As I read about the Native American culture and religion the more I find myself blessed by them (I am currently reading, The Sixth Grandfather – Black Elk’s Teachings). It is one thing to only read about history through the eyes of American history books and quite another to read it through the eyes of the “losing” side. I am finding my heart becoming tenderized the more I immerse myself in their culture. And I am also learning a lot about my faith by reading about their faith. Here’s one really cool example.
In the Lakota faith they believe, like I do, that God gives them personal visions and dreams. When a person receives a vision they quietly dwell on it, recalling it often, and share it with the leaders when necacassry. These personal visions and dreams forge their identity and purpose in life. But thier vision is not only for them, but for their entire tribe. Part of the person’s role who receives a vision is to “do this on earth“. In other words, to make the invisible vision visible to the tribe.
For Black Elk’s vision, without going into too much detail, let me just say that the earthly reenactment was nothing short of awe inspiring. It lasted long into the night, included a painted cast of dozens of horses and their riders, maiden virgins, tribe leaders, dancing, music, and a full sized thunder storm. Each detail of the vision was symbolically acted out in the encircled presence of the entire tribe, even the sick and lame. As the “bringing the vision to earth” procession passed by those who were sick and lame it brought healing to them. In fact, at the end of the vision ceremony, Black Elk says, “After this my people were cured all over for their sickness. It seemed that even the horses were healthier after the dance.” So it seems in the Lakota culture that the power of the vision or dream is realized only when it is “brought to earth.”
So it is with the dreams and visions God gives us. God’s dreams are not meant to stay invisible, locked only in the mind of those receiving them. They are given to us so we can bring them to earth, make them visible. And that is when the power of God’s vision or dream is realized. I believe God has a big dream and then gives individuals visions of how that dream is to be fleshed-out in our world on earth. God’s big dream is this:
- to tell the Good News to the poor.
- to tell the captives they are free and to tell the blind that they can see again. — Isaiah 61:1
- to free those who have been treated unfairly — Isaiah 58:6
- to announce the time when the Lord will show his kindness.” — Isaiah 61:2
Now how we each bring God’s big dream to earth is up to the Holy Spirit as she gives us specific dreams and visions, and empowers us to live them out. It is our role to courageously follow God’s lead—knowing that we are going to make huge mistakes and blunders—as we trust God to bring the healing and restoration to those witnessing and receiving the love of our God-dance. So a few questions came to mind as I processed this:
- Do I really want God’s big dream to come to earth?
- What is the individual vision/dream the Holy Spirit is/has given me in light of God’s big dream?
- How is she empowering/leading me to follow Jesus’ dream for my life?
- Do I have the courage to follow?
- Do I trust God with the fruit, letting go of my need to manufacture and measure it?
- Do I really want to be the person/man God wants me to be/become?
- When I think of participating with God’s dance, how does it make me feel?
Some of these questions I really want to answer. Some of them I really don’t want to answer.
Some of them really excite me. Others scare the $#&@ out of me.