Back to Top

The Gifts of Hearts Exchanged

“That is the fundamental nature of gifts: they move and their value increases with their passage. The fields made a gift of berries to us and we made a gift of them to our father. The more something is shared, the greater its value becomes.” Robin Wall Kimmerer, “Braiding Sweetgrass”*

What a gift “Hearts Exchanged” has been to me. 

Last fall I joined a cohort through my classis. We met over Zoom once a month for eight months. There were required readings, videos or discussions to read or listen to in preparation for the two hour meeting. The materials broadened my perspective, challenged my thinking and changed my heart in so many ways. I receive this new knowledge as a gift and although I am not sure what may come of it, I hope and pray that I can encourage others to join and be open to new ways of learning and thinking about Indigenous people and culture. 

What gifts of understanding and new ways of seeing did I come away with? Three broad themes stick out for me as I reflect on the past eight months. 


Answers to life’s basic questions; “where do I come from?” “where am I going?” “Why am I here?” “Who am I?” were taken from Indigenous people through colonization and the residential school system. Their sense of belonging was denied them. I was challenged to think about how colonization has affected Indigenous people. In Hearts Exchanged, I  was reminded that I live downstream of what happened in Canadian history. Living downstream means that I cannot dismiss or ignore what has happened to Indigenous people. Reconciliation is something I need to take seriously. Coming up with my own plan to continue my reconciliation journey was an important part of Hearts Exchanged. 


Robin Wall Kimmerer in “Braiding Sweetgrass” discusses the difference between an economy of abundance versus an economy of scarcity. I felt tension as I thought about how much my own way of living is born out of an economy of scarcity. In my area the spirit of generosity was expressed historically through potlatches.  I was challenged by learning about this to recognize all of life as sacred, gifts from Creator to be honoured, respected and shared generously with others. 


My thinking shifted as I was challenged to think beyond my western Christian white perspective or lens. Indigenous peoples were expected to conform to specific version of Christianity. I was raised to be suspicious of Indigenous spirituality. Through HE I was challenged to look at my view of the gospel and consider new ways of thinking about my own faith. Listening to Indigenous Christian leaders such as Cheryl Bear was sobering. She challenged me to see Indigenous beliefs as “equal to my own”. I continue to wonder and think about how our worship spaces and liturgies might do a better job of integrating the spiritual practices of our Indigenous brothers and sisters. 

As I head out today to pick Saskatoon berries I’ll be thinking of my Indigenous brothers and sisters, about this land that was taken from them, about their ways of being and belonging and I’ll give thanks to the Creator for the gift of learning and listening and wondering. Hearts Exchanged is one small part of my journey in understanding and moving towards reconciliation. A gift to be shared. Join a cohort. You’ll be changed.

Join A Cohort This Fall 

*A quote from one of the learning modules of Hearts Exchanged. 

Photo by Georg Eiermann on Unsplash

The Reformed family is a diverse family with a diverse range of opinions. Not all perspectives expressed on the blog represent the official positions of the Christian Reformed Church. Learn more about this blog, Reformed doctrines, and our diversity policy on our About page.

In order to steward ministry shares well, commenting isn’t available on Do Justice itself because we engage with comments and dialogue in other spaces. To comment on this post, please visit the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue’s Facebook page (for Canada-specific articles) or the Office of Social Justice’s Facebook page. Alternatively, please email us. We want to hear from you!

Read more about our comment policy.