Aug 06, 2004 - Dec 24, 2004

 

12-24-2004  Winter is here and it is wearing all of its white wonders.  Last weekend we had a spell of freezing rain followed by snow.  That caused  snow build-up on branches, spruce boughs to droop, and that all adds to the beauty for the eye.  It has also been cold but I dress for the temperatures and I do not have to spend all day out of doors.

A friend and spiritual teacher is seriously ill and I ask all who know me to join with me for prayers for him.  

This evening I will take in a Christmas Eve service in our village.  Tomorrow I will host a dinner for friends.  I have timed it for later in the afternoon to give me more time to prepare food and to make a trip into the City.  I plan to see my friend in hte hospital and bring him a few things to eat.  The last time I saw him he was complaining bitterly about the quality and quantity of hospital food.  I offered to make some things and bring them to him. 

I expect to host more Christmas season visitors and do a bit of travelling myself to see family and friends.  I hope for good weather and good roads.

I seem to be changing my attitudes about a few things in my old age.  This year I chose to leave all of the Christmas decorations in their boxes in the storage.  The only visual concession I am making is to break out the red and white table cloths.  I have not put up any lights for many years now and do not miss them at all.  I am isolated here and I would be the only one to see them, and the idea that I was voluntarily contribution to the wealth of SaskPower and their environment-hating executive is quite enough to have me leave them in storage too.  I cannot imagine any dcorating I could do that would improve on the beauty of nature just outside of my windows, and the cheery warmth of my wood fire is what Christmas Cards feature.

To any who are celebrating this season as a time of spiritual renewal and joy, I pray that your experiences bring you nearer to the One whose love you celebrate.

12-14-2004  I have neglected to update this page recently.  There have not been any real additions to the site over the past week or so and not a lot different happening here at Friendly Forest either.  that does not mean that things have been slow or quiet.  No, it just means that I have been busy doing a lot of the usual things and have not had time to attend to the two web sites that I create and manage.

I have been doing shop work.  I finished a custom prayer table and a few smaller special orders, and have a few more on the go.  My friend with the broken hip fell last week and broke the other leg and is back in hospital.  My aging mother has had a medical scare as well, but I have been most fortunate to retain basically good health.  When I leave a hospital building or something similar, I feel like doing a dance for joy ... and those who do know me know that I do not dance ... just to celebrate the good fortune that Creator has given to me in giving me good health and no serious debility. Normal aging deficiencies are showing up and there are aches and pains at times, but that really does not count when considered against the situations of so many others.

A few days ago a friend and neighbour joined me to make up a fresh batch of my  local incense / smudge mixture.  He was preparing a special gift for one of his children and wanted some of the mixture that I had made for myself and which I had gifted to a few others last fall. On my suggestion he had collected his own spruce resin from the forest, and because of the season, I offered to supply the other elements.  For anyone interested, the mixture that I like to use for prayer includes spruce resin / gum, pasture sage leaves, mint collected from around the pond at Friendly Forest,  ground birch fungus from the forest,  ground sweet grass,  lavender flowers (from a health food store),  and ground cedar leaves.  The cedar leaves come from the west coast area because my planted trees are not large enough to harvest yet, and the lavender  represents my European origins.  I have also read  in several sources that lavender is often used in place of sweetgrass when sweetgrass is not available, as is often the case for many people.  The use of lavender seems to be very similar to the use of sweetgrass in this part of the world.   As I have come to realize, Creator makes available, in all parts of the earth, all of the things we need for medicines and for prayer.  We just need to care for and conserve these  precious gifts and use them as intended.

The sun was still  below the tops of the trees at 10:00 AM yesterday.  Our winter solstice is near and then we look for  the return of higher suns and the renewal of spring a few months later.  I have been taking time daily to walk in the forest or to walk / pray the medicine wheel that I have trampled on the ice of the pond.  There is a difference in walking the two Sacred Hoops that I have here.  The one on the pond is all in the open and when you walk, one part of you is visually aware of the whole design and the other directions and the centre.  When I walk the one in the forest, because it is larger and totally in the trees, one only sees a short portion of a perimeter, or only a sight line down one of the directions to the top of a rise that limits the view again.  Walking the paths in the forest requires a deeper faith and understanding that the part I am walking on is really part of a larger design, even if I do not see the whole design at any one time.  When I reach a cardinal point and pause to pray, because that is the only part of the Hoop that is present to me, I focus much better to just that point and the meditations that are appropriate to that point.   I think there is a lesson for me  here.  I also think that is why I have chosen to use the winter ice to create the second, smaller version of the Hoop and to walk both of them.  The one in the forest also requires a lot more effort to create and to walk.  When I walk the one in the forest I am surrounded by  thousands of my Standing People brothers and friends.   When I am on the ice they are there, but further away and I stand more isolated on the frozen water and snow that supports me and keeps me safe only  while it is winter.  Both kinds of prayer are important to me and both have much to teach me.  When I most seem isolated and restricted in my view (on the path (in the forest), I am most visibly surrounded by supportive friends.  When I seem most alone and solitary(on the ice), I have the clearest view of the whole plan of Creator me me, and I always have in view the Sacred Tree at the centre of the Hoop that invites me to come in to the centre to pray and to receive  the words of my Creator.  Renewed by the contact with the centre of the Hoop, I am able to proceed outward again and walk the perimeter as Creator wishes for me during my time on this side.   The seasonal nature of this dual experience also seems to have lessons for me.  Winter is the time for reflection and seeing the big picture, for renewal and returns to the centre of my being   and there to find my Creator and to talk about who I am and what I am trying to learn.  During the summer I am surrounded by the burgeoning beauty of the forest and the return of its seasonal inhabitants and each step along the path is a call to celebration and joy in the abundance of gift before me.  Also , during the summer, I have so many more guests coming to Friendly Forest who can share the pleasure  and silent teachings of this forest gift.  The forest has always taught me these things and shared its gifts with me.  As with the other gifts I have been given, they are given to me to be shared, and the forest trails are for the benefit of any who are ready to love and respect what they are.

This rambling seems to have the elements of another  contribution to the Reflections of the Spirit page of this site.  I will post it there as well and later work it into a better form.

11-27-2004  At Friendly Forest the sun is not making it above the trees until 09:45.  We have a few more weeks of shortening daylight and then a new beginning.   This morning I took a smudge plate and went out just as dawn light made it possible to walk in the forest.  I walked the Sacred Hoop Trail and focused to the special prayers I am making as I complete my work on the "Face of Creator' shirt.  I have moved the posted images to a new page that seemed more appropriate and will update those images at that location. 

I have been receiving some special books that I have ordered.  I have been using abebooks.com as my book search and have been most pleased with the results of their services.  For any reader unfamiliar with this web book search service, this is a company that  manages transactions between book sellers and book buyers, dealing with used and out of print books.   I have been trying to access most of Thomas Mails illustrated books about traditional peoples and traditions.  I have been able to obtain  copies of Mystic Warriors of the Plains, his book on the Apache, the Plains Societies, the two Fools Crow biography books, the original and the revised books on Sun dancing at Rosebud and Pineridge, as well as several other books that deal with traditional prayer and ceremony.  Some of these books are in absolutely mint condition and have been available at really great prices.  I am impressed with this service.

I need to make a few more chairs and some other custom order things, so my shop is busy again.

11-23-2004  Although winter is here at Friendly Forest, it has been relatively mild and there is still not much snow.  The pond has frozen over and is good for skating.  At my age however, I am reluctant to lace on my ice skates to take advantage of it.  I am still supporting a friend who fell and broke his hip and vividly understanding the massive complications that has brought to his life, I am not eager to have the same experience.  Walking the trails with the icy snow that is there is dangerous enough and requires great caution.

I am busy with some custom order projects and I have taken time to do more work on the traditional shirt that I am making.  I have posted recent images on this site at "Face of Creator" Shirt   The images are thumbnails and are near the bottom of the page.

I have determined that I will take more time to do the final addition of 405 red spots along the perimeter of the shirt.  These would represent the 405 prayer ties that I made last winter and which surrounded me during the Vision Quest.  Since the shirt represents the "Face of Creator" that was shown to me, it seems right that I repeat the prayer process as I add the paint for the ties.  The beaded bands are not ready yet in any case and may not even be ready before Christmas, so the full shirt is not complete.

I have completed a special carry case for a feather fan and am finalizing an order for two special Sacred Hoops / Medicine Wheels.  I have a reluctance to charge for objects that are going to be used in prayer or to support prayer, but I do need to cover costs, and I do charge for my efforts and materials at what I hope is seen to be a very reasonable rate.

11-10-2004  Last night the Northern Lights danced in Saskatchewan skies with a show that takes the breath away.  This morning when I rose there were still bands of white fire in the sky.  The Eastern Star shone more brightly than I remember and soon after standing there in morning prayer, the low clouds drifted away to reveal a crescent moon hanging just to the lower left of the Morning Star.  The power of the sun, not yet above the horizon, made for a brilliant crescent, and the light shining on the part of the earth to the East of where I am was reflecting back and lighting up the dark part of the moon so that a pale yellow orb rested in the crescent. 

I hope to be able to do trail work in the forest again today.  Yesterday I used up my time with a trip to the City to take my friend to a medical appointment and to do other errands.  I also picked up some more analine dyes for my wood work and for the shirt that I am making.   I have been doing rough sketch / painting of the images to get a sense of colour and composition balance, and am pleased with the insights I am gaining for the final effort.  What I will not be able to factor in with any confidence is the impact ,on composition and impression of the finished shirt, of the moving folds and draping of the leather.  The soft deerskin drapes gently and moves as the person wearing the shirt shifts position or moves, and the flowing folds alter the composition of what is painted on its surface.   That characteristic of a shirt / canvas would suggest the use of repeating pattern images as can be found on other designs I have seen from book and web images of museum and reproduction shirts.  With  a repeating pattern it does not much matter how the hide folds or moves.   There is the challenge of making the composition such, and placing it just so, that as the garment moves and folds and refolds, different parts of the total composition move into and out of view. If it works it could be even more effective than a static, single view of the entire composition.

The first image challenge I attempted was to illustrate a wolf looking out from darkly glowing Grandfather stones during  an Inipi ceremony.  I managed what I consider a successful image on the practice board, but applying the colour to leather will not be as easy.  Leather  instantly swallows the alcohol-based pigment, and there is no possibility for moving pigment or blending or the other things that can be achieved on another substrate.  I think that I will attempt to make very dilute washes and apply multiple washes as with watercolours ... though there will also be many other issues that do not happen with watercolour on paper.  If any readers of this journal have experience or ideas of painting on leather with  semi-transparent and translucent dyes on leather as opposed to using opaque acrylic paints, etc, I would appreciate  hearing from you.

11-04-2004   Just typing this date  reinforces the impact of how near we are to the end of the calendar year.  The weather at Friendly Forest has been reasonable and much of the initial snow cover has been reduced to a few inches of ice.  A few km further south near Prince Albert there really is little or none left and the North Saskatchewan River is free and there are still Canada geese in the area.

At Friendly Forest a pack of wolves have been visiting and leaving track and territorial scratching on the trails.  For most of the summer and fall I have been hearing them "sing" each morning at or near sunrise.  My neighbours report sightings as well.  The white tail deer population is high so their hunting should be good.

Progress on the Sacred Hoop trail has been happening, though slowly, and I still am not planning to have it completed this winter.  I now have the two diameters and the north half of the circumference done.  Even with the leaves off the trees I can tag a tree with fluorescent pink or yellow surveyor's tape and still not find it when I am 20 to 30 feet away.  That will give an idea of the under story density as well, and that is what I need to clear in addition to the fallen logs  and stumps.  Since there is snow on the ground I cannot clear right down and the finish work will have to wait until things thaw out next year in any case.  I am hoping to get a full circuit so that I can walk and pray with my snowshoes on.

The "Face of Creator Shirt" that I am making has been stalled for a week or so, though I have been working on the images.  Yesterday I took my full scale drawings of what I want on the shoulder and sleeve bands to my friend in Prince Albert who is going to do the beading work.  We went to the NorthWest Store and purchases the beads in bulk.  We purchased $100.00 worth of beads and may still have to get some more of one colour.  My reference is not to the price, but to the amount of work that will have to be done to actually assemble nearly 1.5 kg of tiny seed beads!!

I have posted images of the symbols I want on those beaded bands. "Face of Creator" Shirt

 Before I actually apply dye or paint to the leather I hope to make a trial version of the images on paper or board.  In my mind's eye the composition and colours are going to be great, but I am not sure of the technical behaviour of the pigments and even how best to apply them.  That experimentation I would rather do on less expensive materials.

I am starting to get a list of wood projects that need to be completed.  I also really need to clean out my shop area.  I am determined that this winter I will actually manage to park my vehicle inside.  I will be kept busy and not bored. That is a great gift.  I especially  understand that when I compare my condition to that of two friends who have been physically incapacitated.

10-27-2004

A link to a PDF document  giving the full Neil Stonechild Judicial Inquiry Report:  http://www.stonechildinquiry.ca/final report/Stonechild.pdf

Or to see it on line as HTML go to  http://www.stonechildinquiry.ca/final report/

10-26-2004  Let's start with an image:

This is my special tree holding my prayer flags and the hoop.  Winter seems to be here to stay and this is our first real frost.   The winter sun is so low in the sky that the light really is weak, even though our eyes get used to it and it seems bright.  The camera knows the truth however.

I have been working on the traditional shirt.  I have assembled it and now am trying to finish my concept of what is to be painted on it.  A friend who fed me great bannock, jam and tea offered to make the six beaded bands that will be added over the shoulders and along the sleeves.  She offered after I asked her if she thought I could ever learn to do it well enough on my own. 

The images will be of my spiritual journey, and especially from the Pipe Fast of last June.  The Shirt will act as the "canvas".  That is a traditional role for a shirt which carried images and objects that told the story of a man's visions and his achievements and held the signs of his special Spirit Helpers.  

It is also called a war shirt or warrior shirt.  I have fought battles in my lifetime as well, and not all have been victories.  I choose to work with images of hope and the vision of my Creator that I have been shown.  Nothing I put on that deer skin will truly convey what it represents, but it will bring back for me the memories and it should call me to immense gratitude for gifts received.  If it achieves that it will be doing what is intended. 

Early stages of shirt construction are shown on this site; (Click here)   The images are near the bottom of that page.

10-16-2004  My calendar shows that Oct 15 was the first day of Ramadan.  I pray that all of our brothers and sisters  who know and honour Creator as Allah will experience a time of powerful spiritual renewal and good prayer.

Monday past was Thanksgiving Day in Canada and I was blessed with 16 dinner guests and lots of good food to share.  The weather was a bit cooler but still very nice for this time of year, and all seemed to have a good experience and enjoyed the company of the other guests.

In most cases I discover that the people I invite and who are able to come to a "feast" at Friendly Forest meet each other for the first time at the gathering, but quickly find themselves at ease with the others and find lots to communicate about that is of mutual interest.  Most of my guests took advantage of the weather and walked the forest trails.  (I have not yet discovered who was so kind, but one of my guests found some Diamond Willow fungus and gathered it for me and left it on my table.  Wow!)

Because my guests were of several different Religious Faiths / Traditions, I  called us to offer prayer and thanksgiving in a manner that allowed for common expression and individual prayer.  I had lit the grill on the deck and the fire had burned down to a pile of glowing coals.  I called us all around the fire, and I had laid out some sage, sweetgrass, cedar, yarrow and a container of my mixed "incense" which contained about 6 sacred herbs.  I invited each person to select which gift of Creator, through our Mother the Earth, spoke to them and their desire to express thanks for gifts received, and to add it to the coals for a Sacred Smoke of our prayers of Thanks rising to Creator from our hearts.   I was pleased that each person was able to find one or more elements which they wished to add to the coals.  My Dene healer/ friend lit the sweetgrass braid and smudged first other members of his family, and then offered it to all in the circle.   When we had done this, I placed on the coals the small portions of food taken from each of our dinner dishes and offered them in thanks and honour to the Grandfathers and Grandmothers.

I have come to understand that the first part of such food dishes are to be taken and offered, and that it should not even be tasted before as the "first taste" should go to the Spirits.   As I collected the portions I wondered if that also applied to the cook.  Was the cook exempt from this "do not taste" expectation, or did that only apply to the guests and participants in the feast.  None of my guests who  pray in the Traditional manner were sure.  If any reader of this Journal has a fuller understanding of this practice I would appreciate hearing from you on this.

For much of the rest of the week I was eating delicious left-overs.  Actually, my food preparation took into account the ability of the dish to survive in good form for a few days.

My friend with the broken hip missed this year's celebration out here, but I was able to get in to visit him on Sunday evening.  During the week I investigated  Personal Care Home options for him, and yesterday took him out on a pass from the hospital to visit what seemed like the best option for him.   He seemed pleased with the home and the caregiver and she accepted to receive him into her home.  As soon as he gets a hospital discharge I will see that he can make the move to these more suitable accommodations.  He is not the most patient or tolerant hospital guest.

I have also taken advantage of the weather reprieve to get a few things ready for full winter and to add more meters to my Medicine Wheel trail.  With good fortune I will be able to complete the fourth / North radius to complete the basic directions.  I do not expect to complete the circumference until next year.  It is slow work, but a good time for prayer and anticipation of its completion.

Last night I slept under a full robe made from the hide of Brother Bison.  What a wonderful experience.  I had obtained the freshly skinned hide last winter and earlier yesterday got a call from the tanner's that it was ready.  A flurry of wet snow was coming down and it seemed really appropriate timing to be going to pick up this incredible robe.

I have requests to make two custom pieces of furniture, so I will need to find time to get at those soon.  I am never long without many things to begin or finish.  I also got the patterns for the Traditional Plains Shirt, and I am nearly ready to proceed with its construction.

10-09-2004  It is a wonderful, warm, sunny fall day at Friendly Forest.  I spent much of the day cleaning house. Urghh!  That is a detested task coming second only to washing dishes by hand.  Canadian Thanksgiving is on Monday and I will have  a lot of guests so that provided me with some of the motivation to get at the semi-annual task.   I do keep things reasonably neat and clean all the time, but to really get into the corners and really clean and disinfect all surfaces and remove hard water scale from plumbing , etc.   that only happens once in a while.   The days are still bright and the dark days of winter are not yet here that would tend to hide those dusty corners  or the accumulated pile of old magazines and newspapers piled on the chair in the corner.

I have all the necessary food at hand and will just have to plan a sequence of things so that it all gets done on time and in an orderly manner leaving me with the capacity to still greet my guests as they arrive at various times throughout the day.

At 15:00 I stopped and packed my duffle bag with things and headed out to the forest for some smudge prayer time.  If possible, this time of year is even greater than the time in the spring.  In the spring the ground tends to be cold yet, but in both cases there are no bugs to harass and the sun is warm but not hot. 

I have found that when I am outside in the morning before or at sunrise, the air is usually very calm and the atmosphere very dense with an incredible capacity to carry sounds clearly and for long distances.  Frequently I hear a chorus of wolves singing.  Sometimes they are joined by the yip / howl of coyotes and then the barking of local area dogs as well.

This chorus will continue singing for a few minutes and then things go quiet again.  This is  usually just as the sun comes over the horizon.  I really appreciate hearing these calls from my four-footed brothers and know that they too are praying to Creator at the beginning of another day.  When I first heard this animal chorus I wondered if it was just playing in my imagination.  On one morning I had two companions joining me for prayer and they too heard the song and were taken by hearing it.  My dog King usually does not join in the song but he will pick up his ears and direct his attention to  his cousins' song time.

A few days ago.  (No, it is not up side down.)

10-03-2004  We have had snow twice now, though it is still disappearing when the skies clear and there is some sun to warm things a few degrees.  I concede that summer is over and I picked the final tomatoes from my green house and shut down the fan.  I do not heat it, but since it is attached to my house and I have an exhaust fan I can keep the fan on and draw warmer air from the crawl space below my house and move that air through the greenhouse to offset the colder outdoor temperatures.  That only works for a while and only to a certain degree of coldness.  For the few vegetables that were still growing it was not worth the cost of the electricity to keep the fans running 24/7.

An 84 -year old friend who is perhaps even more stubborn than I am, was riding his bike in the City on Friday morning. There was snow on the ground and the wind was gusting strongly.  He is weak from muscle wasting and from the parkinson's disease which he has, but he was ignoring all advice and still riding the bike.  it seems that a gust of wind blew him down and in falling he hurt himself.  A security guard at the Gateway Mall came to his aid and called a friend who took him to the hospital.  With a delay there, I was called to come in to assist him.  An x-ray showed a broken hip bone that would require surgery. That happened on Friday evening and when I got to see him again the following day he was still somewhat confused and generally miserable, giving the hospital staff a hard time as they were not responding to his call as promptly as he thought they should.  I will see what implications this misadventure will have for me as the days go on.

Tomorrow is the feast of St. Francis of Assisi.  The staff of Franciscan Forest Sanctuary , located a few kilometres north of Friendly Forest , have invited me to a supper in celebration of the anniversary of his death.  I will also be joining with them in prayers this evening in preparation for the following day.

Francis understood deeply that God was present in all of creation, and he honoured that presence in many ways.  While he had many great accomplishments during his lifetime, most will remember him for his love of nature.  It might be more correct to think of him loving God through nature and in nature.  Without using the expression, he seemed to have fully understood Mitakuya Oyasin, and so have many thousands of religious and lay persons who have modelled their lives on his values.  I am honoured to be joining with some of them tonight and tomorrow in this celebration.

09-27-2004  Have you ever heard falling leaves clatter and click on their way down?  This morning during prayer time outdoors that is exactly what was happening at Friendly Forest.   Over night there was dew and then the temperature fell to minus 6 Celsius, and the leaves, ready to fall, froze solid and as the sun came out, began to fall straight down in the calm air.  The silence was such that the frozen leaves hitting each other or hitting on branches on their way to the earth clicked and clattered is clear strong sounds.  It was a new kind of music that the forest gave me this morning, and while I regret the fall of  the last leaves for this season, I appreciate immensely the wonder and beauty they have given to me for these past months.  My standing people friends are not dying, they are preparing to go to sleep for the winter, but they will be here for me and will witness the steps of my journey over the coming months.

09-21-2004  Yesterday Friendly Forest received a group of special visitors.  A group of Religious Sisters of the Ursulines of Bruno came to visit.  This group of special friends of the earth and of this forest were among the first people to support the struggle to protect this forest by adopting trees in the path of the bulldozers.  Their support and prayers were an incredible moral support to our effort and to me personally.  My relationship with some of these supporters goes back 55 years ago as they were my teachers  when I was a child going to school. 

Because their trees were placed right along the line of destruction, they have all been destroyed by SaskPower.  Also, contrary to a promise from SaskPower, the adoption markers on the trees WERE NOT sent back to the adopting person though full mailing information was provided to SaskPower.

This return visit to the forest allowed  these friends to re-select trees that are still standing.  We went out  after making new tree markers and each person selected the tree they felt drawn to.  I provided some of my kinnickinik to each to make an offering of thanksgiving for the gift of new relationship and new connection to the earth through this adoption.

The mission statement of the Congregation is to Reverence Creation.  I can think of no other mission statement which would be more in line with the wishes of Creator.  When we reverence what Creator has done and enabled us to experience we reverence ourselves and  truly acknowledge "Mitakuya owasin / we are all related."  With that as a guiding principle the journey will be a good one and the will of Creator will be done in individual lives and on this earth.

To you my good friends; " You  honoured me and this special land with your visit.  Come again, often, and may the connection these new adoptions have established  give new vitality to the prayers you send to Creator with your lips, with your hearts, with your lives."

09-17-2004  I have been cutting, hauling and stacking my winter firewood supply.  It is hard work for an old man but I have the luxury of not having to do it in a short time.  Last year I was in a rush and over-did it to the very painful protests of my back and other parts of my body. 

The forest is a total visual feast for eyes and soul.  I am making time to be out to soak in some of that special gift.  Perhaps I especially appreciate it because for 30 years I worked for salary and had to spend nearly all the daylight hours inside a concrete building.  What I did was very interesting and very rewarding but it did keep me away from the land and the spiritual renewal that connection to those of the land brings to our own spirit.

On Tuesday evening the sky was clear overhead but thunderheads were developing  from three directions.  The sun was just above the horizon and was lighting the higher clouds that were rolling and sweeping inward.  The rumble of  the Thunder Bird seemed to shake the earth and sky.  I had gone out to the platform shown the photo on the home page and sat on the chair I leave there.  Leaning back I was able to look straight upward.  While the clouds were moving  with upper level winds, the pond and ground level were totally calm and the water had not even a ripple to distort the reflected image of forest and sky in the water.  The power and majesty of the total experience was so great that I could only  breathe my words of gratitude to Wakan Tanka and ask the question;  "What is it about me that you have gifted me to be here to experience this wonder?"  Perhaps it was a distorted undervaluing of self from a Christian heritage that brought forth that question.  I know there is nothing about self that could ever make me worthy of that experience, but I also know in a profound way that within that unworthy self is the presence of the Spirit of Creator and what more could be needed to make me worthy?  I find great joy in that awareness, great assurance, great comfort, and continuing reverence and awe.  The presence of all the other beings that share this space with me and who protect and support me was also strongly in my awareness.  The sky and my heart danced with their presence as I whispered by acknowledgment of our connectedness.  Mitakuya owasin!

09-13-2004   After a week of mainly cloud and rain Grandfather Wi has come around and can see this face of the earth again. 

Yesterday I gathered what I expect to be my final  harvest of wild mint plants.  Earlier in the week I gathered another  supply of buffalo / prairie sage and have it nearly dried  here in the house at Friendly Forest.  The location where I found the really nice stand of sage was near to another great location for bear berry / uva ursis.  I collected some more so that I have it for more kinnickinik and for medicinal purposes.  As I read about that plant and its many uses I marvel that Creator gives it in such abundance here and that it is is not available in other places with different soils and climates.  The biggest thing that destroys the availability of  so many great plants is the kind of impact humans have on the earth by their industrial and agricultural practices.  When "farming" devolves into chemical mining of the soil and the economics of the agri-industry make it nearly impossible to not get caught up into that destructive cycle of raping the land and devastating natural  environments, we should not wonder why  the great gifts that we have been given are no longer available to us or have become very rare.

I continue to get great pleasure from some recent additions to my library.  Thomas E Mails'  Mystic Warriors of the Plains is a delight to the eye and to the mind.  I am also systematically studying some of the plant and healing books that I obtained.

I am working though some ideas for illustrating the images of the spiritual "visions" that I received during the Pipe Fast.  Translating spiritual gifts into visual representations has always been the challenge of the religious artist.  The wonderful aboriginal artists of the past and present day were truly inspired in doing just that, and i feel drawn to try to see if I can do that for myself as well.  One thing that reinforced that  desire is the death of, and funeral for, Metis artist Bob Boyer of Regina / Rouleau.  I attended his funeral in Regina at the First Nations University on Monday.  Bob had been a student in grade 12  in my homeroom during my first year of teaching in 1966.  After getting his university degree Bob taught on the same staff with me and we became personal friends.  Although his life on this side is over, the great contributions he made to the academic and art community and especially to his family and friends will be long remembered.  We have lost a great one from this side, but we are only a half step behind you Bob.

09-05-2004  At Friendly Forest it has been a time of continuing rain, cloud and some sunshine.  Generally unseasonably cool temperatures persist.  I started to buck cut firewood for the winter season and ran into major problems with my chainsaw; a bad gas mixture resulted in an overheated engine and a scored piston and consequent loss of compression.  I was very fortunate that a neighbour at Barry's Repair was able to check things out and repair the damage enabling me to be back at work later in the week.  I still have more to do, and then need to haul it home and split and stack it. 

While I made contact with Barry regarding the chainsaw, I found that we shared many interests, including interests in wood and green issues.  I really appreciated our conversations and the ideas shared.

I have been attending funerals and will be going to another tomorrow.  This will be the fourth in a short while.  It is likely a sign of my own age that so many that I know are dying.  It is also a wake up call to remind me once again that each moment is a special gift to be appreciated and experienced.  In a short conversation with another person in our area, he commented that each day was a gift to be enjoyed and shared fully with those one loves.  I replied that if we really did that, we would be creating "heaven on earth", and that would be a really good thing.

After our church service last evening I stood for a few moments and spoke with a wife and daughter of a man whose funeral we celebrated on Wednesday, and I was told of an incident at their home in which they had been able to be of help to a young man who had clearly lost his way on several levels, and how the Spirit of the deceased family member seemed to be a central part in helping them understand what to do and how to help the young man in distress.  I appreciated hearing that story.  It was a wonderful affirmation of how the spirits of those who have gone over to the other side are still in connection with us and are very ready and eager to assist us to walk our own paths to Creator.

I had been asked to read a passage from the Book of Wisdom from the Old Testament.  The selection was 11; 22 - 12: 2.:  I will quote a part of it here; 

"Lord you love all things that exist, and detest none of the things that you have made, for you would not have made anything if you had hated it.  How could anything have endured if you had not willed it?  Or how would anything not called forth by you have been preserved?  You spare all things for they are yours, O Lord, you who love the living.  For your immortal spirit is in all things."

Those words from the Book of Wisdom truly are words of wisdom that we all need to remember and honour by our actions toward all peoples and toward all of creation.

08-29-2004  Feeding the Wolves  In the bulletin which I received in church last evening, there was a meditation that originated with the Liguori Publications.  It was a commentary on the Gospel Reading from Luke  14:1,  7-14 which tells the story of Jesus at a meal with a group of Pharisees and comments about status and prestige. 

The Bulletin story attributed to an old Cherokee tells of each of us having two wolves within us that are fighting each other.  Read the full story here:

08-26-2004  Yesterday was a day with good and not so good things;  My faithful truck required serious repairs -- a clutch replacement.  The bad news was that it was an expensive repair and my finances are low.  What was great however, was that Perry at Perry's Automotive was able to get it done in one hour less of shop time than "the book" provided and reduced the cost by that amount when he already has what I believe to be the lowest shop time rate in this area.  I have had consistent and good experiences with Perry.  This is a business man whose service encourages one to support a local small business. Congratulations Perry Hulowski!

Since I was on foot for most of the day I decided to take advantage of the circumstances and spend time  at places in the city I usually cannot.  I had great hours at the public library checking out back issues of the Wood Turner Magazine.  I met a few friends and enjoyed the  visits.  I shopped at a Health Food store and after taking the time to talk to the proprietor, I found a really great book on natural healing information.   I purchased some tanned deer skin and some lacing to make more tobacco pouches. I browsed a "recycle store" for building materials, and I was gifted with two wolf claws.  I had been speaking to the owner of the Northwest Store, a fur trading company store, and looked at his new supply of sweetgrass, at some of his pelts and art works on display.  I asked if he had wolf parts as I had come to understand that Wolf was one of my Spirit Helpers.  He offered me two wolf claws that still had some skin and fur attached.  I presumed that this came from a wolf that had been trapped or shot.  That bothered me and I do not want to be part of a process that encourages the hunting of such an important animal in our forest ecosystem.  Since I was being offered the claws  gratis and there really is no market in them, I was able to accept this gift.  I have cleaned the claws and this morning  during prayer returned the bits of old skin and fur to Creator.  I will pray to Brother Wolf to come to understand how I should respectfully use these claws to help me in prayer.

I also received a book order from Amazon.ca.  These were books on plant identification and use.  These are intended to support my efforts to learn more about the plant gifts that surround me and how they might be used to encourage  our bodies to be healthy.

I have a series of phone numbers to call to obtain information about housing options for seniors in this area.  One of my friends may need to find alternate housing this winter and I hope to be of help by providing him with information.

Perhaps I can get to cutting some of my winter firewood ??


08-23-2004  I have returned to Friendly Forest after a week away from home.  One of my older brothers died and the week was occupied  with family and sharing of love and grief.  In considering the life of this brother I kept coming back to a few thoughts which I later incorporated into the Funeral Eulogy:

When a person makes decisions for the well being of others rather than for self …

When a person’s sorrow and stress come from the sorrow and stress in the lives of those that one loves ….

When a person’s joy comes from seeing joy in the lives of those one loves …

Then that is a good human being!

Finding happiness when the needs of others are being met becomes a measure of a person’s humanity, and also a measure of the Divinity within that person.

That properly describes a remarkable human being who was also my sibling.  There IS a lot of humanity and a lot of divinity  in him.


 

08-13-2004  It is Friday but I am not tristadecaphobic. 

Recently I was drooling over ads for new Dell computers.  I always do the customize configuring and then wonder why I am surprised by how much the total price rose at the end of the calculation.  It makes me especially glad that at the time I purchased this computer I did a few upgrades that gave it more capacity than I thought I might need at that time.  These upgrades have served well and are really extending the life of this model.

I have been taking a few hours each day to do trail work at Friendly Forest.  The mosquitoes are bad but I am quite well covered.  I am using a clearing saw with a heavy cord whip attachment to do most of the trim work.  I find that even woody stems that are approaching  1 cm or more in diameter go down to the cord.  I guess that is because the wood of the stems is still relatively soft.  With  kilometres of trail to do the power unit is a real blessing.  I remember the times when I tried to do this with a regular lawn mower.  That method took me weeks of daily work and was very hard on the mower as the terrain is often rough and with projecting roots, etc.

I have delayed the trim work in part because I have been short on time, but also in part because I wanted some of the flowering plants to go to seed before I trimmed them back.  I did that last year too, and the abundance of some of these flowering species along the trail is a testimony that things are working.  Things did need to be done however, if the trails were to serve their purpose.  The morning mists and the residues from the rain showers were ensuring that a hiker would get a shower along with the exercise.  My neighbour made a comment that he had not been doing so much walking on the trails here because of the wet and the mosquitoes that are also being harboured in the taller vegetation.

I am also doing the basic work on establishing new trails in the pattern of a large medicine wheel / Sacred Hoop.  I am working on the West-East Axis, and have paced off one radius at about 90 metres.  Since this is all rather dense forest with a lot of under story growth that limits visibility along the ground, I am faced with the issue of how to mark the circumference.  A great way would be to have a helicopter hover over the centre and shine a laser beam in a circle at the desired radius, and have people on the ground then tagging vegetation along the perimeter.  Since that is not a real option for me, I can only think of taking a long rope from the centre and using it to walk out to the perimeter repeatedly  to find the outer edges.  I am dodging some trees even along the axis lines  so walking is not going to be a perfectly straight line either, so if there are slight deflections on the perimeter, It will not change the character of what I am doing.  I will add this feature to the Hiking Trails map when it has reached the stage of being useable by my visitors.

08-06-2004  While I was back at Tobin Lake for a day of revisiting the Hanblecheyapi site, a thunderstorm came through this area.  Although  I have a surge protector for all of my computer and telephone lines, there appears to have been enough getting through to fry my modem.  Last night and today I tried everything to  make a connection.  Each time I got a "unable to find dial tone" message.  All diagnostic efforts told me that things were just fine with the modem.  My phone had a good dial tone and the line to the computer was intact.  After an early morning call to my DELL tech help person, I was left with the option of bringing the issue to the supplier of the modem.  There I was in luck.  It was acknowledged to be defective and a replacement was installed by early afternoon.  Thank you Inet2000!

The day out to Tobin Lake was a great experience.  I was accompanied by two of the three persons who had been there as my prayer support in early June.  We explored the forest and nearby area checking for plants and medicines and new berry crops.  Later we went out to the exact site and sat to pray and talk about things of the Spirit.  Once again we were immediately greeted by an eagle.  Just before I was about to begin the Pipe Prayer ceremony, two eagles came over, and taking turns, hovered directly overhead looking down at us.  First one would hover directly overhead at tree height while the other was about 20 feet to the side, and then when it moved off, the waiting eagle would take its place directly overhead.  This continued for what must have been 5 or more minutes.  I simply raised my hands in salute and gratitude at this display of readiness to take our prayers to Creator. 

The Eagles were  close enough that it was easy to see the detail of their eyes and the clear outline of each wing feather  as they were at full spread to catch the updraft that was rising from the lake below and rising up the cliff and directly over where we sat.  They were able to hover  for a good while without a single flap of wing.

Then we went to examine the tree marked by bear claw marks and where the bark had been made smooth from being rubbed against  by a bear.   It was located a few feet back of where the Pipe Fast shelter had been located.   We collected a few sweet grass strands to make a few braids.  When we emerged to the trail, we once more found  the territorial scratching of a wolf.  It was a very deliberate scratching, some 3 or more feet long and a few inches deep.  There was a clear wolf print in the fresh dirt of the marking.   I had brought a hump vertebrae of Bison along for the prayer, so once again Eagle, Bison, Bear and Wolf were there for my prayer time.  What a great honour and affirmation of the help that I am being offered for this journey.

The wooden bowl that had held the wasna had turned a grey , weathered look with the rain and moisture of the past two months.  The only thing that remained of that offering were a few dried  broken bits of the cherry pits that were used in the mixture.

 


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