I occasionally try resting, laying wrapped tight in my blanket, but I cannot find the warmth I need. Sleep will not come. So, I rise again, and I pray. I move and dance about my circle, forcing the blood to pump, trying to be warm. It is cold like it is every year. Still, I am not entirely miserable during my first night on the mountain. I am so happy to be on the hill, I cannot bring myself to suffer as much as I have in the past, but I am not comfortable either. I want to be warm, and I want to sleep. I struggle to abandon my own desire and surrender to the desire of the Great Spirit and his plan for me. I lay curled again in my blanket. I think I have slept here and there, but I can’t be sure. I don’t know how many hours it has been, but the world is still dark around me.
“Rise, Linda.” I hear the voice again. It is the voice of guidance, and it resonates deep within my soul. “Rise and sit.”
I do not want to rise. I am so cold, and I am tired. I do not want to move, but eventually, the voice that beckons me is stronger than my desire for comfort. I do as I am told. I rise, and I sit facing the east. I gaze at the hills I cannot yet see, just in time to see the morning star break upon the horizon. I laugh aloud.
I have never experienced a night of vision quest, where I did not watch the morning star rise. I am filled with joy. The promise of a new day has come, and I know the warmth of the sun comes with it. I pray, and I thank the morning star for its promise.
“There is more.” I pause my joyous celebration to listen again to the voice filling my mind, “There is a message. You are a child of the morning star. With this gift comes great responsibility. There is much for you to learn about your passage into a new day. The time is coming where you will be called to be more than you believe you can be. There are signs. You must watch for your calling. You must heed the messages as they come to you and rise when you are called.
“This morning star is the first of your signs. Always look to the morning star for your truth. It is the place where your heart is pure, and your message is clear. You will never be led astray if you allow the star to guide you. Much will come to pass, to challenge you. Know always you are born of the morning star, and you can stand strong against anything that comes against you. I am with you always.”
I watch the star rise, and the horizon begins to glow. I feel far from myself, almost as if I am a part of the sky. I am only brought back to my body as it shivers from the cold. It will take the warmth of the sun, breaking the hill, for me to finally relax my weary muscles and try to sleep. However, long before this moment comes, the squirrel begins her latest tirade.
And so it goes. The atmosphere of my newest quest is set. I find I do not feel angst over the realization of this struggle. It is good not to expect more from this moment than it should be. If I am to begin the shedding of my skin, I must begin to tear at myself.
I do so gratefully. I pray for the squirrel and hope I am not threatening her or her family. I am grateful for this opportunity for growth, and I do not want to believe others must lose for me to win. I sit watching the people of the circle as they begin to move about the camp, and I pray for them too. I send them my deepest love and pray they too, have successful quests. I feel in my heart the warmth of companionship and the security of solitude, but like the quiet of the night, these feelings will not last. I will become so uncomfortable again. I will force myself to move. It is how I learn.
I spend the early morning hours, bouncing between prayer, and attempts to sleep. If I am of the morning star, maybe I could change my routine. Maybe, I could sit through the night, moving to stay warm and sleep in the dawn and the dusk hours, when the temperature is mild, and the insects are quiet, and even the squirrel decides to take her leave. The opportunity to struggle less becomes a real possibility in my mind. I lie down feeling hopeful again as the morning star gives way to light growing behind the eastern horizon.
Then, it comes again. I feel raindrops on my exposed cheek, and I realize I will not be warm today. My vision quest has begun.
The rain is cold and constant, and the squirrel is relentless. I travel between the bliss of spiritual harmony and the struggles of being human. I do not sleep either during the day or night. Still, somehow I find moments of peace and serenity. Whether it comes from shedding my saturated clothing and standing proud and naked upon the mountain, or wrapping myself in my sopping wet blanket until the heat from my body warms it enough to feel like shelter, I find little moments of inspiration and gratitude. Regardless of the conditions around me, I am grateful to sit with the Great Spirit.
Each morning I am awake to watch the morning star rise, and with each rising, I receive a message. My first morning is a reminder of the morning star itself and its significance in my life. I was born with the morning star, and even when I am home, I rise with it as it reveals its promise of a new day. I recall my first year of vision quest and how I failed to stay for the final morning star. I see now why it was so important. I might have known then what I learned last night. This, more than anything, seals my commitment to remain on the hill for the entire cycle of a true vision quest.