Reflections:   August 2013.    3rd Qtr 2013

more » « less

Summer Salutations Relatives,

An incredible season it has been thus far…

As you may recall, during the Big Mountain Sundance in Arizona last year, I was Blessed with the Sacred privilege of witnessing, supporting and welcoming the arrival of life into the world by catching my first baby, birthed by a young mother on the Rez.

This year, during the Sundance in Lampasas, Texas, I was honoured to serve in preventing life from prematurely departing. On account of the heat, a young lady with preexisting health conditions collapsed. After administering Oxygen and, with another qualified health care provider present, a bolus of fluids, since she had not recovered, I recommended and insisted we immediately transport to the nearest hospital (approximately a half an hour away). As a driver and the other medical practitioner in the front sped and jostled on earthen roads to the facility, in the back of the vehicle, I instructed the loving partner who accompanied us en route to gaze into her eyes and call out to her to keep her attention and to maintain an open airway while I encouraged her respirations and paced her breathing. Touch and go, we arrived at the hospital where I handed her over to the medical staff, explaining what had transpired. Once in the capable hands of the emergency team and both family and friends in the waiting room, I, along with the driver and other health care provider, returned to the ceremony. Several hours later, nearing the end of the day, the young lady returned to the land and, walking up to me, expressed gratitude for assisting in saving her life (and for my judgment call) for she had experienced kidney failure and was, in fact, on death’s door. As a result of her brush with death, she and her partner invited me to attend their engagement ceremony (which would be happening that evening) for realizing life’s preciousness, unpredictability and impermanence, they were inspired and compelled to solidify their commitment to one another. It was a momentous, celebratory occasion. I express profound gratitude to Great Mystery for the mercy, compassion and lessons for this young woman and for all of the hands and hearts which cradled, held, treated and prayed for her, preventing that final breath from being taken.

Well, I crossed the big 5-0 mark last month (Nelson Mandela and I share the same birth date, the 18th of July). In honour and celebration of this auspicious threshold, I embarked on a pilgrimage to Tanzania to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro circa my birthday and fulfill a long held Dream (since I was a young boy) - namely to safari in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater and to spend time among the Maasai, the formidable warriors of East Africa. Having received the birthday directive from the Spirits in the autumn of last year, I commenced a fitness-training program in January in preparation for the climb to 19,340 ft. My intention was to ascend completely au natural – without supplemental Oxygen and medications to mitigate altitude sickness. I am delighted to report that I succeeded. In fact, though the other people in my party did, to varying degrees, succumb to the elevation, I did not feel any adverse effects from the altitude. I credit this not only to effective training but most importantly to ceremony for every step upon that final steep talus slope (with frigid temperatures) was with focus and a prayer upon my lips. In fact, the guides and porters were impressed with my strength and stamina (they were bounding up the mountain like gazelles, most with 40 – 50 pounds on their backs and/or heads). Words are unable to convey the majesty, grandeur and exhilaration of standing upon the roof of the African continent, beholding a sunrise near the summit above the clouds.

The safari in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro crater was equally wondrous – we spied over 100 species of wildlife, including spectacular sightings of a cerval, both a lioness and leopard carrying prey and the rare, endangered Black rhino! I relished hearing the hyenas hooping and the lions calling under the cover of darkness with a Full Moon shining brilliantly in the night sky. The floor of the crater was a veritable paradise, a cornucopia teeming with life. Spending an evening near a local Maasai village, I personally met with a Laibon, the chief and traditional healer of the village. We shared stories and compared notes through an interpreter, concurring that though we hail from different global locations and traditions, the Indigenous Medicine practices are quite similar and universal, speaking to our common humanity and ancestry.

I am grateful to be alive, to behold the breathtaking beauty of this magnificent world and to experience the dance and delicate interplay between life and death. Gratitude for your presence and the learnings received from you in my life – I look forward to the second half of the adventure with you!

Chief Tsunka Wakan Sapa

Last updated Aug 21, 2013