It was a long 1 hour drive home from the reservation late last night, but well worth it as anticipated I had the joy of seeing some old friends- Anita, Uwe, Tara, Sarah, Wade, among others- some of whom I hadn’t seen since I got married over 4 years ago.  In one instance I’d explained to someone since the last time I’ve seen you I got married, divorced and moved twice now.  It was a gorgeous autumn afternoon with the sun shining warmly upon folks gathered around the sacred fire to hear Tahwehdahqui give a talk on Universal Laws that govern our lives- like attracts like, as we see the outside world so it is inside of us, the greater the front the greater the back- and as always provided brilliant examples of how one may go about living on a “spiritual path.”  He emphasized as he has in prior talks the most common addiction that applies to every one of us, helplessness, in which moments we’re giving our power away to someone or something.  He was able to cover notoriously volatile topics including relationships, money, religion, food and politics, without a single objection or argument erupting.  The Q & A session after he opened it up resulted in another hour of stimulating discussion.  The most profound message I took away is that an open heart and balanced mind transcends duality seeing both sides of every circumstance in life.  Every “good” thing is equally “bad” in another way, and everything “bad” is equally “good.”  Hence, the practice becomes making responsible choices, rather than doing so for a “reason.”

After the talk I participated in the sweat lodge, an ancient purification ceremony, poured by a visitor to the land who runs them in a western Lakota tradition.  Folks are accustomed to a looser format including plenty of laughter between rounds when T is the emcee; however, with Dan at the helm and his entourage including firekeepers, the ceremony was notably more serious and focused upon honoring the ancestors, with an emphasis on all our relations.  Despite a degree of exhaustion from a sleep deficit, I managed to hold up well for the first 2 rounds.  In the third round, decreed a “healing round”, the heat became overwhelming as an intense energy with emotional upheaval throughout the circle flushed me from the lodge.  Being over a week into a purification program I reached my limit.  After cooling off and giving thanks for fresh air I returned to complete the 4th round representing gratitude, leading the group in a thank you song.  Following the sweat we gathered around the fire and passed the pipe offering prayers to Creator in smoke sent skyward, a symbolic amplification of that which we send out into the Universe.  The sweat lodge continues to be powerful medicine.

And so here on Day 11 of the program I will be dining with my folks and brother, the menu including a kale salad, butternut squash and organic chicken breast.  It is nice to have company out here for a change of scenery after having spent a good deal of time in solitary refinement over the last several days.  On the schedule is an early season clash between divisional rivals as the Buffalo Bills host the New England Patriots.  The Bills are actually above .500 at 2-1 and the Pats below par at 1-2 on the season.  Last week the boys in red, white and blue demonstrated a lot of character persisting to claim a road victory despite losing one of their top players to injury.  It should make for an entertaining matchup on this damp afternoon.  Go Bills!

In common wealth,