Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Chamberlain is a small town of about 2600 people, but it’s the biggest town for 65 miles in any direction.
We have a small community hospital here and dedicated doctors. But what many of us in rural America face when it comes to health care is long hours of travel for services that go beyond the basics, and in my case, that includes chemo and radiation.
So my bags are packed, and with Fr. Bill accompanying me, we’re off this afternoon on a half day trip to the hospital.
I’ll likely be out of touch the next couple of days but will update this blog when I get back, hopefully on Saturday.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Today, we held our annual Healing Camp for students who lost a family member in the past year.
On South Dakota Indian reservations, the life expectancy for a man is a mere 59 years and for women about 70. Our students face grief and loss much more often than the culture I grew up in.
So, we’ve developed a day of activities and sharing to help students work through this difficult time of grief.
I started the group off with an opening prayer and met them again at the end of the day to close with prayer. In between, our staff ran all the rest of the process and activities.
One cultural tradition that helps Lakota people in their grieving is the “Wiping of the Tears” ceremony.
We had a prayer leader from the Lower Brule reservation come in and hold this ceremony for our little ones. As tears are symbolically wiped away, amid support from the community, it acknowledges the reality of loss, but also encourages mourners to take part in community activities again.
Yes there are tears. But, laughter and togetherness help heal.