Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Last week I got sick. The diarrhea hit at about 4:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, and lasted through Friday night, when I was starting to get genuinely worried, since the instructions on the Imodium box say to call a doctor if symptoms last more than two days. But then things changed, like the shifting of a bad wind. The nausea departed, my energy returned, and my bowels recommenced their normal functioning. When you've been ill, nothing feels better than just good old normality. Fortunately, I knew to drink lots of water, even if I couldn't bring myself to eat much, and eventually my body recovered all by itself.

But I was still experiencing some of the symptoms of the sickness (though was on the mend) when we left on a camping trip for Blue Mounds State Park Friday morning. So I was going somewhat on faith. I felt the signs of healing in my bones, though wasn't all the way there. But I'm glad I didn't let that stop us from going on the trip we'd been planning for some months.

The prairies down there are amazing. Rolling green hills, covered with outcroppings of dark red/purple "Sioux quartzite." The unique stone ranges in color from flesh-like tan and brown colors to deep blood red and purple, and it is everywhere in that part of the country, exposed by the recession of the last glaciers. The Minnesota farmers never tried to flatten out the soil there. They just planted over the hills, sometimes even terracing. The winds never seemed to stop blowing, and the sky was always changing. The clouds were like mountains over the red cliffs.

We went to a place called "Hole-in-the-Mountain," which sort of looked exactly like its name. As if there had been a mountain there, and the gods had just come and swooped it up, leaving nothing but crumbs around the edges, little foothills to remind us of what had been there. We sat on top of those hills where we could see almost everything, while the wind rushed wildly around us. You could lean into the wind and it would hold you up. We could barely talk to each other. All we could hear was the wind.

We went to Pipestone National Monument, which was both strange and wonderful. Wonderful because the monument consists of a series of paths that wind around the rocky hills and cliffs and over streams, unveiling one beautiful vista after another. But strange because this land is considered sacred to the native Lakota, as is the stone after which the park is named -- the pipestone. When God gave it to them, he told them, "This is your flesh." At the monument, native Lakota craftsmen who have quarried and worked the sacred stone for generations were there, doing their work for tourists to watch. I thought, this is wrong. The government should give the land back to the Lakota people. If they want to let tourists come watch, then fine. But as it was, it felt strange. An intrusion into that which should not be intruded upon.

Our last day, we wandered around the cliffs at Blue Mounds, enjoying the sunshine and the warmth, and later in the day, enjoying the relief to our aching legs and feet when we could finally relax after a weekend of hiking.

Nights, Glen would start and tend the campfires while Göran and our friend Jonathan and I would take turns cooking and cleaning. Our breakfasts consisted of granola and eggs, our lunches of cashew butter and jelly sandwiches, our dinners of rough-cut veggies roasted in tin foil packets over an open fire with olive oil, herbs, and Italian-sausage-flavored pressed tofu. Much more delicious than it sounds. Memories of Glen's laughter and the sense of peace we all shared while watching a beautiful sunset will warm me for years to come.

As always, it was a time for me to slow down. To heal. To be aware of the connection between my body and the earth. To listen. To dream, and to record my dreams. To let the Spirit teach me. To be mindful of God's love, and of all our sacred destinies.


Beck said...

Ah... nothing like a beautiful sunset to make everything fit into place and feel right!

J G-W said...

Of course, we also got our share of eyes watering from campfire smoke blowing in the wrong direction, one minor tick panic, a leaky tent roof during some rain the first night (which inspired us to go out and buy some water-proofing), and a little bit of crankiness on the hiking trail the third day. But it's all part of the wonderful experience that keeps us going camping again and again.

J G-W said...

And there was EXCELLENT bird watching!

Bill McA said...

You were very brave to go camping after having just had an intestinal bug.

We just had our annual Father/Son campout to commemorate the restoration of the Priesthood. I always like camping... once the tent is set up.

J G-W said...

I remember going on one or two of those with my dad...

The tent setting up and taking down I don't mind so much... So long as the weather is nice, and there's plenty of day light!