By Daisy Katelyn Osowski
Last week we wrapped up our time with Tiaki at the marae in Whaingaroa and spent two nights with Rangimarie and Rob, a Maori/Native American couple that welcomed us into their home in Manu Wairua (means Bird Spirit). We got to participate in a Lakota sweat lodge ceremony and drum in a drum circle while singing traditional, and not so traditional, songs.
Our time with Rangimarie, Rob, and Tiaki reinforced my respect for Native people. Native traditions and ceremony all revolve around the ideas of growth, self-sacrifice, love, and generosity. I want to try every day to apply these ideals to my life. I want to live more intentionally, always keeping in mind that everything is connected.
The whole experience with Rangimarie and Rob brought me back to the summers that I’ve spent on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The openness and willingness to share was amazing to me. How quickly Rangimarie and Rob opened up not only their home to us, but also their lodge, ceremonial drums, sacred land, and sun dance and winter dance arbors, blew me away.
During a few moments of reflection, I could feel the energy and power of the land. I could feel all of the love and prayer that went into creating such a beautiful space.
At the end of our time on that sacred land, Rangimarie approached me with a task. She asked me to take a pouch of tobacco and offer a pinch before any of our journeys. Tobacco is very sacred to Native Americans and is frequently used as an offering as a thank you to Grandmother Earth and Father Sky. I am honored that Rangimarie gave me this task and as she ran through how she wanted me to offer the tobacco before each of our long drives, I could feel myself getting emotional. I’m so blessed to have met and connected with Rangimarie in the way that I did. I have taken on this responsibility and kept to my promise of keeping the whole group safe since leaving Manu Wairua.
After saying our goodbyes and leaving Manu Wairua, we made our way south to National Park to spend a week in the great outdoors with Blue Mountain Adventure Center (BMAC). All while tramping through the beautiful New Zealand bush, I kept Rangimarie’s words with me. Each of the days with BMAC presented new challenges, both emotional and physical, but each day I began with a quick prayer/acknowledgment of my surroundings and how blessed each and every one of us Carpe students are to be experiencing these amazing places.
One of the more brutal days was the second day of tramping. We started our day by putting on our cold, wet clothes from the first day, eating our almost hot porridge and starting to hike. We hiked most of the day off trail through the alpine so hiking wasn’t easy and the weather quickly switched from overcast and chilly to downpouring rain and winds that will knock you off your feet. Everyone was cold, hungry, tired, and the group morale was quickly dropping. It was difficult to remain positive in such extreme conditions but as a group, we managed to push through it and lift each other up.
I don’t know what did it for everyone else, but for me it was thinking about how honored I am to be here. Thinking about how I’m connected and related to the wind that knocked me on my butt multiple times, and to the sun that never made an appearance that day. That connection gave me the strength to push back against the wind, to welcome the rain and the cold, to thank my body for supplying me with everything that I needed to make it from one campsite to the other—even when they are many many kilometers apart.
Although I couldn’t leave physical offerings of tobacco in the alpine (leave no trace), I left many thoughts of gratitude to my environments and the situations I found myself in. As I was collecting fresh spring water from the stream at our first campsite, I made an offering of gratitude to the mountain and the water that gives me life. As I abseiled down the Taranaki Falls I offered gratitude to our leaders through the alpine, Paddy and Tina, and the incredible amount of knowledge and skill that they brought to our trip. I offered gratitude to the ground and the mud that broke my fall multiple times as we attempted to bike 42 kilometers across The 42 Traverse.
We had the opportunity to have some pretty life-changing experiences during our time with BMAC, and I think we have all walked out of this part of the program with a new perspective—a perspective that now includes a sense of gratitude for what we have at home. One of the most physically and emotionally demanding weeks of my life was filled with gratitude because of the wise words and gentle actions of Rangimarie.
Two of the main themes of my Carpe Diem experience so far are respect and gratitude. I have gained so much respect for our contacts, my peers, and my environment in the few weeks that we have spent in the North Island. I also feel so grateful to be here and to have experienced all of the things that led me up to this point. I’m forever grateful for my family that allowed me to be here and allowed me to meet all of the amazing people involved in Carpe Diem.
Mitakuye oyasin. All my relations.
This photo was taken moments before the van got stuck in the mud for the second time.