Shortly later, I return to the lodge ~
I enter the lodge. I can see that everyone is sleeping. It is late. Dark. And Quiet.
Chaak opens one of his eyes, slowly and sleepily. I smile at him. He closes his eye and smiles, drifting back to sleep.
Holding Eagle was fast asleep in his cot.
(Curiously, I saw that he did not share the same cot with Scattered Corn… and found this to be very strange ~ clearly there was something deeper and hidden keeping them apart, even in this lodge, and keeping them from sharing the same bed ~ and immediately their feelings became mine: the pain, the longing, the troubles from separating ~ and I saw how I myself, somehow, was now tied into even THEIR narrative ~ and the pain was deep in my stomach. Why are they not in the same bed? Why are they still separated?)
I shrugged this thought aside, and approached Holding Eagle’s cot.
I knelt down and stared into his face.
“Holding Eagle…” I whispered.
His eyes open, immediately.
A questioning and concerned look came across his face as he sat up in his cot, not knowing why I came to wake him in the night and looking around the lodge, making sure that all was well within it.
“All is well,” I assured him. “All is well. “I just…. Wanted to tell you something. Here. Face to face.”
He nodded ~ a gesture to continue.
“I wanted to tell you…. YOU, here and in person, how grateful I am for you….” I fought the tears filling my eyes – “and to The Big Chief in The Sky who sent you to find me.”
All the muscles on Holding Eagle’s face relaxed. A slow smile stretched across his face. His shoulders dropped and his body turned itself directly towards mine, and he now sat cross-legged, spine straight and back erect, with his face up directly across from mine and extremely close, almost nose to nose, his gaze set intently towards me, and he looked into me, eyes locking and connecting with mine.
It was something sacred.
He tilted his head back a bit, lifting his chin into the space where his nose had been, proudly, it jutting out like a river ridge, looking down at me from this gaze he spoke to me saying: “Have courage, Little Big Chief. You take staff with you, and wear feather when you walk the ways from now on.”
I bowed my head, and nodded.
A tear formed in his eye before giving his next instruction. “Remember the smallpox,” he said ~ and I understood the pain behind it, the level of which was unspeakable.
And I felt my own pain deep in my stomach, a pain similar to his, which felt like guilt and shame, for not listening to Holding Eagle when he warned me of “the small pox” the first time.
He grunted at me, protruding his chin ~ a gesture to stay focused, not lose heart, and to get my shoulders up and chest out like his.
I did so.
The old man continued.
“Warriors.” He he said it, with distinction and purpose. “Warriors who go outside the camp and stop enemy from from entering the village. Warriors go, and meet with their elders.”
I nodded, slowly, heavily, taking all of this in.
He looked at me again, with a fierce intensity, and said to me, with stone firmness: “Protect your lodge as you walk the ways.” His words carried a sort of weight of responsibility that is difficult to describe, and I knew somehow that his own life/progress/healing depended on me as individual doing (or not doing) this very thing.
“Or this” and he pointed to the staff symbol (but Thoth’s version of it…) “becomes lost, reversed, or ruined.”
And from the air, he pulled two eagle feathers from the air, white with black tips, and tied them into my hair. And he looked at me with pride, having made me into one of his people, with his chest out and a big smile on his face. A whooping shout from his lips and from deep within his chest.
He grew silent, looked at me, lifted his chin with a smile, and gave me (what felt like) some kind of new name as part of the tribe:
Continued in 2/13 (Part 4)