Last week I was thinking about my mom, and remembered a wooden cross she has sent me for a birthday or a Christmas. Feeling some deep love for her and for my roots, I thought of making a design on the cross and wearing it — adding it to my still-in-the-early-stages regalia.
Initially I thought of looking for an Aztec design, but after praying about it felt that I wanted to put something on it that reflected the Cherokee heritage she passed onto me—and, being a cross, the faith she passed onto me. At the same time, I also left the church that she raised me in (Seventh-day Adventism) for a more simple and Biblical Christian faith. Yet I realize she did pass *something* important and very real onto me. She has a great faith that has gone through a lot of suffering and illness. So I wasn't sure how or what could show this.
First, though, I bought a leather string to go with it and sanded the edges because they were kind of sharp, and wearing it could be a little painful if it were pressed too closely to my chest.
Then I prayed:
Edoda, Wado for the faith I received from Mom. More than I realize! Wado. (You'll help me realize and see more as time goes on, Wado!)I used one of my father-in-law's tools to burn Cherokee letters into the wood on both sides:
So yes, I'd like to make it into regalia. I want to ask for a vision from You, Holy Spirit of Tsisa and Adadoda, of what I can paint on it.
What I want to do is make meaning for it because the shape of the faith I received came through my mom. But it was rough around the edges. Yet it was not unreal or completely false, just like my baptism was real because You received my heart—You saw and accepted the real, Wado! Then You brought me rest (Wado!!!) from so much and set me free in Your real *grace*! I want to put that on there, but in a Cherokee context! Wado!
Writing! Write something in Cherokee.
"Tsisa Unetlanvhi Uwetsi igaguyvheyi"These words (minus the name of Jesus) are the first two lines of "Amazing Grace" in Cherokee, which is often referred to as the unofficial national anthem of the Cherokee Nation—that is, the Western Cherokee in Oklahoma, who descend from those who were forced to walk on the Trail of Tears away from their homeland in the east.
"Jesus, God's Son, paid for us."
"Amazing Grace" has a sad and powerful history with the Cherokee: when they were forced to keep moving, often they had no time to bury those who died, and all they could do was sing "Amazing Grace." The words, translated, speak of hope in Tsisa (Jesus) and His returning to take them to heaven. Just imagine how it would feel, having been driven away from home, to sing those words as loved ones died. What a tragic but powerful prayer of faith!
Now that I think about it, this reminds me quite a lot of my mother. She's been through a lot of trials, most recently with multiple sicknesses. But as she's walked along, she's held onto faith and the hope of Jesus returning and taking her home.
I've held onto that faith—or it, no, *He* has held onto me! I received it from her. He led me to soften the rough edges of it by pulling me out of the church I grew up in, with it's frequent legalistic harshness and unbiblical additions to the gospel. Then He restored my Cherokee heritage to me, which came to me through my mother.
I haven't experienced my mother's trials, and our Cherokee ancestors moved west about 25 years before the Trail of Tears happened. But I've learned a lot just watching my mother's faith, and by looking at Cherokee history and faith.
I'm looking forward to wearing this. It is an honor to my mother, to the Cherokee people (especially those who walked the Trail of Tears), it's a bit of my Cherokee heart, and it's an affirmation of the simple faith I have that indeed, Tsisa Creator's Son, paid for me!
P.S. This is, of course, the first time I've ever tried burning letters into wood! And maybe it would've been easier if I'd sanded off some of the finish on the wood first, but oh well.
Wait, maybe I burnt letters into wood with a magnifying glass when I was a kid in Phoenix...