From sun-up to sun-down
we dance to the beat of the drum.
Focused on the Creator
we cry for vision.
Four days we fast - no food, no water.
Four days we commit ourselves to the dance.
The hot summer sun blisters our skin.
We smudge with cedar to purify;
offer tobacco to the buffalo for strength,
to the Eagle for spiritual endurance.
Every day a few people drop out –
the heat, the thirst, over powers us.
Someone’s dry heaving over there.
To my right, somebody’s crying.
On the second and third day some pierce:
insert wooden dowels through their skin,
tied by thongs to the Creator-tree.
The skin rips
and with it his problem –
On the fourth day some choose to drag:
pierce the back, and with long thongs
drag buffalo skulls over the ground.
The skin ruptures
and his intent is accomplished –
life for a dying sister.
Each summer at full moon
in the traditional Native way,
the people worship:
searching for vision – a direction in life,
enduring pain to overcome personal problems.
Their customs are foreign to our eyes.
Yet, not so different from what we did –
sacrificing upon the cross;
pilgrimages on bleeding knees.
I experienced the Sun Dance.
I felt honoured and loved;
but I had expected joy and revelations,
(not doubt and confusion).
Why do we feel we need to suffer –
believing that our suffering will free us,
or save others –
when Great Spirit is all love and understanding?