Friday, May 27, 2011

Another Spiritual Journey

Haiku My Heart
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.



Leslie said...

you do a wonderful job describing your experiences. i always feel like i'm right there. and your haiku is lovely... like a brother to rebecca's haiku this morning...

Marit said...

Wow, you're a wonderful 'storyteller'... it was like being next to you, listening to the water, feeling the warmth of the fire and shiver with the fog... you're haiku's are truly beautiful! Thanks for your kind words on my blog today. You brought peace and light into a grey Dutch day. Enjoy your weekend!

rebecca said...

beautiful soul journey. yes, like breathing in and breathing out right beside you and the great willingness to listen. our haiku are truly brothers, in acknowledgement of all those who have lived before us. of every soul that comprises the very air we breathe. that there is so much more to earth, stone, fog, stars, then what our language has created names for.
may we all wake to the greatness that circles our every moment. may we all walk in peace, and love straight from our hearts.

i am grateful for the gift of your observances and wisdom.

Ramesh Sood said...

Just three words...more will spoil:

I salute you...

Jeannie said...


Thank you.

Dawn Elliott said...

What a profound tale, which you told so beautifully! I grew up near Lake Ontario and know the spirituality and strength the lakes embody - what a perfect spot to connect on every level.

Rosie said...

You wrote so simply and sincerely that I was really moved by your journey. I wish I could've been there and thank you so much for sharing the haikus - wonderful words...

Meri said...

Thanks, Joe, for sharing your life and soul with us. And in the Celtic tradition, the mists and fog are associated with visits from spirit.

Cheryl said...

I'm hidden in the mists and fog.

deb did it said...

once again, you pull me in, snuggle up to yet another wonderful story. Thank you for sharing your journey with us here.

Kathleen Barnes said...

I have always believed that there are certain experiences one can only have at the earliest hour of dawn...the in between time that is niether one or the other. all manner of wonders occur in that time. I cherish the wonders I have felt in early morning ours enough to rise on a regular basis to see what may wandering in my world. Your haiku captured the sensation perfectly.

Mel said...


I'm dumbfounded and in awe.

As I should be, methinks.....

((((((((( Spadoman ))))))))))

Welcome back, filled spirit and all.

Grammy said...

That is wonderful, you have taken the next step. Helping others to find there higher self. There soul.
E :)

Fran aka Redondowriter said...

Wow. This sounds like it was an incredible experience and I am grateful you shared your photos, your words, and your haikus. Lake Superior is an awe-inspiring place. If you haven't read it, I strongly recommend Anne Linnea's Deep Water Passage: A Spiritual Journey at Midlife. I'm such a wuss and like your story at Lake Superior, this is hers.

Christopher said...

Thank you, Joe. Another stirring saga.

Looking forward to the mirror tale...


Noelle Clearwater said...

Dear Joe,
This did indeed feel like a guided meditation, as if we were on the journey with you. Yours is a spiritual gift that offers itself to those whose souls are in need of succor and light. Your are the tender of fire and we are all warmed by your words. Thank you for this heart opening and intimate sharing of your journey which has now become part of our lives and hearts as well.
Peace and Light,

Margaret Pangert said...

God, I love your awareness, Spadoman! I study about the elements and their connection to the body in yoga... But honestly I don't experience them firsthand! How much more meaningful that you actuaully have an ongoing fire, a clear view of the moon on a dark night, the changng hues of the lake... Beautiful haiku, photos, and prose poetry. I admire you!

foxysue said...

I saved my reply to your haiku until last as I like to take my time reading your spiritual stories, living in the UK is so very far away from anything you describe, my only connection to this is the cowboy films I saw as a child and the book Hiawatha! To have first hand experience of the closeness to nature and source you extend to us is something very special, thank you Joe.

love Ms Foxy, x

Sorrow said...

I wonder if those Haiku's are your line, that tethers you to that space, and keeps your battery charged even as the events move into the memory part of your doings.
Like so many other comments, I love the way you describe the unfolding events. I can place myself there, and find deep contemplation...