Pine Ridge 2019: Opposing emotions and experiences

Monday, June 24 Pine Ridge Blog – Karen Burkhartzmeyer traveling with her twin daughters Megan and Elise

As I write this, the sky west of Wings as Eagles has gone from layers of spectacular pinks and orange to dark purples as the sun sets on another day. To the east of the Dream Center, ominous dark clouds provide a dramatic backdrop for lightning bolts that move across the sky both vertically and horizontally as a storm rolls in over the vast landscape. The dichotomy of light and dark, peace and impending chaos greeted us as we came outside Dream Center following evening devotionals, and the moment wasn’t lost on any of us. Many of us stood and watched the lightning in the distance or played on the swing set before deciding that the storm could possibly come upon us pretty quickly and maybe a metal swing is not the best place to be in a lightning storm. Time to head to the bunk house (Update – The storm missed us. No rain)!

The first day of our experience was certainly one of opposing emotions and experiences. Feelings of joy and sadness, hope and helplessness, energy and exhaustion. All set against this breathtaking landscape that is the South Dakota Badlands. Those who have traveled on this journey before reconnected with old friends as the kids began to arrive from the bus and vans that go through the towns of Pine Ridge Reservation. Those of us like me, who are traveling for the first time, made many new friends as we played, laughed and ate with the kids during our first Kids Club. Some of the kids were slow to warm to us and the situation, wandering from activity to activity without speaking or connecting. Eventually, we were able to find some way to bring at least half a smile to their faces. Friendship bracelets, legos, basketball, a camera, a marker. These were our vehicles. Love was our destination. We made some progress, and are looking forward to continuing our journey with these precious spirits, the children of Pine Ride, tomorrow.