warm and a call and connection to Creator.  I understand that both Eagle and Bison are my spirit helpers.  Bison calls to mind all that I receive and for which I need to give thanks, and Eagle is there to carry those prayers of thanks to Creator.  During Vision Quest I will be using the skull as the pipe rack for the Sacred Pipe.  Again, the symbolism is profound;  the skull, with the sockets stuffed with holy sage, another gift from Creator given for prayer and healing, represents the abundance of Creator's love for the people.  The Sacred Pipe  is a most holy gift given to the people as a channel of universal prayer.  As it rests on the skull before me it reminds me of the relationship we have to Wakan Tanka, a relationship given and made known by Wakan Tanka.  If that does not call forth a prayer response I cannot imagine a stronger and more clear call.

I finally got my fire system operational.  I had connected all of the hoses and sprinklers and got the motor oil changed, fresh fuel, etc and was going to give it a test run on Friday afternoon.  Nothing!  The motor would not even turn over but was seized  solid.  I   went into a near panic as I envisioned a rusted cylinder or some other dire problem.  Nothing I did seemed to help so I made a call to a Honda dealer in Prince Albert.  I could bring it in this week and they would try to get at it.  "Did it have a clutch?  Sometimes a clutch problem could prevent the motor from turning over..."  No, it did not have a clutch.  But that question triggered a thought and I went back out and took off the impeller pump.  When I tried to turn over the motor it went smoothly and then started with equal ease and just purred as a good Honda engine should.  What a relief!  But then what about the pump?  It looked good.  Perhaps something stuck inside the pump?  I took it into the shop and tried to investigate.  I got part of it disassembled and then needed a special puller that had not been supplied with the system when I got it.

Later that evening, with advice from a friend, I tried flushing it with hot water and soap in the kitchen sink.  A few small leaves flushed out and a small snail shell.  I started taking it apart again and  found small bits of mineral deposit that crushed under my fingers into a grit material.  I reached in with a brush and continued the hot water and soap treatment.  What did I have to lose at that point?  Then suddenly the pump impeller turned as smooth as silk!    A heartfelt "thank you" was my only response.  On Saturday I tested the system and it worked very well.  And so I am one day older and a bit wiser and even more appreciative for wisdom of friends and of Wakan Tanka.

Time to get back to work and make some more wood stuff.  I have a very busy week facing me.

04-29-2004  I have still been waking up before sunrise, but that time is getting earlier and earlier.  This morning it is a chilly - 5 degrees, and I lit the fire in the grill so I could sit by it for a while during morning prayer.  I appreciate that grill:

I obtained it from Lee Valley Tools.  I have really come to value the items they feature.  I have found the prices to be fairly high, but the quality also to be consistently high and that I get value for my money.  Their service has also been great. (Free plug for a deserving company)

I am reading more about Lakota belief and rituals, and though the source books are dry and academic, I find that what I am reading is most interesting and is helping me to better appreciate the depth of spiritual understanding of the Lakota tradition as it is expressed in these sources.  I suspect that it is much like  my original christian traditions; that there is a great depth and rich insight into Creator's connections to all things but that many who profess to know about the connections know only a small portion of the collected wisdom of the people, that those who know more are older and dying off, and that the young have little time or interest in learning from those who are old and have something to teach.  And most troubling of all is the situation where even those who understand the connections frequently do not live lives that reflect  this.  When understanding and belief do not change the lives of the believers, they are not believable to those who have a right to come to understandings from their example.  I guess it has ever been so, and we must be most grateful to Creator for having the patience to keep on teaching anew to each generation and to each individual.

One very holy man I had the privilege to know for some years, Msgr. Edmund Ulinski, died on April 18.  There was a memorial service for him in Prince Albert on April 26.  A little less than a year ago he was sharing a few weeks in my home, and we had some very good discussions about our God and Creator, and about how we do and don't follow the spiritual directives we come to understand from our connections to the Divine.  Although he was afflicted by advancing memory loss, his mind  was still very clear with regard to ideas and the big pictures.  He just would forget whether he had taken his insulin or his pills a few minutes ago.

When he was last here at Friendly Forest I shared a smudge prayer with him, and he thanked me for helping him to understand that way of praying.  This was from a man of deep prayer  and deep faith and a huge love of God and of his fellow human beings.  When I said good-bye to him last October as he was going back to Poland, we both knew that it was the last time we would see each other and be able to give each other a hug as we said good-bye.  We said blessing prayers over each other, and those two final connections are what I will remember.

The other evening during Pipe Prayer, I called on his spirit to come back to join with me in the bowl of the pipe and so join  our prayers to Wakan Tanka, and I am sure that he not only came, but has been sharing some additional time with me ... that being so even though he is no longer in time. 

A photo of Edmund with a beloved parishioner.  I took the photo at one of the final services he had at his Parish in Birch Hills.  He served his people till he was 85 years old!

04-16-2004  Easter week is nearly over!  There were all those things that I was going to have completed by this time that are still on my to-do list. 

I have posted a few images on the Recent Work page.  Looking at the page makes me realize that a lot of those pages on this site need to be reworked and made current.

The sun just came out of the clouds for a bit.  It is 06:45, and it is great to see the day coming earlier.  I will need a new photo for the Home Page to correspond to this season.

For the past two weeks (except yesterday and today, I have been rising about an hour or so before sunrise and going outside despite the cold (sometimes -14 degrees Celsius), and praying with a smudge and meditating until after sunrise.  For a while the sun and moon both were at opposite ends of the horizon.  It is great to see the power of Creator through those two sources of light ... the one direct, and the other reflected.  When one thinks about it, the direct light of the sun has more energy and warmth and creative  power.  It truly is the gift of Creator to sustain all of our lives.  But that does not lessen the importance of the reflecting moon.  Without the moon on many nights, the sky would only have stars to light up the darkness.  The moon is a reflection of the sun, and knowing that, we can believe in the sun during the night even though it is not shining directly on our side of the planet at that time.   The moon  confirms our faith that the sun is there and will shine again more directly on us.   I think there is a metaphor here for me;  The sun is the true source of the life that sustains me and all living beings on this planet, but the lesser lights which reflect the sun are important too and sustain me during the hours of darkness.  We humans are like the moon ... or we are at least challenged to be like the moon.  We are not the source of life but our role is to reflect that life to the rest of the world and so bring hope and needed direction to whose who walk in the night.  The stars are so far away that their light  is not enough.  We need a close reflective source of life , and we are called to be that for each other.

If we are to be the moon for our world, we need to remember that the only true light we have to share is from the source of light, and is not of our own making.  In fact, the moon does not understand that it reflects light.  It only receives light and the reflection is automatic.  Our planet earth does the same though our perspective does not allow us to see that effect.  If we stand in the presence of our Creator / God / Wakan Tanka, and allow that light to do its thing, we will be a source of light in the darkness of others even without being aware of it ourselves.  That is probably the best way in any case.  If we are too aware of how we are a light source, we are likely to become proud, vain and so turn in on ourselves and end our capacity to reflect what we have been given. 

Given the relative small size of the moon compared to the sun, the amount of light able to be redirected to the earth is small, and cloud cover can block it to a very large degree.  I think the clouds are what shields us from seeing Creator in others around us.  We have been given clear skies at night that allow us to see the moon and its light, so when there is cloud cover we need to remember that and keep our faith in the goodness of others alive in our hearts, and know profoundly that the goodness we experience in others is only a relatively weak reflection of the great goodness we receive from Creator ... a goodness so great that we cannot even look at its true might and power without hurting ourselves.  The period of Lent and the Holy Week liturgies of my Christian faith have reminded me of how great the love of the Creator, how bright the power of the sun is, and that if we let things be the way they are supposed to be, we can be a reflective moon to each other and the rest of the world.  In fact, that is the only way we can be truly what we are.

 

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