By Roshi Eve Myonen Marko
Photo of Grandmother Beatrice Long Visitor Holy Dance (left) by Peter Cunningham
Originally appeared on Eve’s blog on 7/6/2016
The Facebook page for the Bearing Witness visit to Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota during the last week of this month has been closed, made accessible only to those people who have confirmed they’re participating. I’m not one of them, but I am very happy that a substantial group is going, and I just put a Comment on that page asking them to build a foundation for future visits and work so that I, too, can come next time.
It’s our second time returning to South Dakota. These plunges, projects, visits, pilgrimages, however we refer to them—all call me. Auschwitz-Birkenau, Srebrenica in Bosnia, refugee camps in Piraeus, these places summon me. It is no accident that in Judaism, one of the names of God is Place. And She, He, the unknown, is most palpably present for me in these Places, maybe because we walk around there and shake our heads, muttering Inconceivable, inconceivable, all the time.
Right now I feel most called to go to South Dakota. Why? Because I’m an American, and all my doubts (What is this? How could this happen? What’s still going on?) surface there. Where there’s doubt, there’s the unknown.
In early May Mariola Wereszka and Godfried De Waele, who have so kindly and generously helped Bernie and me these past months, went back to Europe. Mariola joined a group of German women at the Ravensbruck concentration camp for women in Germany, while Godfried went to Greece to visit with refugees landing there day after day. When they returned they talked about how the two visits are connected, how to this very day Europeans make pilgrimages to places associated with World War II because they remind them of what people can do to each other out of fear and rage, which come up now, too, in connection with the refugees from Africa and Asia.
We need to do that here in the US, go to our own places of trauma and reconnect with the things we as a nation have done. What eats at our foundation? What is the rotten piece that won’t go away? What have we not borne witness to that continues to echo again and again—another video of white policemen shooting African American men, another Muslim American thrown off a plane or told not to buy a house next door, another snarky innuendo by a political leader reminding us of white superiority?
The past is never past. Resonance is everywhere.
The Bearing Witness in Cheyenne River Event is led by Tiokasin Ghosthorse and Grover Genro Gauntt, two of the leaders of the 2015 Zen Peacemakers Native American Bearing Witness retreat. It is conducted in the spirit of the Three Tenets of the Zen Peacemaker Order of Not Knowing, Bearing Witness and Taking Action Rising from Not Knowing and Bearing Witness, and is another step in the ongoing effort of Zen Peacemakers in South Dakota USA. Zen Peacemakers, Inc. supports but does not administer the event.
To follow the conversation and events about the Zen Peacemakers engagement in the Black Hill, join our Black Hills Facebook group.