Story of the Day for Thursday May 17, 2012
Pay Attention to the Signs
I will listen to what God, the Lord, will say. For he will speak peace to his people.
In 1874, Homer Wheeler was an Army officer stationed at Fort Keogh near Miles City, Montana. In his memoirs he describes the tracking abilities of Poor Elk, a Cheyenne scout.
A column of troops was sent out to find some Indians who were reported to have crossed the Yellowstone River not far from their outpost.
The surrounding area had been trampled by buffalo and the grass cropped short by their grazing, so finding their trail would be extremely difficult. Half the column had already ridden past the Indian’s path before Poor Elk noticed their trail.
After following it for a mile, he found where they had camped. He brushed away the ashes from the fires and felt the ground underneath for warmth. After locating the fires he found the pin holes from the tepees. By knowing the size of each tepee he could estimate the number of Indians in the party.
Poor Elk found a moccasin and a piece of cloth that had been thrown away. The moccasin was sewn with thread instead of sinew. This told him they were probably following Sioux, instead of Cheyenne, as they originally supposed. A piece of calico was not the pattern available at the Cheyenne reservation, and a hair braid was the kind the Sioux used to fasten to the scalp lock.
He found where a sweat-lodge had been built – which meant they had stayed in camp for at least an entire day. But the horse droppings showed they had not stayed for more than one day. Further, seeds in horse droppings indicate where the party had come from, and the position of the urine in relation to the hoof prints showed the sex of the horse (the presence of mares indicated it was not a war party, since only women rode mares).
The position of the wickiups and tepees in relation to where the horses were tied – in addition to the care taken in leaving camp was evidence they were not moving in any special hurry.
These Indians, Poor Elk told them, were not Cheyenne, as they suspected, but Sioux, who had recently left an agency. They didn’t cross the Yellowstone at the time reported to them, but two days earlier. Their direction indicated they were probably heading north to join with other Indians north of the Canadian border.
Poor Elk could see what the others could not because he had learned to pay attention to the signs. In the same way, God wants us to pay attention to what he’s doing for us.
The Lord doesn’t bonk us on the head with spiritual truth and wisdom. But he teaches us the way of wholeness, of peace, when we focus our attention on him.