Possibly you wonder where Chief of Operations and the Blog Editor, also known as Lew and Audrey, retreat on summer holiday: It’s to the Canadian island of Newfoundland, also known as The Rock. What follows is an account in four segments of an experience from Summer 2014.
FIRE CIRCLE AT THE LIGHTHOUSE
or LITURGY AT THE LIGHTHOUSE
Gros Morne National Park on the western coast of Newfoundland offers visitors an array of naturalist programs such as Stroll through Strata or The Night Life. One August, an interpreter named Kevin Barnes led Lew and me and others on the Medicine Walk. We didn’t get far: there at our feet, Kevin knew every plant and its value. A year later we attended his evening program Fire Circle at the Lighthouse.
It’s raining; there won’t be a fire this evening. Kevin moves the talk into a shed. We nine visitors from Germany, England, Canada, and The States sit on benches in a semi-circle around a red blanket on the floor. Kevin sits across from Lew and me holding a feather attached to a stick. He’s a man of square build like many Newfoundlanders; his salt-and-pepper mop of hair matches his jeans.
This Fire Circle is the very last one of the summer.
“I’m Kevin,” he tells us, looking around at the tidy faces. “My ancestors are Mi’kMaq, the aboriginal people of Newfoundland. I pronounce our name in the soft French way, MEEG-mahq. It means ALL KIN PEOPLE.”
“You may wonder why we’re having this talk at the lighthouse,” he lilts. “My people believe that when a person dies he or she visits everyone and every place that mattered. The family keeps a fire going for four days and four nights to guide the spirit back home. My people call it The Sacred Fire. The lighthouse guides people home in another way; it’s on purpose that I give the talk here.”
“Whoever has the feather, we will listen to,” says Kevin. “Listening is the most important skill.”
The German woman nods.
For Lew’s photo journal of Newfoundland, go to:https://lewcoty.tumblr.com/