Remembering Lawrence Hart
On March 10, 2022, Iris de Leon-Hartshorn shared the following at Lawrence Hart’s memorial:
“Betty, family, and friends, I bring greetings from Mennonite Church USA. May you feel God’s love during this difficult time. I have so many things I want to say about Lawrence today. When I posted the loss of Lawrence on my FB page, I received many responses from across the church. Lawrence’s legacy has touched a sea of people. People’s words were from their interactions with Lawrence in many capacities like Mennonite Indian Leaders Council, Native Mennonite Ministries, Mennonite Church USA, Mennonite Central Committee, the Center of Justice Peacebuilding, and many more places.
Lawrence will be missed in so many ways. You can’t capture his legacy in one snapshot because it will continue to live through the many people he touched. Lawrence sought to bring an authentic peace by seeking right relationships and working at setting things right, whether it was envisioning a place to lay to rest unidentified remains of Native Americans or speaking truth to power . I remember one time we were at a Native Mennonite Assembly on the Hopi reservation under a tent in mid-July. That night before Lawrence spoke, a young man came up to the tent and engaged one of the leaders. This young man said he was a part of a Christian youth organization and wanted to say something to the group. The leaders allowed him to speak to the group. He introduced himself as the great grandson of Kit Carson and proceeded to apologize for his great grandfather’s participation in killing Native Americans. Then he proceeded to pray and, in the prayer, said that it was the responsibility of Native Americans, as Christians, to forgive his grandfather. I was stunned and angry. I couldn’t believe this young man was using God to expect an apology for such a grave injustice. But I remember Lawrence was so calm, and he and other Native leaders spoke to the young man about what he had done. After that incident, Lawrence spoke immediately to the participants and brought a sense of calm in the midst of hurt while not minimizing what had just happened. He demonstrated why he was a Cheyenne Peace Chief.
Setting things right to bring authentic peace requires courage, wisdom, and deep love for all creation. This is how I will remember Lawrence, a man of courage, wisdom, and deep love. Let me end with these words from Isaiah 40:31. “But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Lawrence, may you soar with the eagles as your vision of setting things right continues in the reconciling work of God, our Creator. Iris de Leon-Hartshorn