Submitted by Deborah Milton, Bainbridge Island, Washington: Superfund site & deportation site for Japanese Americans during WWII
Nidoto Nai Yoni. These Japanese words meaning Let It Not Happen Again became our ongoing chant during our recent honoring of the Global Earth Exchange in conjunction with Making Artful Prayers at Pritchard Park on Bainbridge Island, WA, USA.
This beach holds the wounds of humanity’s inhumane treatment of each other as well as the earth.
This beach holds the memories of many crying people as 276 Japanese Americans, many of them third generation Americans, were accompanied by their neighbors to a ferry. With only six days notice, the Japanese Americans were forcibly uprooted from homes, work, neighborhoods and schools to be relocated to internment camps during WWII. . .only because of their heritage.
This beach is also a superfund site, not yet completely cleaned up because of the ravages of a creosote plant from the mid-twentieth century which go deep into water and soil. And yet we and our dogs come here to play and dig and swim and splash…and make RadJoy Birds in the middle of a giant Mandala.
Three of us spoke quietly about our prayerful intentions as well as extending support for the kayakers holding vigil in the Seattle Harbor while the oil rig destined for Arctic drilling waited for clearance to leave.
We then walked an eight-petaled mandala with a ten-foot circle in the middle where we drew our RadJoy bird with seaweed and wild flowers, leaves, sticks, beach feathers and a bright yellow plastic shovel found in the sand. After we completed construction, we spent time making prayer ties, small cloth pouches filled our blessings whispered into cornmeal and tobacco, representing to us both feminine and masculine forms of loving energy. We held onto these red and blue prayer ties while we then walked the mandala as if it were a labyrinth, chanting a song the wind had brought to us interspersed with Nidoto Nai Yoni. We then placed the prayer ties on the RadJoy bird.
As we retired to a nearby log to bask in fulfilling equanimity and to eat snacks, a multi-generational family walked by. Immediately the granddaughter, maybe seven years old, ran to the prayer ties and picked one strand up. Her granddad immediately told her to put it down and I reassured him it was all right. She returned them anyway as I began telling them what we were doing, about Making Artful Prayers for the earth and the Global Earth Exchange to bring beauty to wounded places. The grandfather then said something like, “That’s very interesting because I was just telling my family about the creosote plant.”
I felt as if we’d just gone public in a way we hadn’t before. Exciting.