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Finding Faith: We’re only in the flood stage of the story

“To be human is to know the journey of transformation,” says author Kaitlin B. Curtice, a citizen of the Potawatomi Nation and a Christian. “We need to learn how to walk together; to be people who walk alongside each other to hear each others’ stories.”

Devlyn Brooks 2021
Devlyn Brooks
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For author Kaitlin B. Curtice, the time in which we are living reminds her of the Potawatomi flood story.

In her book “Native: Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God,” Curtice writes of her Indigenous ancestors’ creation story, “Creator sees that on earth the people are causing destruction instead of sustaining peace, and after the flood, with the help of the turtle and the muskrat, the land — Turtle Island — is created once again, a new promise for a new beginning.”

But, as she told an online video audience of 200-plus ordained clergy and church lay leaders during a recent gathering of the Northwest Minnesota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, we’re now only in the flood stage of the story. We have yet to begin anew with a new promise.

Curtice, who is a citizen of the Potawatomi Nation and a Christian, writes and speaks on faith and justice within the church as it relates to Indigenous people around the world. And she spoke to this gathering of Lutheran faith leaders first via recorded video and then later in a live Q&A session.

The author has detailed her own struggles about coming to terms with being white and also Indigenous. She says that the work to recognize how faith became embroiled with colonization is not easy, but it is imperative. For more than a thousand years, faith — particularly Christianity — became catastrophic to Indigenous populations around the world.

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“To be human is to know the journey of transformation,” she said. “We need to learn how to walk together; to be people who walk alongside each other to hear each others’ stories.”

Curtice said while we want to believe that transformation takes place in explosive moments of recognition, it actually is a slow and steady surrender to a new beginning. Though it sounds cliche, she said what the world truly needs now is love: The love that Jesus exhibited in his ministry here on earth.

“This, the universal Christ who, in grace and love, holds all things and all people and all creatures in that grace, is what gives me hope in this world,” Curtice wrote in “Native.” “The universal Christ, who is not a colonizer, who does not seek after profit or create empires to rule over the poor or to oppress people, is constantly asking us to see ourselves as we fit in this sacredly created world.”

Curtice challenged the faith leaders at the gathering to begin to journey together through the messiness of healing as we all have to start somewhere.

“Life is not a straight timeline; life is lived in cycles. We can hold grief and joy together,” she said, but if people did more of what they loved, a new beginning is possible. “Something happens when we do what we love. What the world needs now truly is love.”

Devlyn Brooks, who works for Modulist, a Forum Communications Co.-owned company, is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. He serves as pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Wolverton, Minnesota. He can be reached at devlyn.brooks@forumcomm.com for comments and story ideas.

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There will be a service celebrating the appointment on Sunday, July 10 at the 9 a.m. worship time.

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