I've always been a lover of the North Dakota prairies where one can honestly feel the heart of this land. A prairie wind so deep that you can feel it in the very depths of ones body. In the heart of this land lies the places where many of us call home including our Native American brothers and sisters.
Honestly in these days, one cannot live in the state of North Dakota without having ones eyes and ears open to what is happening at Standing Rock. Even just today, as I was waiting for my frappucino at Starbucks, the voices around me where continually talking about the protests and the Dakota Access Pipeline.
In this state, you will hear those on both sides of the issue; those who proudly stand with our native siblings and those who have seen the impact of the oil industry on our state. The oil industry, in all honesty, provided some jobs in our state. It's hard to not ignore that. But the oil industry has brought with it bad stuff too. I remember when I interviewed for a call in the heart of boom country and my father being scared at the possibility of his single daughter living alone in the midst of oil country. Yes, it seems that the oil boom has slowed down, yet one cannot drive through this state without seeing oil barracks pumping away.
So to say this issue is complex is an understatement. There are so many layers. Police officers who are simply trying to keep everyone safe and uphold the law as they live out the oath they promised to live by. Protestors who are advocating for what is right as they try to protect their and our water for the next generations. Other protestors who stand and pray for a peaceful end to this situation.
Many of my friends and colleagues who are watching from the outside of this state are feeling an urge and pull to listen to our Native American brothers and sisters. In fact, I know of several trips being planned to come to the Red Warrior and/or Sacred Stone camps. These friends come to learn and stand alongside the water protectors.
To be honest, I don't know much about the Native American culture, only what I've been taught and experienced in my 38 years of life. I remember working at a bible camp and participating and leading a day camp in Cannonball. I learned a lot about our native siblings that day. I remember sitting and having a father play hymns on his guitar for us. That memory is engrained in my heart and soul as it taught me a lot about who our Native brothers and sisters are and about their culture. Yet I still have a lot to learn!
My heart is weary as I see all that is unfolding. In fact, tears are streaming down my face as I write this post; tears crying out for Gods justice to reign. I'll admit that I'm also embarrassed by many of the comments I've heard and read. Too often it seems to me that we forget that we are all beloved children of God especially when we don't understand those that are different than us. God calls us to "love our neighbors as we love ourselves!"
I may not always be good at loving my neighbors. In fact, more times than I care to admit, I fail at that! I get wrapped up in my own white privilege. But I'm sure going to try loving my neighbors as I love myself. Because when we are able to do that, I believe we all will be changed and transformed for the better--a transformation that will forever shape the stories of who and whose we are.
So tonight, my friends, my prayer is that we listen to each other especially our native brothers and sisters as this situation will forever shape the story of these beloved prairies. For I believe, these beloved prairies will whisper God's love, grace and mercy if we truly listen to one another and open our hearts, minds, eyes and mouths to all God's beloved children.
"But what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, love kindness/mercy and walk humbly with our God!"--Micah 6:8
"Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."--Ephesians 4:3
As a writer, I often have to process through words and this is my attempt to do that. Please know these are my thoughts and only my thoughts. I want to continue to learn and understand. I want us all to be the best stewards of the land we can be. But most of all I want us all to love one another as beloved children of God; even and most especially when we don't agree with one another.