Creation, Community and Healing

I was thinking about these three words recently when I read a note from a Native American friend. The note itself isn’t important, but the language and suppositions in the note are. Language reflects culture, obviously. And culture reflects how we live our lives.

When Native people speak of Creation, it’s not the language of science or the debate over evolution. It’s not political language nor European theological language. But it is sacred language. It’s possible to write about Creation as European theologians have done, Creation as incarnational. That is, the Creation and its various parts point to the sacred in our midst. But European theology can’t contain the fullness of what I’ve heard Native peoples express.

It’s more like this: even the rocks speak. Creation is sacred and it has a voice. Elements don’t merely point to something else, they are themselves sacred. To be in Creation is to be part of the whole fabric of life that comes from the Great Spirit. When referring to our time here, the earth is personified as Mother Earth. She embraces us, nourishes us and gives us life. The whole can’t be divided into parts because each part is connected in an organic, sacred, living way.

Community comes naturally to Native people. It isn’t something you create on paper, organize, or work out from a study guide. It just is. It’s so much a part of how we should live together that it’s beyond question or study.

And the word healing is about how life is lived in the Creation and in the community. It’s not touchy, feely, it’s the what the Creator wills for us and it’s the result of the multiple gifts of Creation. Creation is our medicine.

And all of this is so seamless it goes beyond what we can comprehend or see. It informs who we are.

The note from my friend didn’t say all of this, and in fact, the frustration he expressed is rooted in this understanding of life which is not shared by the majority culture. That was the grating touch point that so frustrated and confounded him. He was operating on a set of values so out of sync with the majority culture’s values that he was in deep inner conflict.

Now, I’m making no claim for expert knowledge of Native spirituality. Some would, no doubt, take exception to my brief and simple description above. And I’m not trying to define it for you or anyone else. But I do know that the struggle between the values of the majority culture and indigenous cultures is still happening and sometimes it’s personal. And I know the damage done to native cultures is deep and lasting, and in many ways, it continues as well.

I also believe some of the majority culture values are wounding Mother Earth and these wounds will be deep and lasting. But I told my friend we can’t despair. The whole story of Creation isn’t written yet. It’s an unfolding drama. We have no idea what’s in store. So hold on. Hold fast. And seek truth.

In any culture, I think that’s good theology.

One Response to “Creation, Community and Healing”

  1. Christine Gorman September 22, 2007 at 6:31 pm #

    Great new look, Larry. I mostly read Perspectives through an RSS aggregator and was wondering why the posts weren’t updating. Glad I clicked through to see the new site. Will add the new RSS feed to my reader.

    How hard was it to migrate everything over?

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