Primitive religion is not believed, it is danced!

Arthur Darby Nock

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

Elizabeth Browning

Saturday, July 27, 2013


It is Chief Joseph Days 
in Wallowa County, Oregon

Native Americans
and "cowboys" alike gather

our little town of 900 becomes a 
town of thousands overnight

and for over 20 years
perhaps closer to 30
I have participated 
in the 
rituals of the event

the family rituals

the next to the last rodeo show!
north grandstands
center section

staking out space with plastic chairs for the parade
up at 5
in town by 5:30am

then down to the rodeo grounds for the 
Shriners breakfast
followed by a look at the rodeo animals
and then a hike through all the booths
set up downtown

the parade
dogs and burgers at our place
whatever is next
the lake
or just sitting in the sun talking

but times change
life changes
rituals come and go

Saturday night is now Friday
the carnival is no more
and frankly
the pancakes
and sausags
and really bad coffee aren't the 
same without brother-in-law Dan
nor is the walk through the booths
Dan was born here and knew everyone
and he loved to talk
it would take an hour to go a block
Tiger Lilly
our lovely paint mare
 is not going carry
one of the chiefs this year
and I have no relative in the parade
 for once

things change
things remains the same
and yet those traditions and rituals we can hang on to
are somehow comforting
and rewarding
 I would be deeply saddened not to have
the rituals of Chief Joseph Days

it reminds me of faith
and worship
things change
things remain the same
as we rush to "worship God"
in new ways
let us remember that there is great value
in some of those "old" traditions
they provide a foundation
from which we find 
the security
and freedom
to move forward into new places
and create 
new expressions

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