(In 2022 Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team will have a new name: Guardians. My denomination, the United Church of Christ, has repeatedly asked for the name and branding pictures to change from the “Indians,” since General Synod 1991. The team will be the Guardians after the Guardians of Traffic, eight 43-foot-tall Art Deco statues lining the Hope Memorial Bridge leading up to the stadium at Progressive Field designed by sculptor Henry Hering and architect Frank Walker).
I remember General Synod,
and the stand that was taken there.
I remember courageous young people
who presented street theatre
that both frightened and inspired people.
I was glad the resolution passed,
and sorry the youth had to apologize.
Most of all I remember Juanita Helphrey,
member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation,
who was the heart of this,
and grieve that she did not see this day.
Many, many others have been a part
of this changing of words, images,
for the sake of all children,
in the long unfinished work of reconciliation,
but sometimes we need to say a name.
Today I honor Juanita Helphrey,
who was a bridge-woman,
a maker of teams with strange members,
and a guardian of things that matter
words that span hope.
Juanita wrote this prayer for me.
a cloud forming ,
an eagle soaring,
a voice from the wilderness,
echoing through your ear.
Whispering, encouraging –
keep going, seek My glory,
don’t worry, I’ll keep
your fears. *
*published in “Gifts of Many Cultures,” (ed. Tirabassi and Eddy), Pilgrim Press, Cleveland, 1995.