Friday, June 8, 2007

For Us, A Day to Remember

Sixteen years ago today. Sixteen. She was seventeen and only a month or so shy of turning eighteen when she left us. The last time I saw her and hugged her was June fourth, 1991. It was graduation night. She accepted her diploma and we went out and had dinner. Then, the next morning, we left for our job assignment up in Northern Minnesota. Maggie stayed back in her little studio apartment. Instead of the child going off to college, we went off and left her. Kind of an opposite deal. Maggie had an apartment on the bus line, a trusted boyfriend with a car, a job, and was going to probably attend the University of Minnesota in September.

We had only been working at the YMCA Camp Menogyn since we arrived there on that Tuesday. I was doing all the cooking for the camp and Mrs. Spadoman was working in the office. The two younger girls, aged 15 and 14 respectively were housed with same aged campers as they cycled through the camp programs. We were just getting used to our environment up north along the Canadian border in the Boundary Waters Wilderness.

It was early on Friday morning. I was up and getting dressed. I was heading to the dining hall to start breakfast. A knock came on my cabin door and when I opened up I saw Dave, the Camp Director, standing there. I said, "Good Morning" to him and he told me that there had been an accident He said that Maggie had been involved and that I was to call a number that he had written down on a post-it note.

I didn't know the name or recognize the number he had given to me. Mrs. Spadoman was awake and listening to all this, but we didn't have any idea what was going on and did start to seem a little puzzled by all that was unfolding.

I went down to the office and used the phone. I called the number. I was about to ask for the person whose name was on the note, but when the phone was answered by the words, "Ramsey County medical examiner's office", I went numb. As I remember, things were explained to me and I had to come up with the name of Maggie's dentist so a positive identification could be made.

That's all I can tell you today. That's all I think I needed to say. That happened sixteen years ago on June eighth. It has been an up and down ride all our life, but especially since that day. With the closeness that I have achieved with many of you, I just wanted to share that little bit with you. I was ready to tell you today.

Please, I don't look for sympathy. Rather, I ask that you hug a loved one today. Hug all of your loved ones. Hug your friends. Forgive someone. Realize how precious every moment is. Pray, or whatever you do to reach your soul, that those that struggle with grief get comfort, and that others don't have to go through it.

Good positive thoughts and energy to all of you from me. I'm not quite so alone today as I share this moment with you.

Peace to all. Safe travels when your on the road. Let you see no hatred. Let your hearts be at peace and all around you be serene. Love, yourself and each other.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Bear

I'm kind of afraid of this Bear. He, or She, has been here, to my place. I know Bears live in the woods and so do I. I know that you'll see one once in a while and they'll run off. I didn't even see this one. But I saw the aftermath.

Seems like he was looking for something to eat. I'll call him "He" for simplicities sake. He tore down two bird feeders and drained the seeds. He tore two gaping holes in the BBQ cover. He knocked down a flower box, the one that was beneath the window next to the back door, and He bit off the head of the Mrs. Butterworth's bottle the kids had out in their playhouse. Oh, and he ate the compost heap and left two giant piles of crap about ten feet from my motorcycle!

No, I didn't see him. I didn't even hear him. But He was here all right. I've seen many a Bear in my life up north. You'll see them cross the road from time to time. One time when golfing we were held up on number two green. Mr. Bear was on number three Tee!

They are creatures of habit. Way up on the Canadian border they would ravage food packs of the canoe trippers if they left them unprotected. At the YMCA Camp where we worked, the Bears broke into the packing house and ate the food out of the packs, but left the food in the containers. I guess they just knew there was food in the packs as they have found it in packs before. They didn't even realize that there was a ton of food in those containers.

We're living in this cabin on Lake Superior. We're trying to make a smaller environmental footprint on Mother Earth so we have an outhouse. In the pitch black of the night, I sure don't want to run into a Bear. And even though I know that He's just wanting the contents of a pic-a-nic basket and doesn't want to eat me, I'm not shy to tell you He has me scared shitless, pun intended.

In my spiritual life, I have learned lessons about the Bear. In Anishanabe teachings, the Bear is a healer and protector. The spiritual man I know that conducts the Sweat Lodge ceremonies is from the Bear Clan. He has explained a lot over the years. I should be understanding the Bear and his visiting me should be a time of great rejoicing. Instead I have this feeling that I'm going to run into him on a trip to the outhouse and he'll, well, he'll... I dunno. I'll see him!

The Thunderbeings are loud and scary. They rumble and make a big fuss, but they bring the rain. The healing medicinal life blood of Mother Earth. But many people, especially children it seems, are afraid of thunder and lightning. The Bear is a scary prospect as well.

Around here, we have black bears. The grizzly bear or the polar bear will attack a human in some cases. But not the black bear unless it is sick or the mother is protecting its young scenario. Yet I don't want to see this Bear in the dark of night on the way to the outhouse.

Now if I were around the yard during the daytime, and the Bear wandered by at the edge of the woods, that'd be cool. When the moon is hidden by an overcast sky and the blackness is so deep you can't see your hand in front of your face, I get the feeling I'm gonna bump right into him. I mean, can He see in the dark?

The past two weeks or so have had a lot of Bear stuff going on. At one event, there was a healing ceremony. Bear meat was served at a Feast after. The Bear spirit was asked to attend and help in the healing. Last Sunday, we rendered bear fat into a salve. This salve is used for healing. I used it on my bum shoulder and honestly, I don't have that pain any more. I have two torn tendons you know?

Then, I had a dream about the spirit man that I know, the one from the Bear Clan. So coincidence is playing a part in all this. Seeing the Bear, talking about the Bear. Eating the Bear. Asking the Bear to heal and protect.

If you have an animal totem and the Bear is your power animal, you have a very powerful symbol. In a book called "Animal Speak", by author Ted Andrews, the section about the Bear gave me some insight.

Mr. Andrews suggests that if the Bear comes into your life. And He has come into mine, then maybe I should be asking myself some important questions. Is my judgement off? Am I not recognizing what is beneficial in my life? Am I not seeing the core of good in all situations?

I guess I can answer yes, yes and yes. If the Bear has presented himself as He has to me, then I must deal with what is put before me and not hibernate. I must deal with it. My fear is that I haven't wanted to deal with my judgement, recognition of the blessings in my life and looking for good in a world gone bad.

Actually, it all makes perfect sense to me. It might sound like a lot of mumbo jumbo, but as a way of finding balance, it is easy to accept and understand the way one might look at the things in life that are happening as we go about our business and ignore the rhythm of nature.

I'll think on this over the next few days. I have some traveling to do. The Bear won't bother me in the bathroom in Saint Paul at my daughter's place. That's where I'll be until Thursday. But I will ponder the events of the past couple of weeks.

To some, it might seem a bit corny to attempt to understand and deal with life's thrust this way. Maybe you pray to a higher power or maybe you get drunk. No wrong or right. After all, it is your way, your path. Mine is to see the Bear and stand before him and ask the hard questions and make the tough decisions. I'll be thinking about it. Last week, the Eagle told me I was doing some good things and I believe him.

Now before I leave, here's something that'll make you laugh. You see, Jimmy Buffet had a run in with The Bear before. Let him tell you about it HERE

Peace to All.