Living on the Lakota reservation in South Dakota taught me three things: one about fear, one about hate, and one about the spiritual nature of evil.

1= Death nearly got me several times, in different ways, that year on the res. I only came through it by this= if we die for what we love, in a give away, fighting the war the heart is born to fight, then we are not afraid. God granted me to know for whom I was going to die. When that hit, I stopped running.

2= Overcoming death is not enough. The most onerous challenge is to overcome hate. God granted me a way to do that, personally in my context, on my last brief visit to the res. It was after Junior had died, perhaps been murdered, and I was not in a good place with it. I had strong suspicions who had chased him, knocked him down, and left him to freeze to death in the winter night. I seriously considered broaching these people in their lair with the Cante Tenze. But a strange event occurred that allowed me to own up to the fact that I was hurting too badly to attain any ‘righteous anger.’ I was simply full of hatred. And what the event showed, with graphic force, was that hate is destructive, and will harm the innocent along with the guilty. Overcoming hate exposes vulnerability, in everyone. It is hard to acknowledge this in one’s enemies, but they too are hurting.

3= No human being can stand up to the Satanic Accusation alone. It has an element of truth about it. We are all screw ups, not up to our spiritual calling, due to our weakness, due to how we mishandle our hurt. Thus, it is true that literally only God can redeem our possibility. We cannot, any of us, make a pig’s ear into a silk purse. God makes up for our lack, and works the transfiguration that makes our lowly clay capable of carrying that which is higher than any angel. This is why, confronted with Satanic down-putting, or Luciferian flattery, only God coming to us can contest the Lie the Evil One puts on us. If it is just us and Satan or Lucifer, we cannot repudiate his Lie. Within its limited purview, it is partly true…The devil is a Liar because his
half-truth kills. Hence, under demonic assault we must turn to God and bring our height—Lucifer’s target—and our lowliness—Satan’s target—to God. In a sense, the reason we are allowed to be hit by demons is to realise only God holds the truth of our destiny which is more profound and more noble than the devilish Lie about us. But, cut God out of the equation, and we humans cannot refute the Lie about us, for if God were not a dynamic factor changing the equation, the devil’s assessment of us would be true.

No, I wasn’t really judging the people who may have killed Junior any more than I ever judged him. I was judging myself for not being there, for not doing anything. When I left the res, he cried in my arms, and said, ‘What am I going to do without you?’ He couldn’t live up to his austere father, nor talk with his busy step mother. He could rouse me at 6 am, shouting ‘Wake up Jamie, I need some free therapy.’ And we would watch the sun come up seated on the rickety porch of the trailer, and share how hard, how impossible, this life is. His father was going to give him a sacred pipe when he got off alcohol, but he knew he wouldn’t. The drink had always been there, from childhood up, he couldn’t imagine it ever not being there. He knew it, I knew it, we knew it together as the dawn came. He also knew he could play me, and I knew that too, but I didn’t care. Junior was one of those rogues whose crocodile tears, to extract something further out of you, you didn’t mind. I could hear the real tears deeper down. They were no different from mine. I hadn’t told him, but when I left the res I formed the intention of getting him over to England for a while, and seeing if a change of environment might help him dry out. I wanted to be a brother to him. He had come to my rescue several times when inexperience, and clumsiness, had put me in a pickle. Secretly, I formed the idea, that when I could raise some money I would use this to help Junior kick the booze. But he died too soon, before I could implement it.

I am going to have to remember him now as he was, in tears; smilingly conning me; riding bareback on one of his father’s little Indian ponies, coming up the hill at a gallop, the wind blowing his long straight black hair back, and him shouting with exultation.

My friend Miles Stryker, who didn’t know Junior, wrote this poem for him:

How The Birch Leaf Falls

sparingly God measures the disaster’s
terrible storm,
the consequent of a foreign economy
or how the birch leaf falls in the morning.

the bones are thrown by old hands
the meat taken by the young

it is not a bad way
though many die on the trail to tomorrow.

Junior, I am sorry I wasn’t there when you died. That is it. I am sorry. If I could have made a difference to it, I would have, but I couldn’t, and I didn’t. I am sorry. That is all.