Oak Flat just might save us

Reflections by Rev. Carol Rose, Pastor of Shalom Mennonite Fellowship (Tucson, Arizona) and former Director of Community Peacemaker Teams (2004-2014)
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Carol Rose stands in a church laying her hands on a document, while other clergypeople stand behind her, some have outstretched hands.

Oak Flat is sacred and must not be destroyed.  I’m grateful that the Apache have cared for this sacred land these many centuries.  I am grateful that they invite us, their neighbours, into the struggle to ensure that Oak Flat is not made into a great cavernous hole.  This sacred place is a place of prayer for many, many peoples.  I am one of those who experience the Spirit of God in this place.

I am a Christian clergyperson.  I follow Jesus, whose sermons first found the hearts of people on a wide open plain and on the slope of a mountainside.  Jesus was immersed in baptismal waters, not in a building, but in a wilderness river.  Jesus went into the hills to pray and had such a relationship with the local lake that he walked back through her turbulent waters.

Wendsler Nosie, spiritual leader and founder of Apache Stronghold, often asks how my people ended up worshiping within the closed walls of a building.  For my family, it happened many hundreds of years ago in England.  I believe that the imprisonment of our faith within buildings was part of what set up Christianity to become a tool of the colonial and capitalist projects.  We were fooled by greed and lies to think of land as “resource” rather than the living breathing presence of our Mother the Creator God.  

Through the Doctrine of Discovery, and all of its many subsequent legal and economic structures, Christianity justified enslavement and dispossession.  Christianity continues to be complicit in that legacy and ongoing oppressions and theft.  We have strayed very far from following the Indigenous Palestinian of Jewish faith who told us to consider the birds of the air.  My faith needs saving.

Fortunately, nothing can erase connection with the Spirit of God.   Fortunately, even Christians can reconnect with the Spirit of God in and through sacred land.  Come to Oak Flat on November 4th to reconnect, to find the Spirit moving in the ancient oaks, blowing over the grace of rock, singing and dancing and speaking through the many and varied people who know Oak Flat to be sacred.  

Yes, Oak Flat must be saved from destruction.  And, our lives, even my Christian faith, might just be saved through Oak Flat.

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