I don’t care much for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but we usually have it on while we’re running around the house getting food ready and packing up to go to grandma’s. This morning I was surprised by one parade entry in particular. As I walked by the TV, I heard the introduction to Thirza Defoe's performance and quickly sat down to watch. Defoe represented a dozen Native American tribes from all over the U.S. on an Oneida Nation-sponsored float, “The True Spirit of Thanksgiving.”
She sang an original song that was composed as a collaborative effort of all twelve nations. The lyrics were beautiful and especial poignant considering the occasion for their singing.
We gather here today in the circle
We gather here today as one voice
We gather here today as one family
We sing for peace, we sing for love, it is our choice
How could a people who have been so wronged by those who took advantage of them sing with such joy and resilience? I wonder what it would take to forgive those who have trespassed against us like these people have. I can’t think of an equally valid comparison. One possibility: instead of warring against those who are believed to have brought our Twin Towers down, could we rather march into Iran and Afghanistan with science, medicine, education, agriculture, brick and mortar? What an amazing defense strategy that would be. And hopefully an act of grace.
Defoe’s participation in the Macy’s parade also reminds me of a Christianity Today article by Native American Pastor Richard Twiss. In the article, Twiss remembers his conversion to Christianity and the struggle to accommodate a white man’s faith. Speaking of the first immigrants to North America (Turtle Island), he recalls,
It would appear Creator brought the Europeans to Turtle Island, too. Perhaps in Jesus, we could have walked together as brothers and sisters, forming a great new community of Christ. But it was not to be. Instead, our people suffered the horrors of genocide and ethnic cleansing. What makes the story most tragic is that biblical narratives were misappropriated to validate these atrocities. Thankfully, however, the story is not finished.
Twiss goes on,
Yet, in spite of all of this, I find in Jesus the possibility for forgiveness, reconciliation, and the path toward Shalom alongside my fellow human beings. We are all ikce wicasa "common human persons" on this road, and Jesus shows us there is always hope for redemption.
I have so much to learn about grace, hospitality and love. I’m grateful on this Thanksgiving Day for a reminder of what these qualities look like. I’ll never cease to be amazed how God can reveal himself to me and teach me new lessons in the most unexpected and unchurchly ways.