A couple of days ago I was looking for a new book to start reading and came across one in our limited collection of paperbacks that peeked my interest: Fools Crow, Wisdom and Power. Fool’s Crow was a Teton Sioux Ceremonial Chief regarded by many to be the greatest Native American holy person of the last 100 years. Fools Crow lived to be 99 years old and passed away in 1989. I’ve only read the first two chapters so far and while the book started out a bit slow and dry for my taste it’s now gotten more into the heart of what I was looking forward to reading about, the accounts of a wise Native American holy man.
This morning as I was reading in the darkness of predawn I sat enthralled by chapter two entitled: Little Hollow Bones. It it the author asks a few questions to Fools Crow and he responds in length on matters concerning how a Sioux becomes a medicine person, what the differences are between holy people, medicine people and ordinary people, and his advice for those who feel called to healing work. Fools Crow describes medicine people as being little hollow bones in which Wakan-Tanka, Tunkashila, and the Helpers work in and through. He said “…The power comes to us first to make us what we should be, and then flows through us and out to others.” He goes on later to say that Wakan-Tanka is like the Father, Tunkashila is like the Son, and the Powers and Grandmother Earth together are like the Holy-Spirit.
“The cleanest bones,” Fools Crow explains, “serve Wakan-Tanka and the Helpers the best, and medicine and holy people work the hardest to become clean. The cleaner the bone, the more water you can pour through it, and the faster it will run. It is this way with us and power, and the holy person is the one who becomes the cleanest of all.”
The author writes, “Fools Crow had told me that his entire work as a holy man, although demanding, was, “a dance of life,” and he added that it was only when he did this dance that he was his true self.”
And so I titled this post Dance of Life. It makes me think about how we can learn much from the rivers that beautify our lands. To go with the flow of the river of life and practice maneuvering around obstacles in our path as they arise with a sense of fluidity and ease. Just as the river is not halted by a newly arranged crag or fallen tree within its banks, seeing it fit and wise to find a way to adapt and carry on downstream, so too can we learn how to embark on this dance of life. Obstacles don’t have to be stumbling blocks or road barriers unless we appoint them as such.
For a practical application about what I’m poetically referencing to here’s a real-life translation that happened just today. I was given the day off from my employer and planned on spending the day writing, both on my book and here on my blog. The schedule I had set up for myself, after my regular morning routine of reading, sitting meditation, breakfast, and computer time, was to take a shower and then begin work on my book at 9:00. I would then eat lunch around noon, take a short rest, head to the market to get some food for the next couple of days, and then return back to writing. Around 8:00am I started dreading the thought of going out to the market after lunch time, figuring with the upcoming holiday that the roads and the store would be jammed packed with people. So I decided to change my schedule. Perhaps it’s worth mentioning that I am a scheduling type of person and have a well organized daily plan most days, even the days I don’t work at my job job. I also plan out quite a ways in advance for certain events and activities and often have a set daily schedule for at least a week or two ahead of time, making last minute plans or adjustments difficult. So for me to change my schedule isn’t the easiest thing in the world for me to do, even when it’s a schedule I’ve devised entirely of my own accord. But change it I did. At 8:00am I thought to myself, “Hey, wait, I could go to the store now, come home, take a shower, and then start writing.” So that’s what I did. By 8:15 I was in the car on my way to the market – the roads were smooth sailing and so were the check-out lines. Progress!
This small example points to an everyday type of scenario where we can make a choice as to how to go about our day. We can flow with it, dancing along and around unplanned or unfavorable things that happen, or we can get stuck in trying to fight with and against what’s happening. The more we learn to flow with life, to dance with it, the more hollow our bones become so that we may become a vessel for the spirit, whatever that is for us, to move in and through us. The more we flow, the less we fight, and the more able we become to connect, engage, and embrace fully the beauty and power of the present moment. Aho.