At a recent healing retreat I was sitting around the fire, and shared uncertainties about, the future, the dreams that still call to me, and the business still to be taken care of. The next day, a relative came up to me and said “I’d like to give you something that might be helpful in defining your plans. I’ll give you a call and we’ll get together”.

When we met, she gave me a Pendleton blanket; they are highly prized in Indian country, and I had given them as gifts at honoring ceremonies, but had never received one. This Pendleton was from their new Legendary Blanket series called “Keep My Fires Burning”. The pattern honored storytellers, shaman and elders who pass on the customs, beliefs, and history of their culture, to future generations. It is a gorgeous, brilliantly colored, 6’x 8’ blanket that depicts the silhouettes of a storyteller with braided hair, sitting around a fire, speaking to three young people, his finger pointing up to the sky. We blessed it over fragrant cedar smoke and then she placed it over my shoulders saying “I’ve had this for a while and it doesn’t feel right for me, but maybe it will speak to you”. I was deeply touched.

Later, I wrapped it around me, then draped it over my shoulders like a shawl, and finally tied it around my waist. Slowly I began to dance, and chanted in the crimson dusk. I heard the words from the silhouetted storytellers lips; Devere Eastman (Lakota) telling me “I have only a fifth-grade education, and the most important thing I ever learned in school was that ignorance is spelled egonorance; it’s not all about you”. Harrington Luna (Pima), said “they can only put your body in prison, never your Spirit”, Nelson Fernandez (Mohave/Luiseno) “it’s all good”, Bill Tyner (Shawnee) “sing in your own language, the Great Spirit understands them all”, Bill Dalton (Hopi) “forget about the answers, it’s enough to know the questions are important”.

Dancing in my spirit blanket, I heard my relatives remind me that it’s never been about the stuff we accumulate, our lives, legacy, and culture are defined by our stories. In the enveloping darkness, the life I wanted to live became clearer to me—–share what’s inside you, do what you love to do, and don’t do that for which you have no heartfelt reason.