SMOKE LIKE WATER

Last night, I settled down by myself in the living room with my pipe and my computer for our monthly prayer ceremony. We’ve been having ice here the past two days that coats the roads, tree branches, decks, and fences. I’m glad I had decided not to invite anyone over for the ceremony. It would have been treacherous for them to come.

As always, I laid out my pipe and tobacco. After smudging everything with white sage, I opened my computer to the file where I keep all your prayers. Some had come in last-minute, and I was glad they slipped in under the door, so to speak. For each prayer, tobacco was offered and placed in a silver bowl. I added mine last. The bowl held prayers for the Earth, for certain loved ones, for help with relocations, right livelihood, new endeavors, hard times, and all our relations. There were prayers for healing, for gratitude, and for wisdom.

With all the prayers resting in the silver bowl, I began loading the pipe and calling in the seven sacred directions. Hannah, my dog, came and settled in beside me. Darter the cat rested on the ottoman at my back. The fireplace was warm and glowing, calling out to us with merry little crackles and sparks. Upstairs, Carter was in his favorite chair, watching the football games. Occasionally, I would hear him cheer on the teams with a hoot. The dishwasher was slogging along in the kitchen…

Sometimes, I take my pipe out somewhere to a private place to do ceremony. Last night, I found a certain sweetness calling in the sacred in the midst of the ordinary machinations of the household.  It reminded me that the holy is in all things at all times.

What I noticed in particular with this month’s ceremony was the quality of the smoke itself. It fairly poured out of the pipe in thick, blue bellows. I thought that it looked like water, unleashed from the binding tethers of gravity. It flowed through my fingers, slowly as though it carried much weight. Up it lifted, high into the room, covering the air above me in a cloud of gray fog. A message—“All will be well”—rose out of the pipe bowl and streamed in thick plumes to the fog above my head.

I sensed the presence of Wisdom Keeper, and also the hearts of many, many relations—both two-leggeds, but mostly the others, those precious others that add so much richness to our lives. When I finished the last puff of tobacco, my pipe bowl was so hot I could not touch it. The beeswax coating on the bowl had even melted. I’ve never had this happen before, and I sat with the pipe a long time at the close of the ceremony, pondering what I’d seen, felt, and heard.

I can’t tell you how much it means to me to be able to carry your prayers each month. It is an honor and a joy, and I never finish a pipe without feeling full to the brim with hope and peace. Thank you for sharing with me, and special thanks to Cindy, and to Leslie, who I know were praying along with me in different parts of the country. I felt you both.

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