Sunday, June 15, 2014

How Could You Ignore Something Like This?

 By Mar Preston

Years ago a group of spiritually-minded forest lovers began hanging mementos of on the branches of a semi-circle of pines high on the side of a mountain here in California. Over time, it was called the Shrine of the Five Maidens.  Here people found solace, and buried their pets.  Others came, a drum circle, solstice worshippers among the New Age folk, the curious,  dog walkers and hikers, and the environmentalists tut-tutting over this misuse of Forest Service land. I thought it was weird, peculiar, and wonderful. Standing inside that circle of pines at dusk was a little creepy though.

Then in the dark of a moonless night vandals destroyed the Shrine.  The circle of stones was scattered down the slope of the meadow. A sign was posted that evening: Fundamentalist Christian Taliban We Know Who You Are. Then some unknown person nailed up a copy of The True Believer by Eric Hoffer on the trail of pines leading up to the meadow. Then came a religious tract nailed up on another tree.  The desecration of the trees continued in a battle between secular and sacred. Then came piles of teetering stones like cairns set in the middle of the path. This was followed by 5s painted on the trees farther up the mountain in commemoration of the Five Maidens.

This is a small enough village that everyone knows everyone and what faction they belong to. The local weekly began printing Letters to the Editor. The Christians as a bloc wisely did not respond. I have no idea who desecrated the Five Maidens Shrine.Then came a specific accusation against an environmentalist who had expressed the personal opinion that the Shrine was just a "bunch of junk." This was vociferously challenged in the stream of Letters to the Editor that followed. A national environmental organization was one of the accused perpetrators.

There is no way I can stay out of the controversy that is whipping around. I read every email and Facebook posting with scores of comments, gossip at the post office, and go to meetings where this is the hot topic. I can’t help myself.

I heard Jane Yolen at a conference once say: "I tell my children.  Don't bother me unless there are broken bones protruding or hemorrhaging." 

Please tell me how you get keys moving on keyboard no matter what? 

* Details have been obscured because feeling is still intense. 


Di Eats the Elephant said...

Tony Hillerman wrote well about the destruction of sacred places of one culture by another in his Jim Chee series. As backdrop, clues, motives, miscues and inside knowledge needed to see what was what. White about what toy are seeing and feeling. Try to write about it from opposing views, insider as well as outsider, alt as well as child. One day you will be able to use it as a seed.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Oh, my. I live in a small town too--one where all of the Christian churches including the Catholic except have done a lot together including an Easter Sunrise service. Our church has a food program and other churches help supply money and food. The churches make sure that each one has Vacation Bible School on different weeks so the kids can go to each one if they want. Of course we have plenty of folks who have non-Christian beliefs, but so far there haven't been any clashes like that. And I am thankful--but you certainly have the ingredients for a great mystery. Just decide who you'd like to kill off.

Mar Preston said...

It may be a subplot in my next mystery,but there are lots of good stories here in the village.