by Corey Greaves
With Indigenous eyes, I am keenly and uncomfortably aware that Western Christianity has morphed into individualism and a sense of superiority with regards to the rest of creation. It seems to me that Easter, as with many things in Western culture, has become compartmentalized. For some, this is no grand revelation, but for others this statement will be followed by a “whaaa?!”
In our Yakama ways, we are taught that we are connected to all things. We are related to the horse nation, the buffalo nation, the salmon nation, the huckleberry people, etc. Those are all our relatives. We are not above them or in control of them. We are related to them. Now, I know there is no language for that within an evangelical paradigm, so this is a hard concept for Western Christians to grasp. Our teachings do not suggest worshiping other parts of creation. Would we worship our grandmother? Of course not. But, we do revere her as an elder. This is the same idea. So, when I read in Romans 8, I see that perhaps Yeshua didn’t just die for two-leggeds. Perhaps he died to redeem all of creation.
Human Beings, as with all creation, is in a state of groaning, says Paul. We are all suffering a common misery in a state of pain and disorder. And is sin not to blame?
It’s affected two-leggeds, winged ones, those that crawl, those that grow, and those that swim. Thank Creator, He sent his son into creation to take it all on himself in the Once-For-All-Ceremony. He completed that ceremony when Creator raised him back to life on Easter morning!
A Lakota elder, in conversation with a descendent of the tribes of Europe, summed up what I’m trying to say: “Now the earth is passing through a difficult season. A strong wind is shaking all the trees. But our people are not worried. The tree of our life is strong; the roots of our knowledge go far into this earth. Your people’s roots do not run so deep. You grew fast and tall on this land, faster and taller than we had thought possible. But your roots have just started to become one with this soil. These winds could harm you. They could damage your children. Perhaps now you will listen to us. Perhaps now you will open your hearts to what we have to share. The greatest weakness of your people is that you do not know how to listen. You have closed your ears to other voices. Not just the voices of other people, but the voices of all creation. We must stop looking at life as if we humans are at the top of everything. There’s spirit in everything, not just in people. If the Creator made it, there is spirit in it. And if it has spirit in it then it has a part to play in creation. Here is where your people have lost the path. You have spent too much time thinking that we humans are at the top of everything. You have spent too much time trying to learn ABOUT things and not enough time trying to learn FROM them. You have thought too much and honored too little.”
Could we honor each other more if we began to see ourselves as part of creation and not above creation, or even in charge of it, if we would change the way we treat the world around us and our fellow two-leggeds? Would we stop screaming at each other over differing opinions, as if being louder makes us right, and realize that we all only have about 3½ pounds of brain to figure this whole life thing out anyways? Perhaps if we stopped seeing ourselves as better than the forest, or the rivers, or our neighbor, and only as a part of it all, we would stop acting in this crazy way we do today. There’s one sky above us all, so let’s live in community with one another and with all of creation.
I encourage you this Easter to thank the Creator for coming to redeem all of His creation. Live in the gentle awareness that we are just a part of it all. Let’s honor each other and all things, in the way we live, talk and think. May the wisdom of the elders and the sacrifice of our Creator change our worldview this Easter and beyond.
About Corey Greaves
Corey, along with Gina (wife), founded Mending Wings in 2006, and has watched it grow to be one of the largest, spirituality-based, Native youth organizations in the country. They have a family of four children (Steven, Kathleen, Carissa, and Matea), and make their home in Toppenish, WA. on the Yakama Reservation. Corey has served as Youth Pastor for both the American Indian Evangelism Association/McKinley Indian Mission (where he pastored the largest Native American youth ministry in the Restoration Movement churches—Churches of Christ/Christian Church denominations—and the Central Washington Presbytery where he facilitated, through the blessing of Creator, the growth of the largest Native American youth ministry in the Presbyterian Church, USA.
Corey is a gifted speaker who holds a passion for his people, and a deep love for Creator. He speaks at colleges, universities, churches, youth groups, and organizations across the U.S. He seeks to bring conciliation between the Church and Native people by dealing with real issues, both historical and contemporary.