For many years I traveled from Rapid City, SD to Sundance, Wyoming to attend the twice-monthly meetings of The BearLodge Writer’s Group. It was a 3-hour drive round trip. Other writers will understand when I say that it is very hard to find a writer’s group that actually makes you a better writer. This group was that and more to me. An inside joke was that they called themselves “The BearLodge Eaters” because chocolate was always present at meetings. Writers brought their stories, poems, and novel excerpts to read and be critiqued by the group.
I had grown out of my fear of doing this scary thing, but it still made your palms sweat a bit. There were (are) some really good writers in this group. I made some wonderful friends here but probably the woman who took up permanent residence in my heart was Gaydell Collier. Her heart was so big and her ear so keen that I would read my stuff and be secretly watching Gaydell to see if I brought a tear to her eye or a smile to her lips. When she read her material, it always moved me. We were sister spirits, I think. Later, Andi Hummel (another great friend find), Gaydell and I would meet for lunch in Spearfish to catch up and connect. Gaydell passed away a few years ago. Oddly, some days when I am not feeling very connected or clear, I’ll go to call someone and Gaydell’s number will be “up” on my phone. I can’t bring myself to take it off.
It was to this group that I first brought Albert’s Manuscript, a quirky little book extracted from a larger novel that never really went anywhere. There were references in the larger novel to a manuscript written by an old Lakota man about The Wind of a Thousand Years and his experiences as a young man who was taken to the realm of the ancestors. The reference was brief. One day I decided to just write Albert’s Manuscript separately to see what Old Albert had to say. It was an amazing experience for me–the story seem to roll out from my ink pen with little or no thought from me. I printed it, bound it with brass clasps, and handed it out to the Bear Lodge Writers. It seemed to have a life of its own.
Later it became the basis for the little Bead People story, The Wind of a Thousand Years and those little Bead People have since carried their message of peace to over 40 countries (I’ve printed 8,000 books.)
I have a feeling that Albert is not done with me yet. I want to explore more of what he learned on his journey. It feels prophetic and timely. I want to know more about what he says about the power of belonging and separating and what it means to learn whether you are a Walker, Watcher, Weeper . . . or Weaver. I feel like we should step way back both in time and energetically to see what lessons we need to learn about our world today. So, first steps, I decided to get the story in print to share with others. There were earlier attempts, but I could never settle on a cover. So I kept it simple this time and just moved forward. The book is now available at Amazon. Finally.
So, below is an excerpt from the book. I may use this space to further explore the meaning of the story in the coming weeks and months. It feels like we could all be doing a bit more to change the energy of this poor world.
First Man’s Story, an excerpt from Albert’s Manuscript
My name is First Man of the Wind of a Thousand Years. I am from the realm of the ancestors. There are other worlds, other realms, and I don’t speak for them except to say that the Wind originated there. We, like those still in the land of the living, are subject to the power of this great wind.
I was a boy, living in what you know as the southwest when first I felt the Wind. I lived a simple life with my parents, my people. We existed much as we had lived from the first memories that came down to us from our ancestors in the stories that we kept. It was my favorite time of day, the time of hearing my parents and grandparents tell the stories of my people, stories of spiders weaving, and of my people climbing up through the realms to emerge on earth as First People. I listened carefully as I was instructed to do so that one day the stories could be passed down in a good way to my children and grandchildren. It was inconceivable that anything would happen to change that long, slow, unfolding history—until the Wind came.
With the first kiss of this mighty Wind came the drought. In just a few years our lands were sucked dry of all moisture and food was scarce. The people began to break into small groups and travel out from our main village. The hot dry sun baked the earth into crust, and the people began to protect food instead of share it. Angers rose and the people built weapons with which to defend themselves, and the peaceful way we had lived for thousands of years was shattered.
One day another tribe came from the south and attacked my family’s village. Their storm was violent and quick. When the dust settled, my small body lay on the ground, broken, bloodied, sandwiched between the dead bodies of my parents and surrounded by my dead village. Death was all around. This event so shocked my young spirit that it left my body and fled to the high rock pinnacles surrounding the dead village and perched there, staring down at the horrible sight below. I sat, still and unmoving, watching as the carrion birds and the wild dogs cleaned the bones below.
The sun rose and fell, rose and fell for decades until it had bleached the bones white and still I sat. I didn’t know enough to travel alone to the ancestors and none came to claim me. It was not known to me until much later that this long period of stillness, perched and waiting, was my initiation into becoming a Watcher. I also didn’t know that in other parts of the world similar terrible events were unfolding and being witnessed by other Watchers across the earth.
The Wind of a Thousand Years had begun.
Eventually, the rock on which I perched began to grow. It rose so high above the earth that soon I could see other nations of people living on other lands. I could see far south into wet jungle lands and torrid areas. I could see north to frozen, icy lands where the bands of people were small clusters moving across snow and ice in their fight to survive the harsh land. I could see east and west, across great bodies of water to other lands. Everywhere I cast my eyes, the people were moving, walking, walking out across the land. As my perch grew higher yet, my eyes could no longer see the bare bones of my parents but only the travelers which I later came to know as The Walkers. I no longer shivered, no longer curled into my spirit body but looked out. And as I looked out, I grew curious at the massive, moving bodies of people.
I wanted to understand what was happening. My questions grew, just as yours have, Albert. Finally, I stood high up on my rocky perch, raised my arms up to the heavens and prayed. It was the first time in all the years of watching I had prayed to the ancestors to show me what was happening.
And then, a miracle. They came for me. The ancestors came and took me home, much the same as they came to get you and for a similar reason—to teach me how to see.
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