Reflections of the Spirit


After my first solo Inipi

November 9, 2005  Reflections Winter has come to Friendly Forest, though rather gently so far.  The Inipi Lodge has now been used for the first time and it was also my first solo prayer of this kind.  The wood for the fire was not really dry, and things took a while to get underway.  For this first time I wanted to pray by myself, and be more fully attentive to the space and the Spirits who came to join me.  If I had others present, even my mentor, I would have been distracted to a greater degree.

It was very good prayer time and I thank Wakan Tanka for giving me the experience and the opportunity to learn this new way of communication.

Late in the day I drove out to my Dakota mentor's home reserve and had a short but good visit with him.  He gave me some more advice about how to learn and receive sacred songs.  I think he still believes in my capacity to really learn to pray and sing in Dakota.  I lack his confidence.  I repeated to him my own observations that my spiritual heritage makes me a kind of mongrel.  That perhaps if mixed breeding in dogs tended to strengthen the animal, perhaps my mixed spiritual and religious traditions would strengthen my own spirituality.  Over the weekend a friend, neighbour, and a man of the spirit was over and he was expressing some surprise, as he has before, that I was still connected to the Catholic Church as I am.  I repeated my belief that any religion or religious tradition should be supportive of an individual's spiritual quest to connect to and communicate with that person's Creator, and I was finding that each of the religious traditions of which I was a part were supportive of my own journey, and I saw no need to reject one in favour of another.  

In the past I have drawn an analogy to the Christian churches;  they did not feel they had to reject the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to find a new understanding of Yahweh through the person and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.  Nor have different Christian traditions felt the need to totally exclude  practices and prayer forms that originated in non-christian cultures.  No one who celebrates a Christian Christmas or Easter can really deny the non-Christian elements of those celebrations.  My friend observed that perhaps the "officials" of my Christian church might have more difficulty in accepting my  position.  Be that as it may be, that has been so from long ago. Those who have a vested interest in preserving one way, their way, are very reluctant to acknowledge the validity of any other way and the possible reduction or loss of their control or influence on others.  I understand that, and history and church history has a multitude of examples of this.  We can see the same things happening in other non-christian traditions even today.  Those are the human dimensions of religious structures that undermine the authentic purpose of those very religious structures.

In so far as the human and institutional activities and positions and practices of any religion retard, interfere with or divert the journey of any member as they move toward a full reunion with their Creator, that religious structure is in error and lacks authentic character for that person's journey.   Too frequently human institutions, no matter how good their motives, seek to design one  pattern to cover all.  In doing so, they create a 'cover'  which fits no one, as each of Creator's creatures is unique and their purpose and journey is also unique  in Creator's plan.  The conflict  is a human one.  While a structure that is open and flexible and supports the diversity of individual journeys is the ideal, the human desire to control and impose one's own  vision on others, pushes the structures to demand uniformity of its members.  The more authoritarian and controlling those structures are, the more destructive its efforts are to the journeys of its members.  Then fear replaces love, intolerance replaces acceptance,  inward focus replaces  an openness to all of creation, and the profane replaces the sacred.  If that simplistic description resembles any religious institutions you know, do not be surprised.  I would suggest it is a natural character of any and all human institutions that  struggle to serve a higher power while being burdened by human limitations and frailty.

I argue that the individual needs to be open to the insights provided by Creator, and is first called to be authentic and responsive to that call, and then should look to the human structures to find those elements that support that response.  While our journeys are unique, we do not travel them alone.  We are ALL connected, and we have a powerful role in support of each other and of the collective.  Mitakuye Owasin!


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