Olive branches over ordnance

Before we left, I put away the sewing machine, picked up pins, gave the empty cotton reels to the cats for toys, kept the leftover, little strips of orange fabric because, you know, they might be useful for something, cleared off the dining room table and set the chairs back in their places, ready for reunion, festival, feast.


We travelled to a region renowned for its unresolved strife, the difficult rifts of generations, the generations of Adam, Abel, Cain. We travelled through a city besieged by its own internal tensions, although you wouldn’t know it from the olive groves that seem to outlive eternity, offering their weary-wise branches to pigeons and pilgrims.

Back home, there were no more olive groves, and instead of fresh bread, first I rolled across our dining table fresh orange fabric, pulled out the pins. They spill and scatter like hidden ordnance, spread across our domestic landscape, ready to do damage, draw blood, vandalize lives.


The olive trees, ancient and observant, hearing the blood that cries out from the land, whisper that the answer to Cain’s crime cannot be to take the hoe from his hand and hand him an AR-15.

About Rosalind C Hughes

Rosalind C Hughes is a priest and author living near the shores of Lake Erie. After growing up in England and Wales, and living briefly in Singapore, she is now settled in Ohio. She serves an Episcopal church just outside Cleveland. Rosalind is the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing , and Whom Shall I Fear? Urgent Questions for Christians in an Age of Violence, both from Upper Room Books. She loves the lake, misses the ocean, and is finally coming to terms with snow.
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