shemmaho goodenough
Hugh Keenleyside Dam, Castlegar, BC Canada
2019

Story Info

I Vow to Develop Compassion

Gathering8 1.jpg

Story & Experience

On the morning of June 22 thirteen people gathered at Portuguese Point, a fishing place near the Hugh Keenleyside Dam, on the Columbia River upstream from Castlegar, B.C.   Our first activity was for each of us to familiarize ourself with the place by wandering and meandering, finding the objects who would like to be a part of an altar; the thing of beauty we intend to leave behind.  The drum called us all back and we then formed a circle. Our intention was to smudge with sage, but the wind gusted and repeatedly blew out our matches. So, we used the wind to cleanse our minds and remind us to be in the moment.  After calling in the directions, we sang “I vow to develop compassion in order to protect the lives of people, animals and plants” (by Betsy Rose) long enough to feel our energy as one with the earth beneath our feet and our surroundings. A meditative silence followed when people could look to the ridges and sky, watch the birds and clouds, and experience the reciprocity of the elements.  We had a time of singing more songs and sharing our thoughts and feelings, creating a sense of community and commitment among us. After we opened the circle, we found a shady spot to share food and socialize. Most of us look forward to the next ceremony and have a strong sense that this practice can give us strength and optimism for the hard times we are moving through. That afternoon we had a beautiful rain with a thunderstorm that started many fires.  It rained most of Sunday, so that by evening the smoke had been beaten to the ground and the evening sun shone in a clear blue sky! Shemmaho, June 24, 2019

Why this Place?

Hugh Keenleyside Dam, Castlegar, BC Canada

We chose this place because it is the 2nd big dam on the Columbia River system, which Has 72 dams altogether.  We are considered the Lower Columbia headwaters, and we are on the western side of the upper drainage.  We chose this place because it has changed what is downstream so radically, and is so in need of love and connection.  It also changed what was there above the dam before it was flooded, and is a tragic story for most of the settlers, forests, original people, and fish who were flooded out, erasing 10,000 years of growth in a few months.

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