Friday, December 3, 2010


"December 3:  Moment.

Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors)."  --Author, Ali Edwards

Hmmm...  Funny, I just did a post on "moments I've felt alive during my lifetime" a couple of months ago...  Actually, it ended up being two posts.  Here and here.  It's been a good life!

Here's the one that really sticks out this year:

Experiencing a Native American sweatlodge while on a mission trip at the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota was a moment I will never forget.  Yep.  A sweatlodge! 

(This picture was taken days later, when no one was around.  While the sweat lodge is in use, it is a Holy space and no pictures are allowed.)

It was darker than dark - the kind of darkness that you think you'll adjust to, but never do...  I couldn't see my hand in front of my face for the full 45 minutes we were in there!  And yet, I was intensely aware of the other 12 people sitting in such close proximity...  Listening to their breathing and shifting comforts you that you're not alone and demands a measure of alertness as you try to be aware of their needs in this unusual environment. 

The smell of incense and the offerings of herbs to the fire filled the air - thick enough to feel it sticking to your skin.  Strong enough to make your head feel a little cloudy.  Fragrant enough to make a lasting memory.

The sound of our medicine man singing and praying and sharing the tribe's history filled our ears - a haunting and beautiful experience that struck right to soul.  His deep voice raised in song was the voice of every one of us - imperfect, but yearning and full of a story to tell.

We were crowded in the small space, each of us sitting cross-legged, knees touching, sweat mingling.  It was so hot and steamy I was afraid I would pass out (think of your last sauna experience - times ten!).  My heart was pounding so loud, I thought everyone would be able to hear it over the singing...  But, it's in those moments when you test your own limits, that you feel alive.  Heart-pounding, breath-stealing, brain-reeling - realization that all systems are go!  In the midst of every cell of my body working overtime - a calmness and serenity settled over me, a feeling of "God with me."  In that moment, I felt my prayers were heard.  An incredible moment.

What an amazing experience, to open ourselves up to other traditions and customs - and in that opening, to find ourselves experiencing the Holy in new ways...  Beautiful.

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Getting up early.  Wait.  Did I just say that?
2.  My elliptical machine.
3.  The way the dog waits for me to get off the machine...  She crouches behind it, waiting to play!
4.  Garth Brooks' Christmas music.
5.  A new throw pillow and rug for the loft - brightens the room right up!
6.  Being missed.
7.  A nice dinner and glass of wine.
8.  An evening to catch up on some reading - for fun!
9.  Fresh snow.  So pretty.
10.  Mint M&Ms.  Mmm...

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