Sunday, January 24, 2010

Circle of Faith

In the wake one of the greatest humanitarian disasters of our lifetimes, I was able to find some comfort last week when I attended a Native American healing circle.  Healing is not only for our bodies, but also for our minds and spirits.  This was my first experience with a healing circle.  Each participant arrived with different worries and pains.  As I discovered, the circle was a collective rendering of prayer and praise to the Creator allowing for the healing of collective and individual hurts.  An attitude of reverence and gratitude was modeled and then followed.  This created a sacred space for expression, celebration, confession and edification. 

The healing circle was held at Human Body Works in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.  The Reverend Christan Burran, also known as Walking Deer Woman, presided over the ceremony.  Rev. Burran is an Interfaith Minister of Cherokee ancestry.  She has over 15 years of training with Native Elders in Sacred ceremony.  I was immediately interested in attending her healing circle since, 1) I am on a healing journey, 2) I have considered training as an Interfaith Minister, and 3) I also have Cherokee ancestry on both sides of my family, as do many people from my geographical home of origin. 

I felt at peace and at home during the ceremony.  In her opening words, Walking Deer Woman laid a beautiful foundation.  She spoke of grace and humility, two increasingly rare spiritual concepts.  Grace and humility have been recurring themes in my prayers, dreams and meditations over recent years.  I aspire to these qualities, so difficult to grasp or attain with consistency. 

Amazing Grace is my husband's favorite spiritual song, and it was also my grandfather's.  I was told by a yoga instructor days before the healing circle that she recites parts of Amazing Grace as a mantra.  As a girl, I was taught that we are "saved by Grace, through Faith." 

Humility is a quality even more elusive than Grace.  I believe this to be true in our times, and I surmise that it has always been true in many cultures.  Yeshua said, "And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant" and "whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted" (Matthew 20:27, 23:12).  Walking Deer Woman spoke of the high value placed on humility in Native American culture.  Who among us has not been chided for acting in a humble manner?  Humility is not associated with success in Western culture--a bold, but true claim. 

In light of the recent earthquake and ensuing after shocks in Haiti, many of us are attempting to reach out.  If we are unable to travel to Haiti, we give our material goods, financial gifts and prayers.  Prayer was central to the Native American healing circle.  We prayed together for the earthquake victims.  This helped to ease the sense of isolation everyone feels upon hearing in words or perceiving in images terror, pain and gut-wrenching devastation.  I believe in the power of prayer.  Praying alone is powerful; group prayer exponentially expands that power.  I need to pray more, especially with other people.  The Native American healing circle was just the motivation I needed to seek out community worship as a regular part of my life. 

In closing, here is a prayer from the Native American ceremony that can be used irrespective of individual faith or beliefs.  May it comfort you in times of sorrow and disruption:

Peace in my heart brings peace to my family.
Peace in my family brings peace to my community.
Peace in my community brings peace to my Nation.
Peace in my Nation brings peace to the Earth.
Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.


  1. Peace on Earth???

    Aren’t humans amazing? They kill wildlife - birds, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice and foxes by the million in order to protect their domestic animals and their feed.

    Then they kill domestic animals by the billion and eat them. This in turn kills people by the million, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative - and fatal - - health conditions like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and cancer.

    So then humans spend billions of dollars torturing and killing millions of more animals to look for cures for these diseases.

    Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals.

    Meanwhile, few people recognize the absurdity of humans, who kill so easily and violently, and then call for "Peace on Earth."

    ~Revised Preface to Old MacDonald’s Factory Farm by C. David Coates~

    Check out this informative and inspiring video on why people choose vegan:

    Also see Gary Yourofsky:

  2. Thank you for your comment. It takes a lot of strength and integrity to choose vegan. I am open to it if that is where my path leads me. Whether we are omnivores, vegetarians or vegans we should think more about where our food comes from and what we can do to live with more integrity.