Saturday, September 25, 2010

Reconciliation

It's been over a year since I wrote anything here.

Two summers ago, the last time that God's Sled Dog went exploring, it was to immerse myself in another way of being, in a culture much older, and in many ways, much wiser than my own. I went to Grayling, Alaska, for what might have been the finest experience in my life. The people there and I shared many common joys and struggles. I had hoped to get back, but many things conspired to keep me home.

I've been thinking hard. About what attracted me to my Alaska Native friends, the hunger in my soul that they fed. There is no way I can adequately thank them. I've been doing a lot of talking with folks about the Native Way, its balance, its respect for life, its appreciation of limits (and their creative ways of getting around them from time to time), the obscenity of wasting what the earth has so freely given. It was my elder friend's wife who said, "I don't get you white folks. You go off into the wilderness to find yourself. You're grown up and forty years later still angry about your childhoods. What do you expect to find?" She said this a lot of times.

I haven't told her thank you. I did find myself. I wasn't expecting to, nor was it the reason I went up there, but there was my own true self, just waiting. I brought her home and for the past two years, we've been thinking about a lot of things. About what it means to have roots in a place, to love that place, to respect all life and not be wasteful, to value the company of other people, to venerate the wisdom of age.

Between then and now a lot has happened. The economy tanked, for one. There's weird craziness and bad disorder everywhere. Turns out Americans depend upon money for everything. We're not trusting each other very much, and we're not talking much sense. It was like those town meetings in Alaska, when the white people came in with their theories and talked right over the Natives, never guessing that the Natives knew a lot about that very subject. They just knew it differently. Not as theory or global action plan, but concrete, something that had a name on it, that could be talked to. White people like theory better than real life stories. Theory, being information, can be turned into cash, into grant money, into a promotion. Real life stories are just anecdotal evidence.

But we've gotten ourselves into a real mess over this money stuff. In my faith tradition, they always warn us against loving money too much, about making it the only way to survive and flourish. It has a way of turning on one. It's kind of like cancer. Too much of it grows on just one spot. And now people aren't talking to one another. Instead of caring for our land locally, we're getting all theoretical about climate change and controlling things. We got into our ecological mess by being too controlling -- what makes us think that being more controlling is going to get us out? All those political groups are interested in my money, but they're not really interested in me, and I don't like that. I've paid too much already. I've got a lot to contribute. So do you. Why are we not recognized for anything other than our money, or our support of someone's abstract cause? Why has so much female energy been invested in these crazy Tea Parties? Why do taxes benefit the rich, but not me? I want to contribute, but I don't want to be robbed.

But hey, I'm an Episcopal priest, wearing God's dog collar, and my work is reconciliation. And this I know. Nothing is going to happen for the good until we stop shouting and start talking. I want to talk to people. I want to make sense of things, not shout slogans. I want to find a world that brings out the best in us, not the worst. Maybe my friends in Graying were right, and a lot of us are lost. But that is an invitation to find. Please join me as we explore a very complex, and deeply fascinating tale. I want to hear what you will have to say.

1 comment:

Liesje said...

Carol,

It is no wonder we are lost. After spending a number of weeks out in the wonderful wilderness, (well how wild can it be if it has a campground?), I see the beauty and the hugeness of God's creation, and I am but a speck in an even smaller speck, etc, etc, in his/her creation. Yet so much of our life is about how big we are. Our bank accounts, our cars, our homes, our donations, even our camping trailer (even though mine is quite small). Life can be very complicated, yet when you are in nature and living simply it is not complicated at all. Yes we have computers and internet and we can be almost in constant touch with each other, but yet we are lost in this.

Have we bought what the white man has sold us? I think we have. Recently I ordered a fast food meal, and was shocked by how nasty tasting it was. I asked myself, "How did we get to this point where we will eat food that in no way tastes like what this food use to be? Who convinced us this is food?" Okay, maybe I'm rambling a bit, but I think we have lost our story, and have bought into a bigger glossier one. One with wide screen TVs that show appealing fast food, whiter than white teeth, and reality shows that pass as entertainment. I think it is easy to get lost in that world. Maybe that is why nature is so appealing to me.

Maybe we should all be left to live off the land, to be taught how to procure our needs from the gifts of the land provides. Maybe if we heard our story though the generations of stories that have been told, we wouldn't be so lost. Maybe then we would be a heck of a lot more respectful of the land, and maybe even each other.

When I come "home" from being camping, I look forward to a warm shower, not having to walk down the path to use the bathroom, and a washing machine to clean my clothes. I'm usually torn between being out in the simple world under the trees, and coming home to the "comforts" yet more hectic life style. It is a balance like anything else. What do we chose to spend our time on? It is so easy to get distracted.

Have I missed the point of your blog completely? I hope not. Thank you for your thought provoking words.