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During this holy season, many of us think of sacred places with rich traditions and stories steeped in symbolism. The classic novel THE ROBE by Lloyd Douglas tells the story of the Roman soldier Marcellus who won Christ's robe as a gambling prize and then set forth on a quest to find out the truth about the Nazarene. The novel opens with fifteen-year-old Lucia, growing tall into womanhood but dwarfed by her palatial home - by the tall marble columns, vaulted roofs, stately statues standing silently in the manicured yard, the high silver spray of the fountain. No matter how old she became, she felt she "would be ever a child" there.
| Each Christmas, I reminisce about the trip in 1965
when my family's travels took us to Jordan, Turkey and Jerusalem. I was only 13; my older sister was 15, Lucia's age. This photo shows us standing at the Garden Tomb where many believe Jesus was buried. How is it that now, forty seven years later
, like Lucia I feel dwarfed by life, ever a child as I look back? Often with regret or wonder, usually with love, and sometimes with a sense of facing insurmountable odds.
Another story comes to mind: David and Goliath
- perhaps not the story as much as the parable drawn: Even a small stone, when well slung, can slay a giant.
A few weeks ago, John and I made a trip to Sundance, Wyoming, to do battle
with the Wyoming Highway Department. If you've read my memoir In Search of Kinship
, then you know that this is the ranchland where my children grew up, a landscape also steeped in tradition and faith, with historic sun dances and mythic legends. It is the land that Pulitzer prize-winning Kiowa author N. Scott Momaday speaks of in his book The Way to Rainy Mountain.
"A dark mist lay over the Black Hills," he writes. "At the top of a ridge I caught sight of Devil's Tower up thrust against the gray sky as if in the birth of time the core of the earth had broken through its crust and the motion of the world was begun. There are things in nature that engender an awful quiet in the heart of man; Devils Tower is one of them."
Sundance Mountain lies between Devils Tower (a poor translation of Mato Tipili or Bear's Lodge) about 30 miles to the west, and Bear Butte (Mato Paha) about 40 miles to the east. On the ranch there is a much smaller butte that I call my prayer knoll. I used to climb to the top some afternoons and sit, higher than the soaring red-tailed hawks yet dwarfed by the beckoning landscape.
With Sundance Mountain lit by the glow of the setting sun, I would fashion a cross with broken twigs, burn a few sprigs of dried sage, and let the smoke waft around me. Once in a while a solitary pronghorn buck, like this one photographed by Sundance artist Bruce Speidel, would stand guard at the base of the knoll.
Holy lands. They are everywhere. Yesterday, I hiked the wooded trail on the north side of the mountain where I now live to a granite outcropping that overlooks the steep canyon where my mother's ashes are scattered. It is a holy place, a place of story and tradition and faith for many in my community.
Do you have places you consider holy? Places that speak to you? Places where you go to listen to an older wisdom? Places that hold sacred the deepest yearnings of your heart? I believe the Creator waits for us in these places and when we go to them and breathe in their essence, every season becomes sacred, imbued with symbolism.
Wishing you many blessings this holiday, Page
KISSED BY A FOX, Priscilla Stuckey
Okay, I confess. I want this title. I want this cover. I covet the complexity of this accomplished work and the gracious wisdom of this accomplished author. To read Priscilla Stuckey's narrative nonfiction book KISSED BY A FOX requires patience - it is not for the reader seeking a "fast book" experience. But if you're drawn to the "slow food" movement, which is all about savoring each bite and commitment to environment and community, then you're the perfect reader for this Counterpoint new release. READ MORE
| FEATURED ARTTERESA JORDAN A chicken in every stocking, and other gift ideas. My friend Teresa grew up on a ranch in Wyoming 50 miles from town. She had a lot more animal friends than human. "That's probably why I find animals so comforting to be around, and why I never tire of trying to capture them in art." Teresa's art can be found at The Whimsey and Wonder of Animals and the Natural World.
FEATURED AMAZING NEWS
LeAnne Howe Receives $50,000 USA Ford Fellowship & Lifetime Achievement Award from Native Writers Circle of the Americas
Why is my friend Choctaw author LeAnne Howe smiling? Because not only did LeAnne receive the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle this year, but she just received a $50,000 USA Ford Fellowship. This is thrilling news! I first met LeAnne Howe when she came to my "Writing Along the Rim" retreat at the Grand Canyon in 2007 with her husband Jim. A few years later, John Gritts and I journeyed to Oklahoma to participate in Salon Ada, a small gathering of artists and writers. LeAnne also won the American Book Award for her novel Shell Shakers 2002. Congratulations, LeAnne!
FEATURED PUBLISHING PRO JANE FRIEDMAN Past President and Chief Executive Officer of HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide, Jane Friedman is the CEO and founder of Open Road Integrated Media, 360 degree publishing. This is HOT! Check 'em out.