John took me back to my apartment. We visited, and then he returned to Pauls Valley to spend time with Boston and Savannah. I slept well and got up in the morning to think about my experience during this sweat lodge (purification ceremony) and what I had done when committing to do a traditional Lakota vision quest. Another lady named Katherine also presented a pipe to Gary after I decided to do so. She wanted to do hers in October also. Gary shared with us following the sweat, giving the two of us more instructions about what we needed to begin gathering to prepare for the vision quest. He then shared with me that this way was not for everybody as he said, “Relax and see what comes to my mind in the next few days. And, yes, you will do your vision quest for you committed to it, and I committed to helping you.”
I pretty much sat and stared at a wall with so many thoughts running through my mind. The salt that came out of my body due to the sweat might represent all that “stuff” within us. Then I thought of the story in the Bible of Lot’s wife. I thought, “I will not be left behind to turn into a pillar of salt.” Salt crystallizes, and then after it crystallizes, one cannot move. It made me think about not looking back, but looking forward to all I could learn. I saw shapes of a leaf, purple surrounding a heart, and many indefinable other images in the sweat.
Sunday afternoon, I laid down to take a nap and had an amazing dream. While I was asleep, someone came to me. She was standing over me on my side of the bed. She had brown hair, a peaceful, gentle smile, and was wearing a white dress. I tried to wake up, but she said, “Go back to sleep.” I kept sleeping, and then there was a beautiful feather at the end of my bed. I was in a queen-size bed, and it covered the entire end of the bed. It was beautiful. I looked at it. Where did it come from? I had never seen a feather that looked like the one on my bed. The feathers on this wing looked like the sun and the rainbow. The lady was no longer there when I looked up. Then I heard a live lady come in and call my name. That awakened me. I attempted to come back to reality. That dream was so vivid. It was one of my most amazing dreams. I had only dreamed a few others that seemed that real. Each one of them meant so much to me and my life!
I was glad I was awakened because I had to present a seminar that evening at a church in Oklahoma City on relationships. Before I left, however, I telephoned John and shared my dream. He suggested that I study a little bit about the Phoenix. As soon as I got home following my presentation, I began my study. I had never known about this mythical bird? I learned there was only one such bird that existed at any time. It had gold brilliant mixed with other colors, reddish, blue, green, and purple feathers. It was larger than an Eagle and had a life of 500-97,200 years. At the end of each life cycle, the phoenix burned itself on a funeral pyre. Another phoenix then rose from ashes with renewed youth and beauty. After rising from the ashes, the young phoenix carried its father’s remains to the altar of the sun god. The long life of the phoenix and its dramatic rebirth made it a symbol of immortality and spirituality. Real or Not Real? I did not care. Perhaps I was in the process of losing my life to create a new one. Perhaps this was about Sun Dance. I needed to listen carefully to my thoughts!
A telephone call pulled me away from those thoughts. Someone was interested in my house. I knew I had to sell 95% of my good furniture if I sold the house and moved into a small apartment. How would I do that? I decided that I would not worry. It had not been sold yet.
Monday, Kathy and I shared what led up to the sweat we both attended and all that had been happening with us since we committed to this vision quest. I shared with her first about our trip to Hawaii and how we met a Native American before getting to Kauai. On the first lap between Oklahoma City and Dallas, we saw an interesting, tall man that looked to be multi-race. I began concentrating on him and thinking about meeting him. John had a chance on the first plane to speak to him. When we got on the lap that took us to Hawaii, he was on there with us. (Try the concentration when you want to meet someone on an airplane.) Then we got on the plane to Kauai, and he sat down with us. It turned out that we were going to the same place. He lived in Kauai. His name was Stretch Howard Johnson. I mentioned Al-Anon, and he told us about a meeting we might like to attend with him. Talking a little more, we learned that Stretch actually used to dance at the Cotton Club with Lena Horne years ago and that he was now the Native American newspaper’s editor on the island. I shared with Kathy that this was yet another sign that I kept getting about a path I was not looking for! This Native American path was not what I intended. But I kept being guided to it.
I returned to my story about Stretch. We made arrangements to meet him one day to go to the meeting while in Kauai. We met, and afterward, he took us to his home to meet his grown daughter. They both put on their tap shoes and performed for John and me. What a gift. After their performance, Stretch took us on a tour of Kauai. Luckily both John and I knew what a diabetic reaction looked like, thanks to my mother and Pearce. We each grew up helping a family member with diabetes, and we knew what to do. So I guess that we shared gifts that great day! He went home, and we returned to the Westin Hotel to discover more swan feathers in front of our door wrapped so no one else could see them. There was a man taking care of the swans in the fountain in front of the Westin Hotel. He surprisingly gifted us after I told him how much I loved the swans. When the first feathers were left at our door, we made a decision. We passed champagne presented to us by the stewardesses as we left our flight to the person taking care of the swans. Every evening we discovered some more feathers at our door.
I had already learned that they completely let it go when they give a gift in the Native American way. It does not matter what they do with the gift that was given to them. Of course, that is the way one should always be when giving a gift. However, many also judge this. They resent that they gave a child or a friend a gift, and then they pass it to someone else or let it go. When we truly give, we completely let go. So we felt free to give this to Manny rather than open it.
On the way to look for stones, I just kept talking about all of this. She finally looked at me, saying, “I think we are going to have a great vision quest, and I do believe you just might have found the path that will bring you surprising answers.” Kathy had been doing this longer than me! With that, we began picking up the first of 400 stones we were to bring with us to our vision quest. We were both quiet while we did this. We were told to carry them to the car one at a time, making a prayer with every stone. We knew we this day would be only one of several days picking up stones.
LESSON: When we commit to what is good for Self, a miracle in life can be the result. Obstacles often come about with a commitment like this because our ego does not want us to change. I knew there might be frustrations and obstacles that might come with this commitment. There is a difference between a commitment and a promise. A commitment is made with Self, the Awakened Self that is connected to an Eternal Source. A promise is made between two people. A promise is easier to break between two people than a commitment to Self and my Eternal Source. It is important to commit to Self before committing to another.
GIFTS: Within each of us is a Unique Self. I felt like I was moving through the first part of another journey to help me reach within. Al-Anon was my first way. I knew there was more work to do as I connect to my Eternal Source and my destination. When I reach that, I can have peace within, and my life will be less chaotic. Knowing obstacles might come with my commitment to do a vision quest, I knew I had gone around many other obstacles in my life, and I could do that again.
When I presented that pipe to Gary, I committed to my Self. I just needed to surrender and trust the process as I participated in other sweats, followed directions, and walked toward the quest.
The dream with the woman and the phoenix feather came, I met some fascinating people, and completed my commitments in my work and Al-Anon that I already made! I also felt positive and supported.