The Big Hug


Lumbee musicians (left) and emcee (right center)

May 21, 2016, Keams Canyon, AZ-  I drove here, from Prescott, this morning, after a brief stop to see if people were posting flags in Prescott Valley, for Armed Forces Day. It was windy, so they were delaying the posting.

I did not have the luxury of delay.  Today’s Interfaith Devotional in Keams Canyon had been planned several weeks ago.  I lived in the area for seven years, and so, I know many people there. A Baha’i couple, doctor and nurse, moved there three months ago, and were hosting the devotional.  I want to support their work, as much as possible, and had this time free.  So, setting out at 10, I arrived at 1:15 P.M.

Keams Canyon is northeast of Flagstaff.  It’s at the eastern end of the Hopi Reservation, past the settled mesas, and is mostly inhabited by medical staff, who work at the Hopi Health Center, which is itself located between First and Second Mesas.  The IHS Hospital used to be located in the canyon itself, but the buildings were decaying and were too small to meet the needs of the population.  So, the facility moved to a newer complex.

The canyon is a very lush setting, and is one part of the Hopi Reservation where I can take photographs.  I will be back there on the afternoon of June 5, so will be able to take photographs then, before going up to a tribal dance, where photography is not allowed.


Hopi ladies, on couch, and nurse, in chair.

We were graced by three Hopi ladies and a teenaged girl, two lad, on couchies from Holbrook and three men from the Lumbee Nation, of North Carolina.  The hosts and two of my friends from Holbrook, who also used to live here, were moderating the program.  It started with the Lumbee men, professional musicians, singing a bluesy version of “Amazing Grace”, before heading out on more engagements.  Those who stayed, prayed- then had a good time eating and socializing, which is what we do very well, at such gatherings.

The meeting ended with a few “Big Hugs”, among those who have known one another for several years, or at least feel comfortable with such. The meeting was, no doubt, blessed from above by Penny and by our long-time friend, Elizabeth, who was the mother of one of the ladies, and great-grandmother to the teen.

These mesas are very special to my heart, though the affairs of life have kept me away from them, until the recent in-gathering that has brought me back, on a few occasions, and will continue in the months to come.



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