Monday, 4 August 2008

Telling the story of the peacemaker legend of the white roots of peace

Through the Ecumenical Prayer Cycle this week we're praying for Canada and the United States. Our wonderful colleague Suzanne Tomaiuoli from Canada who leads our choir and music put together worship based on texts and practices from the people of the first nations. We began our time of prayer with her retelling the peacemaker legend of the white roots of peace.

One of the many things shared by Canada and the United States, is the history of our native peoples – the First Nations – which joined us as one land mass before borders existed and before the arrival of Europeans and other peoples of the world. Today, as these peoples of the world, we gather to remember our respective roots and pray for peace. The legend of the White Roots of Peace illustrates this desire.
The Peacemaker Legend is a central tale of Iroquois history – describing a people mired in violent bloody feuds who, guided by a spiritual teacher, set aside war to adopt a Path of Peace. It’s a mythic tale of struggle between good and evil, order and chaos, and the triumph of reason. It’s a morality play depicting the transformation of humans rising above suffering and tragedy to establish a higher order of human relations. It’s also a practical guide to establishing unity and balance amongst diverse human communities. It’s a successful model of how to distribute power in a democratic society to assure individual liberty.
According to Seneca traditionalist, writer and lecturer John Mohawk, The Peacemaker used as a metaphor the great white pine tree whose branches spread out to shelter all nations who commit themselves to Peace. Beneath the tree, the Five Nations buried their weapons of war. On top of the tree is the Eagle that Sees Far. And four long roots stretch out in the four sacred directions – the ‘white roots of peace’. The Peacemaker proclaimed, ‘If any man or nation shows a desire to obey the Law of the Great Peace, they may trace the roots to their source, and be welcomed to take shelter beneath the Tree.’
According to the legend, hundreds of years ago in North America, a spiritual Teacher appeared in the Finger Lakes region to communities of the red race who guarded the eastern gate into the continent’s interior. This messenger from the Creator transmitted an instruction to these people of how to live together in honour, dignity and peace.
The Peacemaker spoke his Words of Law to only a few villages, but his message and vision is the legacy and heritage of all human beings, of all five races of humanity. So long ago, it is said, a man proposed that peace was a possibility. It was a radical idea at the time, as it is now. He proposed justice could be achieved, that there would be no true peace until justice is achieved. He proposed because human beings are rational and have a potential to use their heads, these things are possible. His vision contained many principles, and what nearly amount to a faith based on the process of thinking.
The ownership of the thinking which took place then, and the generation of thinking which needs to take place now – those are OUR jobs. That’s what we’ll find when we follow the roots to their source. The White Roots continue to represent a tradition of thinking about ourselves as a species, and the responsibility to use our minds so that we continue to survive and create a good world for our children seven generations into the future.
Please join in our opening hymn. It is over 50 years old, but it could have been written this morning. We can resonate with what it says: we'll be recognised as Christians -- true disciples of Jesus -- not by our mistakes or rhetoric, or our politics or even the soundness of our theology, but by our LOVE.


coatsie said...

Dear Jane, I googled my cousin Suzanne this morning, and to my great joy and wonder, I have found you! You ARE her friend and I am so very interested to see your blog. I am so very sorry for your loss. I will ask my Auntie Lorie about you when she returns home. I will think of you in my prayers & look forward to meeting you, in this life, if we can, as I am sure we are sisters, you and I.
Cousin RoRo/xx

Jane said...

Thanks for this message and apologies for only reading this now.
I was with Suzanne's mother,sister and daughters on Saturday at her place. I have written a little more about Suzanne here

We are all SO sad about her death. None of really understand and we shall just have to live with that I suppose. Please stay in touch. SUzanne had mayn friends and colleagues who loved her dearly and miss her enormously . She was wonderful.