On Friday, James took a personal day from school to go with me to the Clergy retreat in Eagle Butte. I don’t think he would have taken the time if it would have been any other place. It has been years since he was back there. Paulina and I were there many times while she went to school in Mobridge and I taught there.
I wish the pictures of the road would be closer to what you see with the eye, but somehow there is no way to capture that beauty with a camera. It might have helped to have a wide-angle lens or a bigger camera, but this is what we were able to nab on the way out. We were sort of in a time crunch, or so we thought, on the way in. I normally get this “Ah, home” feeling as we pop over the big hill between Trail City and Eagle Butte, but some how, I couldn’t capture it for you. Here is what we have.
It isn’t the same as it was in 1982 or even in 1985 when we left there. I never did the math on it, but yesterday, James’ sister, Alvina, did. It has been 30 years since we left there, a significant anniversary I think. After the retreat we drove around and took a few pictures.
We had three bedrooms in that duplex. The bathroom was quite small, but plenty for the two of us. The basement was as large as the house and had one room separated off from the rest. We mainly used that for storage. The dining room was really only a window at the back of the main living area, and the kitchen was, let’s just say, cozy. We loved it. As we drove by on Friday, we noticed there were steel fence posts in the backyard just where we had fenced off an area for a garden. Who would have thought? It wasn’t fun to see the paint peeling and such. Many of the houses in that area have not been kept up. This housing in our day was owned by the BIA, which is Bureau of Indian Affairs. Not sure if it is still that or was turned over to another agency.
We drove around town a bit more and checked out some other places. Below is the church we attended.
We also drove around the south part of town. It has changed quite a bit in 30 years. The school James taught at was the middle school. It housed 4-6 in his day, but now they call it the elementary. I am not sure how many grades are there. I believe the youngest are still up at the other complex. Anyway. the rounded area shows the doors he was used to entering in the morning. The first year he taught there, they were so crowded his special education room was in the boy’s locker room. The next year, he had his own classroom. I think they moved some title rooms together, so he could have a space. I don’t think they expected us to last past the first Christmas. Had they not taken the track contract away from me after the third year, I would have stayed forever.
Not much left to say. The retreat was really centered around some conversations we have been having with our Dakota Association of the United Church of Christ in South Dakota. For some reason, the conference ended up owning the land that their churches were on, even though tribal members had donated the land originally. Who understands what was done in the name of religion years ago? We have a hard enough time understanding what we do in that name today. The lands have all been given back, thanks to some recent actions, and now we are working on changing our attitudes towards each other, and figuring how we can better work together.
The late afternoon was also spent discussing suicide. No real answers were reached. I am not sure there are answers. We are just going to try to figure out how to do a better job of reaching out to those in need both family and those potentially at risk. I hate to leave this post in a downer tone. A verse that comes to mind right now is Psalm 121: 1 “I lift up my eyes to the hills–from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.”