Advent, Shamanism, and the Human Hunger for Peace and Justice

Yesterday was the second Sunday in Advent.

We spent the day with music. Jennie rehearsed with the UU choir , then sang at the second service. (I stayed home and worked, as it’s the end of the semester, and listened to Advent music on BBC). In the afternoon we attended the seasonal concert by Bela Voce.  An hour later, Jennie left for another choir rehearsal. I joined her a bit later for the Community Choir Fest and Carol Sing, a wonderful interfaith gathering.

Looking back over a packed day of seasonal music, we realized the theme of much of the music had been a deep hunger and thirst for peace and justice. I found myself wondering how it came to be that much of the Christian world focuses on that essential human longing for only five or six weeks a year. Clearly, the desire for peace, safety, and well-being runs deep and true. Yet, the river bed seems to be dry for much of the year.

I’ve been think, too, about the centrality of fear in many shamanic cultures, especially those where climate or other local conditions made survival challenging.

Certainly, the arrival of Christianity, with it’s central tenet of forgiveness and salvation was a relief for many Native people, relieving us from the burdensome taboos imposed by hardship, and opening the possibility of new, respectful relationships with the rest of Creation.  It also seems to have opened shamanism to a more life affirming, joyous cosmology. Native people everywhere have taken what they perceive as best from Christianity and integrated that material into their lives and cultures. Perhaps, at least in the Americas, this is most evident at Christmas and Easter, times of hope and transcendence.

So here we are, three weeks til the Child comes, bringing hope of renewal, peace, and justice to the world.

No wonder Jesus focus so much of his teaching on the centrality of peace, children and women! No wonder Native people have so often found the figure of Mary compelling, both as a mother and an ally. Without children, there is no hope for the future. Without women, there are no children! In the absence of peace, everyone suffers.

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