Wales juts into the Bering Sea like the tip of an arrowhead, pointing at Russia 55 miles to the west. Before 1918, five hundred Kingikmiut Inupiat Natives lived in Wales. It was a thriving trade center until the influenza epidemic killed over half the village.
The Kingikmiut Inupiat Eskimos (people of the bluffs) had hunted the bowhead whale in the Bering Strait for centuries. Before a whale hunt began, captains and harpooners made pilgrimages to shrines in rocky clefts above the village. Whaling crews revered these ancient caches of sacred objects—their locations were hidden and solemnly passed from fathers to sons.
The Kingikmiut Inupiat Natives believed that the survival of crews and the success of hunts depended upon proper reverence for the sacred objects carried in the umiaks. They entrusted their lives to spirits dwelling around stuffed bird skins, wolf skulls, caribou hooves, skin bags with dried whale meat, and carved images.
When influenza wiped out most Wales families in 1918, the whereabouts of many sacred caches were lost, and revered ancestral legacies were shattered.
Few people in Wales speak their Kingikmiut dialect of the Inupiat language anymore. Today only a few Kingikmiut Inupiat Natives cling to a subsistence lifestyle, harvesting walrus, seals, whale, and caribou.
Our Christian faith sets us apart from all religions on earth. We revere no emblems so greatly that we worship them.
The wine in the cup of communion is just wine. The bread is an emblem of Christ’s body, but not his real body. The Bible is paper and ink, that carries a life-saving message—it’s not a shaman’s book of charms. An empty cross, no matter how big or small, is only a reminder that Jesus is alive.
Our faith in Christ endures, even if a plague erases our heritage from earthly remembrance. Our eternal souls are kept by Jesus—our Cache of Reverence.
I Peter 1:3-5
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Lord, Christian emblems are precious only because they point me to you. Thank you that no plague can destroy the spiritual legacy I enjoy—now and forever.