Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Into Healing Manitou Waters

I drive into the shallow valley at five-thirty. The winter light gives me frozen lake against  gentle hills. Blue, white and grey-brown send rest into my road-weary eyes. I check in. I park in the lakefront lot. I haul suitcase, briefcase, laptop, purse, and book bag into my room-with-a-view of Manitou. I go for supper, windows overlooking the snowy scene. I review my notes, while eating Greek chicken, rice and salad.

I have McDowell Foundation meetings in Saskatoon, but I'm getting too old to drive the four hours, then be "on" all day, and still drive home. The recovery time takes its toll, so I'd looked for a hotel in Saskatoon, but they were all sold out. Every last phone call. Nothing. If I didn't have awesome cousins and friends in Saskatoon, I might have felt like Joseph and Mary with no room at the inn. (I had planned to put a I'm-in-town-come-have-supper-with-me call into facebook land because I got heck last time I was in Saskatoon and didn't call my loved ones.)

Then a last hide-away thought had hit me. Manitou Springs. Michael had been to Watrous and told me about the water of Manitou Lake. I'd phoned. There was room!

At seven I'm walking down the hallway in my bathing suit and white Manitou Springs robe, and I stop to read the legend as told by Dan Kennedy. The mural along the wall shows a summer-time Indian camp, and the cognitive dissonance clangs like a fire bell in this quiet hallway. I love this stuff even as I feel convicted to speak out against it. Romantic Indian legend of the plains-long-forgotten, me in my white robe, watching from the future. I'm a walking stereotype, right past the still-as-stone stereotype, no energy to even take a picture for my treaty walks blogs where I'd have to unpack the messy, invisible settler suitcase that rolls along behind me.

I wade into the golden water in the giant pool. I slip onto my back, the salty water kicking my feet out from under me. The minerals tasty on my lips. The jets swirling the water. I spin in circles until I'm so dizzy I have to stand up.

I'm asleep early and awake late, just in time for the free hot breakfast and to hear travel-not-advised on the radio. I run out into the high windchill wind, start my Envoy, run back to the hotel. Only now do I snap some photos, consider the opportunity to blog on my Manitou stay. Afterall, Manitou means spirit in Algonquian, and I've just spent the night seeking healing waters and rest at this inn.

But I don't think too much as I drive out of the valley and into the storm. It's enough that I've been here. It's enough that my mind has been stilled. It's enough that I take with me the gifts of this place that I will return to, Great Spirit willing.

And as I write this a few days later, I am remembering to say thank you to the first people of Manitou Lake, and thank you to our Creator for letting me share in this water, and this land that holds us all.


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