In Custer, South Dakota, Korczak Ziolkowski has created a monumental sculpture of the Sioux warrior Crazy Horse out of what was once Thunderhead Mountain. Since there are no surviving photographs of this hero, it is gratifying to have this tribute to him.
Crazy Horse's claim to fame, in the minds of most Americans, is that he led one of the Sioux bands that killed General George Custer in the greatest battle of the Indian Wars. But Ian Frazier, author of Great Plains, reveals that this leader was appreciated more for his charity than his skills on the battlefield. To his community, Crazy Horse was also honored as a "shirt-wearer," a person chosen to put selfish interests aside and to think always of the welfare of the tribe.
Perhaps the most interesting biography is Crazy Horse by Larry McMurtry (Lonesome Dove, Terms of Endearment). McMurtry writes about Crazy Horse's unique vision quest, his tragic love interest, his life as a hermit, and his strange murder on on September 5, 1877 while in custody of soldiers at Fort Robinson. You can read the first chapter in this New York Times excerpt.
The Sioux experienced Crazy Horse as a mystery while he was alive. They called him "Our Strange Man." He loved being a loner whether raiding, hunting, or dreaming.
To Name this Day . . .
In Walking with God in a Fragile World, Karen Armstrong is quoted as saying:
"All the great world faiths emphasize the importance of charity and loving-kindness because they work; they have been found to introduce us into a sacred realm of peace within ourselves. And they do that because they help us to transcend the demands of our insecure, greedy egotism that imprison us within our worst selves.
"True religion has little to do with self-righteousness, which is often simply a self-congratulatory form of egotism. The discipline of compassion is the safest way to lay aside the selfishness and greed that hold us back from God and from our best selves."
- Think about the last time you were a "shirt-wearer," in the spirit of Crazy Horse. If you experienced a helper's high or what Karen Armstrong calls "a sacred realm of peace" what did that feel like?
- Open your heart to charity as the antidote to selfishness and greed. What rituals enable you to do this on a regular basis?