An Invocation for the Poston Incarceration Survivors

As mentioned in last week’s sermon, I am sharing the invocation I was honored to deliver last month at the gathering of Poston Camp incarceration survivors. My gratitude to the organizers of that event:*

“God of many names whose highest name is love. Spirit of life that is found in the present of the Kami who have dwelled among these ruins for these decades. We gather in the name of all that is holy and sacred seen in the ability of people to hold one another in community.

We begin with gratitude that we gather to remember. To bring those who experienced this firsthand and in honor of  those who are not here to be present to this moment who endured this as camp. Those who did not live long enough to be present. Those who no longer have the strength to travel to be among us. Those who still bear the scars and as such cannot be here for this act of healing through witnessing and pledging not to forget. Also the voices of future generations touched by the unaddressed shame, the tattering of family ties, the loss of easy dreams.,  and a special moment for those who breathed their last in this unsought destination. They are with us a cloud of witnesses. Let us take a moment and say their names in our hearts.

Gratitude that we are here. For the generosity of the Colorado River Indian Tribe and leaders whose lives were also violated by the acts that led to this unbidden city being constructed on their sacred land.

We gather in the spirit of Jesus who told us to live our neighbors as ourselves. Who knew that resilience was found in community and who this gathered his followers in a common meal knowing that this practice would sustain them. When he was go e. We gather in the spirit of the activist, the scientist and the nonbeliever who still insist on the best in the human spirit.

May our witness here today be to The power of memory and the persistence of hope even in the the face of humiliation, oppression and fear.

Though we are here to utter words of invocation and rightfully honor those who have made this commemoration possible may we do so also knowing that these walls are already blessed by the fortitude and resilience of those who moved to this place and beyond it. This place is blessed by those who wrestled with their own faith in the light of the great injustices of their years incarcerated here. Whose questions swirled in the dust storms,, which had to peek out under the watch of the guard tower, which got caught in the cracks of the floorboards or were held in suppressed sobs. Those who struggled to understand the role of the holy in this time, the artists who created beauty, the poets who penned words, the teachers who imparted knowledge, the parents who persisted in keeping their families as intact as possible. Let us recognize those who sought after these years to make sense, who spoke to their children about it  as my own father did and to others peoples children as well. Though it is not within our human powers to do acts of wrong or sometimes even to truly comprehend them, may we who are here today pledge live forward the legacy of this experience through a lived pledge to resist further efforts to demonize, exclude or harm or other any group of people be they of a certain nationality or religion, appearance or other characteristic.

In this way may we remain faithful to those whose lives were put on hold on this ground those who  will bear the mark of this time. Let us say their names in our hearts once more for their time here was not their shame. Their survival here was not in vain for we live to proclaim their truths.
May this place be solid ground for us reminding us to keep their faith and may we, as my father asked in his last days, keep speaking out for a more just world.”

*In that address I repeated that Poston was the largest camp–other statistics I saw afterwards say it was the second–even so 18,000 people living unvited on the lands of the Colorado River Indian Tribes….

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