GRAY ANTELOPE
1933-1996
by Pamela Jensen ©1998
On unsteady feet, Gray Antelope, medicine man, walked in the White Mist World, images from the earth world flying past him out of the fog. All manner of things, four-legged, two-legged, winged-ones, swirled and flowed around him. Pictures flashed by him, breaking into pieces and reforming as if he were in the center of a kaleidoscope. A Pronghorn antelope came bounding out of the mist, its sleek body dancing gracefully, its dark eyes shining bright.
Slowly, Gray Antelope, stepped toward his kindred animal, holding out his hand. The Pronghorn's nostrils flaired and Gray Antelope could feel its breath upon his hand. The Pronghorn moved to meet him and stood still as Gray Antelope placed his hand upon its short horns. He ran his hand down its smooth neck until it rested on the Pronghorn's chest. Gray Antelope felt the steady beating of its heart for a moment before the Pronghorn raced away. Its rhythm echoed in his fingers as Gray Antelope watched the animal vanish, the mist closing around it.
Standing still, Gray Antelope felt a sense of peace and waited to see what was to come. Soon scenes unfolded before his eyes, whirling out of the mist like movies of his past. He turned in a circle seeing pieces of his life, faces of ones he loved; all were there in the mist. Everything. Everything. He was filled with wonder.
He stood slightly stooped and stretched out arms that looked frail beneath the short sleeves of his hospital gown. His skin was slack but his veins still pumped life; the pale blue rivers still ran their course. The gown was white and hung to his knees; his legs and feet were bare. These were not the clothes that he usually wore. They made him feel apart from himself, apart from his body, apart from his life on the earth world. He felt more in tune with the phantom scenes that swirled around him.
Gray Antelope flexed his fingers to touch the passing images, to pull them to him. He saw the faces of those that had gone before, those that had crossed over. The face of his grandfather, the face of his father, the face of his child came into focus and then shimmered away. His heart was filled with joy and loss. He beckoned to them with his hand, gestured for them to come to him, but the visions swept past. He felt their essence but could not grasp their substance. There was nothing to cling to, nothing to hold in his arms.
Then he saw other faces, others came to stand around him. Some from long, long ago. They wore their ceremonal clothes. In their hands, they held their medicine; in their eyes he saw great wisdom and compassion. They formed a large circle around him. A drum beat and the voices of the ancient ones filled the mist with song. Gray Antelope joined their singing. His voice rang strong and clear as one by one the other voices fell silent and his was the only song remaining. When he stopped singing, the silence and the mist surrounded him, Antelope was alone. Alone in the mist.
Beneath his feet, the ground was hard and smooth. Gray Antelope wanted to feel the earth, to feel its soft dusty warmth. He wanted to cover this white world with red earth, to give it form, to make it solid. He would cover all the cold hard edges with adobe, cover the sharp steel and cool tile. He mixed the earth and water, feeling the mud between his fingers, adding in the straw. He formed the bricks, taking his time, working with ease. He could feel the warmth of the sun, even through the mist. Feeling his strength coming back, he knew it came from his contact with the earth. He stacked the bricks until he had four walls. The sky shone blue high overhead still visible through the mist. Gray Antelope felt good, better than he had in a long time.
The mist was pierced by the mournful cry of a hawk. Gray Antelope looked up and watched as the hawk flew out of the East and circled over his head. It cried again and circled, a long and easy glide, sailing through the sky. Antelope could feel the movement of his wing feathers, could feel wind rushing past his face and the sky's embrace. Then the hawk soared and flew over the horizon to the West and out of his sight, disappearing into the fog that clung to the edges of the adobe walls.
The hawk's cry filled his heart and he closed his eyes. When he opened them again, the white mist receded. It rolled away as if pushed by the wind. Within the walls, shapes gained clarity. Gray Antelope could see ordinary everyday objects, metal furniture, white walls instead of adobe and a white gauze curtain hanging from a metal rail. Everything was white or chrome, shiny and cold. He was in a bed covered with a white sheet. A sharp needle was taped into his arm and plastic tubes ran to a bag of clear liquid hooked to machine with blinking lights. The machine purred and numbers flashed. There was someone sitting near him. This someone did not shimmer and fade away.
When Gray Antelope looked at Ross, it was without recognition but with curiosity. Ross, his long-time friend, was frightened by the fact that Gray Antelope did not seem to know him. Ross had sat by Gray Antelope's side in the hospital room for almost an hour, quietly waiting for him to wake, saying prayers, sending him strength. The great medicine man was down and it broke Ross's heart. Antelope looked into Ross's eyes and his gaze shifted down to Ross's hand which held his own and then back to his face.
"Antelope," Ross said loudly.
Recognition dawned and he smiled, "Brother, you've come to visit Antelope," Gray Antelope said weakly.
"Yes, but you've been sleeping. How are you feeling?" Ross asked, alarmed by Gray Antelope's soft voice and frail appearance.
"Oh, I've been dreaming," Gray Antelope answered.
"What have you been dreaming about?" Ross asked.
"Everything. Everything," Gray Antelope said. "I've been walking in the other world. I've been seeing everything in my life, everyone that has walked there before me."
"Sounds like a good dream," Ross answered, fear and a sense of loss filling him.
"I saw all the medicine men that have gone. Seventeen, you know, seventeen all gone. All the old medicine people are going. They are all leaving us. It is important that the healing ways are not lost. It is important to teach the old ways. That is why I share the medicine with you, so it will be remembered. I teach anyone that has a true heart that wants to learn. It is important that it not be lost. We need good medicine in this world," Gray Antelope said.
Ross gripped his hand and felt great love for the man. "Plenty of time for teaching," Ross told him. "You just concentrate on getting well."
Gray Antelope smiled at Ross, understanding Ross's fear and knowing that his time was drawing near. "Ho, brother,"Gray Antelope answered as he often did, a phrase that Ross had heard many times. Gray Antelope looked away; his eyes followed something that Ross could not see. He reached out his hand and caught a tiny golden spark, a gift from spirit, from the air over his head. To Ross, it seemed as if Antelope's fingers closed on thin air. When Gray Antelope placed the invisible object in Ross's hand, Ross could see nothing there, but felt the slight tingle of Gray Antelope's touch. Gray Antelope continued for some time, looking around, plucking invisible objects from the air and then placing them with a tingle, like a small spark, Ross thought, in Ross's hand.
"For you, my brother," Gray Antelope said and seemed very happy about the gifts that he gave to Ross. He gave them with a great deal of love. Ross did not ask him to explain; he simply accepted the gifts. When Gray Antelope was finished, he closed Ross's fingers and placed Ross's hand against his heart. Ross knew that Gray Antelope was saying goodbye, not with tears but with a gift of love and his enigmatic smile. "For you, my brother," Gray Antelope repeated and, tired from his exercise, he closed his eyes and went to sleep. Looking at Gray Antelope's face in quiet repose, Ross placed his image in his heart. He said goodbye and left quietly. Ross did not see Gray Antelope again.
Gray Antelope stood, strong again. Gone was the hospital gown and plastic tubes. He wore fine clothes and carried a turtle shell. Through the mist, Gray Antelope could make out a face of great beauty, a face that held the promise of peace. It was the One Who Waits in the White Mist World, the one he knew would be there for the journey. Long dark hair swirled around the face and soft brown eyes beckoned to him through the fog. The One Who Waits held out a white blanket, arms spread wide ready to encircle him, waiting for him to step inside, an invitation to union. He could see the others waiting, wearing their buckskins and feathers, holding their medicine bundles. They formed a circle, leaving a place for him, an opening in the circle. Gray Antelope no longer felt any ties to the earth world. Smiling, he stepped forward into the white embrace of the One Who Waits and became one with the mist.
Antelope, agile, swift and graceful, teaches us survival on the spiritual as well as the physical level. Antelope teaches us to be aware of our surroundings, to perceive danger and benefit. Antelope teaches us to seek the higher ground and to follow our higher purpose.

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Comment by Ladysong on July 22, 2016 at 7:55pm

What a wonderful story. It is a must read, thanks for posting.

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