"But God said to him, 'You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.'" (a section of the reading from todays mass)
Today started with a trip with all the other volunteers to mass at a small church about 45 minutes away. The mass was very nice and it was a completely different experience than any I have had before. The alter was covered with a star quilt clearly made by a member of the congregation and decorated with many traditional Lakota spiritual symbols as well as the more common place catholic church items. After mass we had fellowship over some very red juice and both original and chocolate animal crackers. None of us were brave enough to try the spray cheese.
What really stung me this morning was hearing the news that a 13 year old member of the church had committed suicide this past week. What made it even worse was the harsh reminder that this complete devastation and loss is fairly common, I am not even sure how to to handle hearing news like that over and over. It also stung because I am very much in the honey moon period and this was a harsh reminder of why it is I decided to come here and the sort of struggles these people face day in and day out.
On a happier note I was totally overcome with the welcoming atmosphere of the community. I am so painfully aware that I am a stranger here, and could easily be perceived as an intruder, but everyone was so kid and welcoming, it was really wonderful.
This afternoon five of us took the volunteer car up to rapid city to bu groceries. I drove on the way there and the view was just breathtaking. On the way back we stop at an overlook on the side of the road just as you cross into Pine Ridge. The vast emptiness of this country is so calming and peaceful, there are really no words.
Looking out at this open land with nothing but hill and sky as far as you can see is really very humbling. I think that it reminds me how powerful and beautiful the earth is, something that has been very easy to forget while you are living in the city, I have really never seen anything like it. (on a side not everyone who told me I would fall in love with the land...you were so very very right).
(this is last night...the sun is only setting on half the sky!)
Tonight we had a social and dinner at the Jesuit Residence. It was great to get to meet even more people and to become closer with the other volunteers...there was a lot of laughter at the table...and it was wonderful. After dinner we went on a walk and then came back and a few of us went to the house with a kitchen (our cottage is currently having the kitchen remodeled) and had some tea. We did the same thing last night and it is really a very peaceful end to the day. I am hoping to make it a habit (at least until the weather takes a turn to winter).
Tomorrow we are starting our new volunteer orientation, I'm not sure how exciting it will be to report on but I am very excited to get started!