I got this swooping, sinking, rushing feeling when I saw my professor’s facebook post. He was planning to answer the call for clergy to come to Standing Rock next week, he said. And would any students like to join him.
I didn’t really want to go. I knew what camping in the freezing cold was like. I’d seen the videos of violence against protesters. I had a full schedule in the week ahead. And I felt woefully unprepared. But something deeper than desire and stronger than fear rose up within me and whispered, “Go!”
So I emailed my various supervisors and professors and asked if arrangements could be made for me to miss 4 days of work and classes, a not-insignificant part of me hoping they would say “no.” But they didn’t. They told me that this was an important opportunity and that they would make things work. And the whisper inside me grew bolder and said, “Go.”
I decided to sleep on it and pray for guidance and had a very distressing but unhelpful dream about biking across Europe in the autumn and falling over on 3 person a bicycle into a mud pit. The morning found me both weary and wired. And the voice raised itself up inside me and shouted, “Go!” I knew that if I silenced that voice, I would silence something essential in me. Call it my conscience, my vocation, a sense of justice, the Holy Spirit living in me – more than I wanted to stay home, I wanted to listen to that call and stand with those who needed allies.
There are several camps now at Standing Rock, all working toward the same purpose: halt the death-dealing black snake of the Dakota Access Pipeline. This pipeline and the oil it carries represents disregard for native lives and well-being, a threat to water sources, and a victory for big oil companies rather than a move toward sustainable energy solutions. The Water Protectors (the preferred term, rather than protesters) have been using non-violent forms of resistance to call attention to the unjust and unethical practices of the pipeline construction.
This past week, a call was made to clergy all over the nation to join the Water Protectors at Standing Rock and stand in solidarity. This is a crucial time for the work against the pipeline. Violence and force from law enforcement is increasing, winter weather is beginning to set in, and the tribes gathered at Standing Rock need our support.
I am going with 11 other Garrett-Evangelical students, professors, and alums, as well as 2 non-seminary-affiliated folks. We’re joining clergy and people of faith and people of no faith from all over the country to stand with those at Standing Rock. We’ll be leaving Tuesday, arriving in Cannonball, North Dakota, on Wednesday, and participating in the clergy solidarity action on Thursday. We’ll make the long trek back on Friday. We ask for your prayers for strength, wisdom, peace, and justice.
Behind that tiny word “Go!” are so many convictions that God has grown in me over the years:
- God made the world and made it good (Gen. 1)
- God includes the whole earth in God’s vision for community and justice (Lev. 25, Isaiah 11)
- In the incarnation, Jesus was born, lived, died, and resurrected as a human, fleshy body who walked on this physical earth – in the incarnation, God affirms the goodness of Creation and brings the whole world into the redemption story (John 1, Romans 8).
- All of Creation will be made whole (Romans 8, Isaiah 65).
- Our God is One of justice and mercy, and God stands with the oppressed and the marginalized (Matthew 25, Luke 18, Isaiah 1 and 58).
I go to Standing Rock because of the God I serve and the kingdom of God that I am called to join. I ask you to join your hearts and prayers to mine, and together we will work for the good of all God’s people and land.
More information from those on the ground about the history and situation:
This article is a couple months old, but it gives good background information:
If you have very warm winter gear – coats, boots, tents, sleeping bags, etc. – or hygiene items that you want to send with me, let me know. Here are other ways to help:
Finally, you may be thinking, “This sounds like a good cause and all, but doesn’t it defeat the purpose to use a lot of oil/gas and drive out there?” Good question! We still live in an oil-based economy, and there just aren’t a lot of good options for traveling without using petroleum. This is in large part due to the subsidies oil companies receive and the huge amounts of money and political power our nation grants them. If enough of us can stand up and say NO to the Dakota Access Pipeline, then we may be able to have enough people power to imagine and enact new, healthy, sustainable and just ways of being a society.