Daily Reflection
August 11th, 2004
Steve Kline
Public Relations
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It is said that one of Ezekiel’s tasks was to prepare the people of Israel, held captive in Babylon, for the final destruction of Jerusalem. We are taught that this destruction paved the way for the Lord’s beautiful new covenant with His people. It is good to keep this in mind, because it never is easy to make sense of catastrophe.

I write these words at Fort Robinson in far northwest Nebraska, near the old Red Cloud Agency, a few yards from the scenes of two awful catastrophes.

From where I sit, I can see the spot where, in September 1877, the great Oglala leader Crazy Horse was murdered. Crazy Horse is my hero. He was murdered while resisting imprisonment. He was being jailed, basically, because he never stopped doing his job of taking care of his people and he was a threat to those who would expand the United States into Native lands. A brilliant military leader, Crazy Horse played a key role in two great victories over the U.S. Army in the summer of 1876.

The stone monument marking where he fell is a sacred place. It often is decorated with tobacco left by visitors who revere his memory. Nearby is a reconstruction of the barracks where, about a year following Crazy Horse’s death, Dull Knife’s group of Northern Cheyenne was imprisoned after coming north to escape starvation in Oklahoma. This is where in the winter of 1879 the Cheyenne Outbreak occurred. You can read the inspiring and horrifying story in Cheyenne Autumn by Mari Sandoz.

I shed tears over these stories, yet I return to this place as often as I can. When I must leave, my heart stays here. I do not fully understand why. Maybe a piece of my spirit must stay here until I do understand.

Stories of destruction are difficult to contemplate, yet they are magnetic. How do we make sense of the angels of destruction described by the prophet Ezekiel, mowing down old men, women and children? Today’s reading is Ezekiel’s vision, provided to him by “Spirit.” Commentaries tell us that Ezekiel was vindicated in 587 BC when Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar accomplished the destruction foretold by the Spirit-inspired prophet. We should remember that the Book of Ezekiel closes with a narrative of Israel rising to new life. However, today’s reading focuses exclusively on destruction. We must wait for another day to read of the Lord’s fulfillment of His promise.

Until that day, we pray that Spirit will open our hearts and keep alive our faith.


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