Why should we take the path they tread
And leave our own approach to God
Exchanging our own humble way,
For that along with bloody sod?
Oh! Surely Christ will not despise
The winding trail our fathers trod
With simple steps and faithful hearts
With loyal minds to reach their God?
Can we not then in “heathen” rites,
As ritual, serve the Crucified?
Mayn’t He in dances, reverent, pure,
As truly then, be glorified?
Why ape the race whose stated creed
Seems not to lie plumb with their deeds,
Why follow that which is not ours,
Nor which doth satisfy our needs?
Ah! Spirit that o’er Indian lands
Would’st fain reclaim thine olden sway,
Thy children are up herded sheep
Pushed north by those who pray!
A portion of Reverend Ahenakew’s untitled poem.
There are more questions about spiritual “first contact” and the subsequent years when First Nations suffered at the hands of those charged with ministering the love and care of Christ. Here Reverend Ahenakew speaks to the incongruity of western Christianity and the native approach to God – both needing redemption/reformation.
We have an opportunity now to share freely and without power, the grace and character of God in Christ. “Oh surely Christ will not despise…”
Today as National Aboriginal Day, let us pray for our First Nations, and for truth & reconciliation.
“Edward Ahenakew, Anglican clergyman of Cree ancestry (born 11 June 1885 at Sandy Lake Indian Reserve [now the Ahtahkakoop First Nation] in central Saskatchewan; died 12 July 1961 in Dauphin, Manitoba). Edward Ahenakew, Anglican clergyman of Cree ancestry (born 11 June 1885 at Sandy Lake Indian Reserve [now the Ahtahkakoop First Nation] in central Saskatchewan; died 12 July 1961 in Dauphin, Manitoba).
Proud of his heritage and a firm believer in the Christian faith, Ahenakew dedicated his life to missionary work on reserves, promoting the Cree language and bettering education on reserves.”
For a good summary of Ahenakew’s life and influence, see page 35ff of “Dispossessed Indigeneity“, by Natalie Knight.