It’s been raining. I am wet up to my knees. Cold and overcast. I am already primed with fear because I saw a black bear on the side of the road on my way here. Sure enough, a few minutes into the bush and there is fresh bear spore… less than a day old, I’d say. I retrace my steps jingling my bear bell back to the parking lot. I haven’t set my intention yet. Start over again. I didn’t bring tobacco but I have sweetgrass. I smudge myself and ask to be safe and to be kept free from danger. I draw a line in the dirt and state my intention. I intend for this walk to be a ceremonial walk to represent my stepping in the next stage of my life. Moving into a healing practice that goes beyond talk therapy. Healing that includes healing touch, art and ceremony. A walk to represent a ceremonial step from the past into the future. I give thanks to mother earth for providing this “medicine place” where I can be refreshed, healed and renewed by her. Step over the line.
OK. Now what? Hmm. Medicine walk. Does this have something to do with finding and gathering medicine? No. The walk itself is the medicine.
This place is called Loon Island. I don’t hear any loons but I can see some through the lens in my camera. I want to hear loons. I want to have the feeling that I get when I hear loons on a northern lake. Nothing. They don’t make a sound the whole time I am here. I listen to the wind, the songbirds and water lapping on the shore. Peaceful. I am aware that in this natural peacefulness I do not hear the high pitched squeal of the tinnitus that I experience sometimes. I appreciate the silence.
Having a hard time stilling my mind and just being here. I want to analyze everything. Struggle to let go.
Found a feather. Newly dropped. It’s in good shape. At first I think it is an eagle feather but no, it’s a raven feather. Seeing the feather made my heart leap. “Oh, a sign”, I said. A sign of affirmation, a sign of blessing on my next life chapter. My Ojibway name in English is “early morning thunder spirit woman.” A feather is an auspicious find.
The sun comes out. I peel off layers.I can smell the sweetgrass smoke in my hair and clothes. I like the feelings that arise with the smell of the smoke. Happy,, in touch with my spirit because my brain is connecting it with prayer and ceremony.
Mostly enjoying the now warm sun and sounds of wind, birds and water. Once in awhile my mind wanders to the reason I am doing this. Touching my spirit through nature. I start thinking about Dad. He’s 95, in a nursing home with slight dementia. Would he like it here? How sad that he doesn’t get to go out now. He will never experience nature again.
I’m not sure you would enjoy this wilderness bush and lake at Loon Island
But maybe you would love to be on the land again
Baling hay– clover, timothy and alfalfa, smelling the freshness in morning sun
Riding the combine
smelling the grain as it falls into the hopper
seeing the wheat dust in golden light of late afternoon sun
feeling the sticky sweat of summer heat mixed with sun on your skin
smell of impending thunderstorm coming across Lake Ontario to the south
Maybe one more time
You would like to leave your wheelchair behind
and walk to the back pasture past the pear tree that blossomed in spring
to call the cows in for milking time
One more time you would love to pour milk from the pail into the old cast iron frying pan for the cats and kittens that come to the door of the barn
One more time you would love to walk from the barn to house at supper time
Ducking your head under the clothes line hung with a dozen pairs of clean jeans
To sit around the kitchen table and ask blessing
To give thanks for the peas and potatoes Mom had just picked from the garden.
One more time to be in nature
The nature that you loved
And that heartened your spirit.
A young woman launched her canoe close to where I am sitting. She set out across the lake and was back on shore again in less than 30 minutes. I think she by-passed the experience of sun and water.
I brought a rattle, actually a little rainstick as Carol suggested. I tried singing and rattling. Kinda’ fun. Nothing spectacular. It was when I started dancing that I felt connected to myself- not sure what that means, but I liked how I felt. Uplifted.
Eat some lunch and drink some water. Food always tastes better outside, even it it’s just a sandwich. Lay in the sun for awhile. Then I leave for home.
Driving home. Didn’t put the radio on. Wanted to keep the peace and silence a little longer. Thinking. This was good. I liked being in the bush. I don’t want to go to work tomorrow. I want to go back to the lake and the bush. I am happy and at peace there.
I am curious about how this experience will affect me tomorrow and in days to come.
I can still smell the sweetgrass. I smile.
Another sign on the way home. A cinnamon bear. I interpreted that as mother nature saying “thanks for coming out- enjoyed your company. Here’s a little parting gift.”
July 7, 2013
Riding Mountain National Park
To take your own Medicine Walk see our upcoming group here.