Sunday, May 5, 2013
Last night was one of my many don't-fall-asleep-at-all nights...the kind where you are in and out of bed every 20 minutes for the whooooole night. I have come to know them well and to see the signs early on that it's gonna be one of "those nights." From this manic part of my life (yes I am bi-polar, which if you know me well you may find yourself muttering "well that explains a lot.") often comes my best creative ideas and in the middle of the night is when God will speak to my heart through prayer or reading The Word. I have learned to whisper in the true desperation of an insomniac "speak Lord for your servant is listening," or in less in-control moments when all I want to do is sleep....I have been known to look to the heavens and say "whaaaaaat???"
I had one of those nights last night. I jotted down every thought, blog idea and made a laundry list of all I needed to do next time we were on The Rez in an effort to find why I was up....what I was supposed to not miss in the middle of the dang night. Nothin'. So I did what every good soldier in the war on this terror called insomnia has learned to do. I made a latte' at 3 a.m. Actually, oftentimes that will do the job. Sorta like a hyper kid being given uppers to negate the hyper. I like to explain this phenomenon when it does not work by using the technical phrase "whatever."
But at 4:44 this morning....I stepped out onto my front porch. It was still totally dark, but I sure thought I heard a bird singing....and so I stepped outside. I expected to hear the sound of a lone bird...I had heard this before. But this was different. This sounded like dozens and dozens of birds...birds with a beautiful song, clear and strong...lifting their voices to the crescent moon...performing just for me. Or so I thought. Then a picture came to me so clear that I thought for a moment, in my now-latte-induced insomnia, that I could see him. David. David so full of love for his God and joy in his Spirit that he danced in his ephod before Him and His Angel Armies. Couldn't even wait to get dressed....just danced and sang and wrote love poems and worshiped in his priestly underwear. Perhaps the birds weren't singing to me, but their abandon and confidence in the Creator was something he let me in on for a few minutes.
Birds who had no idea if they would find a worm that day for breakfast, who weren't worried about what they would make their nests out of or if their feathers were prettier than the bird next door. To me they seemed so excited about the sun coming up and a new day dawning....that they couldn't even wait for that actual moment to occur. They didn't wait to get dressed. They danced in their underwear.
So there I stood on my porch in my holey pajamas....(that's holey not holy), closed my eyes, raised my hands and saw David dance in the sounds of the birds. Oh God, let us seek only to please you, to offer you our praise even in the dark, even at odd times...even when everyone around us might look at the tattered and torn nest of our life and say "that is one crazy bird." They can't hear the sound of you singing over me...but I can. And so I dance.
Friday, May 3, 2013
Whiteclay, Nebraska is a town of approximately 14 residents and 4 liquor stores. The first one conveniently sits 250 yards from the border of the "dry" Pine Ridge Indian Reservation; a reservation that has been shattered into a million little pieces by the ravages of alcoholism. If Whiteclay could read...I might send it an e-mail something like this....
You don't know me...and sometimes I wish I didn't know you. But I have walked your streets, talked to your homeless, slept in your zip code, and prayed in your fields. I know you perhaps better than you know yourself. You're not fooling anyone. You fly the flag of capitalism (and when no one is looking you salute it), defending yourself all the way to the bank. In the way that matters to you, you are successful. In the way that matters to anyone who has seen you at work....you are the equivalent of
twist-off-top atomic bomb. They hand you a few dollars and you hand them destruction as complete as Hiroshima...only no one comes back to rebuild the nation.
The first time I met you, you frightened me, I'll admit it. I locked my car doors, didn't make eye contact and set my GPS to find the corner of "get me the hell out of here" and "what was I thinking?" I was kinda hoping I wouldn't run into you again, but it seemed everywhere I turned on the Pine Ridge Reservation I met people who had visited your house. What kind of neighbor, knowing the house next door was made of flammable material, would pour gasoline on it...and light a match?
But here's the deal. My God is here to put you on notice. I believe there are spirits in the invisible realm. I believe some are so petty that a thousand of them could fit in my shoe. I also believe some are huge, having fed themselves on injustice and evil for many generations. They have gorged on unforgiveness and fear and washed it down with hopelessness. When they open their wings they cover an entire valley....or an entire First Nation. There is a darkness to their shadows that lingers.
But there is a renaissance afoot; a revolution marching to the beat of creativity, original language, pride, and in step with God and His Son and The Holy Spirit. The Lakota people you have tried your best to destroy are determined to be a mighty Sioux Nation again. They are warriors. God made them that way. They know how to stand and fight and they know how to get on their knees...and fight. You are no match for the seventh generation. You are no match for the Cross....and the God of the Angel Armies. You think you are safely surrounded by the cloak of darkness that will hide you...but in reality you are surrounded by armies of light that can only be put into motion when the people pray. And the people are praying, Whiteclay. From the four directions...they are praying.
We may not be able to foreclose on your physical residence, but we can take the streets back and there is nothing you can do about. We will love you right out of the neighborhood. Feed them, clothe them, visit them....you get the picture. You tried more than once to shut down this pool of love, but we are ripping off the "Keep out" sign and jumping in the deep end. As a matter of fact your dark notoriety will be our diving board. For as surely as the world has been stunned by the sight of the shattered spirits you roll into ditches...it will have no choice but to take notice of the love that pulls them out. Our hands are raised and we are shouting His name...which from what I have come to understand means that you have to go. Shriek, howl, curse....whatever you gotta do. The shadow of the Cross has fallen across your gutters and you have to go.
Pine Ridge will be a City on a Hill...a light to show the way to other nations of First People. And you Whiteclay, the dark room that you are....will have no choice but to give way to the light. For when light enters a room...darkness has to flee. This is your notice. Consider yourself formally served.
All For Him....KC Willis
If you would like information on how you can help us with our work on The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, please e-mail us at email@example.com or visit www.kcwillisministries.ning.com. Pilamaya.
Saturday, March 23, 2013
In order to spend more time on the Reservation, I stopped traveling around the country and teaching art workshops about a year ago. But now I have found a beautiful place in the Cascade Valley of South Dakota...sitting right on the Cheyenne River where I can hold a few classes a year and still be close to the Rez.
Nestled up against the land that is home to The Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, The Retreat at Mustang Shadows is the perfect place for a workshop of art or a rebirth of the spirit...or perhaps both! Each class is limited to 5 and accommodations at this beautiful ranch are included in the price. With such a limited workshop size and the fact that I don't teach very much any more...the workshops will very likely fill fast, so reserve your spot today for a once in a lifetime experience.
Workshops are 2 1/2 days long and include 3 nights at the ranch house and breakfast and lunch. We will most likely go out for dinner in the nearby town of Hot Springs, SD. If you want to stay an extra day or two and visit the Wild Horse Sanctuary and/or spend a day on the Pine Ridge Reservation with me, you may do so for and extra per-night fee.
Mornings will find us out on the deck or back patio having our coffee and watching the deer meander down to the Cheyenne River (which is at the bottom of the hill). Bald eagles nest in the buttes nearby. In the evening we can sit around the fire pit enjoying the silence of the ranch and the millions of stars that are visible on the South Dakota plains.
Collage in the Country
In a setting that has history written all over it, what better place to create a piece of work that is aged, full of story and beauty. Using photographs of your family's history or choosing one of mine from the history of this area or of the Lakota people, we will create a textured piece of art that will remind you of your time on the ranch forever. A half day of the class will be a writing class where we will create a poem, a letter or a short-short story based on our image and tuck it into the piece. We will also walk the area a bit and collect things from the grounds and create a piece that allows found objects, meant to never be used again, to become a piece of art.
While this obviously the Wild West here, your work does not have to be western in theme.
The first day of the retreat begins at 3 pm and goes til 7. Arrive by 2. You can fly into Rapid City, which is only 45 minutes from The Ranch. If the dates below don't work for you or your friends, it is possible to book a workshop retreat just for your group on an agreed upon date. Needs to be a minimum of 3 and price does not change. List the dates you are paying for on your Paypal payment or e-me.
May 17-19, 2013
July 11-13, 2013
September 19-20, 2013
November 1-3, 2013
Workshop and bed/breakfast for 3 nights...$620
Each additional night on the Ranch is $100 (includes breakfast and lunch and transportation to Pine Ridge).
To reserve your spot pay in full using the Paypal button or e-me at firstname.lastname@example.org to use a credit card over the phone. If you know you want to spend an additional day or 2 and go to the Rez with me, you can pay for the additional now or let me know no later than 30 days before the class.
Each additional night at the Ranch....$100
The Fabric of Faith...Five Smooth Stones.
This is a great opportunity to participate in a multi-layered study of Grace, Faith and beating the giants in your life, while creating a mixed media collage piece. In this 2 day class, held at The Ranch (shown above) KC Willis will walk you through a teaching of David and his life, along with a whole new way to look at the scraps collected by The Twelve on the day Jesus fed the 5000. Together these two teachings will offer you an insight into your past, present and future that may very well change how you see your world and its problems...and remove any walls you may have between you and the power of God.
Step by step the conference will explore techniques in collage and mixed media through the creation of a Teaching Tapestry. A Tapestry that will be built on creative skills and the lessons learned from David's flaws, failures and fearlessness, brought to completion in the teachings and the life of Christ. Under each piece of fabric will be a lesson learned from the scraps we have taken onto our own boat as we make our journey in this world and each will determine the strengths we have in the form of our own 5 smooth stones that we carry inside. The scrolls on the piece will house private thoughts on facing the giants...new ways of conquering that you will discover in the workshop. Learn how to "kill" at fabric collage and slay a few giants in your life in this powerful and fun 2 day workshop held in The Black Hills of South Dakota.
Accommodations at the Ranch are included in the price of the conference. You may schedule to stay an extra day or 2 and go with me to the Pine Ridge Reservation (45 minutes away) and/or visit The Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary adjacent to Mustang Shadows. The only charge for the additional days is the price to for room and board at the Ranch. $100 per night.
The Fabric of Faith will be held August 12-13,2013.$470
Sunday, January 6, 2013
Collage on board 14x24....ready to frame...signed...$220. With frame and under glass $265. The sale of the piece will help us pay for our trip to the Pine Ridge Reservation later this week.
If it doesn't say "sold" under the piece...it is still available.
THIS PIECE HAS SOLD. THANKS.
Saturday, December 29, 2012
|Meghan and Protector|
But thanks to dedicated Lakota animal lovers on Pine Ridge, a wonderful Native man who works at the dump, and a white rancher from nearby Gordon named Miss Jean, hundreds, if not thousands of Rez dogs have been saved and are living in homes all across America - including mine. Miss Jean has been known to race the 50 miles to the Rez, when she gets wind of an impending “sweep” of the strays and fills up her truck with as many dogs as she can get her hands on. Sometimes going many miles into the heart of the reservation to find the “lost ones”...those who are wandering in the middle of nowhere far from any handouts or trash cans. It was in one such remote location that my friend Charlie Yellowbird and I were driving one day, when we had to slow down as 2 skinny dogs crossed the road in the middle of nowhere.
Charlie spoke under his breath more to himself than to me.
“Survivors”, he whispered, never taking his eyes off the dogs. He was honoring them with the word; perhaps he recognized himself as the third member of the pack. Survivors all.
But nowhere on the Rez is this word more appropriate than for the dogs and the humans who live on the streets of Whiteclay. A mere 1000 yards off the Rez, Whiteclay, Nebraska is home to 14 permanent residents who have roofs over their heads. It is also home to 50 or so who call the streets and the abandoned houses that dot the two-block-long town...home. At any given time there are 10 adult dogs and an assortment of puppies trying to survive the summer, but most won't survive the winter. The Rising Warriors of the streets are family we know and love, and to many of them the street dogs are their family. They share their food with the strays, name them, sleep with them and on more than once occasion have covered the dead body of a dog with the one blanket they possess.
The streets of Whiteclay are dark and violent for man, woman and dog. For every dog who has someone who loves them, there are two dogs who are chased off, kicked, punched and cussed at; dogs who will not know a gentle touch unless someone places a blanket over them when their street hell is over.
revered. They call her “Protector”. Rumor has it, that when bad spirits try to get into the abandoned house where they sleep, Protector will bark and scare them off. Many know her, some love her, but to Robert Little Crow, a beautiful soul whose address has been the streets of Whiteclay for 15 years...she is his best friend. A former radical member of the oft-violent American Indian Movement, Robert these days is more likely to be found being sure Protector is free from ticks and is often seen limping across the street with an empty broken dish of some sort or another filled with water for "his girl." Feed Robert and you will be feeding Protector.
More than once, we have rescued a dog from the Rez streets and taken them out to Miss Jean's ranch, but it has never crossed my mind to grab Protector; she belongs to Robert- she is his guardian angel. But the week before Thanksgiving, myself, my niece Meghan and my nephew Robert decided we were going to pluck a little black and white mutt named “Oreo” off the streets before we headed back home. Simple enough? Not so much.
My nephew came in and said. “We have to go if we are gonna get out to the ranch before dark, but the dogs aren’t here.”
Not only were the two we wanted not there...there was not a stray in sight. I had never seen that before. Streets completely void of dogs. “Let’s pray ‘ em in!” I said with a laugh, but began to do just that. All of a sudden dogs appeared from behind buildings, from under cars and the two we wanted, walked right up to us. What happened next was just a little extra “God thing” thrown in to remind us who was in charge of the rescuing around here.
|Robert Little Crow|
“Take my girl! Please! Take my girl! She’s gonna have puppies. The last litter froze to death.” He had tears in his eyes. “Please get her out of here. We’ve spent two winters together in that basement over there. But she needs a better life than this.” So do you, I thought to myself.
“Are you sure?” I asked, not knowing if she would come to us, let alone allow us to pick her up to put her in the truck. Robert seemed to read my mind and he started to call her name. She appeared in seconds, answering the call of her trusted friend.
Robert knelt beside her hugging her. “I’ll miss her, I’ll miss her.” He kept repeating, tears streaming down his face. Now you have to understand...when you live on the streets of Whiteclay you pretty much own nothing. Maybe you’ve been able to keep a backpack with a handful of this and that from being stolen while you were passed out drunk. Everything Robert owned and loved-he was hugging.
Without saying another word, he lifted Protector and put her in the truck. Just like that her new llife had begun...and just like that Robert Little Crow became my hero.
|Meghan and Essie on her rescue ride|
I couldn’t wait to tell Robert Little Crow how content Protector seemed and to be and thank him again for what he had done for her and her unborn litter. But what could wait was my telling him two days later...with temps in the single digits at night...that Protector had vanished; in the dark and the cold, more in the middle of nowhere than ever. Was she looking for Robert? Who knows. She was just gone.
Miss Jean looked for her for days; hours every day, she was so distraught. Never in 25 years of rescuing dogs had she had a “non-feral” dog just vanish. All I could think about was how Protector would not have had any way of knowing how remote of an area she was in. I imagined her hungry, cold, very pregnant and lost wandering the vast plains until she couldn’t. I prayed for God to keep her safe, I placed angels around her (I do that alot) and I asked Him not to let her suffer. I knew we had done the right thing, but I still felt guilty.
A week later Jean stopped looking and I stopped praying. Protector was gone. God was in charge, as He always is. He knew where she was and he had not let her suffer. I was sure of it. He had protected Protector.
Two days ago it had been exactly a month since Protector had vanished into thin air. Robert, Meghan and I have been back in Colorado this whole time and I have not seen Robert Little Crow. He did not know that we had lost “his girl.” At night in my prayers, when I placed angels around Robert (and Eli and Donovan and Granny Back Pack “etc.) I prayed that God would give me the right words to tell him when the moment came.
But thanks to Miss Jean's words on the other end of the phone...those words would not be necessary.
“You’ll never guess who is in my living room!” I knew immediately.
“What the heck!” was all I could say.
A friend of Miss Jean’s had been feeding a stray at the hospital for over a week, thinking it belonged to one of his employees. Earlier that day when he saw the guy he pointed to the dog and told him he shouldn’t let his dog run loose like that.
His employee said “That’s not my dog.” I'd like to think God then commented, “No... that’s my dog.”
Jean’s friend immediately scooped up the cold, hungry dog and took her to the only place to take a dog... Miss Jeans house.
“I can’t imagine what she must have been through.” Jean just kept saying over and over again. “It was so cold the first few nights after she disappeared. And Gordon is over 15 miles away!”
After examing Protector, Jean concluded that she was no longer pregnant and we had to assume the puppies hadn’t survived, as it didn’t appear Mama Dog was nursing. But Mama Dog was alive. Robert’s girl was alive. What an amazing end to an amazing story we all kept saying. Amazing? Yes. The end? Not so much.
Protector slept in front of the fireplace for several hours, seemingly exhausted and not anxious in the least...at first. But suddenly she was up, pacing by the door, unable to settle back down. On a hunch born of rescuing thousands of dogs, Jean examined Protector again.
Milk. She was producing milk.
She quickly called her friend back at the hospital. “Can you show me exactly where you have seen this dog over the past week?”
“Sure- why?” he asked.
“I believe there are puppies out there.” She answered before racing out the door...Mama Dog on her heels. Over gravel roads the 15 miles to Gordon will take you a half an hour.
When Jean parked the car in front of the small hospital and opened the car door, Protector took off down the street. So did Jean, on foot...on a mission.
For well over an hour, she tried to keep up with Protector as she ran through backyards, up streets, down streets, sniffing out front porches, almost loosing sight of her several times. Finally, they turned a corner and Protector raced toward an abandoned house. Jean grabbed her hind quarters as she tried to get under the house in a small dug-out opening. Jean held onto Protector afraid that if she got inside the house she might refuse to come out. A phone call to the man who had returned Protector, brought him on the run, along with a thin, young man he worked with...who could fit in the opening.
“Are you sitting down?” said a voice on the other end of the phone. “Seriously. Sit down.”
“Ok”, I said, pulling up a stool in the kitchen.
“There are five of them.” She laughed.
“Five what?” I asked, even as I knew what she was going to say.
“Five puppies! Protector has 5 fat, healthy puppies!”
Five. The number of grace.
Surrounded by angels...
by people who care.
Whisper out loud with me...“Survivor.”
If you would like to help us help the dogs on the Rez, you may donate through LightShine Pine Ridge through our Rez furniture business via Paypal at email@example.com.
Protector and her puppies, along with Oreo and Essie, all have found good homes. And of course we are expecting Protector to find a home that will give her a magnificent life and love her for Robert Little Crow too. She is a special, special dog. Please share her story.