The darkness of the prairie

Before Mike and I flew back to South Dakota, we had time to tour Arlington National Cemetery. We stopped as a funeral Procession passed us by, the casket resting on a horse-drawn caisson. We were told across the country WWII veterans are dying at a rate of about 1500 each day. Veterans killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan are also coming here for their final resting place. So much history starting with Civil War dead! The sailors who perished on the Maine during the Spanish-American War. Nurses killed in action. Civil Rights pioneer Medgar Evers. Korea and Viet Nam vets. Supreme court justices. The graves of the three Kennedy brothers. The astronauts from the Space Shuttle Challenger. We paid our respects at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and watched the ritual changing of the guard. We climbed to Robert E. Lee’s Arlington House, which overlooks the Potomac and the whole District of Columbia.

In a matter of hours we are transported back into a different world. After our 15 seat plane from Denver to Pierre lands at the airport we drive 90 miles home. There are no bright lights, no sky scrapers, and fewer than a handful of cars and the darkness of the prairie. But there is more that unites us than divides us.

Whether it’s a huge national cemetery, or a hill far away on a lonely reservation, cemeteries always move me to deeper prayer, reflection, and admiration of people who went before us.

National treasures

Overnight cold froze a thin layer of ice across campus, then we added a light dusting of snow to cover it up and make it even more slippery. I always caution staff to be careful, but I myself fell down twice today. The first time I only bruised my pride, but the second time left the muscles in my arm sore and bruised. Winter is not ready to let go of us just yet!

We loved the panda's at the National Zoo!
We loved the panda's at the National Zoo!

Linea, who teaches language arts in grades 5-8 here at St. Joseph’s Indian School, shared photos of a trip she just chaperoned. Two of our 8th grade girls got the thrill of traveling  to Washington, DC. For several years a donor has helped sponsor a spring trip so two of our kids get the chance to experience the Museum of the American Indian, as well as some of the other national treasures. Senator John Thune’s office graciously set up a thorough tour of the Capital and Supreme Court. Our students were tickled to see the giant pandas at the National Zoo, and deeply moved by their time going through the Holocaust Museum. It was the first time in DC for both teachers and students, who said that it will make government and history come alive in a unique way.

This week the school is hosting an artist in residence. Sandra is working with our students to help them paint with water colors. They will start with abstract paintings, then try moving on to nature scenes. The state of South Dakota has a good group of visiting artist to draw upon, and I find them all to be very kid friendly. I’m excited to see what kind of creations they come up with by week’s end.

This coming weekend we have donor appreciation luncheons in the Kansas City area. I practiced with our two high school boys who will represent the school and tell of their experience of St. Joseph’s Indian School.  I think they’re more excited about the possibility of taking in a real major league baseball game than having to speak in front of a crowd. But just like making it to the big leagues, almost all success in life takes practice, practice, practice.