Each week we offer our land acknowledgement, ending with,
"As we live on this land, let us recognize and acknowledge the ongoing impact of the policies of genocide, relocation and assimilation that continue to affect Native and Indigenous families today. Let us find ways to honor and respect the history and the ongoing life and work of the Native and Indigenous people of this valley and beyond."
Several people have asked me, "What are we going to do to live into this challenge?" Great Question! As a New Englander, I have long known that the story of a grand meal between Pilgrims and the Wampanoag peoples of Southeastern Massachusetts on some fictional day in the early 1600's was just that, fictional. And yet, I have long loved the day we celebrate as Thanksgiving for the opportunity to reside in gratitude for family, blood or chosen.
Thanksgiving is one of the most fraught holidays in our culture. Too many families are not happy to be together, and tension or conflict is common. It is also really hard for those who are alone, those who have lost loved ones around this time, or when someone is in crisis of one kind or another. It is hard to be grateful when it feels like you have nothing to be grateful for.
And yet, we have an opportunity to be truly grateful for the people who we come from, the people who were here on this land for thousands of years, and the work that so many are doing to acknowledge the ongoing impacts of the colonial project, as well as create healing and reconciliation between the benefits of colonization and the coexistent harms that it does.
In order to take a step toward honoring the lives and work of the Indigenous people of Oregon and North America, I want to invite you to explore three challenges this Thanksgiving season. The first is to learn more about "Braver Angels" a resource that Rebecca Ralston is sharing below. The second is to learn more about the real story of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag peoples and to find gratitude for the resilience they have despite their historic and ongoing trauma. Check out this great resource here. Lastly, I want to invite you to imagine what one act of solidarity might be for us as a community? How might we show our Native and Indigenous neighbors that we acknowledge the suffering imposed on them by our ancestors.
I know some of my ancestors were part of the communities who caused harm centuries ago. Part being those who were harmed. It is in my ability to hold the both/and of the DNA within me that I have a chance to show empathy for my ancestors and act differently today. I can be in solidarity with the future by respecting the truth of the past and acting differently today.
If we can both love and celebrate our families, our stories, our histories, AND acknowledge the harm caused by those we are related to, we have a much better chance of celebrating with honest gratitude as we gather to share turkey (or Tofurkey) on Thanksgiving Day.
Here's to the Both/And!
Less Tension, More Turkey
In Robin's sermon last Sunday, she talked about "Brave Spaces" defined as: "a place where individuals feel encouraged to speak up and share their perspectives, even when they might be outside the norm, uncomfortable, or challenging. In a brave space, individuals are expected to speak freely, confront their biases, challenge their assumptions, and engage in constructive dialogue." I have found, for myself, that my desire to communicate with those who differ from me is strong, but my skills and bravery are lacking. But I have found a safe space with the Braver Angels workshops.
I have attended at least 3 of their on-line workshops, and have come away not only with new skills, but with more confidence, and perhaps more importantly, a renewed sense of hope for our country, as people of differing political beliefs come together to learn how to listen and talk to one another. For those of you who are anticipating holiday reunions with family and friends of differing political persuasions, this workshop is for you!!! If you have questions, please feel free to talk with Rebecca Ralston about her experiences with Braver Angels.
With Affection - Rebecca Ralston
From the Braver Angel website:
"For plenty of families these days, the holidays can mean tense exchanges between people who disagree on politics. Join us on-line November 18 at 2:00pm ET (11:00 am our time) to help preserve important family bonds while staying true to your values and political beliefs. This 3-hr. workshop will give insights into why family differences over politics are uniquely challenging, and offer you strategies and skills for handling family political differences in constructive ways. Register for Families & Politics (BA National) Questions? Contact Brady Young at email@example.com