My step-grandmother passed away recently, and the funeral was yesterday. My step-grandfather is a member of the Ojibwe tribe in Hinkley, MN and therefore, part of the funeral ritual was conducted by a Medicine Man, which included ‘smudging’ all of us with sage, and ‘passing the pipe’.
It was a much more moving ceremony than the traditional pastor-in-the-pulpit, rambling on some jibber-jabber that sounded more like a lecture, and even more like it was written out in advance, all the blanks filled in with the appropriate names.
Instead of an hours worth of rhetoric, the medicine man told us about a dream he had regarding our dearly departed. Then he summed up the dream with a speech that was not only short, but also meaningful and memorable. I don’t think I will ever forget it, and I can quote it to you here:
Life is a like a path through the woods. The path is long, and sometimes people want to take a shortcut. But those who try to take a shortcut get lost, and have to go back, and start over. Those who take the long way get to the end first.
At the end of the path, you meet the Creator. He looks at some and says, ‘You are ready to come with me, your work here is done.’ To others he says, ‘I am leaving you behind, because you still have something here to do.’
So if you’re reading this, I guess you still have some work to do.