The Blue Camas of Idaho

Saturday, August 16

8-16By Joann Condit of Phoenix, Arizona, USA

For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us…that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross…

—Ephesians 2:14–16 NRSV

My father’s childhood home was a small ranch house on the north side of Camas Prairie, where it backs up to the long range of the Soldier Mountains. His strong shell belied his soft heart, touched by beauty wherever he looked. The blue Camassia that blossoms in the early spring was his favorite flower.

Camas Prairie was once a bountiful place for the Bannock Indians. They came to Southern Idaho each year to catch salmon in the Snake River and to dig the bulbs of the camas plant. The bulbs taste much like sweet potato and were a nutritious staple after the long winter. The Native Americans dried, pounded, and ground the bulbs into meal that stored well. It provided bread for the hungry times. As a boy, Dad witnessed this yearly migration of the Bannocks.

When I was a child, the rich bounty of the camas nearly disappeared, plowed under by wheat farmers who flocked to that rich, black soil. Once, the composite of bright blue blossoms spread like lakes on the prairie floor. Then the lakes became puddles, where the flowers rarely grew. Here and there, in marshy places along creek beds, wherever the melted snow provides moisture, some camas continue to flower, telling a story of a migrating people who left when the flowers dwindled.

The bounty of God fed the early Bannocks for hundreds of years. The dominant need of another people plowed under this bounty. Do we put our own needs first? Can we break down the dividing walls and become a new humanity that shares?

Prayer for Peace Creator God, may we honor the sacredness of creation as we make choices that affect places on the Earth and the people who rely on them. Help us be aware of how damaging our footprints can be. Help us reconcile and make peace with those we have injured.

Spiritual Practice: Healing for Broken Spirits Begin with quiet prayer. Ask God to help you discern some “sore places” in the body of Christ and in God’s creation. Become aware of a people who feel separated, wounded, or left out. Ask God for words that will touch these people’s broken spirits like healing ointment. Keep them in your heart and prayers today, and act on any ideas that come to bring blessing and wholeness.

Peace Covenant Today, God, I will become aware of historical hurts where I may foster reconciliation.

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  1. David Brock

     /  16 August 2014

    The beauty of the camas is matched here by the beauty and power of these words by Sister Condit. Having just returned today from visiting family in Idaho, the testimony is particularly poignant.

  2. John Bonney

     /  16 August 2014

    Very nice piece. I thoroughly enjoyed it.


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