Truth Be Told

I am currently writing a book about the Doctrine of Discovery along with Dr. Soong-Chan Rah. There is a crowdfunding campaign to support the writing process with reward levels that includes SIGNED COPIES of the book once it is released! Click here for more information.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Bring the Presidential hopefuls to Indian Country

This week I am traveling to Washington, D.C., from my home on the Navajo Reservation. I am scheduled to give a lecture and Q & A at Georgetown University at 8 PM on Wednesday, December 1, 2010. This lecture is regarding a proposal I wrote nearly two years ago to create a 51st virtual Native American state.

Since that article was first published on Indianz.com back in 2009, I have received several interview requests and been given numerous opportunities to speak on it by several organizations including the University of New Mexico, Brigham Young University, the Christian Reformed Church of North America and the Christian Community Development Association among others.

But this is the first time I will have an opportunity to bring this conversation to the city at the center of political power for our country.

The mid-term elections are over and hopeful presidential candidates are slowly beginning to practically plan out their campaigns for the highest office in our land. It is to these candidates that I would like to engage next in this dialogue. The 51st virtual Native American state proposal is about giving a voice (as well as respect) to the Native American tribes, communities and peoples that are scattered throughout this land.

I would like to make a simple request of our presidential candidates. Before they begin campaigning in the states of New Hampshire and Iowa, I would like to invite them to first take their message directly to the tribes and peoples who were here long before this country was ever founded.

I am not asking them to do this for me. I am not asking them to do this because it is flashy, romantic or even lucrative. I am asking them to do this for all Native American peoples and for our elders and because it is the right thing to do. I have sought for years to find a way to effectively communicate what it feels like to be Native American and live in a country that, by and large, does not even know you exist.

Traditional Navajo culture is matriarchal and our identity comes from our grandmother. She is the head of the household and most everything belongs to her. It is her hogan (house), her sheep and her family.

Because of this, I have often told people that being Native American and living in this country feels like I am an old grandmother who has a very large and beautiful house. My house has many rooms and is filled with finely crafted furniture. Years ago, some people came into my house and locked me upstairs in a bedroom. Today, my house is full of people. They are all throughout my house, eating my food, sitting on my furniture and thoroughly enjoying and making themselves at home. The door to my bedroom has since been unlocked, and I am able to come out of the room.

But much time has passed, and I am now very old, tired, weak and sick. Yet the thing that hurts me the most is that no one has ever come upstairs to find me in my room, pulled up a chair next to my bed, looked me in the eye and simply said, "Thank you. Thank you for allowing me to be in your house." In fact, I think most people don’t even know whose house they are at in the first place.

In the next two years leading up to the presidential election of 2012, there will be much talk about power. Candidates will be seeking the upper hand and vying for money, media coverage and recognition to fuel their campaigns and propel them into office.

However, I am not concerned with power. Instead, I would like to focus the conversations of this next presidential election on authority.

Power is the ability to act. Authority is the right of jurisdiction. Power is demonstrated and can be won. Authority is exercised and must be earned. Power is feared. Authority is respected.

So, before another President is elected and sworn into the most powerful office in this land, I first would like those campaigning for that office to demonstrate that they understand authority and respect the history of this land. I would like them all to walk upstairs and find the grandmother in her room. I would like them to sit down next to her bed and thank her for allowing them to live in her house. And then I would like them to share with her their vision for leading her guests and seek her input on how to best care for her home.

As I said, this week I will be in Washington, D.C., the city known as the 'seat of power' for this country. It is my hope that I can engage with our current, as well as future, leaders and convince them that while it is tempting to become infatuated with power and easy to be attracted by promises of quick solutions and instant fame, it is better to patiently build your integrity, study your history and sit at the feet of your elders so that eventually you can be entrusted with authority.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

virtual Native American state

The right to vote and have representation is a fundamental American right and in the early history of our country that right was based on land ownership. At one point, Native Americans resided on a majority of the land and accounted for a majority of the population. But that began to change soon after the first European immigrants arrived. Native Americans were quickly either exterminated or moved to the boarders of society and marginalized. And that is where most of us live today. You will find pockets of Native Americans all throughout the country. And if you look hard enough you will find reservations tucked away in the corners of many states. We account for around 1% of the population and are virtually non existent in the structures of power. We have been a ward of Congress and do not even have an embassy or a formal relationship with the US government. For years we were drafted and forced to fight in the wars of this country, but we did not even have the right to vote. Even after we were given the right to vote, our numbers were so small and we were so marginalized and separated that no unified voice could be heard. Reservations had been created but representation was not allowed.

I would like to propose that a new action be taken; one which I believe will level the playing field to an even greater extent. I propose that a virtual Native American state be created. This virtual state will function primarily as a means to give Native Americans a voice in the national structures of power that currently exist. Each voting age member of every state and federally recognized tribe will, for national elections and for the US Congress and Senate, be given the option of registering to vote and be represented in a virtual Native American state. Based on the number of registered voters an appropriate number of votes will be added to the Electoral College. Eventually, additional representatives will be added to the US House of Representatives and 2 members will be added to the Senate. I believe these institutional and constitutional corrections will allow the Native American population an equal voice within the structures of power and in the representation of our lands. No longer will Congress or the President be able to quietly cut funding from health care and social services, which were guaranteed in the treaties that were signed. No longer will Native American issues (many of which are unique from the rest of the country) be ignored by Presidential candidates. And no longer will Native Americans be forced to be a ward of congress and at the mercy of the state governments and the BIA. For we will be a part of the senate and the House of Representatives, and will have our own voice in the legislative agenda of this country and in the representation of our lands and our people.

Mark Charles
(Fort Defiance AZ)


A virtual Native American state (v2)

This is a good idea, but…

…it will never happen.” My article on the creation of a virtual Native American State has been out in the public realm for a few months now, and I have been doing my best to follow the conversations and dialogues that have sprouted up, not only on my blog, but on other blogs, talk shows and articles around the country. If I had to summarize the responses, I would say that the majority of voices ring with a very similar sentiment. "This is a good idea, but…” Of course, there have also been other voices. Some have decried the idea, saying they have no desire to become a larger part of this country and its oppressive government. Others have pointed at this as another way to rob our peoples of the identity and sovereignty we have been fighting for. And still others have snidely commented that this proposal would put an end to the gravy train of free handouts that our Native American tribes receive from Uncle Sam. But a vast majority of the voices I have heard have stated in one form or another that “this is a good idea, but…"

First, please allow me to address the issue of tribal sovereignty. I do not see the virtual Native American state in any way damaging the struggle for recognition or sovereignty that most of our tribes are currently engaged in. Instead, I see this state as a tool that can begin to consolidate our voices in areas where our needs, issues and struggles align. I also do not see the granting of this statehood in any way releasing the US government from the treaty obligations that currently exist, as our original lands are not being returned to us, nor are we engaging in any sort of armed conflict against the US. The creation of this state will not release the US government from the injustices of the past; instead it will give our tribes a stronger voice with which to negotiate the terms for our future.

During every election cycle we hear about presidential candidates courting the votes of various communities. There is talk about the African American vote, the Hispanic vote, and so on and so forth. But I cannot recall ever hearing a candidate setting out to win the Native American vote. Why? Because our voice has become irrelevant. Our peoples have been so marginalized and pushed to the borders of society, that we essentially no longer have a voice. If all tribes could vote together, we would create a block of voters, some 3 million strong, which could NO LONGER be ignored by presidential candidates.

On June 17, 1960, an amendment was proposed in congress to grant the District of Columbia the right to choose their own electors for the election of the office of President and Vice-President. This amendment was ratified as the 23rd Amendment on March 29, 1961. In 1964, the District of Columbia participated for the first time in the Presidential election with its own voice. I think that a similar amendment to grant Native American peoples to right to collectively choose our own electors in Presidential elections would be an incredible step to begin paving the way for the creation of a virtual Native American state. I am not naive enough to believe that this state will be created quickly, or without significant opposition. And that is actually fine with me. To tackle a change of this magnitude to our country's political landscape, structure and status quo is a huge undertaking. It is not a battle that I would shy away from, but it is a battle that I would like to engage in stages, as the issue is discussed and negotiated thoroughly. But I also do not want to wait for years or even decades for some amount of change to begin to happen. So I think that an amendment, similar to the 23rd amendment, for our Native American peoples would be a great first step.

The citizens of Washington DC fall into an ambiguous crevice when it comes to representation in this country. They are full US citizens but do not belong to a state. Instead they fall under the direct authority of the US Congress. Yet they have their own local government with a mayor and a city council. This crevice that they occupy sounds very similar to the ambiguous state of existence that most Native American tribes and peoples fall into. We are told that we are sovereign nations, yet we do not have formal embassies or relationships with the US government as other nations have. We have been 'granted' lands (reservations) throughout this country and have our own local tribal governments, but we are also citizens of the states where these lands exist.

As separate Native American peoples we probably have more interests, needs and concerns in common with one another than we do with the non-Native residents of the very states in which we all reside. But just as the citizens of the District of Columbia are ultimately governed by congressional representatives who are foreign to their city and their issues, so we must rely on senators and representatives who are not from our lands or our people and who are not first and foremost concerned with our unique indigenous issues.

The next steps will come. I am not sure how to deal with all of the complexities that arise from the creation of a new state. And I trust that the Creator will both grant and bring wisdom into the discussion as it progresses. But for the moment, I would like to focus on this first step. Let us create a voice for our Native American peoples by allowing us to choose our own electors as we vote for the office of the President and the Vice-President.

I propose that an amendment to the Unites States Constitution be formally introduced that will grant Native Americans, who are registered members of tribes, to collectively choose our own electors for the election of the United States President and Vice-President.

This will be a huge step forward as these candidates will now be forced to campaign to Native American issues and to court our votes.

Tomorrow will be another day and it will bring another step. But let us start by creating a voice.

Mark Charles
Fort Defiance, AZ

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Paved Roads







“Be still and know that I am God”

That is the exhortation we hear from God in Psalms 46:10. But how possible is this in our modern technological world? What does it mean to be still before God? I used to think I understood this but after living for 3 years on the Navajo reservation in a traditional hogan with no electricity or running water, no television, no hot showers or washing machines; no microwaves or refrigerators, no public transportation or paved roads leading up to my house, I found there is a level of stillness that I never knew existed.

In Genesis chapter 11 we read the story of the tower of Babel. The inhabitants of the earth were increasing and they decided to build a tower in order to make a name for themselves, lest they be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth. The people wanted to trust in themselves and place their confidence in their own efforts and technology. And even what they built made sense. If you are few in numbers and the environment is harsh, it makes perfect sense to build a city and erect a tower. The city walls will provide security within and the tower will allow those traveling outside the walls to be able to go a greater distance and still see the way home.

But God wanted the people to trust in him and so he came down and confused their language and scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth. This passage is a good reminder for us to keep our trust in God and not rely upon the works of our own hands. And that is an easy thing to do; as long as our hands are producing something. It is easy to trust in God for our daily bread when we have a good job and receive a regular paycheck. It is easy to trust God for our future when we have a retirement fund and a savings account. It is easy to trust in God for our health, when we have excellent insurance and live near a good hospital.

Our towers of Babel have been there for so long and have become such a part of our landscape that we do not even realize that we trust in them anymore. Every day we wake up, see the tower and know where we are. We feel at peace because the tower is there. That is, until the tower is gone. How do our hearts feel when the paycheck is no longer available? What is our response when we are laid off and our health insurance policy is declined or Social Security in on the verge of going bankrupt? Panic sets in. Our hearts cry out, “We need these things. That is how God provides for us.” We have become so accustomed to our towers of Babel that we no longer see them as ‘our towers’; we see them as gifts from God. And when they are gone we feel as if God has left us!

“God where are you? We cannot see the tower you gave us!” We scream as we run to where the tower used to be. “God, please help us to rebuild this tower. We need it! Please God! Where are you? Where is the beautiful tower you gave us?”

But God is silent.

Bills come due, sickness sets in, and our credit ratings take a hit.

And still God is silent

“God!” we scream, “where is the tower? We cannot see it. We are lost. Please help us!”

Finally, we fall silent. The screaming is over. We are hungry, cold and sick. The towers are gone, God is silent, and we feel as if there is nothing left. But then we remember the words of the Psalmist. “Be still and know that I am God.”

God is the God of creation. He created the mountains, oceans and deserts. The animals, fish and birds of the air are the work of His hands. Every morning He paints the sunrise and every sunset is His masterpiece. Rain, snow, earthquakes and volcanoes are the signs of his power, blessing and judgment. God is the God of creation.

We are the people of the towers. Skyscrapers and cities, airports and harbors, insurance policies and saving accounts; all of these are the fruits of our labors. We have erected them to create a name for ourselves. And when we see them we feel safe and secure.

But God speaks through his creation. He called Moses in a burning bush. Every rainbow is a sign of God’s promise to never again destroy the earth in a flood. Often when we read of, or see God’s judgment, He is using His creation to destroy our towers. And yet, in our foolishness we continue to challenge Him and build bigger and better towers. We build skyscrapers high into the sky and put the foundations on springs or rollers to protect against earthquakes. We build our beautiful homes on the edge of cliffs so that we may have a view others will covet. We send people to the moon and place our flag there, as if to claim some sort of ownership. We offer ‘Lifetime warranties’ on our products and sell insurance policies to cover everything imaginable. “God will not win,” we say, “we will prevail.”

I did not realize how much this mentality permeated my thinking until we moved to our hogan that is located on a dirt road, six miles off the nearest paved road. The dirt road is pure clay and when it gets wet from rain or snow it is practically impassable. In fact, I have gotten stuck on this road numerous times as I traveled home in the rain. Once I was able to walk home, but another time my family and I had to spend the night in the car. So I have quickly learned that when it rains we do not go out.

One Friday as my wife and I were getting ready for bed, I checked the weather. It had been a beautiful sunny day, so I was surprised to see the forecast calling for 3 days of rain and snow beginning that very night. We had planned to go grocery shopping the next day as we were nearly out of food and water, but when we saw the forecast we decided that I should drive the 25 miles into Window Rock immediately in order to pick up what we needed in case we were stuck at the hogan in the snow for the next 3 days. So I did.

The next morning the sky was cloudy but no rain or snow fell. After a couple of hours of debating we decided to head back into Window Rock to run a few more errands. We took our 4x4 truck just in case the rains came. They never came. The next day was exactly the same. It was cloudy in the morning and we debated back and forth on whether or not to drive the 60 miles to church. We finally decided to try it, again taking our 4x4 truck so we would have a better chance of making it back home should the rains come.

On our way to church, as we were driving the final 4 miles up a winding road back in the hills deep in the heart of the reservation, I noticed it had been raining quite hard. There were pools of water all over the ground and some small streams still ran alongside the road. But I also noticed I was not afraid. In fact I felt no tension at all, for the road was paved. “If this were the road near our hogan” I said to myself, “I would be very worried, for we could get stuck at any moment and have to walk several miles back home.”

When it rains at our hogan we literally cannot go anywhere, so we sit. We read books, we pray, we spend time as a family. We are still and in that stillness we remember God. When it rains at our hogan we can hear God inviting us, saying, “Stay here. Don’t go anywhere. Be still and know that I am God.” But if our road were paved we probably would not hear God’s voice in this way, for the weather would have very little impact on our lives. Even during the rain and snow we could still get in our truck and do what we needed. We could go where we wanted and do as we pleased. We would feel safe and secure thinking God was with us, because look, He has blessed us, the road is paved. Our tower is strong. We can go about our business.

We would never realize that with the pitter patter of the falling rain God was faintly whispering, “Wait, don’t go! Be still and know that I am God.”

Thursday, March 18, 2010

First Steps to a virtual Native American state

My article proposing the creation of a virtual Native American State has been out in the public arena for over a year now, and I have been doing my best to follow the conversations and dialogues that have sprouted up, not only on my blog, but also on other blogs, radio talk show and articles from around the country. If I had to summarize the responses, I would say that the majority of voices ring with a very similar sentiment. "This is a good idea, but…” Of course, there have also been other voices. Some have decried the idea, saying they have no desire to become a larger part of this country and its oppressive government. Others have pointed at this as another way to rob our peoples of the identity and sovereignty we have been fighting for. And still others have snidely commented that this proposal would put an end to the gravy train of free handouts that Native American tribes receive from Uncle Sam. But a vast majority of the voices I have heard have stated in one form or another that “this is a good idea, but where do you start".

First, please allow me to address the issue of tribal sovereignty. I do not see the virtual Native American state in any way damaging the struggle for recognition or sovereignty that most of our tribes are currently engaged in. Instead, I see this state as a tool that can begin to consolidate our voices in areas where our needs, issues and struggles align. I also do not see the creation of this state in any way releasing the US government from the treaty obligations that currently exist. This is because our original lands are not being returned to us, nor are we engaging in any sort of armed conflict against the United States. The creation of this state will not release the US government from the injustices of the past; instead it will give our tribes a stronger voice with which to negotiate the terms for our future.

Second, I would like to take a closer look at the history of the District of Columbia as I think it will set some precedent for what I am talking about.

The citizens of Washington DC fall into an ambiguous crevice when it comes to representation in this country. They are full US citizens but do not reside in a formal state. Instead they fall under the direct authority of the US Congress. Yet they have their own local government with a mayor and a city council.

The crevice that they occupy is very similar to the ambiguous state of existence that most Native American tribes and peoples fall into. We are told that we are sovereign nations, yet we do not have formal embassies or relationships with the US government as other nations have. We have been 'granted' lands (reservations) throughout this country and have our own local tribal governments, but we are also governed by the states which these lands occupy.

On June 17, 1960, an amendment was proposed in congress to grant the District of Columbia the right to choose their own electors for the election of the office of President and Vice-President. This amendment was ratified as the 23rd Amendment on March 29, 1961. In 1964, the District of Columbia participated for the first time in the Presidential election with its own voice.

I think that the first logical step in creating this virtual Native American state will be to pass an amendment to the US Constitution that will grant Native American peoples to right to collectively choose our own electors in Presidential elections.

I am not naive enough to believe that this state will be created quickly, or without significant opposition. And that is fine with me. To tackle a change of this magnitude to our country's political landscape, structure and status quo is a huge undertaking. While this is not a battle that I shy away from, it is a battle that I would like to engage in stages as the public is educated and issues are discussed and negotiated thoroughly. But I also do not want to wait for years or even decades for some amount of change to begin to happen.

So I think this amendment would be a good first step.

The next steps will come. I am not sure how to deal with all of the complexities that arise from the creation of a new state. And I trust that the Creator will both grant and bring wisdom into the discussion as it progresses. But for the moment, I would like to focus on this first step. Let us create a voice for our Native American peoples by allowing us to choose our own electors as we vote for the office of the President and the Vice-President.

This amendment will be a huge step forward as candidates for these offices will now be forced to campaign to Native American issues and to court our votes.

Tomorrow will be another day and it will bring another step. But let us start by creating a voice.

Mark Charles
Fort Defiance, AZ

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Uuh' - An indigenous response to the earthquake in Haiti

Uuh’

It didn't happen every day, but was frequent enough that I clearly remember it. I would be sitting with my grandparents, in their house, around their kitchen table. We would be finishing a meal or even just a simple snack, and the conversation would come to a lull….

"Uuh' ," my grandfather would look at me and say.

In our Navajo Culture when he said this, I knew it meant the interaction was not yet over. We might have finished the topic we were discussing, but according to my grandfather, the conversation was not yet complete.

"Uuh' ,“ meant you had to tell a story because there was more to talk about.

Sometimes the story would be about your day, sometimes it would be about something going on in the community, and sometimes it would be a story about the past.

My grandfather loved to tell stories, and he loved to hear the stories of others. So "uuh" became almost like a game we would play, volleying our stories back and forth until finally someone would concede and say, "No more uuh' ."

Because of this, it was very difficult to have a short interaction with my grandparents.

I imagine that is how it would feel to talk with Jesus. He rarely seemed rushed, and he always seemed ready to hear someone's story. I am reminded of the bleeding woman he healed in Mark 5. Jesus was on his way to heal the daughter of an important leader in the community named Jairus. This was a very urgent and time sensitive request from an important man, and Jesus responded by heading right over to his house.

But, on the way, he passed a woman who had been subjected to bleeding for 12 years.

In that culture, at that time, this bleeding would have made her 'unclean' and therefore an outcast of that community. She would have been forced to live on the margins of society and either fight to keep her condition secret, or avoid contact with anyone who knew she was sick. Either way, it meant she was marginalized and unknown. We are also told she had spent all that she had going from doctor to doctor, but instead of getting better she only grew worse.

Then, one day, she heard Jesus was passing through town. Jesus was known to be a healer; he was a powerful man of God who could work miracles. So powerful in fact, she concluded that she didn't even need to talk with him or bother him. If she could just touch his cloak as he passed by, she was sure that she would be healed.

And so she staked out her spot. We are not told exactly where she hid, but I suspect that she tried to be as inconspicuous as possible, probably staying low to the ground and blending into the crowd as best as she could. As Jesus walked by, she didn't even speak to him, for that would have given her away. Instead she just reached out and touched his garment.

And it worked! She was healed!

Immediately in her body she sensed something was different. I would imagine she wanted to jump up and down, screaming, dancing, rejoicing, laughing and crying; all at the same time. But she didn't. She remained concealed, hidden and unknown.

But to her horror, Jesus stopped. He looked around. "Who touched me?" he asked his disciples. They thought he was crazy. For Jesus was being followed by a large crowd and there were people all around him. Asking "Who touched me?" was ridiculous. Everyone was touching him.

"No!" Jesus said. "I felt power go out. Someone touched me!" And he continued looking throughout the crowd.

Her gig was up. This powerful man of God knew. She had tried to steal his blessing and had been discovered. So she came forward; scared, embarrassed, humiliated and yet curious. What was going to happen next? How was this 'Jesus' going to respond?

"Uuh'.”

She probably had not heard that in over 12 years! Could it possibly be? Did he really want to hear her story?

"Uuh’.”

Once the dam broke, everything came rushing out. All of it. The frustration, the humiliation, the shame, the anger, the loneliness. Everything. Until at last, her response to his look and to his concern was complete. "No more uuh’,“ she said. That was the whole story.

But she had gone on for so long that some people came from the leader’s house and told Jesus to not even bother coming anymore. The window of opportunity had passed for the girl to be healed. She was dead.

But Jesus waved them off and told them not to worry.

He then turned and finished his conversation with the woman and made her healing complete.

"Daughter," Jesus told her, "your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."

No doctor could have done this. The healing Jesus was referring to was so much deeper than just her bleeding. His healing started by ending her flow of blood, but it was not complete until she was known, accepted and loved.

In December of 2004, after the earthquake and resulting tsunami off the coast of Indonesia, there was widespread destruction, death and chaos. It was a situation very similar to the earthquake that just occurred in Haiti. Powerful, destructive and completely overwhelming. I was living on our Navajo Reservation at the time and attending a small church there. It amazed me how little the tsunami was discussed in our community. On our reservation there is widespread unemployment and many broken families, alcoholism is rampant and many of our people are just trying to survive. And those who are not still feel extremely limited and even impotent when it comes to helping and reaching out to others around the country and the world. For nearly two centuries the message given to our community by both the government and the church was that we had very little of anything of value to offer and we were only able to receive.

However I knew this was a lie. I knew that God had given our people a culture, a language and a world view that was unique and beneficial to the rest of the world.

So I decided to travel personally to the country of Sri Lanka. I wanted to hand deliver the small financial gift that our community was able to put together and to begin to build a relationship with the communities that had been so devastated in this tragedy. In the large scheme of things, our gift was only a drop in the bucket, a little over a hundred dollars, but I was hoping that some other benefit would come from this trip.

While in Sri Lanka, I was taken one day to a refugee camp that was housing people who lost their homes, their fields, their villages and their livelihoods to the floods. They had nothing, and we were distributing tools and seeds to help them rebuild their lives. During this trip, I continually heard story after story about the millions of dollars that were being donated and how these villages, communities and schools were going to be rebuilt even better than they were before. But I also remember walking through the refugee camp and seeing the displaced families sitting quietly under their tents, just looking out, into nothing. I asked my host whether or not anyone ever came to speak with these people. To sit under their tents with them and ask them their story. The answer astounded me. "No. No one ever comes to do that. Everyone wants to donate something or build something. But hardly anyone just comes to listen and get to know the people.”

In that moment I remembered my Navajo people, our community and even my grandfather, and I knew that I had found something that we could offer in the aftermath of this horrible crisis.

On our reservation we may not have much in the way of wealth or material resources, but we do know how to slowly approach our neighbor. We know how to sit on the dirt floor of their hogan. We know how to make conversation and really speak with them. And we know that when the discussion comes to a lull, it doesn't necessarily mean the interaction is over. Because we know how to sit for a moment in the awkward silence and then patiently and quietly say…

"Uuh'."

And to let a whole other level of healing begin.


By Mark Charles
This article was first published by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship
(www.calvin.edu/worship/wcom/indig/charles/).