Saturday on the Prairie and the Badlands

Our Lady of Good Counsel, No Water, SD
What’s happening the the world that I should know about. The only think I do know about is that the Giants face the Phillies in Philly tonite in game 1 of the NLCS. I am looking forward to it out here on the prairie of South Dakota. (THEY WON GAME 1) Have I told you what a great place this is, Red Cloud Indian School? No? Well it is. There is something very seductive about the place. I feel drawn into it and I’m not sure where its coming from. Maybe its not having a cell signal. Well Virgin Mobile does not have any single in the hinterlands, that is anyplace outside of a very large city.

Today I went to a funeral at an outlying parish called Our Lady of the Sioux. The funeral was for a man who died at aged 36. He was laid out on a table in the parish hall resting on a buffalo hide and quilts covering his body. Meanwhile food was being passed out as we arrived. The mood seemed almost festive as close to a traditional Irish wake as one can get. The place was packed with young and old babies and a big yellow dog. Tom introduced me to George Looks Twice, a delightful man who is the grandson of Black Elk. We had a great chat, the four of us, Sister Connie, the administrator of the parish, Tom, my friend from San Francisco, George and me while we ate fry bread, potato salad, soup and fruit.

One of parts of the funeral ceremony was the “showing of cakes” which I had never seen before. Evidently everyone brings a flat cake and they are shown around, meanwhile the dead person is still on a table in the front of the hall. All the cakes were decorated with the mans name, in this case “Shilo” and carried around individually so that everyone in the hall could see them. There must have been 30 or 40 cakes. It was pretty amazing. The official funeral ceremony began with the family giving away gifts to everyone who had come including the kids. This was followed by a Christian prayer service and ending with a Lakota Holy Man blessing the body. All during the ceremony people came and went. In its own way it was both solemn and a party.

After the funeral Tom drove me out to an isolated mission in a place called “No Water” (although I must add that there was a stream nearby). The Church was Our Lady of Good Counsel. I am passing out right now after an exciting baseball game…and I am getting old and it is waaaaaaay past my bed time.

and so it goes…

A little song, a little dance, a little coffee down your pants... 40 years in the high school classroom and now on my own. A chance to think about stuff and how it affects everyone, not just me. Now residing in Oregon volunteering for a refugee organization.

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