I walked into the Lander Bar and Grill after having been thinking deep thoughts about life, trying to reach out somehow into the ever shifting shimmering of things, yet feeling like I was falling short.
There were two native american gentlemen sitting at the bar on stools when I walked in. I had my hat on backwards, and so did one of the gentlemen, and as he saw my hat was backwards too he motioned me over to him. “Hey man come here!” he shouted, and his friend too turned and I walked over, standing next to them at the bar stools, feeling compelled.
“You’ve got your hat on backwards just like me”, he said, smiling, “What’s your name?”, he asked. “My name is Tim”, I told him and then he said, “My name is Tom and this is my brother John.” I reached out to shake their hands and that was when John saw my tattoo of the planet earth on my right wrist.
He grabbed my hand firmly, turning my wrist upwards to reveal the tattoo and said strongly, “What is this?”
I said, “It’s a tattoo of the earth,” and he said, “listen, in my culture you have to earn a tattoo, why do you have this?” and I said, “I got it because I’ve done a lot of nature education and I think we are treating the earth pretty poorly”.
He nodded strongly. His brother Tom did too. “Put your head together”, John said, “we’re going to pray for the mother earth right now”. I couldn’t argue and as he was still holding my wrist firmly, I agreed and put my head together with theirs and there we were in a small circle right at the Lander bar.
“Please help the mother earth,” John said aloud, “please help the animals and the plants and help the human beings to treat their mother with respect so that she may give to us”, and Tom said, “please help our friend Tim in his life, help his family and help him to have good things”, and then John said to me, “Please give us a prayer too,” so I said, “Please help my new friends John and Tom and help them in their lives, help the universe to present opportunities to them when they need it most and help them to build rich full lives and have good health”, and we all paused for a moment in silence, amidst the chaos of the bar atmosphere, outside of our circle, not within our heads, as we were closed to the chaos and directing our energy to one another and something greater, and then Tom said, “Listen, I felt your heart when you came in here, you are a good man, we want to give you Arapaho Powers now,” and John nodded in agreement, and all I could muster was, “Okay”, and then he held our heads together and something I could not understand was spoken and then he said “Ah-Hoh”, “Go Well”, and I said, “Ah-Hoh”, and he said, “We are brothers now”, and released his grip upon my wrist and we pulled our heads from the circle. I disembarked smiling and saying I would see them again and proceeded to the back exit of the bar where folks were gathered outside underneath some large Douglas-Fir trees. I stood there looking up at their scale and amazement and instead of seeing all of the people and social pressures of bar and sociality, I saw only the Mighty Grandfathers above saying, “We have been here far longer than this bar” and I felt but like a small ant or mite running beneath its feet.