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Showing posts from November, 2019

Thanksgiving homily: V-formation for a broken world

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Deuteronomy 26:1-11, from the propers for the Feast of Thanksgiving...
Although I didn't use a manuscript, I said something like this at our ecumenical Thanksgiving Ebe service 

The other day I was standing in my kitchen looking out the sliding glass door, back across two acres of land. There I watched a mismatched flock of geese take flight, a lead goose with three followers on one side, but only one goose on the other. They were struggling a bit. But then I saw two more geese coming up from behind, flying as fast as they could to catch up with the others. 
I thought back to my childhood living in central Wisconsin near Horicon Marsh. Every fall migrating geese stop at the marsh to rest and refuel for their long journey south. The sky is full of multiple V formations of geese in flight. Visiting the marsh when its full of migrating geese is amazing. Thanksgiving time always brings back this childhood memory of a sky full of honking geese flying in V formations. 
It turns out that ma…

That Our Differences May Be Our Greatest Asset of Love

In 1847, my great grandfather, five generations back, travelled with his family from Ohio to Missouri and then across the great plains to settle in Northern Utah. He homesteaded on land that was the traditional winter grounds of the Shoshone people. He took a piece of the land as if it were his birthright. As did all of my ancestors, all of whom settled in northern Utah and southern Idaho. My grandfather, George Washington Hill became well known and is still remembered in the Mormon Church as a missionary to the Shoshone people. He befriended them, learned their language, wrote the first English-Shoshone dictionary so that Mormons and Shoshone could communicate. 
The Bear Rive massacre took place in the winter of 1863, not far from where my great grandparents lived. 200 US soldiers travelled from California to attack the Shoshone in their winter camp grounds. They attacked in the early morning, before the people were awake, and decimated the tribe. A few survived, including the chief a…

Leaning toward a Healthier but Imperfect Self...

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I come from a family of saints, who are nonetheless unrepentant sinners. My saintly ancestors were also Mormon pioneers who risked life and limb to follow their faith, worship without persecution, and settle northern Utah and Southern Idaho in the mid 1800’s. They yearned to create beloved community. One of these, George Washington Hill, is described as athletic, handsome, and ambitious. 

Although his wife, Cynthia Uttley Stuart, held the indigenous people, the Shoshone, with great disdain, George quickly sought them out. He learned the Shoshone language, all four dialects, and created a Shoshone-English dictionary to help others communicate. Family lore and Mormon history leads one to think that he was beloved by all, including the Shoshone. As the story goes, the chief had a dream about Inkapompy, as George was called, which means red hair, and invited George to come and meet with him. While there George baptized 102 Shoshone. My family thinks of George as a saint. I have found no rec…