Sweat Lodge

I was so gratified to meet the woman I wrote about last week. I had failed at Thanksgiving not to respond to the hate-mongering chatter that accompanies every family gathering, and I felt it: Failure.

Meeting hostility with anger is useless and stupid, but what the hell am I supposed to do? I asked politely. I teased. I asked again. I got mad.

This woman explained the difference between suffering in complicit silence, and going within to meet hatred with love. I’ve been trying for 15 minutes to capture the epiphany I had in a 2-minute conversation, but it was almost funny how simple it seemed.

Of course, the practice of it will be a different story, marked by many failings, to be sure, but it moved from theoretical and seemingly-impossible to entirely practical and doable. There’s a huge difference between angrily holding one’s tongue, and actively holding a space of “non-duality,” she called it. The silence of love is not the silence of restraint. That’s a game-changer for me!

I talk about energy all the time. Everyone knows what it is to walk in a room and feel it. The silence she described isn’t passive at all. It’s energized! It’s silly now that it seemed such a unattainable concept, when, really, it’s a straight-forward product of choice and action. It can’t be mistaken for tacit approval.

Suddenly, my need to act as standard bearer seemed silly, too. It’s not as if my family doesn’t know me. If any of my nieces or nephews is different, in any way, they know there’s a safe place for them. I don’t need to do that anymore.

I’m ready to graduate!

It does hurt that I don’t matter in my family. At best, I’m a joke. My point of view is the minority, so it’s dismissed. No one cares that that hurts me. They know. They continue.

And I’m strong enough.

“I will love, even here. How can I love, even here?” I trust Spirit to answer, if I truly commit to trying a new way, and I’m ready.

(Whoa! I just got really scared again!)

I AM READY.
non-duality

****

I brought a new, blank drum inside the lodge, which was borrowed by a leader and praised by her for its tone. That felt great! It was plenty soggy and bleak-sounding by the end of 4 long rounds, but bounced right back in the cold night air.

[I also made a killer leftover-turkey casserole for the pot luck following the lodge. It went like gangbusters! Jax is teaching me how to cook. We take Mormon comfort food – primarily based on Cream of Chicken Soup – and turn it out! This dish contained organic, home-grown tomato puree and chili powder. And cheese. Lots of cheese.]

My personal drum stayed out on the altar by the fire, to soak up and sing with our prayers and come home to bless me when I dance and meditate. So far, it’s attended a Love Rally and this prayer for Standing Rock, for water, the earth, and all of us. I love my drum!

Here’s my most recent. (So much detail is missing in this grainy shot!)drum-5
13″ on wood frame with mallet
$200
Nov. 23, 2016

I have a few more color incarnations to realize before I’m finished with this design, and more drums than I can paint right now (including 2 with rawhide lacing).

****

This was the first lodge that I didn’t really go into a trance-like state. Usually, when the heat starts to rise, I’m transported to the plains in a covered wagon. I don’t know that any of my ancestors came across in a covered wagon, but that imagery is powerful for Mormons, and it would be a no-brainer for my ancestors to get my attention in that way, to signal very clearly who it was I was feeling. The first time it happened was one of the most alarming and powerful visions I’ve ever experienced. I saw the faces of the Native people my ancestors would have encountered, and recognized that they were the brown-skinned ancestors of the the people I was praying with! Then, “Oh my god, they call the stones ‘The Ancestors.’ Our ancestors are here!” It was overwhelming.

I try not to expect repeat performances of my experiences. I try to be in the now, and learn what new thing is available from each event. But it was hard not to hope for that impression again when I went to my second lodge. And they came. Again and again and again. It was the same wagon journey into Spirit at every lodge, except this one.

Abigail, my favorite pioneer ancestor, did pop to mind in the 3rd round. I smiled. I love her. I thanked her for being with me since we “met” when I was ten, and then I had a thought of Sarah, who doesn’t come to me often. I don’t feel her strongly, but I have had a sense of her quiet, and it would make sense for me not to get it. What’s quiet? I truly don’t understand quiet. In fact, quiet people scare me. I think they hate me.

But Sarah did come to mind, and I had the thought to pray around her voice. “Please come as a signal for when it’s appropriate to act differently. Help me discern between the time to speak and the time to turn inward and LOVE, even here. Come in when it’s time for me to honor the place of neither right nor wrong, and just love, fiercely, quietly.”

I’m excited to see if I recognize her as I begin to practice non-duality. I think I might. I have recognized her energy. It’s harder, but she has a distinct feeling, and I’m excited to imagine I might a foster a relationship with her. Especially if it leads to healing. Especially for my mother’s family. Sarah is my mother’s family.

not-the-end

Not The End, by Julie Rogers, depicts my ancestor, Sarah Ann, on one of her 32 crossings of the icy North Platte River to carry Saints to safety.

Tell My Story gives a detailed account of this episode of the Martin Handcart Company’s ill-fated journey to Salt Lake City. I’m really proud of Sarah. Scroll down and enjoy!

Why Is My Intuition So Weird?

And what good did that knowing do me? If anything, it freaked me out.

Sunday evening, I had the most random thought. “I wonder what ever became of Daniel Rogers?” I even thought momentarily to Google him, thinking I’d find a mugshot. I dismissed the thought as quickly as I had it, though, because how many Daniel Rogers must there be? And, honestly, I don’t think I’d recognize him.

Daniel Rogers began stalking me in 8th grade. He sat behind me in Shop class, and poked and stared at me. Then he began cornering me in the halls and telling me things he shouldn’t know about me. I took piano lessons from my neighbor at 6:30 in the morning on Mondays, for example. I began to see him sitting outside the glass doors of the dance studio where I studied ballet. I asked my teacher to make him leave.

“Oh, stop being dramatic. He just has a crush.”

Why didn’t anyone EVER LISTEN TO ME!?!

We were in the same Stake. Mormon neighborhoods are divided into Wards. Your Ward is the congregation you worship with on Sundays. Several Wards make up a Stake, and from time to time there will be a big meeting or activity for the entire Stake. At one such youth activity, a group of kids my age was congregated, laughing. I approached to find that Daniel Rogers had written, “I love Christie [Fullname]” on the baptismal font! In permanent marker! I was horrified. I hurried away, but Daniel was there to block a quick exit.

“If you don’t… stop… leaving me alone…!!!” I stuttered, flustered.

Everyone laughed at my mistake. I ran away and cried in the restroom.

He toilet-papered our house. The next day he left a note and $20 for clean-up.

He started leaving me religious tapes. Every Tuesday, BYU has some big ecclesiastical leader give a talk. It’s called Devotional. Daniel Rogers would record those and leave them in an envelope, TAPED TO MY BEDROOM WINDOW.

By now, my parents had spoken to his Bishop. He didn’t stop.

He brought his parents to our house to sing Christmas Carols. Are they insane, too? They knew my parents had complained. Did they think we’d invite them in for warm apple cider and holiday cheer? It was frightening. Seriously, were they all sick?

By now we were in 9th grade. In the New Year, the letters took a turn. He gave me yet another Devotional tape, but this time he chastised my wickedness and described how he, Dr. Dan, would purge me of it. He detailed, minutely, my rape.

I hadn’t even had my period, had never been kissed, and this is how I meet my femininity, my worth. This is who I am, how I’m seen, the danger I’m in. This a world of men, and you’re a plaything to be laughed at and terrorized. I was never the same.

I imagine the police were involved then, because Daniel Rogers was never seen again. After a number of those letters, he disappeared, to graduate from high school in juvy (if he graduated). I put him away with all the other trauma I would “forget.”

I did run into him at Ricks College, now BYU-Idaho. My friend threw a party. I made the rounds in the kitchen, then moved to the living room, where a movie was playing. I watched for a bit, then said hello to the guy on the couch. “Hi! I’m Christie.”

“Hi,” he answered, flat and stunned. “I’m Dan.”

I nearly fainted on the spot and left the party.

****

I’ve thought of him maybe 5 times since. Why yesterday?

This morning I opened my Facebook to a friend request from Daniel Rogers!

He’s as gross as I imagined him to be, his face just as stony and socio as ever it was. I mean, my god, smile. It’s a camera. Absolutely expressionless. There’s a part of me that wishes I’d saved his profile pic before blocking him, just so you could truly appreciate how psychotic and glassy he looks. The one other pic? Abs, and a banana hammock.

SO FUCKING GROSS.

I feel like crying. I hate men. And I don’t hate men! But right now I feel so angry that women have to be frightened, all the time! Have you read that statistic, that men’s biggest fears are being cheated on and/or humiliated, any assault to their ego, while women’s biggest fear is physical harm from men, as in actual assault?

Daniel Rogers scared the shit out of me. It was so long ago that I’d forgotten it. Well, that’s not true. I blocked it, and I know it. In fact, I left him out of my history above, “How I Got Here.” If you got through that thing you know I’m not averse to a long, wordy narrative. I didn’t leave him out for the sake of brevity. I left him out because he makes me sick.

I’m not kidding about his eyes. Dead.

What did the thought of him do for me before being found on Facebook? I don’t understand the role of my intuition, or what I’m supposed to do with that. Right now, it makes me feel vulnerable that I was connected to his energy. I believe we’re all one. Energetic resonance is real. The more people who meditate and send positive thoughts out of themselves into the world, the greater the healing and comfort we send to the planet and one another. I picture the world being enveloped in a pulsing, transparent bubble of swirling colors. The more of us who send our intention and love into the bubble, the better we all are for it. Today, I feel like I shared energetic space with a person who has no right to come near me. Shouldn’t I be able to keep those kinds of psychic intrusions out?

He’s so gross. And sick. A sane person would be too embarrassed to “friend” the girl who sent him to the mental hospital. Does he actually think I’d accept? Yes! He’s crazy!

No. He doesn’t think I’d friend him. He just wanted me to see his abs. Pathetic. There is little I hate more that “that guy,” the loser who posts selfies of his body. GROSS!

I guess it’s good to know he’s not in Salt Lake. A lot of Idahoans end up here.

I’m fine. He can’t hurt me. I did consider reducing my online presence, but no one dictates my freedom. Nothing’s changed. Just a weird morning.

Why this precognition? How did that serve me? I’d appreciate your feedback. Thanks!