Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cosmic coffee

Joel smacked his lips and groaned with absolute coffee contentment --and then asked, so you put in two level scoops of coffee and then a little bit more?

No, I said. I put in two heaping scoops and then a little bit more.

It tastes different --better this morning, he said. Whatever it is that you did differently today, do it again.

Well, I said --because of all the clean dishes on the sink, I made coffee on the other side of the stove.

Our kitchen this morning. I usually make coffee to the left of the stove --but, not today
--and I usually always put your cup on the right and mine on the left with the coffee pot close to the stove so I don't have to move boiling water very far before coffee --so, this morning, I kept your cup on the right and mine on the left, and kept the coffee pot closest to the stove, but that meant that your cup was furthest away.... Maybe that made the difference.

He asked, unbelievingly --so you ALWAYS put my cup on the right and yours on the left?

Yes. That way I don't have to think. (He takes sweetener and more milk in his coffee. I HATE sweetener in my coffee, and I only put three drops of milk in --yes, really, just barely enough to cut the acid. I live with lactose intolerance.)

Well, he said, it's probably the butterfly effect. You changed the universe by making coffee on the other side of the stove.

Right. Probably. If I changed your universe this morning, don't blame me --it's Joel's fault I'm making coffee at all... because for thirty years Joel delivered coffee to me while I was still in bed --every morning. It started on our honeymoon, and he'd done it every day since then.

Then, on the very day of our 30th anniversary, I had to take him to the hospital --his back had fractured carrying boxes up and down the stairs as we were packing up our Richmond house. So, since the very day of our 30th, I have made the coffee.... And, because the first week of my making the coffee he was still in the hospital, I saw no need to make a big pot of coffee (we had a 12 cup drip system). So I pulled out our coffee press to make myself one cup of coffee... and because I've made the coffee every day since our 30th, I have continued to make coffee in the press... --with two heaping scoops and then a little bit more --for good measure, as my mother always said.

It's fine for the two of us.... But then, when company's a-coming, it's really not enough for ample coffee.

So... we splurged. In anticipation of the many visitors we will be having in the months ahead, and God willing, in the years to come, we splurged and bought a larger press. We will inaugurate it this week, with former Franciscan Brother JG and his partner coming for a visit, and then m.a. coming this Friday --and if putting the coffee cups on the other side of the stove changed anything in the universe, the whole cosmos is going to shift when I make coffee in the big press! Bet on it.

changing the cosmos, one cup atta time

At prayer this morning (from Romans 16, ending with verse 27)
Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.

See, just when we thought God was mystery, we have to reconsider.... All is revealed. Behold! What was kept secret is now disclosed! Behold!

Obviously, Paul knew nothing of the butterfly effect --and even if he did, cosmic shifts in presumed linear patterns doesn't undo the revelation of the mystery of God.

Or does it?

I love cosmic coffee.... Amen.

Monday, July 30, 2012

this morning

Yesterday at church was great fun. Even had two little boys come and stand at the altar with me (it was their birthday week) --so we had a priest on behalf of the Bishop (me), Deacon, a Lay Reader and two kids --elders, and the next generation... it was wonderful. An icon of the human family to present an offering of bread and wine at the altar.... And the little ones played with my stole and cincture as I prayed. We thank you God for the gift of creation --yank, tug, flip... And then I would surprise them and say, okay --bow like this now-- and they would.

Does the heart good.

Spent a quiet afternoon --see, it's fifth Sunday, so I don't have a scheduled church. In fact, the Mission Council organized the schedule and said they wanted me to take fifth Sundays off. Well... that ain't happening. If it's Sunday, I'm at church.... any way... so, I asked St. John's if they wanted me to come celebrate Eucharist with them, and they said yes! So, it was incredible, and almost like a Sunday off --not to drive any where.

About three o'clock I got a call. A drowning. Young man --about 22. So I got in the car and drove out the gravel road not far from town to be with the family while the police and recovery folk dredged the little lake. I drove back and forth to town more than once with family members... and was with them as they waited. And waited. And waited. And watched. It was horrific as the dredging hooks would bring up a great big gob of something and struggle to release it --and we would watch from the other side of the lake --but it would be nothing but moss....

The Tribal Chairman came out to be with the family. The Mayor. The Owner of the Lake.

The children ran and played. I guess we were at the Tribal golf course --the kids kept finding tees and golf balls --one found a club in the high grasses.

Food appeared. Of course.

The police stopped searching the lake at sundown --about 8:30ish. We prayed together as the sun went down --a shocking red and pink at the horizon that gave way to an incomprehensible blue....

They said they would continue this morning, at 5am. But as I write this I hear thunder, and where there's thunder, there is lightening, and I am thinking they won't let the divers and boats out on the water if there is the risk of getting struck by lightening.

So, my task today is to go and be with the family. And wait. And watch. And pray.

At prayer this morning
Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control imbue our wills, that we may be know that we are wholly yours, utterly dedicated to you enthralled in your love and compassion; and then use us, we pray, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Please pray for the L. family, that they may have strength and courage to meet the days ahead.

Please pray for the police and divers and recovery folks.

Please pray for the soul of T. --in the Lakota way, it takes four days to figure out being dead and begin your journey to the Spirit World.

Amen.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

G'wan. Go to church

Big choices this morning --feeding thousands, not making Jesus king (my favorite) or walking on water --it's the marathon of Gospel readings today, perfect for a Sunday morning in Olympic-tide....

G'wan. Go to church. Jesus is demonstrating his Olympic prowess for so many miracles in a single day.



--and, HE would be competing for America, right???

Saturday, July 28, 2012

wealth is not dependent upon how much you have, but how much you can give away

Well, D is now famous. Not only did she get invited for a total makeover by the local hairdresser --which she did, and she will now be used as advertising all over town.... BUT, she made the newspaper!



So, D, there you are in your Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation Youth Diabetes shirt you received for walking a three mile walk at the Home Town Festival --there you are buying jewelry at the craft fair!!!!

Yeppa. Nothing like a small town to make everyone feel important.

D is also wearing a 'new' hat in this photo --she said to Deacon --I like your hat! --and Deacon took her hat off and gave it to D... just good manners here. Joel is sans hat because he had just given his away....

Just the way it goes here.

I have given away all the star quilts I have received... and the Pendleton blanket... keeps the good energy going....

When a Ugandan seminarian and his wife visited us in Oregon lo those many years ago, I took them over to meet my mom, and they admired my mother's glass collection --so my mom said, choose any piece of glass --and it's fun to know that there is a bit of my mom's joy floating around in Africa somewhere....

In that book, What Every Church Member Ought to Know About Poverty, it talks about "stuff" and how "stuff" is used. In middle and upper income families, "stuff" is used to create displays of wealth and secure dynasties and is inheritance --it's kept in the family circles. In lower and poverty income families, "stuff" is used to create, form and sustain relationships. Thus, give-aways.... Your wealth is not dependent upon how much you have, but how much you can give away.

And I keep looking around our house --we have less than half of what we had a year ago... and that is quite a relief. But we still have a great deal of "stuff".... I wonder about it all....

The Leader --Itancan of the Mission Council --the Lay Leader, Sr. Warden of the whole collection of churches on the Reservation --he saw the lanyard I made, and said he really liked it. I would have taken it off then and there, but I have nothing else to hang my Niobrara cross from --and that is a ceremonial piece the Bishop gave to me and I cannot give away... So, I told him I would give it to him as soon as I was "done" wearing it --which means it is time to start making another lanyard.

Sooner, rather than later....

Talk about giving "stuff" away --After the comfort services, the wake and the funeral and all the eating that goes with those liturgies --family members usually stop doing or participating in their customary things --like pow wow dancing, singing at the drum, parties or get togethers of any sort --and after a year, sometimes longer, there is a Wiping Away the Tears ceremony, after which one may resume one's customary things.... I haven't been here long enough to do one of those ceremonies --but Thursday night at the wake I was asked to preside at one for someone who is now ready, after three years of grieving his father's death, to resume his place at the drum.

The family will have to teach me what to do ceremonially to help them finally give away their grief... they are "done" bearing it... ready to resume their lives.

Thinking. Praying. About all of it.

At prayer this morning (beginning at Romans 15:25)

At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem in a ministry to the saints; for Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to share their resources with the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. They were pleased to do this, and indeed they owe it to them; for if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material things. So, when I have completed this, and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will set out by way of you to Spain; and I know that when I come to you, I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.

Please keep in your prayers the people of St. James, Canon Ball, Standing Rock Reservation just north of us in North Dakota. The church burned to the ground three days ago. Because St. John's, here in Eagle Butte, burned to the ground ten years ago, I will hope to inspire the people here to act on behalf of the people of St. James --and give some stuff away.

Amen.

Friday, July 27, 2012

seed for sowing and bread for eating

The funeral is at the cultural center, a big octagonal shaped building with a large front hall and a kitchen off the back.

The horses led the pickup that carried the drum and singers who led the hearse --and they all piled suddenly in to the parking lot along the highway. Children climbed out the car windows before the cars were parked to be alongside me as we waited for the hearse to wend its way to the entrance. I prayed for those who gathered and the work we had to do in the coming days... I prayed for the children whose lives are forever changed... and we were led by the singers, carrying the drum, into the building.

We processed around the building and finally through the center of it where all the sides meet. I was right behind the drum, and the way the drum and song reverberated off the walls and ceiling and floor almost made my knees give way.....

I still didn't know what we were going to do in the next few hours --if I knew the Mormon President were going to be there, it would be one thing --if not, then another.... When we got all settled, the coffin in its place, the flowers and cakes displayed, I noted the Mormons sitting in a clutch all together --not hard, they're the only other white folk in the room --and they've all got name tags on.

So, when all the People gathered had come to sign the book and greet the family, and settled into a wake routine of children running and laughing, old men rearranging their butts on the hard folding chairs, and the women streaming in and out of the kitchen, I went to speak to the Mormons. And they said their President would be present today --Friday, to conduct the funeral.

Finally. I could make a plan. A plan that I would hold lightly as all else unfolded.

And I remember that we heard lessons about the feast (Isaiah), that we are all children of God (1 John), and that it was the dream/hope/will of the Father that nothing/no one should be lost, but that all shall be raised on the last day....

But mostly I remember hearing the invitation to the Eucharist as though I were sitting in the back of the room... I didn't know what I was saying until I had said it, my secret thoughts exposed.... And I was explaining the bread and wine, a humble sign of that feast to which we are all invited --and I remember hearing myself say that when Jesus held up the bread and said 'this is my body' that we could imagine him saying --the wheat, the ground, the sun, the rain, the air, the insects, birds, the humans who harvested --everything that it took to make the bread --all, ALL were his body --the whole thing.... and that the wine --the vine, the fruit, the earth, the sun, the rain --all of it his life blood --signs of the whole thing --the WHOLE thing....

--and it's not as though I hadn't thought about that before --but it was again as though the drum were playing and the thunder of it made me weak in the knees... again.

My funny little pseudo-cosmic thoughts affirmed --that's what it felt like --like the voice of God.... my own personal devotions and reflections regarding the Eucharist said aloud in public... my self revealed and vulnerable....

Terrified was I. Waiting for the lightening strike. Heretic that I am... usually.

So, in talking with Joel about it this morning, I said what I had felt... and he said, yes, of course, He said that is my body... and let me go....

--and visions of Mary in the garden, clutching him...

So I asked Joel who else professed that earth-air-sun-wind-creation based idea of the bread and wine --and he pulls out the book he's reading --Cosmic Liturgy, The Universe According to Maximus the Confessor (Balthasar is the author), and he says, Oh... a few --the real problem is language.... Like God does not love us --God IS love, God IS life.... and on and on and on....

Well, that about finishes up a good cuppa....

At prayer this morning (Second Isaiah, Chapter 55 a couple of verses after #6 --whatever)

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, *
nor your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, *
so are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
For as rain and snow fall from the heavens *
and return not again, but water the earth,
Bringing forth life and giving growth, *
seed for sowing and bread for eating,
So is my word that goes forth from my mouth; *
it will not return to me empty;
But it will accomplish that which I have purposed, *
and prosper in that for which I sent it.

--and the rain and snow water the earth... bringing forth life... and God IS life.

--wups, there we are....

Off to plant Little Red Fox in mother earth --where the rain and snow will water the earth in which he rests --and life will be brought forth --seed for sowing, and bread for eating --bread which is the Body of his Son....

The beloved.

Amen.

(Image here.)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

No outsiders --easy to think it, easy to say it...

I have a funeral --maybe a wake tonight.... I don't know which because the young man that died had been adopted off the Reservation at a young age, was placed with a Mormon family, and he took on the faith of his adoptive family, so he will be buried a Mormon. However, the Mormon elder here --is out of town, and can't be reached, which means I may be doing the funeral tomorrow... maybe not... In any event, his mother is Episcopalian and is hopeful that I will do a funeral mass tonight for the benefit of her side of the family.

I was hesitant, because technically (BCP rubrics) state that I must do a funeral with a closed casket --and I know the wake here is always done with an open casket --but his casket will be closed. He drowned. And was not found for many days....

And I am hesitant still, having been deeply offended on more than one occasion at the missionary techniques and attitudes and belief systems of certain Mormons... in my own living room. (Deeply offended is putting it nicely... what they said about women in general and me as a woman and my dead babies such that I would leave the room, leave them with my beloved who is so much better at dealing with those who knock on the door wanting to talk about God.)

And so, in my prayers today, I pray for the family and relatives, and the repose of his soul. And I pray for guidance through the morass of inter-faith funeral rites, knowing my care and concern of the family comes before any thing else... and, yes, I say inter-faith because Mormons are not Trinitarians, and are not, therefore, Christians in any Traditional sense.... --they do not hold the fundamentals such as Incarnation and Resurrection in any Traditional sense... nor even Baptism. And compound that with a family with Episcopalian roots, tethered with Lakota spirituality and ceremonies, and Mormonism held in hand.... It's going to be an interesting funeral.

And, that got me thinking about where I am --in all of this.... When D and Joel and Deacon and I visited the church where Deacon was brought up --up on Standing Rock Reservation, Deacon was talking about how the vestibule was used to hold the coffin during the wake, because an open coffin would not be brought in to the church.... And I remembered how I used to do that too --when requested, putting the open coffin in the narthex (front hall) of the church, and when it came time, closing the coffin and processing in with it for the funeral. I would not allow an open coffin in the sanctuary in front of the altar....

And now --not even sure how it happened that I didn't even think of it --now, it seems perfectly natural to place the open coffin right in front of the altar for the overnight wake... Joel and I were talking about it --I said, I don't know, but it seems right and good --it's the final offering.... And Joel said, yeah, I know... and it's like God says, oh, there you are --oh-huhn... can't even repent now can you... here, you are mine, and always have been... I've taken care of it.... And we can let bodies lay around in parish halls, funeral homes, capitol rotundas in governmental buildings --and it is only God who can breathe the new and unexpected life in to the bag of bones....

Yeah. The final and perfect offering.... In front of the altar. And I wonder how we made up not putting an open coffin before the altar.... Where did that come from...? --was it the idea of not polluting a sacred space? --well, there is nothing quite like a corpse to put us in mind of God... it is a perfect offering... there is nothing we can do....

At prayer this morning (Romans 15:1-13)

We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor. For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.

May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,

“Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles,
and sing praises to your name”;

and again he says,
“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people”;

and again,
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples praise him”;

and again Isaiah says,
“The root of Jesse shall come,
the one who rises to rule the Gentiles;
in him the Gentiles shall hope.”

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Yeah... Thank you Paul. I do not have to be 'right' --only faithful, and welcome all as my long-lost sisters and brothers, and be a servant to all in order that 'outsiders' (read Gentile) might also glorify God.... Because in God, there are no 'outsiders.' And that is my hope... my great hope.

For me, easy to think it, easy to say it... we'll see tonight and tomorrow how easy it will be to do it...

No outsiders. Amen.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

should we dream of matching the circumstance of God or even a storm?

Mr. Witty went in to D's room and sniffed and moped in her absence... And D had been praying for a big prairie storm. Well, we got one just after she left. And then last night...

Bulletin - Eas Activation Requested
Severe Thunderstorm Warning
National Weather Service Aberdeen SD
1233 AM MDT Wed Jul 25 2012

The National Weather Service In Aberdeen Has Issued A

• Severe Thunderstorm Warning For...
Northwestern Dewey County In North Central South Dakota...

• Until 115 AM Mdt

• At 1228 AM MDT...National Weather Service Doppler Radar Indicated A
Severe Thunderstorm Capable Of Producing Destructive Winds In
Excess Of 70 Mph
. This Storm Was Located Near Lantry...Moving
Northeast At 50 Mph.

At 1229 AM MDT 70 Mph Winds Were Reported In Dupree With This
Storm.


The Severe Thunderstorm Will Be Near...
Eagle Butte Around 1240 AM MDT..
.
Green Grass And Parade Around 1245 AM MDT...
Little Moreau Rec Area Around 100 AM MDT...
Ridgeview Around 105 AM MDT...
White Horse Around 110 AM MDT...

Precautionary/Preparedness Actions...

Severe Thunderstorms Produce Damaging Winds In Excess Of 60 Miles Per
Hour...Large Hail...Deadly Lightning...And Very Heavy Rain. For Your
Protection...Seek Shelter In A Sturdy Structure Until The Storm Has
Passed.

In Addition To Large Hail And Damaging Winds...Continuous Cloud To
Ground Lightning Is Occurring With This Storm. Move Indoors
Immediately! Lightning Is One Of Natures Leading Killers. Remember...
If You Can Hear Thunder...You Are Close Enough To Be Struck By
Lightning.

And --the lightening and thunder were continuous. Totally awesome. Whole cloud and forks of light... D prayed up a wondrous storm for us, such that at 12:45 when the 70mph+ winds hit, I went in and woke Joel up and asked him if we should go to the basement... Mr. Witty was shaking like an aspen leaf...

Joel said no --not unless the sirens went off....

--and then he fell back asleep. And left me to manage the storm on my own. Except for the help from Mr. Witty, of course....

Poor little guy.

I think God's presence is pretty much like a storm like that... awesome and terrifying at the same time --prickly stuff right up the arm and nape of the neck.

Perhaps it is always helpful to trust a dog's response... cower, shake and submit....

--because in the presence of a storm like the one last night, that is not the time to raise one's sword and shout at the heavens... just sayin'.

And in the next few --have a funeral to do.. and it will be complicated. It will be at the cultural center, and I just asked out of courtesy, who is the main presider --you are they said... and where will J be interred I asked --the Mormon cemetery they said... really?! So, I have some work to do to figure this one out...

In the meantime, I carry the images of the storm in my head --so clear, so powerful. And the baby birds being fed this morning --beaks open, screaming for the parent bird to feed them when they themselves look much bigger than the parent bird, and hardly as big as the grasshopper being offered.... And all of that puts the funeral arrangements in clear focus --and I will strive to make it NOT about turf wars, which would be so easy to fall in to... but about care of the family... and giving J to God with thanksgiving.

At prayer this morning --Canticle: You are God
Te Deum laudamus

You are God: we praise you;
You are the Lord; we acclaim you;
You are the eternal Father:
All creation worships you.
To you all angels, all the powers of heaven,
Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise you.
The noble fellowship of prophets praise you.
The white-robed army of martyrs praise you.
Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you;
Father, of majesty unbounded,
your true and only Son, worthy of all worship,
and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.
You, Christ, are the king of glory,
the eternal Son of the Father.
When you became man to set us free
you did not shun the Virgin’s womb.
You overcame the sting of death
and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
You are seated at God’s right hand in glory.
We believe that you will come and be our judge.
Come then, Lord, and help your people,
bought with the price of your own blood,
and bring us with your saints
to glory everlasting.


And not because we can even dream of matching the circumstance of God or even a storm, but this ain't bad:




Peace out.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

praying in the car dealership

Sitting in Rapid.
Just took D to the airport. Stymied tears. But she'll be back in a month.
Now at the car dealership for the 7,000 mile oil change and check up.

The changes on the prairie are startling --two weeks ago it was such a beautiful green. Now after two weeks of heavy heat coupled with drought, the grasses are all dry, the corn withering on the stalk, the four-leggeds seeking what little shade there is....

The hidden river valleys are like oases.

I am reminded of my native state --golden brown for the summer, green in the winter... well, at least the part I'm from does that.... The ground gets so dry it begs for you to spit... riverbeds cracked and chapped....

But, at least the birds are not panting in the heat, beaks open, hiding as they can from the sun...

I am soaking in the heat and dry. Taking it in --putting it on like fat on my body. Storing it away for the months to come.

At prayer in the car dealership (Matthew 26:47-56)

While Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.”

At once he came up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you are here to do.” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.

Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?”

At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.”

Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

Car is done. Off we go.

Monday, July 23, 2012

perhaps Zephaniah was a Ghost Dancer

"Big Foot" at the Grass Dance, August 1890, taken by Major Sherman Miles, Smithsonian Collection

Just four months after this picture was taken, most of the People in this photo were murdered at Wounded Knee. Many of these folks were also Ghost Dancers.... I know this because I have seen the Ghost Shirts... literally.

...it has occurred to me... since the People who were murdered at Wounded Knee were from the northeast corner of this Reservation... I might have an incredible and untapped resource for finding descendants and relatives that pre-date the massacre by a decade --the handwritten volumes of baptismal records.

Except I can't access them, because the names are all written in Lakota, and most families today use English translations --like Circle Eagle or Swift Bird.

But, the parents of those baptized are all listed... some dating back in to the 1820s. Whole families are listed.

I am not sure how all that family information might help, just have a hunch it might. Somehow.

And that all the survivors and injured of the massacre were taken to the Episcopal Church... leaves me wondering what other type records might exist.

And just when I think all the reasons for doing this Wounded Knee work are obvious, whole new panoramas click in to place... --and I read:

“They tried extermination, they tried assimilation, they broke every single treaty they ever made with us,” White Plume said. “They took away our horses. They outlawed our language. Our ceremonies were forbidden.” White Plume is insistent about the depth and breadth of the policies and laws by which the U.S. government sought to quash Native Americans, but his delivery is uncomplainingly matter-of-fact. “Our holy leaders had to go underground for nearly a century.” It wasn’t until Congress passed the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, in 1978, that any interference in native spiritual practices was made a crime. “And yet our ceremonies survived, our language survived,” White Plume said.

Buried deep within the pages of the 2010 Defense appropriations bill, signed by President Barack Obama in December 2009, is an official apology “to all Native Peoples for the many instances of violence, maltreatment, and neglect inflicted on Native Peoples by citizens of the United States.” The resolution commends those states “that have begun reconciliation efforts with recognized Indian tribes,” but there is no mention of reparations, nor of honoring long-broken treaties.

White Plume lit one of his rolled-up cigarettes and squinted at me through a ribbon of smoke. “Do you know what saved me from becoming a cold-blooded murderer? My language saved me. There is no way for me to be hateful in my language. It’s such a beautiful, gentle language. It’s so peaceful.” Then White Plume started to speak in Lakota, and there was no denying the words came softly.
--and I know this fight is not mine, except what is given to me to do, by the People. And, so, today, I will go and meet with the People... the ones I meet with trying to get the objects in the custody of the tribe known, seen, used --or copied and then the originals buried, as they should have been so long ago.

It is a very white thing to hang on to objects, trying to preserve them....

In the 1990s I worked the NAGPRA (Native American Grave Repatriation Act) from the other side --when I was a museum curator in Oregon, and appointed by the Governor to sit on the State Historic Preservation Board. I remember saying at that time that the objects needed to be returned to the tribes, and hearing the cascade of laments and criticism --that the objects would not be properly cared for.... and me saying that wasn't our problem --our problem was to return the objects --a minority voice among preservationists. So, I am not surprised that now I stand with many of the descendants saying the shirts and other objects must be buried for the healing to begin.

But, it is so conflicting... because here and now, these same descendants are wanting to show the artifacts to a group trying to raise awareness about Wounded Knee... to educate and inspire.

While other descendants are objecting, to the point of law suits... the objects being imbued with the spirit of those who wore them, and they must not be exploited --and showing them is exploitation.

--and there is so much I cannot say.... So much that I saw last week... and I cannot/will not say --cannot/will not do. For the sake of the people.

And so I will pray.

At prayer this morning on the Feast of Mary Magdalene (Zephaniah 3:14-20)

Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!

The LORD has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies. The king of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more.

On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak. The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival.

I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it. I will deal with all your oppressors at that time.

And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. At that time I will bring you home, at the time when I gather you; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the LORD.

Dang. Perhaps Zephaniah was a Ghost Dancer....

--yeah....

Saturday, July 21, 2012

G'wan. Go to church.

From the Gospel for tomorrow:

The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught.

He said to them, "Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.

Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them...

G'wan. Go to church. Rest a while. And when you figure out you really aren't going to get a break, open your eyes with compassion...

--'cuz, what else are you going to do that's so important?!

Friday, July 20, 2012

God on our side....



Oh my name it is nothin'
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
I's taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And the land that I live in
Has God on its side.

Oh the history books tell it
They tell it so well
The cavalries charged
The Indians fell
The cavalries charged
The Indians died
Oh the country was young
With God on its side.

The Spanish-American
War had its day
And the Civil War too
Was soon laid away
And the names of the heroes
I's made to memorize
With guns on their hands
And God on their side.

The First World War, boys
It came and it went
The reason for fighting
I never did get
But I learned to accept it
Accept it with pride
For you don't count the dead
When God's on your side.

When the Second World War
Came to an end
We forgave the Germans
And then we were friends
Though they murdered six million
In the ovens they fried
The Germans now too
Have God on their side.

I've learned to hate Russians
All through my whole life
If another war comes
It's them we must fight
To hate them and fear them
To run and to hide
And accept it all bravely
With God on my side.

But now we got weapons
Of the chemical dust
If fire them we're forced to
Then fire them we must
One push of the button
And a shot the world wide
And you never ask questions
When God's on your side.

In a many dark hour
I've been thinkin' about this
That Jesus Christ
Was betrayed by a kiss
But I can't think for you
You'll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot
Had God on his side.

So now as I'm leavin'
I'm weary as Hell
The confusion I'm feelin'
Ain't no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
If God's on our side
He'll stop the next war.

Reflections on viewing the objects from Wounded Knee...

just sayin'.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

shoulders broad enough to carry

Years ago, we went to Gettysburg... in their introductory session in the visitor center, I watched and listened as a voice spoke of the battle, and spot lights lit areas in the 1/10 scale train-table like model in the center of the room.

I don't like war. This was re-enforced as I watched and listened to this Gettysburg tale.

After the introduction, you may then get a map and drive around on the battle field. I hated it. The blood in the ground cried out to me --the young boys crying for their mother's and friends. Thousands of them. Thousands upon thousands.

I remember --we were out of the car and on a high rocky promontory, and I had to sit down because I was afraid I would faint --the battle pressed in on me so --even 130 years after.... I told Joel I hated being there and we had to leave -I couldn't stand another minute of it... and he helped me to the car and we left.

So, we were talking about Wounded Knee this morning over coffee, and talking about battle fields and objects of war and war, and I reminisced about my feelings about visiting that battle field and vowing to never ever again visit a battle field --only, Joel said he never went to Gettysburg with me....

Funny how that works.... I wonder who it was that helped me back to the car?! Who else knew my inner turmoil? Who else knew my awful sensitivity --my weirdness?

I say this and think about this as I accompany folks I love and serve as I go this morning to support them as they continue their fight to have Wounded Knee artifacts displayed --shirts and toys and other objects confiscated --taken off the men, women and children rather than buried with them in the trench dug as their grave. We will see the stuff. And professionals will determine whether they are too fragile to display. While the old ladies will continue to campaign to see and display the objects so that healing can begin --so that eventually the objects can be copied and then buried --as they should have been a long time ago.

I am preparing to walk through the valley of the shadow of death.... and the readings leapt off the page at me....

at prayer this morning (Psalm 37:1-18)

Do not fret yourself because of evildoers; *
do not be jealous of those who do wrong.
For they shall soon wither like the grass, *
and like the green grass fade away.

Put your trust in the LORD and do good; *
dwell in the land and feed on its riches.
Take delight in the LORD, *
and he shall give you your heart’s desire.
Commit your way to the LORD and put your trust in him, *
and he will bring it to pass.
He will make your righteousness as clear as the light *
and your just dealing as the noonday.

Be still before the LORD *
and wait patiently for him.
Do not fret yourself over the one who prospers, *
the one who succeeds in evil schemes.
Refrain from anger, leave rage alone; *
do not fret yourself; it leads only to evil.
For evildoers shall be cut off, *
but those who wait upon the LORD shall possess the land.

In a little while the wicked shall be no more; *
you shall search out their place, but they will not be there.
But the lowly shall possess the land; *
they will delight in abundance of peace.

The wicked plot against the righteous *
and gnash at them with their teeth.
The Lord laughs at the wicked, *
because he sees that their day will come.
The wicked draw their sword and bend their bow
to strike down the poor and needy, *
to slaughter those who are upright in their ways.
Their sword shall go through their own heart, *
and their bow shall be broken.

The little that the righteous has *
is better than the great riches of the wicked.
For the power of the wicked shall be broken, *
but the LORD upholds the righteous.

And Paul --I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.

I shall go, in trepidation for myself --but if I am approaching this morning with trepidation, how much more so for those who carry today the living blood with which these grave goods are drenched....

So, I pray for clear vision, a calm and discerning heart... and shoulders broad enough to carry what I must carry until I can lay it down upon the altar...

Amen.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

O the depth of the riches... out of the depths, O Lord.

Sitting in the sun --out back --drinking coffee --ate my granola and yogurt.... The awful heat seems to have broken --at least, the mugginess has cleared --for the morning.

The corn, which was "knee high on the Fourth of July" is now taller than the fences. Fields of it. Other places, the drought and heat are causing stress on the field crops. So far, I think we are doing relatively okay. And, I think the other large leafy-green field crop is sunflowers, although the first blooms are not much bigger than my hand.... we'll see. Soon enough.

--and I cut all my hair off.... I couldn't stand it one more day. Short hair is much better for me.... Culturally not so good here --but, there are other women here with short short hair.... So, here am I.



D just asked me --so, when you pass the mirror do you say --Oh! who's that!? I said, no, I look and say --wups, there you are!

Deacon caught someone picking our choke cherries --told him he could pick the cherries that hang out over the road, but not over our side of the fence. I was waiting for the birds to begin eating them before I picked them --they are really not yet sweet. But the picking-someone will be able to sell the bag he had picked for some good money.... He offered to sell Deacon some of the cherries --she said, God grew them, the tree nurtured them --what did he do other than steal them? He then offered to give her some... I am quite sure he got 'the look.'

So, sometime this week, I am going to go to the uneven ground beside her house and pick her some cherries. For her. She says, we used to grind them up --fruit pit and all, make patties about the size and shape of hamburger patties, dry them in the sun --turn them over, dry the other side -then put them in a bag for storage. Then, in the middle of winter, if someone comes for a visit, you pull them out, put them in a pot of water, boil them and add a little thickener, and you can eat summer with them.

I keep trying to remember the bone-cold of February and March --the way the ice formed, thick ice and snow --right where I sit and enjoy my morning cuppa and let the sun and warm breeze caress my thoughts in to the day... and I can't remember the bone-cold. I mean, I can remember it --but I cannot recall the pinch and grab --the full throttle of the cold. I guess we're not supposed to.

God has thrown the cold as far away as the east is from the west....

--and we have been talking in this house a great deal as of late about free will... about perfect liberty and freedom. How the whole of creation is laboring to bring to full fruition the dream of God....

At prayer this morning (from Romans 11)

For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.

O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

“For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him,
to receive a gift in return?”

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.

The Franciscans sing that little hymn that goes something like this --O blessed Eve who took the apple, because by the apple and sin we have been given the full measure of grace through Jesus, and are shown the glory of God.

I think that is where Paul is striving to go with talk of disobedience and mercy and the mind of God...

--and so, I will not yet strive to remember either the dry dusty rustle of the corn stalks that is to come, nor the bite of the cold so bitter...

--but just today... just the glory of today.



Amen.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

back to basics...

The storm rolled in about dusk last night. Big wind.... I saw lightening out of both my bedroom windows --major strikes, it seemed. D wanted to see a major prairie storm... I didn't... not so much.

This morning, I was awakened by the silence --the AC was off --silence interrupted by Joel's snore. The power was off. The house was stuffy --I went around and opened all the windows that I could open, went out with Mr. Witty....

When the power came back on --about 6:45, I checked the weather reports. We had 1" hail and 60mph winds --in the middle of the dark of the night.

Wow....

--and it's been so hot... over 100 yesterday and the day before... with no rain. Birds are hiding, and the ones we see are panting...  nothing else but crazy humans out and about. Even the cattle and horses are still --the young ones sprawled out on the ground....

And then this post was interrupted --a call --come with us to see the Wounded Knee artifacts --we want you with us in this... so I went running out of the house, collar barely buttoned... went to the two places, including the cultural resources office... it's been postponed until Thursday....

So, on with the day --still working to get insurance information for that pesky accident... where a parishioner backed in to me in a government vehicle... have had no action.... nervous....

And so it goes....

From Psalm 28

The LORD is my strength and my shield; *
my heart trusts in him, and I have been helped;
Therefore my heart dances for joy, *
and in my song will I praise him.
The LORD is the strength of his people, *
a safe refuge for his anointed.
Save your people and bless your inheritance; *
shepherd them and carry them for ever.


Ahhhh yes. Back to basics.

Amen.

Monday, July 16, 2012

I wish I could sing like Tracy Nelson

Joel wants this played and sung at his funeral... and no, it's not like he's dying --we just talk about stuff like that, you know.



Just is, if he dies here on the Reservation and I do find a way to play this at his wake or something... then everybody will think I've gone off the deep end or something, and I'm not saying I wouldn't or won't, just is, it's not this lament that will prove it.... !!

Anyhoooo --D is visiting us here from B'more! For and week and a little. Picked her up in Rapid after the funeral on Saturday, got home at 2am Sunday, slept for a few hours, got in the saddle the next morning and began a Sunday trek that took us to Dupree, Thunder Butte and Bear Creek. It was over 100 degrees. Oh. So. Hot.

The first church had no electricity, no water no nothing --but it was good. The Roman church in town was selling a breakfast, so we went and had breakfast there --I'm not sure they knew quite what to do with us, women in collar and all. We used their bathroom, because then we went to Thunder Butte which has power (and AC TBTG!) but no bathroom or running water --just an outhouse. Then we sat around in the parish hall, which has no AC or power, but the Indian Tacos (fry bread and all the fixings) overrode any other physical discomfort.... And then to Bear Creek, where in 104 degree heat we baptized two children with a crowd of about 18 children looking on, and the adults standing to the back of the little church where there is no electricity, no water, no outhouse, no nothing....

And it was all good. It reminds me that Christians have been meeting for centuries without electricity, water or lush flushes, and puts me in mind of greater things --which brings me back to Joel's request for "Mother Earth" to be sung at his funeral...

I am so deeply grateful to serve in a place where we grab a bowl from the kitchen to use as the font, and where candles are actually functional and are not merely decoration....

--and wondering if Tracy Nelson would just come and visit for a week and sing us up in the morning, sing us to encouragement in the afternoon, and sing us to sleep in the evening... talk about prayer....



--and I am so deeply grateful that I am blessed with the physical where-with-all to serve in this place...

--and I am so deeply grateful that D shared her gracious and patient presence with all, the children wanting to know who she is, where she is from and where she was going to spend the night... --and being deeply aware in so very many helpful ways.

--and I morphed the Eucharistic prayer (B) to name parts of creation for which we were grateful --two-leggeds, birds of the air, four-leggeds and all, named the nation Israel --yes, but also the Nations here, and gave thanks for the prophets and visionaries in every place and every generation... Did it spontaneously the first time, and purposefully the rest of the day, adding more....

--and thought about how in this place, the young people do actively engage in seeking a vision, led by the elders, prayed for, and encouraged to act upon the vision given them....

--and how the generational grief --the inherited grief from events such as Wounded Knee, still brings tears which run down the faces of the old ladies at the lunch table --and the silent burdens shift their weight from the elderly to the young... and the old ladies know it, and want it to stop. Don't want the next generation to forget, but don't want them to know and carry their grief.

There is grief enough.

At prayer this morning (from Psalm 25)

He guides the humble in doing right
and teaches his way to the lowly.
All the paths of the LORD are love and faithfulness...

Hey God, it's margaret. I do not come from a humble people. Humble was only an opinion --which was not. Humble, that is.

I hope I am learning.

Thank you for this day.
Thank you for everything that has brought me to this day.
Help me know your paths of love and faithfulness.
Amen.

PS -and I wish I could sing like Tracy Nelson.... Perhaps in heaven?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

in a little coracle, trying to row it like a boat

At prayer this morning (beginning at Matthew 24:32)

Jesus said, “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away."

"But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left."

"Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour."
I love this bit o' scripture --but I have only five minutes this morning to reflect and write --but this scripture is the grass bending in waves before the wind --and I think this as huge machines are out there reducing the grass to hard brown stubble, kicking clouds of dust high in to the air....

I like thinking that the Lord is coming like a thief in the night to break in to our houses which we think are so secure...

I like thinking that we can look around and read the signs...

I like thinking that we are in a little coracle, striving to row it like a boat, when what we need to do is let go and ride the current of God...



--and then ride over the waves with our little swords drawn, ready to meet God face to face at the wave at the end of the earth...

Now, I am off to bury somebody's mother. Please keep the family of Cheryl in your prayers.
Peace out.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Context, not text...

At prayer this morning (from Romans 10)

For Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that “the person who does these things will live by them.” But the righteousness that comes from faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say?

“The word is near you,
on your lips and in your heart”

When I really settle in and think about/with Paul, my mind explodes... the end of the law out of the mouth of a repentant enforcer... not doing but believing from a doer... ascending in to heaven is to bring Christ down, and descending into the abyss is to bring Christ up... I love mystery koans... but most especially I love this re-affirmation, after all that other stuff, that the word (perhaps it should have been capitalized?) is in/on/near us...

Talk about context... not text.

We sat outside to drink our coffee this morning. Some birds were dive-bombing some dogs in the field behind our house. The dogs were standing up on their hind legs --jumping and snapping at the birds. The meadow lark stood on top of one of the Calvary poles in the field, and its song sounded like it was being electrically amplified. It was so loud, we nearly had to stop talking. The people in the houses came outside, scratched, slammed car doors, laughed. Some were walking through the field to the path by the house that goes to the Tribal offices and then downtown.

Yesterday, while I was mowing, I got behind the cedar tree and threw back over the fence all the beer cans that had been dumped on our side of the fence at the base of the tree. And I prayed for the family that turned down my offer of yard work even though they keep asking for money... marveled at those who came looking for work at the sound of the mower... grateful for the guys who are working off their community service time helping out at the hot lunch program who came and just took the mower from me and began working... grateful for the guy who saw me out working in the heat and brought me an ice cold coke... pondering those white guys who pulled up in the big truck and asked where the barbershop was (I guess someone six feet tall and with no boobs might be a fair target for such a question--but I did have my hair pulled back in a pink bandanna)... I think they were surprised and embarrassed when I looked at them and said in a girly voice --I don't have a clue!

And, two guys over the fence this morning --greeting each other --some conversation --and then one said --Oh! It's Friday. Thanks!

Yeah. When the light lasts in the sky past 10PM and begins to fill the sky again at 4AM --when the events of the day pass without even looking at a clock --when church services and meetings and everything begin when everyone generally gets there, no matter what time the clock says any way... time unravels to the larger events --the birds come back --the cottonwoods bloom --the choke cherries ripen --the moon....

Chronos --the measurement of time, is so unnecessary.

There is nothing but Kairos --the occasion-at-hand time, party time, God's time...

The _____ is near you, on your lips and in your heart.

No. It is not a capital "w" word Paul was seeking...

It's that ordinary event that becomes filled with significance, meaning....

--when there is no text or subtext....

Only. God.
Ground of being... context....
--for lack of a better word/thought....

Christ is always coming down and being brought up. Always. Ascending and descending. To be present among us. Always near us. Always. In every way.

Amen.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Like an eagle rising

It's like making a bed --stripping it down isn't so hard. Crawling in to fresh sheets --delightful. It's rotating the mattress, finding the clean sheets and making the bed that seem to be the arduous parts... for me, at least.

So it is with my soul. And it seems that I've been doing a lot of remaking of my soul-bed lately.

So, today --I'm going to dig more prairie cactus out of the yard, and mow the lawn... vacuum the house or something....

--and just say my prayers, hoping that my prayers, lightly held today, are no less fervent, no further from the presence of God, than on the days I vigorously strip it all down and remake the whole bed --if you know what I mean.

--an almost rest from my labors... an almost Sabbath....

Sometimes, when I do that --do something else, and hold all else lightly --the whole world changes... you know what I mean?

At prayer this morning (Romans 9:20)
Will what is molded say to the one who molds it, “Why have you made me like this?”
Oh c'mon Paul. All the time! And, yes --it is infantilism that leads us to that place to cry like that --the me,me,me type of thought. And, if you are human, you go there every now and then.

Hey God, it's margaret. You know whom and what I am holding in prayer. I give it all to you. I lay it all down. And, now I'm going to do something else. Take a Sabbath. Did I say I'm just a little humbled out and terrified of the Wounded Knee project tomorrow at noon? And, yes, I remember before you the family that will gather tomorrow night and Saturday to bury their beloved mother. Help me walk with them through the valley of the shadow of death. And, yes, I saw you... in glory... like an eagle rising....




Amen.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Lament brought many tears, and a beginning

First, a Papal Bull allowing encouraging the seizure of First People's lands.

Then a Supreme Court Decision.

And our own church participating in the Government's goals and directives in westward expansion.

If you haven't seen it, please watch this:




At our Lament service last night, joining with those who were gathering at the same time in Indianapolis (what a great place name to Lament the Doctrine of Discovery!), we gathered --four strong women, to pray, to talk, to grieve --all of us needing tissue at some point....

We began by praying our Baptismal Covenant together, then I read a part of Genesis 12 --God told Abram: "Leave your country, your family, and your father's home for a land that I will show you. .... At that time the Canaanites occupied the land.

--and then we read Psalm 103 together...

And then I read these:

We have it in our power to begin the world over again. A situation, similar to the present, has not happened since the days of Noah until now. The birthday of a new world is at hand...
     Thomas Paine, “Common Sense”, 1776

The whole continent of North America appears to be destined by Divine Providence to be peopled by one nation, speaking one language, professing one general system of religious and political principles, and accustomed to one general tenor of social usages and customs. For the common happiness of them all, for their peace and prosperity, I believe it is indispensable that they should be associated in one federal Union.
      John Quincy Adams, 1811

And that claim is by the right of our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federated self-government entrusted to us.
      John O’Sullivan, Columnist, December 1845

We have never dreamt of incorporating into our Union any but the Caucasian race—the free white race. To incorporate Mexico, would be the very first instance of the kind, of incorporating an Indian race; for more than half of the Mexicans are Indians, and the other is composed chiefly of mixed tribes. I protest against such a union as that! Ours, sir, is the Government of a white race.... We are anxious to force free government on all; and I see that it has been urged ... that it is the mission of this country to spread civil and religious liberty over all the world, and especially over this continent.
     Senator John C. Calhoun, Speech to Congress, January 4, 1848
The difficult Indian problem cannot be solved permanently at this end of the line. It requires the fulfillment of Congress of the treaty obligations that the Indians were entreated and coerced into signing. They signed away a valuable portion of their reservation, and it is now occupied by white people, for which they have received nothing.

They understood that ample provision would be made for their support; instead, their supplies have been reduced, and much of the time they have been living on half and two-thirds rations. Their crops, as well as the crops of the white people, for two years have been almost total failures.

The dissatisfaction is wide spread, especially among the Sioux, while the Cheyennes have been on the verge of starvation, and were forced to commit depredations to sustain life.

These facts are beyond question, and the evidence is positive and sustained by thousands of witnesses.
     General Miles, December 19, 1890
     One week before the massacre at Wounded Knee

General Miles served as the Government's representative on the Reservation (which in truth, at that point was nothing more than a great POW camp --or concentration camp in which the People were NOT allowed to worship or live as their ancestors did) --after three decades of deceit, broken promises and untold aggression, he wrote the above to Washington DC just before the massacre at Wounded Knee --Sitting Bull had been murdered, some of the People --scared and seeking religious ceremony and comfort-- fled the area to go join relatives near Pine Ridge --women, children and men were slaughtered as they neared Pine Ridge at Wounded Knee....

"I got myself up and followed up the ravine. I saw many dead men, women, and children lying in the ravine. When I went a little way up, I heard singing; going a little way farther, I came upon my mother who was moving slowly, being very badly wounded. She had a soldier's revolver in her hand, swinging it as she went. I do not know how she got it. When I caught up to her she said, 'My son, leave me; I am going to fall down now.' As she went up, soldiers on both sides of the ravine shot at her and killed her. I returned fire upon them, defending my mother. When I shot at the soldiers in a northern direction, I looked back at my mother and she had already fallen down.
     Wasee Maza (Iron Tail) telling of the massacre at Wounded Knee. Iron Tail lost his mother, two brothers, wife and children at Wounded Knee.

And we talked and prayed. And wept.

And then I read the confession from the the service for Reconciliation (BCP p450) --and I confessed aloud the actions of the church, the government, the current acts of racism and oppression...

Holy God, heavenly Father, you formed me from the dust in
your image and likeness, and redeemed me from sin and
death by the cross of your Son Jesus Christ. Through the
water of baptism you clothed me with the shining garment of
his righteousness, and established me among your children in
your kingdom. But I have squandered the inheritance of your
saints, and have wandered far in a land that is waste.

Especially, I confess to you and to the Church . . .

Here the Penitent confesses particular sins.

Therefore, O Lord, from these and all other sins I cannot
now remember, I turn to you in sorrow and repentance.
Receive me again into the arms of your mercy, and restore me
to the blessed company of your faithful people; through him
in whom you have redeemed the world, your Son our Savior
Jesus Christ. Amen.

OMG... I wept seeing them weep... feeling within me my own ancestral giants....

We read the Magnificat together... and talked of healing and restoration.

One of the things we talked about --there are objects that survived Wounded Knee and the mass grave they threw the People in there... and locally (the folks murdered at Wounded Knee were from this area --from the Cheyenne River Reservation), a small group of women want to display them to the People and talk, educate, heal... but the Cultural Resources folk don't want to display them for any number of reasons --fragility, insurance --you name it.... How can we get these objects shown to the people?

Well... we are meeting again Friday to talk about it... and considering I have an advanced degree in museum stuff, they have asked me to attend and be with them to work with the Cultural Resource folk.... Didn't expect that.

And, we have decided to ask the Episcopal Church to help in a petition to our government to revoke the Medals of Honor given to those who shot down the fleeing or hiding women, men and children....

Didn't expect that either.... but that will only be the beginning.

At prayer this morning (from Romans 9:1-2)

I am speaking the truth in Christ – I am not lying; my conscience confirms it by the Holy Spirit – I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people...

There is so much work to do. So much grief to honor. So many wrongs to touch and anoint. For too long our Nation has conspired through denial, silence and corruption to address our history that has formed our present. And too many will say well, I didn't do it, or, well, that's the result of war --they lost --get over it....

And that is not acceptable. Atrocities were perpetrated in our name. In as much as we do not permit and we prosecute soldiers who go astray in the field of war --we can at least acknowledge the wrong done at Wounded Knee... but that will only be the beginning....

--and, this lament is not new to me... I wrote here, and here, and always it seems.

Hey God, it's margaret. Lead us by your Spirit to right the wrongs done and build a better world for your children and the generations to come. Amen.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

they dug the wrong grave hole!

--well, yesterday, lining up in the church parking lot to process behind the hearse, a government vehicle backed up and smacked in the front of my car... I couldn't go forward because of the hearse, I couldn't go backwards because of the line behind me. I could only sit there and scream and honk the horn.

...sigh... And, because it was a government vehicle, we had to call the police and all.... I feel so vulnerable. Like the deck is stacked against me. My own insurance company assured me that the whole fault lay with the one backing up... but still. The last thing I want to do is take on the government --if you know what I mean.

And, then, getting to the graveyard... a grave had been dug, but it was in the wrong place... the guy whose place it was --well, he got teased unmercifully. We waited for about an hour for the backhoe to come the 40 miles back out the dirt road to the cemetery. And the teasing didn't stop the whole time. It made the wait pleasant --and the funeral director had brought a whole cooler of ice cold water --so it was a fine way to spend an hour --on the top of a hill, overlooking a river valley full of cottonwood trees and the small wooden church out in the field, we, among the saints, laughing.

Imagine showing up for a burial, and finding your own grave dug!!!!

There is always something to make one laugh during a funeral in these parts. It is seen as a mercy from the Spirit --and so one laughs, and contributes what one can to the laughter. And as we finally got the proper hole dug and the coffin well in to it, the two small boys who had found something new to play with chortled and ran off in circles, and it brought the whole company of adults to stop and smile again and thank God that while we put one generation to rest, another was moved by the Spirit to be in joy.

Thanks be to God.

And, so, today, some of us will gather in the church here in Eagle Butte and pray the Lament of the Doctrine of Discovery at generally the same time as those who will gather at General Convention to do the same. Deacon is carrying the church's Repudiation resolution from 2009 over to the Tribal Council here --just to let them know what we are doing. And, I have decided this will not be a one time deal, but that those who show will continue to act and pray for reconciliation, seeking a new way forward --grass roots right here in ground zero.

At least, that is my prayer. (Romans 8:31-39)

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all day long;
we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I, too, am convinced of that.

I just wish we could lay down the language of 'conquerors' and all that....

Just dreamin'.
amen.

Monday, July 9, 2012

true freedom is so dangerous

The old grandmas told me that their grandmas said that snakes travel when the wind blows. I laughed and said, so that means that snakes are traveling every day in South Dakota.

Yes, they said.

Oh-huhn....

So, last night, after the wake was well underway, Charlotte at rest in the church, family and relatives and friends all around in the parish hall, I walked outside... the air was as still as a full moon is round. It didn't slip quickly through my fingers and hair, blowing dust into my eyes. It hung on my shoulders like a stole.... a holy night. The moon waning. I felt oddly free. And alive.

We are burying Charlotte because she refused cancer treatment. She's 49. When I first met her at my door, I saw something was wrong and I said --you should go to the doctor! And I remember her response --not the words, but her eyes.

She had let go. She was free. Truly free.

And true freedom is so dangerous.

At prayer this morning (Romans 8:26-28)
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Charlotte Blue Coat. Please pray for her family, relatives and friends. Especially the guys on the street. Amen.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

"hope that is seen is not hope"

The birds are so tiny they can sit inside the mesh of the chain link fence and have more than enough room to stretch their wings and take off again... it is a wonder to behold. They fly like leaves caught up in a wind storm --never in a straight line, but rather in circular eddies and then swoop like they are following strings of dangling pearls mid air --or perhaps swags of tinsel on Christmas trees, uneven and almost flashy.

I saw a huge grass-hopper type creature --it was at least four inches long--end to end, including the antennae, perhaps five. It had red/pink, yellow and green designs down its back and barbs on its legs. It looked both hard and slimy. It's back and belly --probably feels very much like snake skin. Powerful and fragile....


Something like that... in any case, it was bigger than the birds... way bigger. The front of my car is plastered with a smaller and similar variety creature. I was driving down one of the back roads and thought the gravel was moving... but it wasn't the gravel.

And the thunder and lightening is as odd a creature as any other, skulking about the outside of the house, casting its shadow and fierce gaze, grappling with the window screens and frames.

The buffalo (bison, actually) are losing their thick winter coat in chunks and wads....

The robin, which was nesting in the tree by the garage, has quit screaming and swooping at Mr. Witty (who is oblivious to these endeavors, intent only in getting back in the house before a firecrackers explodes some where in the neighborhood). I wonder if this means that the fledglings have flown away, or if the small egg shell I found means the nest was discovered or blown out of the tree by a storm... on second thought, the egg was not that beautiful hint of blue... I wonder if robin's eggs are blue here? I would think so....

--and, yesterday, the burial.... the children and grandchildren no longer from these parts, stumbling unsuccessfully through the local expectations, torn at the seams, taking the star quilt and flowers off the coffin to keep for themselves. Dislocated. Neither here nor there.

I have another wake Sunday and funeral Monday --of a lady who lived on the streets here. Some of the cedar-tree guys tried to come to the funeral yesterday --which caused great conflict, the grieving family standing at the door of the church saying 'no you can't come in here, she hated drunk Indians' and the cedar-tree guys saying 'she was our friend' --neither group realizing they were talking about different persons. I finally took one of them in to view the body in the casket, and they realized it was not their friend. 'Sunday night' I said. 'Come sober' I said. As if that were possible.

I remember watching birds get falling down drunk on too-ripe holly berries once... the local cat having a great day with the plastered birds at the foot of the tree....

At prayer this morning (Romans 8:18-25)
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 
 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 
For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Hope --as elusive as the lines of the invisible tinsel streamers the tiny birds follow... hope as fragile as the grass eaters that fling themselves every which way... hope as powerful as any storm that batters the house... hope that accompanies the frenzy of twigs and blades of grass of every nest... hope that we will know and be known, even in death... hope in the fresh mound of earth that smells of life and potential...

And what of those graves, unkempt, collapsed in on themselves, the litter of plastic flowers, toys, small statues and beer bottles gone --gifts of the living, missing. Halfway to being unmarked and forgotten.

Yes. That too is hope. A hope we cannot see.

Yet.

Amen.

Friday, July 6, 2012

I'm not glued to the GC twitter feed or any of it quite frankly

Two funerals back to back, Friday and Monday, with Sunday and baptisms inbetween.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Lois Maxine Spotted Bear.

At prayer this morning (From Romans 8)
When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.
Please pray for her children, family, relatives and friends.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pow wow at Iron Lightening

Went to a pow wow for the Fourth. It wasn't one of the large touristy type pow wows --it was part family reunion, part church, part ol' time country fair. It was wonderful.

It wasn't the touristy pow wow because it was waaaaaayyyy down a dirt road. There were no signs --only word of mouth and invitation. The competitive dancing --well, every kid that got up and danced got a dollar or something. There were four drums --they took turns playing for the dancers and crowds.

The day began with church in the middle of the arbor --about 100 folks. No prayer books --so there was a lot I had to wing, if you know what I mean. Then, a walk for those suffering from diabetes --a mile and some straight up this huge hill and down the other side. I was amazed at those who walked. What a prayer.

Then there were the baseball and volleyball tournaments. A pony ride competition for the kids --which was pretty funny. I think the ponies all suffer from a Napoleon complex or something --they were just plain mean to those kids --ran off the track towards the creek or ran around in circles... I don't think one kid actually made it to the finish line....

Pony ride competition, Iron Lightening, SD

And then there was the dancing --it started simply enough with All Nations dancing --which means that everyone is welcome to enter the arbor and dance. Men danced counter clock-wise together, women clock-wise, together. Passing like ships.... And, the 'dance' is simple --one walks with "grace-note" type steps on the down beat, and actual foot placement on the off-beat. It's more difficult than not. It was fun to watch the YouthWorks folks dancing --and some from the Y there too.

Then some competitive dancing --I didn't have permission from the ladies to take their pictures --but these two young brothers gave their all to the dance:

Lining up for the Grand Entry --the children led the way... mostly because the adults who were going to dance had not yet put on their regalia

Boys first, girls behind

this young man danced traditional dances only



And he was quite good.

I didn't have permission to take pictures of the adults.... there were only a few adult dancers. But they were quite good too. I wanted more. The real differences in the regalia between child and adult were not in form but in substance. The children wear the head dresses and all --but they are not true eagle feathers and they are all worked on to painted canvas or fabric. The adults dance in beaded buck or doe skins and other hides with real ornament.

And then there was the social dancing --the "rabbit dance" which is a dance for young folk in love --but mothers were out with daughters, and teen girls danced it together too --as did the young folk in love. It was wonderful to see.

And then there was the potato dance... the couple must press and hold a potato on their foreheads --and then dance. It's pretty funny. It took a while --what with potatoes slipping conveniently in to eye sockets and what not --but eventually, there was only one couple left dancing --young and beautiful, which brought applause from all.

Deacon and I left after the "suicide" horse race --where the young men demonstrate their prowess on the back of a horse with a ride that takes them up and down cliffs... Some fell off... some horses collided... an ambulance had to be called.... Fortunately, there were medics on site.

We left before the sun went down --and I am very confident the dancing went on until way after dark...

--the best Fourth ever.

Oh, and you know those flags the military present to the family at the death of a veteran... well, here, the flags are not put in boxes and displayed on a wall... here, the flags, adorned with the name of the one who served, are brought out, unfurled, and ceremonially raised and they fly over the people all day --and ceremonially brought down and returned to the families before the sun goes down. I can't help but imagine the meaning of the flag is quite changed --and the meaning of its flying quite changed from what it means off-reservation. The national anthem is not sung --but honoring songs of fallen warriors instead.... Quite. Changed. Seven flags flew over us --watched over us --the wind catching and moving the very flag which had at some time adorned their coffins....

Some of the flags had only 48 stars.

Quite. Changed.

At prayer this morning (From Romans 8, ending with verse 11)
But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.
I see the Spirit at work all around me.

And it is wonderful to behold. Amen.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day? --well, in actuality that should be September 3, or something like that

The Federal "Facts for Features" page sez: On this day in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress, setting the 13 colonies on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation. As always, this most American of holidays will be marked by parades, fireworks and backyard barbecues across the country.

So, just to remind you --this really isn't Independence Day --it's Declaration Day. And, just to remind you, you really missed the holiday --true Declaration Day is July 2 --the Declaration of Independence was penned to explain the decision.... just sayin'.

John Adams, President, wrote his wife:
The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.
There we are... Wiki sez the Declaration of Independence wasn't completely signed until August 2....

AND --we probably wouldn't have won the war if France hadn't joined us, and Spain and the Dutch Republic hadn't started wars with Great Britain on distant shores....

Cornwall surrendered in Yorktown Virginia on October 19, 1781 --why don't we celebrate that day?
And, the Treaty officially ending the war was signed September 3, 1783 --why not celebrate that day?

See --we've been fed lies from the very beginning....

So, keep that all in mind as you play today --we're celebrating NOTHING!!! OR --we're celebrating something all wrong!!!

(C'mon --if we can't laugh and tease, what's there to life anyways?)

So, I'm headed out to a Powwow in Iron Lightening --they want to begin the Powwow with a church service --cool, heh?! And then I will stick around to see a little dancing. Maybe go in the ring if they invite an All Nations dance.... (all dancing at Powwows are forms of prayer btw).

And --Just remember. The Fourth of July is NOT a major feast of the church... as a matter of fact, readings and a collect for the Fourth were never in any prayer book ever until 1979. Just sayin'.... May be because so many of our "Founding Fathers" were Church of England types, and they knew we needed to be celebrating on another day....

From the Lectionary for Independence Day (Matthew 5:43-48)
Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
Joel says this selection was just PC.... I am remembering the early and mid-seventies when the BCP was pulled together. I think it was rather more than bold for the church to publish this as the reading in the midst of all that heat.

I remember.



Hey God. I remember. Help us. Lead us. Guide us. Forgive us. Redeem us. Amen.