ASUBPEESCHOSEEWAGONG REFLECTION: Spiritual sacrifices and the Iraq war



March 21, 2003

ASUBPEESCHOSEEWAGONG REFLECTION: Spiritual sacrifices and the Iraq war

by Tricia Brown

Under the roof of the new shelter, we gathered. The breeze off frozen Slant

Lake sang through the roof’s tarp and filled the air with the scent of

pitch, ripe on the newly-stripped logs that framed it. We gathered to

christen a structure, a house we built to accommodate Christian

Peacemaker Teams (CPT) members at the Grassy Narrows blockade site.

The shelter was added to the other traditional structures already in the

site: a roundhouse, a tipi, a trapper’s cabin.

We also gathered to remember war. The idea for the CPT shelter was born out

of concern over the escalating threat of war in Iraq, over the conspicuous

connections between that war and oil, and over the team’s reliance on oil

to heat the trailer that housed them. We erected the new wood-heated shelter

as a response to the rhetoric of “necessary war,” and as a response to the

painful awareness of our collusion in it. We all are addicted to and

dependent on oil.

Sitting on the bare, chipboard floor of the new shelter, those of us

currently on the team at Asubpeeschoseewagong sang and prayed, and read the

following words: “As we come to Christ, the living stone…we also, like

living stones, are being built into a spiritual house, to be a holy

priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus


Offering spiritual sacrifices. In the context of the shelter, these words

took on fresh meaning. The whisper of the trees surrounding us seemed to

beckon us to a deeper understanding of who we are, of our relationship to

the rest of creation, and of sacrifice.

The idea of sacrifice is on many people’s minds these days: the sacrifice of

soldiers, the sacrifice of civil liberties, the sacrifice of security

inevitable in times of war. Many of us in the CPT community ponder the

sacrifices of our friends who stand with Iraqis in Baghdad and Basrah. We

ponder the Iraqi lives that will be sacrificed if a full-blown war begins.

It is enough to turn our stomachs and break our hearts.

At Asubpeeschoseewagong, “offering spiritual sacrifices” also seems to

imply the laying down of old habits and destructive ways of living and of

using the Earth’s resources. It implies the trading of a toasty, oil-heated

trailer for a drafty, wood-heated shelter. But like all such spiritual

sacrifices, this trade is bringing liberation to those of us at

Asubpeeschoseewagong. For as we begin to loosen the grip our reliance on oil

has over us, we find not deprivation, but freedom.

CPT has maintained a violence-reduction presence at Asubpeeschoseewagong

since November 2002. Current team members include Scott Albrecht (Waterloo

ON), Madison and Tricia Brown (Newberg OR), Barbara Howe (Gainesville FL),

David Milne (Belleville ON), and Matt Schaaf (Winnipeg MB).

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