Spirited Reflection: Reconciling Trinity
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:11-13
We sat around the glowing rocks. The rattle, glowing above the rocks, kept rhythm, while the drums played and William sang. Dave, a United Church Pastor, and I sat next to each other, surrounded by the heat and darkness of the sweat lodge. We had been invited, to ground the reconciliation work we were a part of in ceremony. As I sat there I was humbled by the gracious hospitality of Suzanne, Lee and William who had welcomed us into their sacred space. After all, Dave and I, by our positions as pastors, represented traditions that had tried to wipe out their rich tradition of the spiritual life. A sweat lodge is a cleansing space. It seems we have much that we need to be cleansed of.
We can no longer hide from our history. Our bible begins by describing how we were made in God’s image but we could not see the image of God in the people who lived in this land before us? We proclaimed the Good news that God had crossed from the infinite to be born in the finite, yet we imagined that God was not already present in this land, so we tried to wipe out ways of living that were connected to how God was already here. We taught that God was a loving parent, that overcame our sin, violence and death to unite us with God, and bring us to eternal life . . . and then shared this love through violence, by tearing children from their loving parents, from the land and so many from their very life.
It was not just the indigenous populations that were hurt by this process. A teacher of mine once taught me that to exploit or destroy another people, we must first dehumanize them, but in the process, we destroy a part of our own humanity. The settlers tried to destroy a culture that values its elders, and now we sideline our elders to golf courses until we warehouse them away. We stole land from people who valued creation, and now we are a people destroying the creation we depend on. We tried to destroy the way of life of a peoples whose life was deeply rooted in spirit, and now surveys tell us that most mainline churches are struggling with cultivating a vibrant spirituality. So how do we regain our humanity and our souls?
This Sunday we celebrate Trinity Sunday as well as the National Day of Reconciliation.
Perhaps, if we can remember that this is not just a theological doctrine but a way of describing how people experience the very life of God, it might show us a way toward our healing.
- When we speak of God the Father/Mother/Creator – we are describing how all that is comes from a God who is beyond all words and yet in an act of love, emptied God’s self to bring forth all that is, including our life. Each day that we sit on the ground and in the water of creation we are re-grounded in this love of God. Perhaps it is time to sit on the earth next to those we could not see as being also of earth and of God.
- When we speak of the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are speaking of how God forms a relationship with us by entering into creation and our lives as an expression of grace. By this free giving of love, whatever might separate anyone from God is overcome and we receive this simply as a gift which heals our wounds.Perhaps it is time that we honestly see how we were not the ones coming to bring God, but the ones coming with our brokenness, here in this time to discover how together, in relationships, the grace of the creator might heal us now.
- When we speak of the Holy Spirit and the Communion of the Holy Spirit we are talking about how God continues to dwell within us, and between us, uniting us together. Perhaps it is time for us to be in ceremonies together to discover how God is with us, and amongst us all, creating something new.
A sweat lodge is not just a place of cleansing; it is a place of rebirth. We are passing through a time of cleansing in which we need to be honest and release our patterns of death that have brought us to this point. We also need to be reborn. Our Christian tradition is filled with both the wisdom and the Spirit that can restore the humanity and Spirit that we have lost, but our own teaching also shows us that we can’t do this alone, for God is a relationship. May we, together, find a good way to live together in this land.
Ryan Andersen is a Lutheran Pastor in Calgary, Alberta and is currently serving as a community organizer with the Metro Alliance for the Common Good.