Weekly Reflection - 9/28/2023
St. Mary's Reflection: Russell Fudge, Vestry Member
“Ska.nonh” (Peace and Wellness) From Tully Lake
Each summer Emily and I spend part of our summer at our cottage within the Tully Lake Park Association on Tully Lake in central New York State. The Association celebrates 1888 as the date of its founding.
>From the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation: “Tully Lake is a shallow, weedy lake located on the borders of Courtland and Onondaga counties near the Village of Tully.”
The Onondaga Nation (Reservation) is located between Tully and the City of Syracuse. The Onondagas were part of The Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) Confederacy. The Confederacy was a powerful indigenous ruler of this part of the country beginning in the late fifteenth century and continuing through much of the nineteenth century. According to “Native American Waterbody and Place Names Within the Susquehanna River Basin and Surrounding Subbasins” by Stephen A, Runkle, September 2003, they called Tully Lake Te ka’ ne a da he, T “a lake on a hill”.
I have selected this excerpt from “Iroquois Folk Lore Gathered From The Six Nations of New York by Rev Wm M. Beauchamp For the Onondaga Historical Association, 1922” for Haudenosaunee lore related to Tully Lake.
SACRED WATERS. “Tully Lake Park is situated on what was formerly known as Big Lake, which was called by the Indians “Sacred Waters” and held in great veneration by them. Tradition says that the Indians would never allow a fish to be taken from its crystal depths nor a canoe to float upon its glassy surface, yet they considered an accidental drowning therein to be a special desire of the Great Spirit.”
HIAWATHA”S GRIEF (Display at Skanonh Center at Sainte Marie de Gannetha Jesuit Mission in Liverpool, NY)
As the Peacemaker traveled from village to village he encountered the most difficulty in convincing the Onondaga’s to accept his message. Here lived the Tadodaho (Thadoda.ho’), a man so feared it is said that his body was twisted and snakes grew from his head. He was a powerful sorcerer and a cannibal who ate human flesh.
Also in Onondaga territory was a man named Hiawatha who was likewise dedicated to establishing peace. However, he was in deep grief because of the murders of his beloved daughters. He was unable to function and wandered aimlessly throughout the territory for many days. He arrived south of Onondaga at Tully Lake, spoke a command to the waterfowl, and then witnessed the birds rise up from the water with such force that they carried the water with them. As he walked along the lake bottom he picked up small shells of freshwater clams and placed them in his deerskin pouch. After he had passed across the lake the waterfowl returned the water. On the shore he began making strings of shells, which was the first use of wampum. He said, “If I found or met anyone burdened with grief as I am, I would use these shell strings to console them. I would lift the words of condolence with these strands of beads, and these beads would become words with which I would address them”.
A MORE CONTEMPORARY TULLY LAKE STORY.
My maternal grandmother was Alice Weston. She enjoyed summers at the Weston family cottage on Tully Lake in the late 1800’s as did my mother, Florence Bray, in the early 1900’s. Alice Weston met William Bray in Europe while she was studying painting and he was pursuing his PhD in botany. When he accepted a position on the faculty of Syracuse University in the early 1900’s they purchased a cottage on the Lake. The “Bray Cottage” has been our family’s summer retreat ever since.
At Tully I feel God’s presence in many ways: sunrise that spreads glittering diamonds on the surface of the lake, moonrise that creates a path of gold across the lake, thunderstorms that make it seem like God is talking to us, the memories of children playing games on the screen porch overlooking the lake, the chipmunk hopping across the lawn, and the lake’s soft waters caressing my body as I swim through it.
The Haudonausee were wise to understand the gift of pure water. In the service of Holy Baptism we thank God for the gift of water that, when purified, cleanses us from sin. Over it the Holy Spirit moved in the beginning of creation, through it God led the children of Israel out of bondage, In it Jesus received the baptism of John and was anointed by the Holy Spirit as Messiah. In my prayers I add the gift of water in the tears I shed for those who have left this life.
When I am at Tully, to paraphrase the poet Robert Browning:
The orioles on the wing:
The spider is making his web:
God’s in His Heaven
All’s right with the world!