Sunday, January 5, 2014
Crazy or Not!
In the last post I alluded a little to a fear that many people of mixed-blood feel: the worry of being seen as something you're not, as a "wannabe."
Oh yeah, I feel it! I felt it when I was in Junior High school, making my own pseudo-Apache clothes. I felt it as I hid my little homemade Indian necklace under my shirt, and dodged the subject when anyone saw it and asked me what it was and why I wore it.
Hey, I had no hard, irrefutable evidence outside of murky family oral history, and no contact with any living Natives in my life. Somehow even before I knew Native "wannabes" were common, I already felt like I was just that, and I was ashamed.
Fast-forward to last year when Creator awoke my Native heritage. I had believed the accusing voices saying that I was not Native in any amount that mattered, and to believe I was would simply be a lie to myself. So when Creator said, "These are your people, welcome home," maybe you can imagine how I was in shock and had trouble believing Him!
Additionally, somehow even before I knew that Native "wannabes" were common, I began to understand that many Natives themselves would not like them. I mean really, cultural appropriation has been one of the nightmare legacies given to Native peoples by the majority culture in America. The last thing they want or need is a bunch of people claiming to be Indian who know nothing of Native culture, Native thought, people who think Natives regularly communicate with animals and have super-powers with nature, people who have no relationships with Native peoples or respect for Native feelings beyond having seen "Dances With Wolves" and embracing a cheap revisionist history. No, I could see that Natives didn't need anymore crap from America, including "wannabes" tagging along behind them.
So the last thing I wanted to burden them with was *me*.
Having the Spirit tell me what He did was just surreal. But if I were someone else listening to me talk, I would totally think it sounded crazy! I mean, classic "wannabe" with a spiritual epiphany to boot! And Cherokee! And Aztec-just-cuz-he's-Mexican, too, I bet! (Can't you hear the late Charlie Hill hilariously joking about the "Generokee" tribe?)
Still with me? ;-)
I don't share these things easily. The first person I shared my awakening with was a Native friend, also of mixed-blood heritage. He wisely counseled me not to throw my pearls to dogs, so to speak.... to be careful who I share with. So I have, and God has blessed me with beautiful fellowship, elders, brothers and sisters!
At some point I knew I would write about these things. But primarily for myself at this point; I needed to get these things out! If someone runs across it and is blessed, awesome. If others find the blog and shake their heads, well, I'm gradually learning to rest in what Creator says instead of what others say. Having those first few new Native friends accept and encourage me has been a treasure from the Creator to me, and I won't forget it.
So, speaking of "Creator"... it took me awhile before I could feel comfortable calling Him that. I didn't want to seem to be jumping into adopting Native vocabulary or expressions.
I grew up in a church that tried to celebrate creation, but with a background of legalism. So the love of nature there always felt forced or contrived to me. We loved nature because we were supposed to. It was part of our unique truth, our claim above all the rest of the churches, so we'd better convince ourselves that we loved the creation. (Not that we were environmentalists, mind you; our boast was mainly to gain sectarian points instead of being something that inspired us to take practical steps in our lives and society on behalf of Mother Earth.)
Yeah, "Mother Earth." That's another one! I couldn't say it even though all my new Native friends did. I couldn't feign a love for Her just because I was supposed to. (Living in a megacity like Osaka deprives me of a lot of nature, but I digress!) Just like I couldn't say "Creator" unless I really knew Him that way, unless I really felt it deep inside.
So somehow I knew not to force myself to speak in these ways, not until it was time. (Doesn't He say in the Song of Songs, "Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires"?)
I am so glad I waited!
One day a couple of months after my awakening, while I was talking with Him (technically you can call that "praying"), I wondered about calling Him "Creator" and went over these very thoughts. Somehow inside I turned to Him and asked Him if He was "Creator"... yes, I know, stupid question! But somehow it was just there. As I turned to Him in my heart and asked, I was melted. I began crying as His presence and affirmation resonated deep inside of me.
Yes, You're my Creator, the one and only Creator! Thank You!!!
I made the little sketch at the top of this post with the Cherokee word for Creator, "Unetlanv" (ᎤᏁᎳᏅ). It was the first word I chose to write in Cherokee, and I wrote it over and over on the back of a receipt, putting the sketch on top of it finally at the end.
I would love to study the language someday. At times when I've heard it, He just opens up something deep inside of me and I weep. I only know half a handful of words, but as I learned how to say "thank you" and "I love you" to Him, the well burst open again in my heart and in my tears. It was as if I had been longing to say that to Him but never had.
So this has been a little peek into my weirdness.
It seems weird to my old Western thought. But after getting to know some Native friends, I began to understand that they looked at things differently. It didn't sound so weird or strange to them. One elder in particular told me about genetic memory or blood memory... how things can pass down from our ancestors, both good and bad. I knew some of that from the Bible, but Western thinking can really limit what we hear the Bible say. I never imagined that I could speak love to Creator in a language of my ancestors and suddenly overflow with tears.
I don't know much, and I don't understand much. But I want to listen and learn. In His time.
P.S. I painted and inserted this picture of Christ's hand with the word, "I love you" in Cherokee engraved on the heart-shaped scar on His hand (Isaiah 49:16 says He has engraved us on the palms of His hands!)... I had written just a moment ago about being melted when saying "Gvgeyuhi" to Him. When I made this picture, it was for Natives in general instead of being for myself. But suddenly as I finished writing above, I thought or He suggested to me the idea of *Him* saying "Gvgeyuhi" back to me! And suddenly I'm melted, overwhelmed, and crying again, and can barely type.
Wado, Unetlanv, wado! Gvgeyuhi, wado!