Spirited Reflection: Speaking up and listening
As a young Indigenous male, who does not at all look the part, I have heard the words, “What good can come from there?” many times in my life. In our reading from John, Nathanael speaks of Nazareth as a place from which no good can come, a place whose people don’t deserve a second look.
When I hear comments like this, it typically comes from a place of ignorance. Through conversation that I have opened up, this ignorance stems from not knowing who is listening, not knowing the successes of a community, or not knowing the pitfalls and barriers presented to the people of a community.
For all my life, I have been torn. Torn between my proud Anishinaabe roots and the fierce settler blood streaming through my veins. It is almost as though one half of me robbed the other then turned it around and blamed the victim. To me, I am the good that came from there.
Lately, due to the political happenstance for our neighbours to the south, I have noticed a rise in the number of people who are willing to openly express their ignorant views. And it seems that we keep reliving a scenario in which we are required to speak up. We are required to open up a dialogue of inclusion and tolerance. We are required to voice our own opinions. Often, these opinions are not met with open minds or hearts. And this makes us hesitant to share and open up conversation with those who do not see the world from our point of view.
Sometimes, it feels as though we are just running in place, towards a finish line that we can’t see, but then again, isn’t that what faith is all about, the belief that there is something attainable just beyond our grasp. Perhaps, God has just left it to us to speak up and say, ‘Here I am Lord. You have searched me and you know me. Now, just give me an answer!?’ If only it were that simple.
Looking inward, aren’t we are all quilts, born from the fabrics of our ancestors. We are stitched together by our gifts. Our callings, our languages, our faith, and our relationships with one another are the threads that enable us to bring warmth to a world loved fiercely by all, even those who seem to have conflicting views.
‘Speak, and God will listen’ is what our reading from Samuel tells us. I think if we listen, doors will begin to open. Voice your opinions: God is listening.
Others are listening too. By listening to one another, we can begin a dialogue. Once we are in conversation, movement happens. When movement happens, change happens.
The next time you hear, ‘What good can come from there?’ Answer them by saying, ‘a whole world of good can come from there.’ Because whether ready or willing, they just unwittingly opened up a new dialogue with you; a person with a voice.
So, speak up.
Cyrus Gervais is the Director of Youth Ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Winnipeg, MB. He is studying at Red River College and the University of Winnipeg and plans on becoming an Industrial Arts teacher. Cyrus also makes time for paddling and playing rugby.
This reflection is excerpted from Gifts for Another Way, Epiphany Year B Resource for Justice Seekers, available through KAIROS.