Touching the Water: A Poem

Rev. Kate Stevens led a prayer circle in solidarity with Standing Rock Water Protectors. A bottle filled with water from the Missouri River at Standing Rock and local sacred waters sat in the middle. Kate put her hands on the bottle and everyone touched someone who was touching someone who was touching the water.

Touching the Water

For our ancestors, wise and unwise


Their blood flows like water through time

and settles for a while in our veins,

warm and nourishing and

with a long blood memory.


There is no “my blood” to sacrifice or

“my water” to drink,

no “this blood”

“this water,”

only blood

only water.


The Jew said,

Hath not a Jew eyes,

organs, dimensions, senses,

affections, passions,

healed by the same means,

harmed by the same weapons,

warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer

as a Christian?

If you prick us do we not bleed?


Only one blood to spill

One water to sail upon

One blood remembering all as it flows through us,

as we struggle to forget.

One water aware of all as it flows around us,

as we flounder in forgetfulness.


One sacred duty for our very brief time here:



After Life

After Life

Alice Barrett
!     A car accident left me close to death last spring. During that time I gave some thought to the question: Death. Then what? Some flowers triggered an answer. While recuperating, I’d stare out the window at yellow flowers growing in front of the rehab building. They were thriving there because just the right soil conditions, sunlight, rainfall, temperatures, surrounding vegetation made them possible. What are the chances of that happening in the afterlife? Or the sound of rain on leaves, or smell of turned dirt? Pretty slim. That’s why it’s called after life.
! What about life here on Earth after I really do go?
! This week I learned that, because of logging and clearing, the most ancient of Earth’s trees all over the world are disappearing. !
! The sense of loss I experienced surprised me. I’ve never met a polar bear and I’ve glimpsed a few whales; all face extinction. But big old trees disappearing? I fell out of one when I was about 10. My cousins and I built a tree house in the woods behind our house. I loved “The Davy Crockett Show” and had a “coonskin” hat made with fake fur and plastic.
! When looking for a house to buy, Jeannine and I passed under a canopy of yellow autumn leaves coming up the hill. Our house is surrounded by trees, so many that we’ve cut some down so we can grow vegetables. During the last ice storm, the tree branches glistened like a forest of jewels.
! Now the Earth is going bald. Humans are supposed to go bald, not the Earth. Earth was designed to be self-replenishing. Ancient trees are sacred. But in Scandinavia at least, those are the trees targeted by logging companies.
! Jasper Fforde referred to 1847 as Earth’s “Best if used by…” date. He is right. Humans could have used a little thinning out about then, or at least some spacing.
! In Rikuzentaka, Japan, a centuries- old pine forest of about 70,00 trees was swept away by a tsunami. Except for one pine. The “Miracle Pine” became a symbol of hope for the survivors. However, the salt sea water saturating the soil began to slowly kill it. The city decided to cut the tree down in sections, treat the wood, fill it with a

carbon core, reconstruct it and replace its branches with plastic ones. It will then be put back in the place the tree stood. As a memorial to the tree. Hmmm….
! ! What will happen after I’m gone? A bald Earth peppered with memorials to trees? I admit that a world without polar bears horrifies me much less than a world without trees. !

! Before the government could cut down the Miracle Pine, people in the area gathered the tree’s cones to plant seeds in good soil. Many seedlings from one old tree. Life giving new life. Ahhh..That’s better.!
! Against all odds, I survived my injuries. I was helped by the miracles of modern medicine, a bevy of health professionals, family, friends and strangers. Maybe I don’t have to worry about the trees. Maybe I should trust. After all, I survived. With help, trees will too. There isn’t an afterlife. After me, life will continue to begin.