May 27, 2011
|More Haiku My Heart at Rebecca's recuerda mi corazon|
Fog kissed my shoulders
Flames from spirit wood flowed free
Warming heart and soul
|Buds on the tree limbs with a backdrop of Sand Island on Lake Superior|
The photo above doesn’t begin to do justice to being there and seeing the big lake up close and personal. We were at a place called Wolf Camp on the Red Cliff Reservation. To get there, you had to leave the paved road and follow a gravel road that gets narrower and narrower and turns into two ruts careening downhill towards the big lake, always wondering if it will peter out altogether and turn into a footpath.
I had made the trip to help out with a Vision Quest ceremony. Five people were doing a total fast and praying for a vision, a dream, that would be a guiding light in their lives. These five would be sequestered from the rest of us, deep in the pine, birch, oak and popple woods that stand at the edge of the water.
After four days, they would return to us and feast together. The helpers, ten in all, would tend the fires, cook food, fetch water and be there for support through prayer and kind thought
The colors the water exhibited over the course of a week were astounding. Greens, blues and the slate grey of the sky where you couldn’t see the horizon. The trees were not in full leaf, but each had its own version of budding. The sound of the water gently lapping the shore in the calm early mornings was soothing and peaceful. Of course the sometimes bothersome mosquitoes were not to be seen in the cool 30 degree nights.
Vibrant water near
Sun kissed, wind driven flowing
Lapping music plays
I used my van as a tent and set up a cot to sleep in. It did get really cold, hard frost, on the first two nights we were there. Grandmother Moon was at the fullest and was seen clearly with the stars moving away from her magnificent white light.
My main duty was to care for a perpetual fire. The Sacred Fire was started at the start of the Vision Quest ceremony on Tuesday at Noon. I was instructed not to allow the flame to extinguish until Noon on Saturday, four full days and nights. Firewood was cut and stacked nearby. A maul was handy to split wood into smaller pieces if needed.
I wasn’t the only firekeeper, but I did plenty of time sitting next to it, sometimes alone, sometimes with one, two or even many others sitting alongside. Alone, in the early morning hours, the animals take turns with their calls. The coyotes, then the hoot hoot hoot of the owl. The loons, geese and ducks never interupt each other. Then the crows talk to me, telling me what they see, the woodpecker taps after the grouse drums. Songbirds fill in the background and this symphony repeats itself every morning in Spring along the shore of the Great Lake Superior
Since I am an early riser, I claimed the early morning shift and relieved whoever was tending the flame when I got up in the morning, usually right around four AM.
This time of year, a little less than a month before the Summer Solstice, the longest period of daylight in the Northern hemisphere, the Eastern sky starts to brighten just past four. The daylight creeps up and the sun rises over the tops of the pines, shining on the water, a little after five.
|Mother Nature turned this butt end of a small tree into sculpture with the help of wind, water and sand|
It was in this twilight of morning that the fog engulfed me. I looked out at the big lake and couldn’t see the water, yet I was less than 50 feet away from the shore. Then the outline of the nearly bare branched trees at the shoreline were visible with nothing but a grey curtain beyond them. There was no horizon. There was no lake. There was no sky. Just grey. In the woods, a haze of grey covered the forest, all of it, seeping into what was left of the Moon shadows.
The feeling I felt, a physical feeling, was like someone was behind me. A coolness caressed my neck, kissed me, and caught my attention. I sought the flame and its warm embrace, it was like the fog had me dead to rights and I was cheating with a lover that was the fire.
Then the idea of the spirits, alive in the wood and released with the burning, were running free, floating up to the Creator in the smoke after its skirmish with the fog. The warmth soothed my soul and my body, and as quickly as the fog appeared, it was gone.
|Gently lapping waves made a sweet sound as they caressed the rocky shore|
It was Friday morning that this happened. I reached into my small pack and grabbed a pen and my journal. I jotted down my Haiku thoughts and felt good as I have just about every Friday when I post for Rebecca’s marvelous creation. Here, you can read more Haiku My Heart stories, art, photos and more every Friday.
When others awoke, I asked them if they saw the fog. No one had seen it. One mentioned they felt something but couldn’t explain what.
The morning broke with a full on sunshine splendor. The water turned from non existent to grey to blue then blue-green in the course of an hour. The only grey in the sky was the swirling smoke from our fire. It reached up and was gone a few feet above the ground. As I sat there by the fire, I remembered the old teachings of the wood holding the spirits of those that have passed before us, our ancestors, as the wood grows from the ashes and soil created by the hair, bones, skin and blood of the people buried in the ground. I felt like the fire was setting them free. They tell us their stories when released and are saved and shared as fond memories.
Where do you return
To gather, tell your stories
Spirit flames of peace
A beautiful savior walked close with a pot of steaming hot coffee, made cowboy style, in a large blue speckled porcelain kettle and filled my cold empty cup. There is no Thank You strong enough to convey my pleasure at this ritual. I savored a few hot scalding sips and shared a toast with Grandmother Moon who had crossed the tops of the trees and now had disappeared into the Western horizon.
Others woke up and joined me at the fires edge. I thanked Creator for the birth of a new day, another day, another chance at living a good life. I was thankful for the rest given to us. The warmth that gave us comfort from the cold and the coolness that saved us from the heat. This circle of life, given to me by the tap on the shoulder from a world in between our own by way of the fog.
Pulled by the full Moon
Cool fog draws across the shore
Carry us with you
More about the ceremony and the trip, including a visit to the Longhouse Cafe and the Tale of the Broken Mirror on this site soon. In the meantime, share your lives and souls with someone you love.