Black Elk's Hanbleceya


I’ve enjoyed the gift of spending a good amount of time this past month at the Terra Sancta Retreat Center outside Rapid City, SD.  If you ever get the chance to go there, you should.  A wonderful, sacred setting in the Black Hills with marvelous hospitality and lots of space to roam.  This time round there were no rattlesnake or mountain lion sightings as there have been in the past… but my friend Karen did get charged by a wild turkey.  (Fortunately, there was a glass door between them.)  The groundskeeper explained that this was rare, but that it was mating season and the turkey was probably just looking for another turkey.  We had a good many laughs over that one. 

Karen’s experience did not keep me from wandering the back paths of the retreat center.  I guess I was just trusting that I was a less attractive turkey than Karen.  This allowed me to spot a variety of wild flowers changing from day to day, some wonderful birds of prey circling overhead, and hidden prayer spots.  Most were named after stories in the bible (Ascension, Mt. Sinai) but I was very intrigued to find “Black Elk’s Hanbleceya.”  I had not known much about Black Elk before and his story is fascinating.  While I was at Terra Sancta, I had the blessing of meeting a woman from Black Elk’s parish on the Pine Ridge Reservation who was herself preparing to undertake a “hanbleceya” or “vision quest” in the coming week.  Learning from her about all this entailed made me feel a bit like a spiritual slug and I re-committed to seeking God guidance more intentionally.  I talk about some of that here. 

After my time in South Dakota, I participated in the biennial (or in this case, triennial) Marten Preaching Conference at Notre Dame.  Here I ran into many wonderful people, including the lovely Betty Ann Donnelly of Catholic Women Preach. If you are not aware of this fine project, you should be.  She talked me into substitute preaching for someone who was originally scheduled but not able to preach for July 10th on the Good Samaritan.  Perhaps you’ll like this video as a way to prepare for the coming weekend!

Later this week I will be heading to Florida for two weeks to lead Catechesis of the Good Shepherd courses in Tequesta (near Jupiter, on the east coast) and Largo (near Clearwater, on the west coast).  One of my hosts told me to bring my rain gear since every time I visit their fair community there seems to be a hurricane in the vicinity.  But it’s only July.  Really, what could possibly go askew with travel plans in the summer of 2022?!? :)