The Marker

2013 December 105
The Marker

First Posted on 

(on the day of the massacre of the people of the Conestoga 250 years ago)

Come with me now, Bright Souls
and we’ll sit in a circle together.
Silently a while.  Then we talk.

Light six candles
for the people of the longhouse
who died that wintry dawning.

The air is filled already
with too many words.
The day carries so many mutterings
on the wind, on the wings
of the vulture, drifting
above the broken fields.

Sheehays, Wa-a-shen,
Tee-kau-ley,
 Ess-canesh,
Tea-wonsha-i-ong,
Kannenquas.

If we are to keep awake,
to live in the place
where the heart stays open,
then perhaps we must look
into the teeth of the story.
Together we gaze at those shadows.
Together we speak their names.
Together we listen for the sparrow’s call.

At the place of the great stone
I did not speak their names.
I left my shell there at that place
in the glittering sun.

Some days I cannot bear the darkness,
but I will close my eyes and sing
while you keep vigil near me.
And when you falter, too,
I will have found the strength renewed
to witness the tale while you sing to me.

Perhaps you will not believe me
when I tell you: As I drove
that road toward the River,
six deer ran across blue shadows
cast by afternoon sun on snow,
over the fields to the road.
They paused a moment to watch
the golden fish of my car approach,
then slipped across Indian Marker Road
and were gone, past the still pond
and into a fringe of wood.

Radical Hospitality

2013 December 105
Today is the anniversary of the day when the Paxtang Boys rode in the pre-dawn hours through the last remaining Susquehannock village in Conestoga, PA, and massacred most of the remaining people of the tribe, a quiet group including elderly residents and children.  Fear of the Other, coupled with bombastic and unreasoning rhetoric, turned a group of citizens into a murderous mob.  

In recent weeks, I have heard bombastic and hateful rhetoric toward the perceived Other spewed from national pulpits.  The mob gathers.  In what ways will you and I work in these days to diffuse and redirect the rhetoric, and to offer hopeful and peaceful responses?

Gratitude List:
1. Synchronicity piled upon synchronicity–feels like messages.  Yesterday morning at church, I picked up and read the introduction to a little book titled Radical Hospitality.  It’s about the Benedictine Rule.  After lunch, my father gave me a copy of the John McQuiston book Always We Begin Again, about the Benedictine Rule.  This morning’s Advent Reading is titled “Radical Hospitality.”  I think I ought to be spending some time with St. Benedict this week.
2. Feeling good.  Throughout the day yesterday, I began to feel sicker and sicker.  I had a low fever in the late afternoon and almost called my principal to get me a sub for today, but I just couldn’t bear the thought of another sick day.  I feel much better this morning.  It was just a quick little bug.
3. Citrus.  Tangerines and grapefruit.
4. All the people who are working for justice and peace in the world.  We can respond to the mob with reason and compassion and tenderness.  Repeating history does not have to be an inevitability.  The Paxtang boys do not need to ride again.
5. The light will return.  The light will return.  (It is so dark, but) the light will return.

May we walk in Beauty, in Shalom, in Salaam, in Peace.