Solstice. . .
We huddle together in the orange glow of the Grandfather stones – fifteen of us, tired and sweating our prayers in the belly of Mother Earth. Spirit has brought us together yet again to pray for our people in the sacred space of the inipi.
The final round is a difficult one. Our life water nourishes the earth as the steam carries our invocations skyward. It rolls across the dome of the lodge, crawls along the walls and drapes itself heavily across our backs.
And still we pray.
As the talking stick reaches the halfway mark, my strength begins to flag. But the dipper is in my hand this time, and so I must find the resources to continue.
“Help me, Great Spirit. Give me the strength to serve my people.”
The words come slowly at first, barely a whisper. Soon they become a mantra, moving through me with every breath I take. A peaceful resolve floods through me. I sit up straight. The dipper gourd goes to the bucket; feeds the steam; carries our requests into the Center and out to the Universe where they resonate forever among the stars, returning to bless us all.
Days later, I am at the bedside of an elderly woman nearing the final paces of her Earthwalk. Her head slumps. Her breathing is shallow. Her eyes open and close in fitful sleep. She asks me for a sip of water. “I drink a lot,” she says.
Afterwards, I return to my chair, and we sit quietly for a moment until her prayer begins.
“Father God, help me. Mother Mary, help me. “
Her words fill the dimly lit room, brushing the corners with an urgent grace. She repeats this several times until at last, she adds, “thank you; it’s a great life.”
She closes her eyes and falls into a gentle sleep.
She, too, has found the strength for her ordeal. . .