Rev. Dr. Jim Nelson
The recent rain has left everything clean and fresh and made for a number of days perfect for sitting inside and reading. I just finished Louise Erdrich’s latest novel The Round House, and I highly recommend it. Erdrich often writes about Native America experience, and this one is no different. It takes place in the northern plains – in the Dakotas and is wonderfully evocative of place. Erdrich is sensitive to the clash of cultures and of the compromises people make, and don’t make, in attempting to live lives of dignity and honor.
It is commonly held that Native Peoples have a deeper understanding of the physical world, and do not make such a sharp distinction between the material and the spiritual. This may be true – I am sure there is great diversity in beliefs among just about every group – but it is what I have come to believe, that whatever the spiritual is, it is embedded in the world, not separate from it.
I think of this nearly every Sunday when we sing ‘Spirit of Life.’ It is a visual song, and being sung, it is physical as well. The movements we use with it are meant to embody the words too, becoming a kinesthetic prayer. It is not, by the way, signing, as in American Sign Language, and should not be confused as such, but a way to let the words of the song be expressed in our bodies, like dance perhaps.
If we could experience the holy in the world, in our bodies, we could care for it more, and be even more linked one with another, and with the creation. Our ‘theme’ this month is incarnation, the spirit in the world, the sacredness we find in the material, so go outside and look, and look and see.