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Re-attachment: Creation AND Humanity

I have been following a few different topics that, I believe, have a common intersecting point: re-attachment.  The Canadian government is discussing a newly proposed Bill C-15 to implement UNDRIP.  And the global pandemic has caused further struggles in seeing action to counter climate change.  As the Christian Reformed denomination is working to renew both the relationship to land and Indigenous Peoples I believe we must look to principles of engagement and re-attachment in order to see positive change.  To me, re-attachment is deepening relationships that were, at one time in the past, more life giving. A great example of this is an email exchange I had with Indigenous leader, Dr. Randy Woodley. I expressed feelings of being disconnected from our church community because of health safety reasons and he wisely suggested that I could focus on a deeper journey with the community of creation. 

I grew up loving nature and studied biology in my university years. I learned about things like animal behavior, plant biology and ecology; how everything is interconnected.  I was fortunate to have passionate professors, who were genuinely interested in their students, who modeled how their faith guided their knowledge, careers and action. I was also lucky to be educated with a balance of social sciences, which made me aware of a holistic way of looking at life.  

We can get so busy and wrapped up in OUR created world that we can forget about the one of the Creator. 

For a season, I was a part of an ecopsychology group who believed it was essential for humans to be connected to nature, in order to be healthy in mind, body and spirit.  As someone who loves ecology, the idea of humans being connected to creation as part of the definition of shalom resonates deeply with me.  I know though, that we can get so busy and wrapped up in OUR created world that we can forget about the one of the Creator.  

I lament that colonization and the darker parts of North America’s history led to a disconnect between people groups and nature in general.  But, I admire how traditional Indigenous Peoples value and hold knowledge about connectivity to all elements of life. The knowledge held by Indigenous Peoples made it possible for them to survive for centuries before Europeans arrived.  Sadly, that knowledge was trod on, pushed to the side and almost lost.  

Indigenous Peoples knew how to live on the land, how to tend to it for their survival and how to care for it so it would be healthy and productive for at least seven generations after them.  A student at the University of Victoria found evidence of a settlement on the west coast of Turtle Island that could be up to 14,000 years old! They found things like fish hooks, spears and charcoal flakes.  

How could we incorporate this model and care for the things that are alongside our paths?

In a book called Wisdom of the Elders, by Peter Knudtson & David Suzuki, there is a story about a nomadic Indigenous group that knew the value of tending nature and would form narrow strips of gardens along the paths that they could tend, as they travelled from one important location to the next.  How could we incorporate this model and care for the things that are alongside our paths? Could that be nature, people, families or communities?  Re-attachment also has to include our faith and spirituality.  

The CRCNA denomination includes intentional communities of people in congregations, trying to re-attach to creation and the people groups who rely directly on the land for their medicines, livelihoods and connection with the Creator.  They have made a personal commitment to what the CRCNA has committed to as a body: working towards reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. The Climate Witness Project helps in the work of re-attachment to creation by encouraging churches and their communities to engage in education, energy stewardship, advocacy and care for creation. 

What a profound and meaningful re-attachment that would be!

The vital step to moving forward on that path is answering the ‘what’s next’ question!  Educational tools and resources are an excellent starting place, but when some of the gathering challenges of COVID finally relax, we will need a commitment to forming relationships with Indigenous neighbors, that will start the hard work of reattachment.  

Would our re-attachment to creation improve as we re-attach to relationships with Indigenous peoples?   A new idea to me, that I think is very interesting and worth exploring, is dialogue with Indigenous Peoples about forming spiritual covenants with churches. It was introduced to me by an Indigenous leader named Adrian Jacobs, when he recently presented to our ecumenical friends from the Mennonite Church of Eastern Canada. What a profound and meaningful re-attachment that would be!

How can you begin? Learn about your environment, native plants and animals, about your local watershed and who produces food nearest to you. I also recommend planting and tending a garden in your yard or community. It can be a COVID safe activity to do with other people and, in Canada; we certainly cherish our short summers because they allow us to be re-connected to nature and others. 

Photo provided by the author.  

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