Intertwined threads

Writing is a spiritual practice for me. Sitting at the computer, I try to quiet my mind to hear what I should write. In times past a writer would sit in front of a blank page. This morning there are intertwined threads.

There are many reasons news of the remains of Native children profoundly affects me.

My career began with five years in neonatal intensive care. The rest doing research at that children’s hospital. I was blessed to be immersed with children everyday. I attempt to retain childlike qualities. Children are my heroes. I love the idea of children as sacred beings.

In almost every indigenous language of what is now known as the Americas there is a word for children that translates to English as sacred beings. Acknowledging in thoughts, words and actions that our children are sacred beings provides not only the necessary healthy intention and consciousness that will benefit our children; this acknowledgement reminds us as parents to once again be open with our own hearts.

Knowing children as sacred beings brings forth a healthy and healing strength of humility from within us as parents and adults. The youth are our teachers with a profound message for this world. When we as parents and adults acknowledge the Sacredness within ourselves it becomes difficult to not acknowledge this within others – especially our children. We have all been manifested as sacred beings, and although we are able to forget, we are unable to change the truth of what we have been created as, and always will be.

For parents who struggle to see themselves as sacred beings, simply allow your children to remind you of what you’ve forgotten. At birth through their newborn cries the children sing a song to their parents and the world. At this very moment hundreds of sacred beings, answered prayers, messengers of light are manifesting in all cultures and languages. They’re all entering this world singing a song of a sacred contract that can never be broken, only temporarily forgotten. The children’s song is reminding us. Listen…

Raising Sacred Beings,  by Anthony Goulet, The Good Men Project. August 29, 2014

One of this morning’s threads relates to brutal honesty. I’ve often thought of the following quote. I haven’t always been but will try to be brutally honest in what follows.

Being brutally honest does not necessarily mean you are correct.

Well, I have to tell you something, and you may not like to hear it. But if you struggle with the art of being frank, you need to hear this. It will make you a better person, a better communicator and a better blogger.
So here it is …
You’re a coward.
If you can’t be brutally honest with people, especially when you know it’s in their best interest, you’re a coward.
You’re not doing anyone a favor by withholding a truth from them, even if it’s difficult for them to hear.
The only person you’re protecting is yourself. Because you’re afraid of the consequences to you.
But it’s not about you.
Being honest is about making sure your audience has the information they need to make good decisions. That includes information they may not like.


I’ve stepped away from the Quaker community that has supported my spiritual life, my whole life. I’m not certain this is not just an emotional response to the atrocities of forced assimilation. I continue to pray to see if this is a true spiritual leading.

I wonder if I can remain a Quaker.

For the past several years I have been led to opportunities to become friends with a number of Native people. It takes much more than attending conferences or powwows or serving on committees to accomplish this. One opportunity was walking and camping for 94 miles along the path of the Dakota Access pipeline with a small group of native and non-native people. Through experiences like that, I’ve been blessed to come to some understandings through a gentle process of integration. But I am just at the beginning of this journey.

The word En’owkin in the Okanagan language elicits the metaphorical image of liquid being absorbed drop by single drop through the head (mind). It refers to coming to understanding through a gentle process of integration.

Jeanette Armstrong

What follows are generalities. But my understanding, expressed as brutally honestly as I can. When I refer to Quakers I mean white Quakers in the lands called the United States and Canada. That distinction is necessary because much relates to white supremacy.

  • Indigenous peoples have always lived in balance with nature.
  • Quakers are not and should immediately do everything possible to stop using fossil fuels.
  • We should immediately ramp up installation of local renewable energy sources.
  • Environmental chaos will only worsen. Extremely rapidly.
  • Indigenous ways are the only way to slow down the impending chaos.
  • I have grown spiritually from my experiences with Indigenous peoples. In ways I hadn’t as a Quaker.
  • White Quakers are too integrated into the culture of white supremacy and capitalism.
  • Friends need to understand how white culture continues to oppress and interfere with our relationships with black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC).
  • Friends should be physically present in BIPOC communities so healing and reconciliation can occur.  To understanding through a gentle process of integration.
  • Friends should literally be on the front lines of BIPOC actions for justice.
  • Quakers should reject vertical hierarchies of power. Vertical hierarchies are the only way White supremacy can exist.
  • An alternative is Mutual Aid which is based upon a flat hierarchy. Quakers should participate in, and create Mutual Aid communities.
  • Quakers should learn about and participate in Land Back. The model for returning to Indigenous practices for community and stewardship of the land.
  • Hundreds of thousands of Native children were forcibly taken from their families to institutions of assimilation.
  • Thousands of children died in those schools, or during their escape.
  • Quakers were involved in various ways in forced assimilation.
  • Quakers should discern a response and act on it now. This is urgent. Rapidly increasing numbers of children found is devastating Indigenous communities. Should be devastating to Quakers.

In our way we are always told not to ask for anything. We are always told in our community, as a practice, that when we have to start asking for something, that’s when we’re agreeing that people be irresponsible. Irresponsible in not understanding what we’re needing, irresponsible in not seeing what’s needed, and irresponsible in not having moved our resources and our actions to make sure that need isn’t there, because this is the responsibility that we, and the people that surround us, mutually bear. So in our community we cannot go to a person and say, “I want you to do this for me.” All we can do is clarify for them what is happening and what the consequences are for our family, or for our community, or for the land. We must clarify for them what needs to be done and how it needs to be done, and then it is up to them and if they fall short of that responsibility, at some point they will face the same need themselves.

Indigenous Knowledge and Gift Giving by Jeanette Armstrong, syndicated from, Jul 13, 2021

The website LANDBack Friends has many resources to help Quakers learn more about, and how to do these things.

I have tried to clarify for Quakers what needs to be done and how it needs to be done, and then it is up to them and if they fall short of that responsibility, at some point they will face the same need themselves.

I thought of this photo I took yesterday when I read coming to understanding through a gentle process of integration in the quote above. The image was basically black, but by the gentle process of editing, the shapes and rainbows of colors emerged.

Gentile process of integration. Jeff Kisling

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