The hot September sun beat down on us through the car window as we pulled into the national park. This was the much-anticipated part of this road trip across the country.
As I looked through the rearview, I could see a cloud of dust billowing behind us.
This dirt road was leading us through the badlands of South Dakota.
We parked the truck just along the side of the road near a massive canyon. We got out and walked over to the edge.
I looked out along the various formations across the land.
All the way out to the horizon, where the sun and earth seem to touch.
A warm breeze blew across my face as my hair danced free and wild in the wind.
The energy of this land ran through my feet up through my entire body.
We were standing on sacred ground.
We drove further into the park, riding alongside the canyon.
There were many creatures that we encountered.
Some Pronghorn that was so close you could almost reach out and touch them from the window.
Prairie dogs, which my husband seemed adamant about trying to interact with.
And then the buffalo.
We pulled off of the dirt road and into a field.
Golden waves of tall grass danced along the prairie like waves at the beach.
I got out of the truck and proceeded very slowly and cautiously into the field.
The spirit of this place was tremendously overwhelming.
While there was a remarkable calm and beauty about it, there was also a feeling of great sadness. A heaviness that has carried through the years.
20 yards or so in front of me was this great buffalo.
He seemed relatively unaffected by my presence there, almost accepting of my company.
I walked very slowly towards him. I didn’t want to startle him or anger him. I didn’t want to invade his space.
He lay on the ground to rest.
I kept my distance but I stood there for a time just to admire him.
For several minutes we just stared at each other, each one acknowledging the other.
Again the energy of the earth ran through me like a river, powerful and cleansing.
It was in those moments of silent communication with the buffalo that changed something in me.
I didn’t know it yet, but this was the beginning.
The great earthquake that would crumble down the foundation of everything I knew.
This was the beginning of my awakening.