The Lodge: by Cory

Shaking, trembling

anxious, nervous

curious to experience

The lodge.  A sweat.

Two of us

huddled,

welcomed and comforted

by loving souls

Their eyes

told me there were no worries

their voices

answered questions not yet asked.

The fire split rays of warmth between us

The man with the gentle eyes

and pure heart

taught us prayer pouches

Colored pieces of fabric

black for water, yellow creativity and New beginnings

red for the strength I knew my son needed,

Blue, green, white, purple…

Each waved in smoke of burning sage

Purified

A pinch of tobacco

purified and placed in the cloth

A prayer blown into it

and caught with string.

These four bundles

Prayers from the soul-

I held onto them tenderly.

I entered cool darkness of the lodge

loosely tied the prayers above

tickling my crown

I tried to let them go.

I sat and waited

for the glowing rocks

to be welcomed in-

placed in the earth–ancestors from

east, west, north, south, heaven, earth

brought, gifted to us.

Throughout the four rounds of beauty and heat

my heart listened to prayers

and Lakota songs

I prayed for my son and my daughter

and silently asked

that all prayers be answered–those spoken

as well as those that remained

unspoken

in the heart.

After the first round

I felt I glistened

but it was swollen

with what was to come.

As the door flap closed

signaling the second round

my body greeted

the new rocks

with an explosion of drenching

endless sweat.

When I could catch neither

my breath nor my heart

I grasped cool Mother Earth

and pressed myself into her

my heart stopped wildly beating, my breath slowed…

When we emerged and were

birthed outside once more

and had given gestures of thanks to everyone

I placed my colored prayers

into the fire

to be transformed into smoke

to reach the ancestors

for their answers, guidance, support.

After a feast

I said goodbye to the lodge

the same way I first greeted it

shaking, trembling

yet not because I was anxious or nervous

but rather because

I had released and embraced

so much

in so little time.

Whispering

thank you

to those seen

and unseen

and to the different directions

did not seem enough…but then

I waited…held in stillness and

I melted…melted into all of it

and was one

with the very air

I breathed.

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