Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Last night I had an interesting dream. In my dream, on one of the “sell it yourself” web sites, somebody was selling the power to control the entire world. In a dream that made no sense at all, I managed to get a peak at what the enormous sum of money actually purchased. As it turns out, what they were selling was a large, spherical, rather poorly made sphere with a door. Inside was a little table kind of built into the structure, and a folding chair. On one of the walls was painted the words, “This is your world. You are in charge.”
Believe it or not, this made a great deal of sense to me. It wasn’t just a hollow sphere; it was more like an isolation chamber. Inside that sphere, there was no outside world, no distractions, no work, no stress, an entire world where the occupant was in control. It was just a place to be at peace.
It’s a beautiful concept, isn’t it? A little space just to be away. I had the great and proud honor to have been invited to a Native American Sundance ceremony. These are spiritual ceremonies, a form of church service meant to last for an entire year. The spiritual leader specifically made the point that in the Sundance, nobody had labels, there were no responsibilities, nobody owed anything to anybody. It was just a safe space. That was kind of the point of this “isolation sphere” in my dream.
Sometimes, we all just need to disappear, to be alone, to hide from the world, from bills, from late payments, from stress over money. We even need to hide away from those that we love for just a few minutes of peach and quiet. I know I often feel this way, and when I do, my favorite place to do it is somewhere in a heavily wooded area like a state park near a small gurgling brook. For some reason, the sound of running water brings peace and calm to my mind, like the voice of God speaking soothingly to me. When I find myself in such a place, I just sit, quietly. Sometimes I’ll talk with God, and other times I’ll just cry, but always I just sit and listen, feeling the calm breeze on my face, feeling my internal batteries recharge.
We all need the chance to let go from time to time. My dreams are trying to tell me this and created a safe space for me. It’s not as good as the real thing, but I guess it’s better than nothing. For people of faith, this can be their church. For people close to their family, it can be a family member or members, or even the old home where they grew up. For people like me, unfortunately, there are no specific places for me.
Maybe I need to get out and seek a place near me now. In the Black Hills, I instantly felt at home. It’s unfortunate that things ended they way that they did, because I haven’t felt so at home since. But the Black Hills are a national park, replete with heavily forested mountains. If you don’t know, it’s where Mt. Rushmore is, so no doubt you’ve seen photos.
Mt. Rushmore is actually “holy land” for many of the native people. I have to admit, I don’t know how the tribal system works. Certainly, for the people of the Rosebud reservation, which is one of the Lakota tribes, it is holy, but I don’t know if this means the Hills are holy to all Native people. Their spiritual leaders will sometimes sojourn with their people into the hills, and where they feel the spirits are strong, they will hang ribbons as part of their holy ceremony. I like telling people this so they understand that if they see such ribbons in the Black Hills they shouldn’t touch or disturb them. They’re as holy to them as the bone of a saint might be to somebody who is Catholic, so it’s just simple respect to leave them undisturbed.
But I understand why the Hills are holy to them. There’s a calm, a cleansing property, a spirituality in the hills for me. Now, I need to seek a new place that is spiritual for me. The Loess Hills (or, rather, the southernmost part of them) are near me. That might be a good place for me to start. But if it is the Loess Hills or someplace else, I need to find it.