I remember my visit to Medicine Wheel in the Bighorn National Forest like it was just a few hours ago. It was quiet, serene, and devoid of a lot of tourists. Perhaps its daunting altitude (nearly 10,000 feet) was part of the reason. Perhaps its the long hike to get there (almost two miles in one direction) that was the reason. Or combination. Or the fact that its not nearly as “sexy” a sight as many nearby locations – such as Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park or the various parks further south in Colorado. Whatever the reason, it was certainly a wonderful change of pace to be somewhere where very few people were.
It was windy that morning. Making my way to the summit of the hike, I recall how sharp and crisp the wind felt. I had only had a single cup of coffee that morning, so the wind blasting into my face really woke me up. Upon reaching the wheel, I was really impressed with how far one could see from that vantage point. A vast, wide plain spread out beneath that spot – and the mountains in the far distance looked small. I had come from that direction to the Medicine Wheel – so I had a very clear idea of just how tall those mountains really were.
Standing at the edge of the wheel, you can literally feel the Spirits that reside here. Sometimes, I felt that I could hear the whisper of their voices on the wind. When I approached the northern section of the Wheel, after traversing it clockwise, I found it was easy for me to ground and center. In my meditation, I could still feel the wind. Caressing my hair as it streamed past. Touching my exposed skin. I did not feel the cold during that time though. The wind was a calming presence for me. In my meditation, I offered up what I have come to know as the Druid Prayer for Peace:
May there be peace in the North
May there be peace in the South
May there be peace in the West
May there be peace in the East
May there be peace in the whole world
I remember the feeling of gratitude that washed over me, and seeing a small stone nearby that I placed into my pocket. I thanked the Spirits of the Land, and thanked the Spirits of the Ancestors – and made my way back to my car to begin my long journey home to Denton, Texas. I know that my offering was not the same as that of the First Nations peoples who had originally utilized this location (and still do) for their prayers and offerings. But I realize that the Ancestors do not see us as distinct races. We are all a single race here on this planet – we are human beings. And whatever manner we offer gratitude and thanks is enough…so long as we offer it freely and in respect.
It only takes a simple breeze now to take me back to that moment in the Bighorn National Forest. Just a simple caress from the Gods. And I am grateful for that moment there. Grateful for the wind in my hair.