October 10, 2000
My neighbor woke me and the coyotes with his terrible smoker's coughing. They could howl but I could only listen through all my blankets over my head.
I had nothing packed but decided I needed breakfast more than I needed to follow orders on how to leave the room before attending the morning sessions. I took my time enjoying eggs and hash browns with lots of good coffee. The food is very good here. No complaints here. On the way back to the cabin I saw what I thought were mountain lion tracks in the dust. Either that or Ghost Ranch has some very big kitties sneaking through the bushes.
I made piles of what I needed for today and for tomorrow's flight and packed the rest away. After I got the suitcase locked and was halfway down the hill I realized I had forgotten to put on a bra! Too late. I had planned to drop off my stuff in a corner of the conference room and then to head off on my ramble. But Gioia stopped me to give me a copy of her book; Sometimes the Soul and we talked until someone else demanded her attention. Just as I was moving through the crowd for the door, Martin walked in and said good-morning to me so suddenly there was no way out.
As he looked over our homework he saw I only had one stick carved. Without my comment he assured me it was okay to not have done all the tasks if one could not. It was if he could read my mind that I was ready to bolt on the least excuse. Fortunately for me, our first instruction was to take half of our fabric and to tie it around the prayer sticks, letters, and mementos to make a bundle. This suited me just fine since no one would see how very bare my bundle was.
When we were assigned partners it happened that Katie and I ended up together. As we stood there looking at each other, remembering the couple of conversations we had had but yet how close we felt, and smiling as if our faces would split, Martin asked if we knew each other. He had judged our connections as being older than the conference.
As we stood opposite of each other, clutching our bundles to our chests, singing and stomping up the energy, I smelled smoke. Distracted I began to look around for its source. Then I noticed Martin running to the area directly behind me. There was the guy who had sat at my table for breakfast who had refused to talk to me. I did not know he was part of our group, but here he was sitting out of the ceremony (as were Gioia and Robert Bly). Everyone jerked around as Martin began yelling at the man asking, "What are you burning?" The man mumbled something about Native tobacco from Chief Buffalo Something or Other. His voice faded away under the strength of Martin's furious righteous anger. "Now is not the time for that! Take that out of here." Martin was screaming at the man as he stood towering over him. Martin is not that tall, but the guy was shrinking smaller and smaller as if under a spell. He scuttled outdoors and Martin stood at the door making sure all of whatever he had went out with him. Then Martin continued the ceremony with a very worried look on his face.
Three little kids were running around today. Other days their parents had kept them out of the conference, but knowing today was for ceremony and since both parents wanted to take part, the kids were there too. One tiny boy would pick flowers out of the vases on the stage and walk up and down the lines giving people his offerings. I was touched when he solemnly held out one for me. Then Martin had Bly and Gioia go down the center of our two lines to bless the energy we had raised. Bly did not know what to do and Gioia held out her hand in taking instead of giving so I dropped my flower in as correction.
Then the partners traded bundles to dance them. At first the lines snaked around the room in an orderly way and then Martin lead us so that we began to dance against each other as the circles closed in on themselves. All of a sudden I saw the little 3 – 4 year-old girl and boy standing side by side in our midst. In order to protect them from the jostling bodies of adults, Katie and I began to dance around them in a protective way. Suddenly, by itself, the group was circling the two children with 5 – 6 layers of dancing, shouting, singing adults. The little girl had her arm over the slightly smaller boy's shoulders. She kept whispering in his ear not to be afraid. She was so earnest, so caring so completely into taking care of the boy, making sure that he stayed with her no matter what in the center of our circle. For some reason, seeing those two tiny persons standing there, scared yet knowing they were right, seeing how they were honoring our activity, raising it above ourselves touched me very deeply. I began to weep uncontrollably. I do not know what happened for a while. After we laid our bundles in the center where the children had stood (the bundles were rayed out like the petals of a huge colorful flower) I sat down to get my breath and to mop up my face. As I sat there, the two children, now joined by an even younger boy had found some white chalk dust on the trough of a blackboard. The youngest boy, who looked a lot like Dorje and was about 18 months old, ran over to me showing me his dust-covered hands. To his surprise I took his hands in mine and pressed them to my face so he left prints of chalk on my cheeks. He was so delighted that instead of scolding him for getting into the chalk, an adult was letting him mess up her face. He giggled and ran away. Four more times he came to me with his hands covered with chalk and I knelt down and let him bless my tears with his white handprints.
Renewed I rejoined the singing group dancing around the flower of our village. The tiny couple gave up their interest in the chalk and started to walk back into the center of the dance. Just as we finished the song, we could hear the little girl's voice clearly saying to the little boy, "We are married now!" At that Martin clasped his hands together over his head and quietly said, "It is good. We have been received." Then Martin made his gifts to us. He told us how he had brought some corn back from Guatemala, but had inadvertently given it all away. One man had planted his grains and had brought some ears to this meeting. These he divided up among us – a few red kernels for each.
I gave Katie the rubber stamps and she gave me a lovely purse she had knitted in old Swedish colors of gold, blue and brick red. Martin said the other gift we had brought we should take home to give to "someone you would never want to be like." I was dismayed by the instructions that we had to take our bundles back home with us. Mine was longer than my suitcase so this meant I would be carrying it like a child through the airport. These little disciplines shamans love to give to raise awareness! but I welcomed the job of continuing the ceremony into my other at-home life.
Though the feeling was one of finality, of being finished, of perfect completion, we had to sit back down in our chairs while Bly and Gioia made announcements. Then something very weird happened. Staring (I thought) directly at me, Bly said, "Some of you and I have never met. I know you think I am king, but I am approachable and I want to meet you before I go." I got an idea. I reached into my backpack, pulled out a copy of my book Geography Lens and some tissue paper and quietly wrapped it up. As soon as the final bits of business were completed and we were dismissed, I raced around to the stage. I was the first one in line to speak with Bly. With my head bowed and my book on my two raised hands I offered him my gift from my lowered position. I shocked myself by then saying, "Because I never want to be anything like you, please accept my gift." He looked very angry and my own boldness made the tears come to my eyes. Then he bent over, put his head beside mine and said very softly, "What do you mean? In what ways?"
Weeping, I said, "You are male. You are negative. You are critical and unkind. You mistreat other people. You are famous." The longer I spoke the harder I wept. Gioia, not understanding what was happening, put both her arms around me, comforting me and pulling me away from him. Soon I was quiet and she turned to the others who were waiting to speak to her and to give her gifts.
With the excitement of good-byes, others in the room began exchanging names and addresses. I was so thankful that I had made up the little fake business cards with my rubber stamp carvings pressed on them. It was a tiny thing I could share with these people who had enriched my life in such a short time.
As the crowd began to thin out (those taking the van to the airport actually were running from the room) Marilyn arrived and we walked together to the lunchroom. Others also hated to part and wanted to share one more meal together. We sat down next to Jeremy and Marilyn got to find out for herself what an incredible young man he is. It was no surprise to her that he is an alumnus of the Steiner School. Also at our table was Linsay, the woman who had locked herself out of her car. She was so interesting, so charming I was sorry I had not been the one to share a room with her that night.
While driving up to the cabin I told Marilyn about Georgia O'Keeffe's home being here and how I had tried to find it by locating the cliffs in the photo. Marilyn was very interested in finding it so we quickly tossed my luggage in the trunk and started driving around to find it. At the entrance to the conference grounds I had remembered a display made of wooden sheep covered with fleeces. I had an idea of how I could make a drop spindle with a stick stuck in a spool of thread. If I could spin a bit of wool, I could show Gioia how her necklace was designed to work. Several people were photographing the sheep. (When one car stops all the others follow suit thinking there is surely something to see.) While we waited we idly walked down a lane that led to some houses far away. We walked as far as we could until we were so shocked and scared by the no trespassing signs that we turned and ran!
Around the sheep enough of the wool had blown off and was caught in the dried weeds that I was able to gather all I wanted without touching the displays. As Marilyn drove I plucked apart the wool into roving. Seeing some branches along the road I asked her to stop so I could get a stick. She was amazed to find me spinning wool right before her eyes but she found my spool spindle a bit too primitive. She suggested we try to find a real one in one of the gift shops of Abiquiu but that was too much to ask for. While looking in some books on O'Keeffe, we were delighted to see that one showed the exact place where we had stood on the long no trespassing lane with her house in the distance. So we had been as close as we could get.
We went to the Inn to see if Gioia was in. She was taking a nap but agreed to meet us in the dining room. Ignoring the table the three of us sat with our heads forming a triangle as we watched the spindle twirl around in our centers. Soon Gioia had the hang of the craft and was spinning the waxy wool into a lumpy thread. We were having such a good time Marilyn left to find a phone to make a call trying to get out of her appointment at 4:00 in Faralitos in El Rito. While she was gone, Gioia quickly asked me what was going on with Robert (Bly) and me at the end of the morning. She listened to me with a determined quiet and then told me that she understood my feelings, but that she had found, under this persona, was a fine person and a great friend. Marilyn returned to say that evidently the lady had already left home so we would have to leave so she could get there in time. Gioia had our coffee lattés put into containers so we could take them (her treat) with us. We dashed away with our farewells too quickly said.
In the car, Marilyn set her cup in the holder which was already half full of rocks from the white tower place on Friday. As she swung the car in a tight curve to pull on to the highway, her cup flew up, tossing the milky coffee over both of us. In my surprise I spilled my cup all over myself. We were very lucky the oncoming car did not crash into us. Miraculously it swerved around us and Marilyn was able to drive on while I began to mop up the rental car.
We got to El Rito and Faralitos was closed. I was very disappointed because I had heard so many of Ginger's stories coming from that place. While Marilyn tried to find the lady she was supposed to be meeting I wandered over to the old general store. These places have a fascination for me that comes from a long time ago. I was sorry when Marilyn came in with the news that she had given up meeting the lady and that we should buy cleaning supplies for the mess in the car. While we were daubing and scrubbing Julie Wagner came by and we were so glad to see her again. She was the artist who had created the scene for the haiku meeting in Espanola a year and a half ago and remembered us well.
The skies were dark and cold so nothing looked like it wanted to be looked at. We drove around to some of the sights we had seen the previous time I had been here but we quickly found you can never go back. Returning from going to the library we were passing Lezlie and Robert's house and Marilyn suddenly got the idea we might find a spindle there. They were both there and very tired since they had just finished laying tile in Martin's new studio. Roberto could not even get out of his chair. Though she was creaking with pain, Lezlie showed us the spindles (I bought one even though it was square and felt strange in my hands). She had a marvelous pile of various wools that she let me pick and choose. I was so touched to see she had a Glimarka loom, just like (only the next size larger) than the one I had owned when I was in Hamburg. She and I talked wool and weaving while Marilyn and Roberta got caught up on the local gossip. As soon as I could, I took care of the business and we left them to finish collapsing from their day.
We had planned to go to the baths at Ojo Caliente but by the time we drove into the parking lot we were so hungry we decided we wanted to eat first. As we got out of the car there were all the guys from 'my' table. They had been in the spa and were now on their way to spend the night at the ranch of Jeremy's parents.
In the dining room we met Barry and Myra but only waved a greeting. The dinner was pretty much a disaster. We had ordered mashed potatoes (because Marilyn said it was their best dish). The waitress brought Marilyn French fries and gave me rice. We sent that back for the potatoes. My chicken was burnt on the underside. I wanted to just cut away the char but Marilyn insisted it be done right and sent it back. While Marilyn ate her dinner I picked at the mashed potatoes and the asparagus that was hard and undercooked. When my chicken finally arrived I was tired and full so we asked for a doggie bag. Again the waitress just left us sit. I began to nibble at it and found it tasted quite good. I ended up eating most of it while Marilyn stared moodily at the other diners. We agreed that we were too full and too tired for the hot springs and gladly got in the car and drove to the place where Marilyn was house-sitting. I had forgotten that Tayra was so big but he seemed to remember me and was very gentle. I was glad that Marilyn gave me the bedroom so I could shut him out. She slept on the couch to be near the stove and him.
I woke up in the night thinking it was morning because the moon was so bright. Somehow I had misplaced my watch and there was no clock in my room. Going out in the kitchen to check the clock on the stove I naturally woke Tayra and Marilyn. I was abashed to find it was only 2:00. Finally I slept again with all the strange furniture dancing around me with funny squeaks in arabesques.
Copyright © Jane Reichhold 2000.
To learn more about Martín Prechtel and his valuable work, check out his web site.
The last day of Holy Ghost.