It has been an incredibly long week. I have been house sitting since my supervisor is away. The church nearly caught on fire thanks to someone's careless cigarette butt. 3 funerals we (a semi-retired Lakota priest and I) had to do. Today I had to drive to Omaha to meet with the commission on ministry...and, yes, I am now a candidate for ordination.
The bizarre highlight of the year had to be the rattlesnake incident. At the second funeral, the casket was taken to a cemetary up a ridge. The funeral hearse was an SUV extended cab. The undertaker was one from Valentine, NE, who rarely comes up to the reservation as he is a bit pricey. But the family and mourners were mostly white and had at least a little money.
When we got up to the grave, we found that in the hole that had been dug for the grave, a rattlesnake had taken up residence. The undertaker took one look and said, "Yup, that's a rattlesnake, alright...you fellers wanna just put the casket in on top or it, or should we try to get rid of it?"
After some discussion on whether the snake could slither out the same way it got into the grave, Father Two Hawk did not particularly want to bury a poor rattlesnake alive. The undertaker said, "Well, I can take care of it then..." He proceeds to walk back to the SUV/hearse, rummage around, and come back with a little black box like you keep ashes in. With a casket on one side, and a mourning family on the other, he proceeds to rapidly pull out a .44 Magnum (Yes, the Dirty Harry kind) and shoot the rattlesnake with one quick shot. He did it so quickly no one had any time to react or protest.
Father Two Hawk was initially horrified; I was too shocked to believe that an undertaker would carry around a .44 magnum in a cremation ashes box. The mourners, not expecting a lunatiic undertaker to pull out a heater and shoot into a grave, stood in stunned silence. After the undertaker had jumped into the grave and was attempting to remove the remains of the snake, Father Two Hawk, in true Lakota humor, leans over the edge of the grave and says, "Maybe we should leave it down there, we can have two burials for the price of one."
Lord, save me from your followers.