We gathered on the lawn in front of the John T.Williams Honor pole, within site of the Space Needle, the EMP Museum, the Monorail and a MacDonald’s.
That location, in the midst of so much that seems at odds with the ways of First Peoples, may in fact be the best of all possible places for such an honoring to take place. There are few other locations where the need for a renewal of the “ties of mutual regard” cry out more eloquently.
One of the more memorable moments was standing there around the pole with our hands touching the base, as a gesture of seeking to connect with the life and dignity that is in all people.
Rick Williams, brother of John T. Williams and also a carver, around ten members of the First Nations Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia, along with our Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Greg Rickle met to present two resolutions to the Williams family. We have been trying to find a suitable time to make this presentation, and while it was perhaps long overdue, the day was amazingly beautiful and warm.
The first resolution came from the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church to express solidarity with our group’s stand in support of John T. Williams, to acknowledge the injustice of his death and the dignity of his life.
The second resolution came from our First Nations Committee as an expression of compassion and solidarity with the Williams family and in hope for a future of improved relations and collaboration. That gesture will be represented by a tile that is to be placed around the pole in the fall.
Written on the tile is the following:
Justice & Peace
Dio. of Olympia
We sang and drummer the following song, This song was introduced by telling the story by Elsie Dennis, associated with it singing, at the hanging of the Mankato 38.
A Song Many and Great
1 Many and great, O God, are your works,
Maker of earth and sky.
Your hands have set the heavens with stars;
your fingers spread the mountains and plains.
Lo, at your word the waters were formed;
deep seas obey your voice.
2 Grant unto us communion with you,
O star-abiding One.
Come unto us and dwell with us;
with you are found the gifts of life.
Bless us with life that has no end,
eternal life with you.
Our Bishop Greg read the following prayer…
A Prayer For Cities
Heavenly Father, in your Word you have given us a vision of that holy City to which the nations of the world bring their glory: Behold and visit, we pray, the cities of the earth. Renew the ties of mutual regard which form our civic life. Send us honest and able leaders. Enable us to eliminate poverty, prejudice, and oppression, that peace may prevail with righteousness, and justice with order, and that men and women from different cultures and with differing talents may find with one another the fulfillment of their humanity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Rev. Wray MacKay read the national resolution here.
Kathleen Nyhuis, chair of the First nations Committee, read the local one here.
Rick Williams expressed his recognition for the powerful peace of the gathering.
We then prayed the following prayer.
A Prayer for Healing and Hope
O Great Spirit, God of all people and every tribe and nation, through whom all people are related; Call us to the kinship of all your people. Grant us vision to see through the lens of faith the brokenness of the past;
Help us to listen to you and to one-another, in order to heal the wounds of the present; And, give us courage, patience and wisdom to work together for healing, and hope with all of your people, now and in the future.
Mend the hoop of our hearts and let us live in justice and peace, through Jesus Christ, the One who comes to all people that we might live in dignity. Amen.
We concluded by singing “Heyleyluyan”, a Muskogee chant.
I encourage you to make your own pilgrimage to the John T. Williams Honor Pole and to continue pondering the much needed changes to and repair of our “ties of mutual regard which form our civic life.” You are most welcome to use these prayers for such a pilgrimage.