Monday, February 7, 2011

You Can’t Make This #*%t Up!

It was my deep honor to be invited to participate in a Sweat Lodge Ceremony Friday evening with a group of respected men and elders looking to initiate a new vision for the collective work of guiding youth and nudging culture.

When you do these things you never know what magic doorways might open for one to receive guidance. So much can happen when you surrender yourself to the medicine of sacred healing space, experienced together with our instant community of men, within the timeless womb of Mother Earth, in harmony with the ancestors.

So, trying to be open to whatever message comes through I crawled into the lodge in the traditional manner offering prayers to “all my relations” and sat in the dark.  As always I prayed for those who could not be with us. One whose spirit I always invite into all ritual ceremonies is our boy Jose who is languishing in a prison in Oklahoma.

What I didn’t expect is how powerfully he would show up.

Just after I invoked his spirit, I began to feel a pain in my side - in the region of my gall bladder.  I identified it as a “phantom” pain, since my gall bladder had been removed a few years back after a serious gall stone attack.  The pain was identical to that which I felt when my gall bladder used to act up.  As the ceremony progressed the pain became so bad that I almost passed out. With my head in a dizzy spin, I held back my feelings of shame to ask the leaders if I could take some water so that I wouldn’t have to leave the lodge before the ceremony completed.  The support of these men was heartwarming. No judgment, just acceptance. 

Then it came back to me. This happened before, it just wasn’t me.  On our first Mentee Initiation Retreat seven years ago I was awakened at 3am by one of our mentors to tell me that Jose was experiencing severe pain in his side. I got my friend Orland, a gifted healer. As we made our way over to Jose’s cabin Orland spoke of “phantoms” working on Jose. Our young man was in such severe pain that he winced just trying to bend his knee, let alone sit up to talk with us. In one of the most remarkable things I have ever witnessed Orland conducted a healing that seemed to elevate the temperature of the room several degrees and culminated with him spraying water from his mouth. What conscious, subconscious, psychoactive or otherworldly forces that were called upon I can’t say.  But within a few minutes Jose was sitting up and the pain was gone.

So, back to the sweat lodge. After the water was passed I felt some relief and shortly thereafter the pain had completely subsided.  I’m still processing the lesson being offered, but one of the things that came to me was how much grief and rage we are working to help our young people deal with now. (This is always heaviest just after the holidays.)  We end up helping them carry it because the weight that young people carry in this world today is almost unbearable without mentors. After the sweat, I shared my experience with Orland and he reminded me that the gall bladder is connected to anger and grief.

Really, you can’t make this #*%t up.

Tony LoRe, CEO / Founder,
Youth Mentoring Connection/Urban Oasis

PS Thanks Chris for making the invitation.

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