From my first contact with native peoples I felt a spiritual connection. That was the reason I embarked on the spiritual journey I’ve been on since. I wrote the following in October, 2016.
We Caucasian/European people don’t have a spiritual vocabulary, and maybe no one does, I couldn’t say. I have always felt my spiritual experiences could not be confined by, or reduced to words. They are so much deeper, higher, wider, more profound than that. That is why my Quaker experience has been such a blessing to me. To worship together in silence for an hour provides occasions to engage with that which is beyond words, beyond ourselves.
Central to this spiritual practice is that whatever you experience must be integrated into every moment of your life. The spiritual guidance you receive is intended to guide how you live your life. A large part of that is how you engage with others, and respond to their spirit. We are all brothers and sisters. All my relations. Quakers have a saying, “there is that of God in everyone and everything.”
This is why I was so moved by the experience of being among Native Americans, because I immediately recognized this in them. In how they treated each other, and those of us who they didn’t yet know, how they engage the spirit, and how they have always treated the Earth.Initial Impressions, Oct. 19, 2016 Jeff Kisling
Photos from those early connections in Indianapolis.
“During this time of climate crisis, it is imperative that we transform the colonized mind of settler descendant society by pushing Indigenous ideologies onto the world stage. We need to convey the profound and sustainable perspectives of Indigenous communities, cultures, and relationships to the earth by giving Indigenous people the opportunity to investigate, speak, write, photograph, and so much more. In particular, we need to encourage Indigenous women on to the world stage and empower them to convey the sacred feminine that has been violently oppressed.”
“For most First Nations, wealth was seen as an ability to give gifts and provide for the people. It was a completely different perspective that offended settlers to the point that, in Canada, the government banned potlatch ceremonies (giveaways) and the people were forced to carry out their ceremonies underground. This is an important part of North American Indigenous culture to know because it explains how an Indigenous-led regenerative economy can help us curb the onslaught of climate change and end social injustice caused by colonial-capitalism. This ideology can help us better understand how to interact with the land and fight corporate conglomerates that are destroying the earth on which they carry out their unhealthy and inhumane commercial farming practices.”Christine Nobiss
I wrote the following as I was reflecting on all that had happened as we walked and camped together on the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March in 2018.
I also wanted to show Indigenous people that there are non-natives who care for Mother Earth, and could both learn from Native Americans, and join in their efforts to change agricultural and social thinking and practices. Quaker worship is fairly unique in non-native culture in not having structured rituals and services. Rather, Quakers gather in silence in order to try to hear and obey what the Spirit is saying to them. And throughout the week try to be attentive to the Spirit at all times, though we often aren’t successful in doing so. This means we reflect on the current state of our lives, and try to be open to new ideas.
I am convinced a spiritual approach is the only way to begin to tackle the rapidly evolving environmental chaos. That it makes sense that the spiritual approach of Quakers can be in tune with the spiritual approach of Indigenous peoples. So beside wanting to hear the stories shared by Native Americans, I also looked for ways to share about Quakers as we walked together.
We gave prayers every time our path crossed the Dakota Access Pipeline. Most often Donnielle offered the prayers on behalf of all of us. One time I was honored to be asked to give the prayers at another pipeline crossing. I briefly explained about Quaker worship, then we stood in a circle, holding hands, and held a short Quaker meeting for worship. Afterward I was touched that several people thanked me and gave me hugs.Reflections on the March, Jeff Kisling
What triggered these reflections were some things my friend Ronnie James said during a Teach In on 8/22/2020, for Des Moines Black Lives Matter. The Police State and Why We Must Resist. What struck me this morning is “once we envision that world our ancestors want for us, finding our role is natural”. That makes me feel I need to spend more time and prayer envisioning that. This also makes me realize my ancestors are not only Quakers, as I’ve been learning about the concept of all my relations.
We each have skills and resources we can utilize towards the abolition project. Some of us can use the halls of the system to make short term change there, others have skills that produce food, provide medical care, or care for our precious youth, some are skilled in the more confrontational tactics needed. Once we envision that world our ancestors want for us, finding our role is natural.Ronnie James
If we are to survive, and more importantly, thrive, we know what we will have to do.
All Power To The People.