Grace and peace to you through our Saviour, Jesus Christ,
“And God said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit.’” - Genesis 1:29
I am sure you join with me in offering condolences to the Kahnawake community after the untimely death of the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake’s grand chief, Joe Norton. In their weekly newspaper, The Eastern Door [for Friday, August 21, 2020 (Vol. 29, No. 34)], they described him as “one of the most influential indigenous leaders in the world” (pg. 1). He is described as not just a leader, but the kind of statesman who you only meet once in a lifetime. As the community grieves, they wonder whether anyone will be able to live up to his legacy.
In the same newspaper (pg. 3), Megan Kanerahtenha:wi Whyte wrote a beautiful tribute to him that points toward hope. She makes an analogy with the land. Joe’s life was like a garden, she says. It bore fruit and its bounty provided food and joy for the community. Just as we feel loss as the garden fades in the winter, Joe’s death is a huge loss for the community. However, she says, even in the bleak winter months, we have the seeds we collected at the harvest, to remind us that new life comes with the spring. Joe Norton left plenty of seeds for hope, she wrote: “peace, courage, determination, culture, innovation, change, community-mindedness, and love.”
This beautiful tribute to Joe Norton reminds us all that even in the face of deep loss, God always leaves us with the seeds we need for new growth. The cycle of life, death, and rebirth or resurrection is the foundation of the Christian life. In God’s infinite wisdom, a simple thing like a garden bears witness to this every year. In the face of deep loss, let us hold onto the seeds of hope that God is providing for us. And let us keep the Kahnawake community in our prayers.
Go in peace and serve God,