Saturday, January 21, 2006

Prayers on the Mountain

Rhonda's oldest brother Mike Merchant called me up this morning and invited me to visit the site of Steve's passing on Mount Spokane. Of course, I eagerly accepted the invitation. More than anything, I desired to honor that place made holy by Steve's living spirit.

Mike Merchant, Ron Merchant, Clayne Perrins, and I drove to Selkirk Lodge near the summit of Mount Spokane. We only had one snowmobile, so Mike and Ron rode up first while Clayne and I visited in the lodge. After 40 minutes or an hour, they returned, and then Mike and I rode the snowmobile up.

We rode several miles on a well groomed trail and then split off onto a more difficult trail. Finally, Mike stopped and we walked the rest of the way up the hill. It was very steep and covered in thick snow.

After a very difficult climb, we finally reached a small tree marked with yellow and orange ribbons. Of course, the tree isn't really that small; it's simply covered by 9 or 10 feet of snow. When the snow melts in spring, the "little" tree will be quite a bit taller than it seems now. The ribbons marked the very tree Steve leaned against during his last moments of life.

As I approached the tree, I had a distinct feeling of holiness fall over my body, followed by waves of grief. I burned juniper at the tree as a prayer for myself and then sang several prayer songs from my tribe while I wept. I also tied a beaded necklace for myself and a pendant for Glenda.

When we first arrived, the sky was foggy and overcast, but as I sang, the sun emerged with brilliant light. I sang to the sun and to the west and thanked Creator for Steve's life and all the blessings I enjoy on a daily basis. I almost felt like a director of souls, telling Steve through my songs and prayers that we will all be alright and he is free to move into the Other World.

As I ended my prayers, I simply whispered, "Go in peace, brother," then walked back down the mountain.

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