Last night I sat on my couch, sketch pad on my lap and phone to my ear. I was talking to Pamela Rickenbach from Blue Star Equiculture, the Working Horse Sanctuary in MA. It was Pamela who asked me to make the wall hanging for Blue Star to use as their logo. She had a dream, she told me, and I was supposed to make it for them. So I did, trusting her and her dream. And Pamela loved the piece, saw meaning in the imagery and every choice of fabric including the piece I put on the back. And I was happy and she was happy and I thought that was that.
Then Pamela sent me a link to a movie called Dakata 38. She said I had to watch it. It’s the story of a Native American man who has a dream that he must go on a healing ride from his reservation to Mankato Minnesota, to the site of the mass execution of 38 Souix/Dakota by the United States government in 1862. He is also Vietnam Veteran who killed 38 men in the war. So, in 2012, he gathered a group of people and they rode on horseback for weeks through December blizzards to reach their destination on the anniversary of the hanging. It’s a powerful movie filled with emotion and personal healing as well as healing between Native Americans and Whites and communities. They have been making the trip every year since. And I was moved by it for sure, but wondered what it had to do with me and my wall hanging.
A few weeks later Pamela messaged me on facebook saying that she was going to gather all the horse supplies that had been donated to Blue Star Equiculture, that she couldn’t use, and bring them to the Reservation in South Dakota and donate it all for the annual Dakota 38 ride. Then she told me she was making t-shirts with the logo I had designed for them and was going to give them to the people to wear during the ride.
And suddenly, I understood that my work had made a connection to this group of people taking this healing ride. That although I have no connection to the Native American community and have only recently become interested in horses, through my work, without meaning to, I touched the place in me and them that connect. It was then I realized that even without my work, the ride has something to do with me, as it has to do with all of us. Because we all have it in us to hurt and even destroy life and the ability to heal and forgive.
So when Pamela asked me and Jon to go on the trip to South Dakota with her to help deliver the horse gear, I knew I wanted to go. It wasn’t a practical decision, it just felt right. It appeals to my sense of adventure, but it also seems to be a part of this new path that I’m on. One I’m trying to better understand. The path that has to do with horses and their connections to human and to me personally. And about a different way to think. One that is less linear and not based in reason, one that treats dreams and visions as important as waking life.
I wasn’t really sure if the trip was actually going to happen, I hadn’t heard from Pamela about it in weeks. And I didn’t feel comfortable writing about it, it was all so new and close. But talking to Pamela last night I was reassured and excited all over again about the trip to South Dakota. Pamela talks in circular stories and dreams and my communications with her are as much about feeling as hearing what she is saying. Last night when I got off the phone, my mind was swirling with pictures from her stories about the horses that have recently come to Blue Star, to her story about living in the Amazon and the beginnings of the plans for the trip to South Dakota. Now I don’t doubt that it will happen. And like my trip to Gee’s Bend, Alabama, I don’t know what it will bring, but I know it’s something that’s important for me to do.