Watering whole. . .
“There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza,
There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, a hole.”
Yesterday, my fiancée Marie and I had the privilege of attending an early morning sweat lodge on Grandfather Eddie’s property in Maryland. The sweat was held in honor of a young man who camped there the night before, and will be leaving this morning on a cross-country hike to “listen to people and learn from them”.
As Eddie splashed a dipper of water over the cherry-red stones, it quickly became apparent that the young man’s journey wasn’t the only one being honored. Prayers were likewise offered for the initial steps Marie and I will be taking in marriage this coming Saturday in the Medicine Wheel a few feet from the lodge.
Grandfather’s lodges are an ant hive of activity with drumming, story-telling, and wisdom galore. Everyone pitches in with preparations, and I was asked to fetch the water from the outside faucet. When the buckets were filled, I headed back to the lodge, noticing how blue the sky was, and the wisps of cloud, peacefully drifting across it.
The ground was slick and muddy in spots due to recent rainfall. As I neared the lodge (still focused on the clouds), I felt Coyote’s paw in the form of a freshly cut tree root reach out and snag the tip of my right foot. I lost my balance, dropped the buckets, and landed on my hands and knees in the grass and mud. I knelt there laughing, the last of the water seeping from the buckets, and pooling on the soft, wet ground in front of me.
When I got to my feet, I noticed that my pants were soaking wet and covered with clumps of dirt. I went to the house, refilled the buckets, and returned to the sweat lodge by another route, chuckling all the while at Coyote’s mischief.
As is always the case with the mongrel trickster, this “accident” came with a very powerful lesson. During the last few weeks, I’ve been at a spiritual crossroads. Aspects of the physical world have been slipping away. This withdrawal, coupled with an apparent lack of direction has left me feeling somewhat as though I’ve been working without a net.
Coyote, however, had other insights to share. “You must touch the Earth,” his antics told me, “so that your prayers may flow out and nourish it. The dirt on your hands and knees is there to remind you that although you may be Spirit, you were given a physical body through which to experience this world. You must touch the physical world, so that your love may freely flow and bring it life. And remember this: there is always more water.”
It is impossible for us to know when the next lesson will come, or what form it will take when it arrives. As Carlos Castaneda tells us, “(a)ll of us, whether or not we are warriors, have a cubic centimeter of chance that pops out in front of our eyes from time to time. The difference between an average man and a warrior is that the warrior is aware of this, and one of his tasks is to be alert, deliberately waiting, so that when his cubic centimeter pops out he has the necessary speed, the prowess, to pick it up.”
I am honored that Grandfather Coyote took this opportunity to thrust that cubic centimeter in front of me; and I am grateful to Spirit that it did not go unnoticed. . .