I left the final pipe ceremony feeling absolutely euphoric. My emotions were soaring and I could not wipe the smile off my face. The ceremony was the perfect combination of prayer, reflection, honesty, and connection. To begin the ceremony we shared things we are thankful for. After smoking the sacred tobacco Celinda said she’d be tickled if we shared a touching moment that happened at Pine Ridge. Through this prompting I heard reflections and memories that had not yet been shared. It felt like everyone finally reached a new level of processing and understanding of what that experience meant. I was able to voice gratitude for an experience that I had not yet put in words. I was grateful for the opportunity to do so.

The lighting in Shove was stunning. The stained glass was fuzzily reflected off the stone green floor and when I would look up the actual glass piece was piercingly sharp and vibrantly colorful. I would allow myself brief moments of spacing out and gaze upwards at the window before concentrating again on prayer.

The entire ceremony was lovely but my uncontrollable happiness came specifically from the hugs goodbye. Unlike the first time we did this there was no awkwardness or stifled giggles. Physical contact is a way that I gain comfort with people. I frequently feel a lack of contact with people because it can make people uncomfortable. I try to be sensitive to peoples comfort zones and will stifle my urge to be constantly touching people. There is a significant lack of physical contact in the classroom and it may be for good reason. In our case, however, there was nothing more appropriate than hugging hello and goodbye. Every hug was accompanied by whispers of thanks, compliments, or I love you’s. It warmed my heart. Today, the next day, I still feel cheerful from our perfect conclusion to the block.

-Whitney Perry

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