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).