Cowboys and Indians. An animosity, starved of fuel, can transform from rage to respect. Our house of worship, in Northern California, is an occasional home to an elderly range roving mystic and a river fishing native nation young man. I see them chewing the fat at church and wonder how many generations back might their families been at loggerheads?
Our community has a sad history of a local massacre around the time of the civil war. A native village of Wiyot were attacked at dawn and upwards of one hundred elderly men, women, and children were killed. Other attacks during the same week at neighboring villages doubled the number of the slaughter.
No one was ever prosecuted for the series of calculated murders and a local newspaperman who reported the crimes was driven out of town. It is likely many of the marauders were ‘God fearing’ men who followed the gold rush to these parts which the Wiyot has inhabited for centuries.
I doubt the two men smiling before me before service have any blood connection to the events of those days. The geezer hails from Alaska and the youngin’ is Yurok from the salmon fishing tribes of the Klamath region. Still, the sight of them talking is a proof that the winds of change, the breath of the Spirit, carries cultural healing and reconciliation.
The racial, political, and economic divides that occupy so much of our lives and media are temporary conditions begging for eternal solutions. The Body of Christ is both patient and doctor of this anti-social disease. Love the Lord and love your neighbor is still the antidote for all that ails us. My hope is we won’t have to wait too many generations to hear how the renewed frontier is finally won.