We do take more than we need. We love to own collections. We desire more money than we need for survival. We believe that materialism is the pathway to happiness. Upon reflection we might do well to consider whether we are taking more than we need from the earth’s resources to the detriment and even survival of other life species.
A few weeks ago, our group from Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference traveled to the Holy Land. We were not able to walk down the hilly Palm Sunday route.
In the old ways of the Cherokee, a young man at the age of 14 would go on his spirit quest. His father would lead him into the forest just as it was getting dark. He would tell the boy where he was to sleep and then walk away into the woods. The boy would sit there and hear all of the sounds that nocturnal creatures make at night.
A burden was released from me. I was grateful for the courage of my friend. I felt the healing of his words that day and I tell this to others to remind them of how our actions often need forgiveness and the courage to accept not only forgiveness but not to do the sin again. Blessings (Onkuntewagen) and humility (temakelensu) to all.
There are nearly 150,000 people in Illinois who identified themselves as at least part Native American on the last census. There were only 1,000 people who shared my last name on the entire continent. The real figure for Indians in Illinois is probably closer to half a million or more. Some attend the same church you do. They might even be your Pastor, your Superintendent, your Sunday school teacher, the one who sets God's table for communion, or that unique voice coming from two pews behind you. Let's face it: our IGRC family is part Indian.
Stones are part of our traditional experiences whether Christian or Native. Faith calls us to believe that we are capable of things that we had not believed before.
If we as a people of Christ are to atone for and reconcile with Native American people, we must first acknowledge the numerous injustices inflicted upon an entire people/culture/society. We are called to not only admit the wrong, but we are called to deeply search for the truth, to know (as best we can) their experiences when everything they knew and loved was torn from them permanently.
As I write this, the song “will the circle be unbroken” runs through my mind. This is true when it comes to or lives. We are part of so many circles. Family, church, friends etc….we are part of the circles. I look forward to being within the circle, to worship, to share, to celebrate and to comfort. We are all brothers in sisters in Christ, we are all related and we are all in the circle.
Some theologians say Lent ends on Holy Thursday. Others hold fast to Holy Saturday. Lent lasts 40 days. The first day of Lent is Ash Wednesday. Six weeks later excluding Sundays, Lent is over. Then, it’s Easter. Christ rises triumphantly from the grave to reign forever. Looking back, did the richness of this liturgical season prepare us for Easter? Were the sacrifices promised in earnest kept in earnest? Or, did resolutions and/or sacrifices made in earnest slip away buried by the busyness of life and living? Maybe the one sacrifice kept became “living water.” Has our prayer and self-denial led us to a closer walk with Christ?
The man looked down then up at me, “I’m sorry my parents didn’t treat them Indian folks better.” I felt the Holy Spirit welling up in me, realizing the importance of what he was saying not for me but for his son and family. I smiled and said, “Wanishi ta (Thank you very much) for saying what you did and for remembering the story and that we’re all related.”