By Carol Caplinger
Indigenous/Native American/First People Ministries
It’s a warm Arizona day, with the sun descending toward the evening hour. I’ve been invited to have supper with a quiet Navajo woman who has attended our healing and Native worship services in the next village. After a sixty-mile journey, I now hope I can reach the village on “roads” that take the shape of dunes more than hard asphalt for the last eleven miles.
The village seems fairly empty as I knock gently on Rosa’s door. She opens it with a smile that comes from deep love and generosity. She invites me to sit. I do, making sure I’ve left space on the hard, red-dirt floor for her to sit across from me. In this one-room home, sheepskins are piled in the corner with a sleeping bag, one four-legged wooden chair, and a tiny table. But for our meal, we sit on the floor and enjoy our indoor picnic.
Rosa serves two pork chops, proudly offered on a small plate for us to enjoy. She places them on the floor between us and we each eat our pork chop, fried to a golden brown, realizing our nods and smiles will have to suffice for conversation, as neither of us speaks the other’s language.
As I drive home, I am filled with an understanding that I had just shared a divine moment with this woman, and I would never be the same again!
I think of all the racial injustices my new friend endures. The healthcare system is failing her community, not to mention the promised government food commodities stolen more often than not by a nearby tribe. Boarding schools are restricting parental visits. Government checks are “lost in the mail,” and local authorities threaten to harm sheep and dogs if people fill out paperwork to recover them.
Yet, she serves.
She doesn’t wait until she has a Christmas goody basket delivered with extras for a more elaborate meal to place in front of me. She serves! Rosa teaches me more about racial justice and equality than all the books, seminars, conventions, and protests I’ve been involved in.
I begin contemplating pieces of scripture from Isaiah 61 (adapted) that seemed to describe Rosa’s actions despite injustice:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because
the Lord has anointed me to preach good
tidings unto the meek, bind up the
brokenhearted…to comfort all who mourn
in Zion…to give beauty for ashes, the oil
of joy for mourning, the garment of praise
for the spirit of heaviness, that they may
be called trees of righteousness.
What I experience in that moment changes me forever! Racial injustice cannot be eradicated with words.
Telling another that he or she needs to accept others’ uniqueness needs to be replaced with action—an action so viable that deep within our core a spiritual change occurs.
With it comes keen enlightenment—a new personal revelation—that the Creator pulls us up beyond the hurts, mistakes of the past, bias, unfairness, and wrongs, to a most desirable state of love, generosity, and equality with all we meet.
Oh, we will rejoice in our diversities! We will honor the One in all of us who continues to call us to his kingdom.