Hundreds of boaters gathered at the Free the Snake Floatilla to say with one clear voice that it’s time to free the Snake River from outdated low-value dams. Earth Ministry/WAIPL joined our partners at Save Our Wild Salmon at this event on September 8 and 9, 2017, which is part of a larger movement championing the largest salmon recovery in the world. Before the boaters set out to paddle down the river, Rev. Tom Soeldner, Earth Ministry board member and retired Lutheran (ELCA) pastor, said the following blessing. We are compelled by our faith to protect all of creation, and we thank Rev. Tom and all our partners working for justice for the Snake River, the salmon who live in the river, and the Native Tribes whose culture and identity had been formed by the river.
My name is Thomas and I represent Earth Ministry, a faith-based environmental organization working in the Northwest for the wise stewardship of the lands and waters that are the Creator’s gifts. We want to thank the Nimipuu and the Palouse people who have shown us the way by honoring the Creator in caring for this land and water for many years.
Religious history and traditions are filled with reminders that nature corrects and overcomes the arrogance of human beings when we try to control it.
The Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads lift up a universal principle of law, order, harmony, and truth that we can see in free-flowing rivers and the unhindered lives of salmon.
The Tao Te Ching says “Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water. Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible, nothing can surpass it.”
Siddartha, whom we know as the Buddha, or Enlightened One, taught that there is freedom from suffering in transcending it and in leading a life of not harming self or others, whether human or animal or fish or bird or tree or air and water.
The children of Israel survived in the desert for forty years not by their efforts, but by nature’s provision of manna and quail. And the walls of Jericho fell not by might of sword but by trumpets and walking and the lifting of voices.
Jesus said, “Look to the birds of the air and consider the lilies of the field.” And the Apostle Paul found that the doors of his prison were opened as he and his comrades sang songs.
The Koran declares that the universe is perfectly organized and that we simply must see it and not try to reorganize it.
So we declare with our kayaks and skiffs and rafts and dingies that we will expose and oppose that which is against nature. We remind ourselves by being on and in the water with the salmon and the eel that nature and our being a part of it will bring down dams that violate it.
So go now as the Creator’s workers and as a force of nature; go with the power of nature to create and build up … and to bring down.
Go with the hope and promise that dams made by human hands will pass away.
Go with the knowledge that you are a sign that they will come down.
Go with the faith and confidence that your goal is sound and just.
Go with the strength and stamina and wisdom of the salmon.
Go with the blessing of the Creator.
— To learn more about the Free the Snake Floatilla, click here.