I took it easy today; slept in and decided to stay around the rectory. I had a few phone calls from folks who didn’t get the chance to see me, and two people dropped by to say hello.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
I took it easy today; slept in and decided to stay around the rectory.
I had a few phone calls from folks who didn’t get the chance to see me, and two people dropped by to say ‘hello’.
Mildred presented me with two beautiful star quilted pillows. “This is gift of thanksgiving that you made it through your surgery,” she said, “and I’m praying for your continued healing.”
Romey also wanted to check in. His first question was not about my health, but he asked, “How are those Bears going to do this year?” We talked a little football and a little family … in a way that was so familiar and comfortable.
The Saturday evening mass in Eagle Butte brought some more reunions. One Sunday a month the parish celebrates that month’s birthdays. We had a potluck and birthday cake and chance to hang around for fellowship.
One young man came to church after having been away for eight years. “What is it that brought you back today?,” I asked. “Emptiness,” he answered, “and wanting something more.”
I knew him when he was a child growing up in Cherry Creek, and he couldn’t believe I remembered hiking up to Holy Hill with him and groups of youngsters led by Sister Cheri. We’d look for tinpsila (wild turnips) and give the kids some fun time away from struggles they may be having in their homes. He has been struggling with drugs and alcohol, and I know it’s a long road back. I encouraged him to keep on the good road, and continue to look for people who can be of support and encouragement.
With my presence at yesterday’s public events, word got out around the community that I’m in town, and folks that I hadn’t yet seen started stopping by the rectory to say hello.
Friday, July 16, 2010
With my presence at yesterday’s public events, word got out around the community that I’m in town … Folks that I hadn’t seen yet started stopping by the rectory to say hello.
Judy came while I was away at mass, so afterward I tracked her down at the arts and crafts fair. We had a good visit while she was setting up all the quilts and pillows she’s sown.
Judy lives on a ranch about 15 miles off the paved roads. During the winter and rainy seasons she may go several weeks without getting to town, and that’s her time to channel her creative energies into such beautiful items.
I also received calls to make some other stops. I visited the bank and hung out in the break room as workers came by in shifts and got the chance to catch up. I visited a couple that was so good to me ever since the first summer I arrived in Eagle Butte 30 years ago. With health issues they don’t get out much, but are still sharp and delighted at the company.
For lunch, I ate at the Senior Center. They always have a nutritious meal; but more importantly a place for the elders of the community to come for some friendship and company. What I noticed this time was that many of the elders I remember were not there any longer, and a new generation of folks I remember have now joined the ranks of elderly. I had several good conversations.
Later, I stopped at Landmark Hall where people were registering for the school reunion. I ran into some dear friends there.
In the evening a family invited me over to their house for supper. I got to meet the newest generation of the clan. What I told them I most appreciated, besides the good food, was the laughter as they told stories about one another and life’s events.
Laughter and friendship is one of the most healing things.
To kick off the Eagle Butte centennial, the Pony Express and several wagon trains rolled into town. Each encounter with people, even the small ones, can be a lasting occasion of God’s grace.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
To kick off the Eagle Butte centennial, the Pony Express and several wagon trains rolled into town. Riders left the capital in Pierre early in the morning and rode 2 and 3 mile legs across country to deliver the mail to the main street just before supper.
The governor sent a proclamation proclaiming “Eagle Butte Centennial Days” and the saddle bag that passed between over 30 riders also contained a copy of the first Eagle Butte newspaper and letters to various towns folk. Afterward, everyone gathered in the tent set up on the main street for a BBQ buffalo feed.
In the evening, folks in town held a talent show. Singing karaoke – including a few guitar players – kept the songs and claps of appreciation rolling throughout the night. I wandered through the tent, saying hello to old friends and meeting youngsters who have been born since I was last in town.
It’s surprising to me which folks are most excited when they see me; the folks I worked closely with on altar society or parish projects, or walked with them through a family death or illness that I know will have lots to say. But there were several young adults that I remember as children that I only had occasional interaction with … yet some remember me as a long lost friend that was good to them and their family. You never know the impact you make, or the seeds you plant.
Each encounter with people, even the small ones, can be a lasting occasion of God’s grace.
Lest anyone warns me to take it easy, I have been taking very long naps every afternoon and pacing myself accordingly.
Monday, July 12, 2010
This morning I stopped in to visit a housebound parishioner who means a lot to me. Over toast and tea, we reminisced and caught up about our respective doings. We also discussed what’s going on in Eagle Butte.
This evening, I went to a wake of a 52-year-old woman who died of cancer. A drum group played some traditional songs as the pall bearers brought Carol’s body into church. I didn’t know Carol well, but I know her sister Margaret very well and wanted to be there to support her family.
In these Indian reservation communities, wakes and funerals are still very well attended. I find the best part of coming back to a parish where I’ve served is that first look of recognition across a room and the smile as people approach to say hello. Tonight, lots of familiar faces came up and gave me a hug or hearty handshake.
After the wake and rosary, the family served a meal, so people could stay around and visit. That gave me the chance to wander the tables and reconnect with folks. It’s the part of parish work I miss most when I have the administrative duties to take care of back at St. Joseph’s.
Lest anyone warns me to take it easy, I have been taking very long naps every afternoon and pacing myself accordingly. I still have nagging nerve pains in my foot that are about the same as they’ve been for weeks. But otherwise I feel OK.