When humans participate in ceremony, they enter a sacred space. Everything outside of that space shrivels in importance. Time takes on a different dimension. Emotions flow more freely. The bodies of participants become filled with the energy of life, and this energy reaches out and blesses the creation around them. All is made new everything becomes sacred.

~Sun Bear

In 1990 Betty MaCusic and I met at a little coffee shop in Rochester New York. She was drawn to my stick figure tattoos on my left arm which looked like American Indian Kachinas.

“Are those Kachinas on your arm?”

“No, but they do look like them. They are actually a design I created.”

I was having a cup of coffee and some apple pie. I asked Betty to join me. We talked for a few hours about life. I was new to the east coast and she had lived there for years. I just turned 30 and she just turned 70. It seemed like a friendship that was predestined to happen. We had many common interests. Two of them them being an interest in Native American spirituality and art.

Betty talked about politics, spirituality and architecture. As her life unfolded before me, I was amazed to find out how beautiful and emancipated she was , and how tragic her life had become. She was a teacher, mother and grandmother but was now unemployed, divorced and distant from her grandchildren. She had lived on the street when she did  not take her lithium. Yet, during the short time I lived in New York our friendship grew and continued years later even after I moved back to Californian. Writing letters was still an art form then and we wrote to each other for many years. She would send me index cards with special quotes on them to inspire me.

While living in Rochester my white ford sedan took us on rides along the Erie Canal and into local wine country. My car was purchased on the east coast so I had snowtrakker radial tires and windshield wipers that sprayed a special solution to stop freeze build up.

One trip that I especially enjoyed with Betty was to the New York wine country of Naples. It was very cold during November and the farmland and vineyards were bare. The hills seemed to roll on forever. Some of the farm land and hills went through forests and over rivers. I remember one hill being very steep with an amazing view that looked over a frozen lake covered with snow, but even with my snowtracker tires we almost went over this hill. I was new to driving in the snow. As I was making a turn I put on the brakes too fast and the car did a 360 and then slid to the end of the hill …very slowly. We almost went over a 30 foot cliff.

After  surviving this trauma we drove silently for some time on our way back to the city of Rochester. We stopped off at an apple farm on State Victor Route 444. In the middle of this large apple farm was a friendly barn converted into a store where products of all kinds were available for purchase. Anything and everything pertaining to apples that is, even bee-apple honey. A big barrel was set up on a country table that served the most devious apple cider I ever tasted; perfect to take off the cold chill of the autumn day and near death experience.

(Betty’s husband worked on the Manhattan Project while they were living in Los Alamos, New mexico. It was top secret. It was not until years later than her husband confessed to her what he worked on as a nuclear physicists. This changed Betty’s perspective on life and I feel always troubled her psyche.)