Friday, March 25, 2011

S.E. RUCKMAN: The Sweatlodge

My sister leaned up close to me and whispered in my ear, "When it gets real hot, just put your hand under the tarp and touch the dirt. It's cool down there and touching the ground will help. "

That was my first sweat lodge experience. Although it was a cool, gray day outside, the heat became stark inside.  I did what she said and reached below the plastic cover to sink my fingers into the earth below. She was right. It seemed to ground me.

My big sister has always watched over me. She's the one who made me brave when I needed to be and when the occasion called for it, I could be weak and she would take care of me. It's a doctrine that birth order decided and we are both comfortable with it.

If it wasn't for my sister, I don't know how I would have taken it. So it is in amazement that I am reading the accounts of a man who is being put on trial for conducting a sweat lodge ceremony in Arizona that became a crime scene.

On the one hand, in a time that is punctuated with catastrophic exclamation points (Japan temblor, Libyan mayhem and economic dormancy) it is gratifying to see a major news outlet cover the trial daily. Crammed amid the dire world headlines, Indians who are following this story are seeing a spiritual lesson disclose.


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