It’s been an intense few weeks; came down with the flu and pneumonia which slowed me considerably, but I’m on the mend and feeling strong. During this time, I also sponsored a Native American Church healing ceremony for myself and Elaine. Once again, it was an intense opening to the world of my soul.

I have attended NAC meetings for more than 40 years. This is where I learned how to pray, how to say straight with my lips what I was feeling in my heart. But this was the first time that I would be surrounded by both my children and grandchildren. They endured the all-night hardships as a gift to me knowing how important these tipi meetings have been in my spiritual awakening.

Although I acknowledge the importance of the spirit in healing; getting into that space is not always easy for me. I tend to over-think things, spend a lot of my time in my head and can’t always hear the drumbeat that let’s my spirit emerge.

The tipi was packed tipi with friends and relatives, I can’t find the right words to describe the profound sense of love that surrounded me. In spite of my smoldering influenza, I got stronger as the night went on. All that focused energy lifted me beyond my corporeal world and into the celestial one.

At midnight, the ceremonial chief, the Road Man, my Segee Jerry Nelson, goes outside to blow the Eagle bone whistle in the four directions. That sound lifts our prayers to touch the ear of the Great Spirit. He prays for me, for everyone in the tipi, and for all of nature. He prays for everything that grows, for all the creatures not just the two-legged but those who fly, swim, crawl and slithers, on the face of the Earth Mother.

When he returns into the tipi, he motions for me to stand up. He picks up the fire stick and presses the blunt, cold end, deep into my solar plexus. I gasped in pain, and he pulls something out of my chest that makes me feel lighter. Then he turned the fire stick around and placed the fiery end close to my chest, and blows the golden sparks directly into my chest; as they flew up my neck, and moved out through the open tipi flaps rose the sparks turned purple. Whatever the explanation, I felt lifted up… free.

At dawn, after ‘Woman brings the morning water, everyone can express themselves. My brother Rupert Encinas, the Cedar Chief spoke first, I call him “Nickel Head” because he has that quintessential Indian face, that profile that you see on the Buffalo Head nickel; the regal cheekbones, penetrating eyes, braids and feathers. In return, he calls me with affection, The Jew Man.

After Rupert spoke, Jerry Nelson got up, pointed at Rupert while looking directly at me said “he may be the Nickelhead, but you are a Knucklehead. He goes on to remind me of what I know is true, that if you want to get healthy you have to be in harmony in mind, body and spirit. “Open yourself to the medicine, get out of your head, feed your spirit, look around you, live your life. I see 3 generations of my bloodline surrounding me and my tears run freely.

The most important things are your family, tribe, your passions, conscience, and soul…even when health declines, if these remained, my life would still be full.  These are difficult times, we are a Nation divided and despairing, I encourage you as you enter this New Year to look around you at what is really important and may the love you see conquer despair that surrounds us.

In this joyous season of birth and renewal I say thank you for walking with me in this life…and send to you my blessings for love and peace.

I say this For all my Relations, Mi Takuye Oyasin.