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Showing posts from 2015

Preparing Our Hearts

A couple of weeks ago, I received some encouragement from my mentor to start blogging again.  Seems like some of my more positive, devotional, or more useful posts on Facebook and social media carry an encouraging message for others.  I'm known for posting a lot of random stuff, but have made an intentional effort over the last year have become more selective in what I post.  I still get here and there from family members "well, you gonna put that on Facebook?" and admit while it can be a little amusing or annoying, find myself challenged to post things that will make a positive difference among my friends and family.  It seems like today that we are finding ourselves more polarized as a society and social media is definitely not exempt.  I guess in some ways, some of my more inspirational posts are mini sermons in themselves, as well as small snippets of what my original blog was meant to do.  We need a word of hope, and need to see the light in this world of darkness, …

Re-Launch of "Let's Go Light our World."

After returning to Washington, DC three months ago after a two week intercultural immersion on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, I have had this sense and nudging to get back to blogging again.  I have found myself hooked on a soon to be colleague's blog and have other friends who blog regularly, so why not try to get back into the swing of things.  I also find it a great spiritual discipline where I can share my random ramblings, thoughts on the world, thoughts on God/theology, health/self-care, and the like.  I actually began a blog on WordPress under this title and after reflecting further on my time in Pine Ridge and encountering extreme poverty and poverty in general, thought that a re-launch of "Let's Go Light our World" was in order.

A lot of the inspiration for "Let's Go Light Our World" came five years ago when I still worked at Raley's in the guest service counter at the North Highlands location (until its closure in 2012) and would have …

Eastward Bound...

I sit here in the Denver International Airport Frontier Airlines terminal waiting for my flight back to Washington, DC and am processing so much now that our immersion with the Lakota Nation at Pine Ridge has ended.  The view of the Rockies to my left are stunning, as I wish I had more time to explore Denver, but alas, there is work to do and a new semester on the horizon.  And it's a fresh canvas too, full of new possibilities, but also fresh vision of who I am and how I see others.  The one thing that has really been going through my mind these last two weeks is John Wesley's quote, "the world is my parish," as the Lakota and all who were native to this land are our neighbors and part of our parish too.  I have to admit that I feel more conflicted than ever as I go back to Washington, DC. Learning in history classes, we often get a one sided view.  Even as I recollect reading stories, watching cartoons, or in film, we have often grossly stereotyped the Native Ameri…

Beauty is What You Make of it...

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So at last, our time together has come to an end and here I am sitting in the Rapid City Regional Airport waiting for my flight to Denver, in which I will then switch to a different airline and fly to DC.  As I wait, figure I would have a chance to record some thoughts.  Yesterday was another full day of activity, as we went up to Christ Episcopal Church on Red Shirt Mountain and listened to their pastor, Robert talk about his life on the Pine Ridge Reservation and growing up Lakota.  Rev. Robert's talk was similar to that of Kelly Looking Horse's, as there is still a great deal of lingering pain through the generations from Wounded Knee and that there is still a great distrust of the U.S. government and rightfully so.  Promises have been made and broken time and again, land is given and taken away time and again.  So it is easy to see the frustration in the faces and hear it in the voices of the elders in the Lakota Nation.  But, there is a full trust in God among the popula…

Winding Down

These last two days have had so much happening and so much going on that it has been hard to keep up here in the blogosphere.  While we have had our share of down time to reflect and relax, we have had plenty to keep us busy.  Yesterday, after hearing stories from Norma, one of the residents of Pine Ridge, we headed up to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse up in the Black Hills.  Although I was excited to see Mount Rushmore (we were supposed to Saturday, but the van broke down), I had mixed feelings about it after seeing the movie "Skins" which was filmed at Pine Ridge in 2002.  To the Lakota people, the construction of Mount Rushmore, while an impressive feat, was akin to tearing a gash out of the Lakota people's land.  To some, it was more an act of desecration.  Land is sacred and much of the Black Hills is an integral part in the Lakota creation story.  In fact, I keep thinking of the end of "Skins" where red paint is thrown on George Washington's face.  Al…

Teach Your Children Well

As I sit to write tonight, how has it already been a whole week since arriving to Pine Ridge?  While it has been a week, so much has happened and admit it has been a little overwhelming at times with all the information being presented to us and so much to process.  I feel tired, both physically and emotionally, my back and shoulders hurt (Ibuprofin is my best friend), but our time will be over before we know it and amidst these feelings, must persevere because it is important to have this exposure and see things that many people, including those in our government will not see, or even choose not to see.  After all, the Apostle Paul says that pain and suffering produce endurance, which is all part of this race of faith.  

We had three speakers today, but the common thread has been going away for a time and returning to the reservation because each speaker felt like they were needed, even though it meant being in the midst of poverty, 75-80% unemployment, less than adequate or overcro…

Of Buffalo Calf Woman and Where Two or Three Are Gathered

 "For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them" (Matthew 18: 20, NRSV)

Yesterday and today have been a day of contrasts, as we have made it through one week of our immersion with the Lakota people at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.  Yesterday morning started off uneventful with our usual breakfast and devotion before heading off to feed buffalo and hear the legend of the white buffalo calf woman.  The white buffalo calf woman is one of the legends of Lakota culture and our guide, Darren told us that when a white buffalo calf is born, it is a sign of prosperity in which his family was lucky to have two born at his ranch, although both have since died (Rainbow was still a calf when she died, but has been preserved to share the legend).  Before hearing the legend of the white buffalo calf woman, we were invited to a circle and Darren and his daughter came around with a smoldering sage brush to smudge each of us, in which we wafted the smoke over us t…

A No Longer Relevant Gospel????

Today was an involved day with talking time and an inspiring talk by Basil Brave Heart, one of the Lakota elders who came to visit with us.  Basil's talk focused more on the spiritual life that he experiences, but one thing that really caught my attention and something I have been wrestling with was how he mentioned that "the Gospel is no longer relevant." While this might ruffle some feathers, Basil said it was not a statement of disrespect, but was pointing more to the Western culture and how people, both young and middle aged no longer embrace or live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as they "are walking away from the Gospel in droves." As Western culture becomes increasingly secularized, I can see Basil's point.  In fact, ten years ago when I was taking the class, "Images of America" with Dr. Jackie Donath at Sacramento State, we would watch a series called "Primal Mind" which juxtaposed Native American culture with Western culture and th…

Art and Hope in the Midst of Poverty

After a whirlwind first couple days, these last two days have been relatively low-key compared to Monday.  Tuesday was spent mostly working around the center on projects, playtime and worship with the kids, dinner, then talking time.  Our work included offloading three pallets of coats, blankets, and other supplies, then a new pool table for the rec room where the kids play.  The old pool table was getting worn and wobbly, becoming a safety hazard.  Meanwhile, two teams went out to houses on the reservation to help put plastic over windows or help put sheet rock over a hole in a wall of another house.  I helped around the center and assembled the new pool table and clean/organize.  Cleaning/organizing will be an ongoing project, although Pastor Karen also said the relationship building was more important than the work itself and she is right.  I also got the keyboard out and then found out at 2pm, I would be playing for an impromptu wedding, which ended up being very beautiful and sim…

The First Days

As part of Wesley Theological Seminary's requirement for graduation, we are required to take part in an intercultural immersion to experience Christianity from another viewpoint/perspective.  A lot of people may wonder why it is necessary, but I believe there is a purpose somewhere behind it, as it is a matter of keeping an open mind and objectivity, as well as being open to the Holy Spirit and God's work.  For my immersion, I chose to go on the immersion with the Lakota at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota at the Lutheran/Presbyterian Shared Ministry led by Rev. Karen Rupp. 

Although today is only the second day of the ten day immersion, it feels like it has been much longer because so much has already happened.  Although yesterday was low-key with a scenic drive to the reservation from the airport, we did have a great orientation with fourteen of us altogether, seven from Wesley and seven from Wartburg Seminary in Iowa.  From the get-go, everyone has a story…