Smoking ceremony supports Sanford, community amid pandemic

Smoking ceremony supports Sanford, community amid pandemic

Now, St. John is back living on his own in an apartment in Chamberlain. He’s grateful to be alive, thanks in large part to his Sanford family, he said. In that time, his caregivers “became family,” he said. So, when the slew of uneasy thoughts and feelings came barreling in during March of 2020, St. John wanted to give back to the family members who helped him when he felt those feelings. He conducted a smudging ceremony outside of the Sanford campus.

He spent a week in the critical care unit at Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, before being transferred back to Sanford Chamberlain. In March of 2020, at the very beginning of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Rolan St. John wanted to give back to the providers who helped him. St. John, an Elder of the Crow Creek Reservation, contracted sepsis roughly three years ago.

He then had to call Sanford Chamberlain his home for a year and a half. Patient wants to give back

“We were always encouraged to pray when we get up in the morning. We burn sage, or smudge. Before we go to bed, (we do) the same thing, to keep the bad spirits out. When you get up in the morning, you give thanks that you came through a night safe,” St. John explained. After smudging in the morning, it’s typical to hang bedding. It’s often done twice a day.

St. John explained a smudging ceremony is very meaningful in Native American culture. It is part of a daily ritual, to keep bad spirits away, and thank good spirits for protection. Importance of smudging

The News Highlights

  • Smoking ceremony supports Sanford, community amid pandemic
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