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Truce Day in a War Zone
Truce Day in a War Zone

by Jo VonRue

The smell comes first
campfire
driving over the hill at Standing Rock to Oceti Sakowin
my breath catches
the voices around me go silent
as we drink in what lies before us
the rising sun begins to illuminate the camp
teepees, tents, and flags of many nations dot the landscape
of this refugee place
this war zone
helicopters, airplanes, and drones circle above
they create a noise
a buzz
a constant sound
downing out my thoughts
524 interfaith clergy gather in a circle
together around the sacred fire
with the elders of the Sioux Nation
who have been praying for us to come
hoping they are not alone in the struggle
we repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery
and with a smudging by the elders
we are blessed on our sacred journey
a pilgrimage… to the bridge
processing down the hill
we can see police in riot gear
advancing towards us
we cause no threat
we are peaceful
prayerful
we sing…
“wade in the water, wade in the water children…”
I am aware of the privilege my clerical collar
and white skin affords me
I am not scared, I know I will not be harmed
the overhead noise fades
it is quiet for the first time in months
like a truce day in a war zone
I cross the contested bridge
a path over the mighty Missouri River
The air is filled with tension
angst
sadness… anger.
I pray, Spirit of Life…
we are here to help protect this land, this water
guide my heart and hands
so that I may bear witness and offer strength
watch over these native people and the water protectors
as they fight the daily battle against the government forces
help them to know they are not alone, Mni Wiconi… Amen.

Reflections from our clergy who were in Standing Rock last week. For more reflections, please read the blog post by UUA COO, Harlan Limpert on Call and Repsonse.

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