Today, with my friend and colleague, the District Principal for Aboriginal Education in Delta, I had the opportunity to work with a group of thirty teachers who teach in a Christian Independent school in British Columbia. In addition to teaching about the timeline of history through an experiential ‘beaded timeline’ and working with Indigenous ways of knowing and becoming familiar with the calls to action for educators from the TRC, we discussed some similarities between Indigenous Spirituality and Christianity. I shared with them 5 questions as a way for them to reflect and draw the similarities themselves.
I encourage any person of faith to ponder these questions. We will move further along the road of reconciliation if we see that we are all children of God.
- Indigenous spiritual traditions are very connected to the physical environment. In what ways is your own religion or faith connected to the natural world?
- At the beginning of His ministry, after Jesus was baptized by John, ‘Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days,,,” (Luke 4:1-2). During His stay in the desert, Jesus had a spiritual experience that prepared Him for His mission. How is this experience similar to the vision quest?
- One thing running through Indigenous spiritual rituals is respect for the Earth. Is this a theme in your life and rituals?
- In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the power that pervades all creation is called ‘wisdom’ in the Old Testament (Proverbs 8:22-30). ‘Wisdom’ is seen as a power present when God made all things. In the New Testament, this power is identified with Christ. “In Him [Christ] all things in heaven and on earth were created…all things have been created through Him and for Him. He Himself is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17). How is the Judeo-Christian understanding of wisdom like the Indigenous peoples’ belief in the pervasiveness of spirit in all things?
- Have you, or has anyone you know, ever experienced what Indigenous peoples call ‘power’ or ‘spirit’?
These questions are from the following resources:
van der Hengel, J.& Deslippe, C. et al (2010). World Religions: A Catholic Perspective. Novalis.
MacPherson, D. (2018). Indigenous Spirituality and Catholicism: Fostering Healing and Reconciliation. Novalis