[Editor’s Note: When God created the world, he saw that “it was good.” In this series, we want to explore how our faith in Jesus helps us celebrate and enjoy what’s good in creation––but also work as stewards to help it thrive to its fullest potential. Caring for our planet, including plants and animals, fungi and microbes, ecosystems and people, is a high calling from God––a calling in which we can engage out of love and not fear. The gospel gives us hope that what is broken can be restored, and even now, we can enjoy what has been given to us. Join us as we #celebratecreation.]
As an Indigenous Christian, I see the world through Indigenous eyes, as well as biblical eyes. There are a variety of ways in which Indigenous Christians live out their faith, and the differences in theological views are vast. Personally, I simply see that nature reflects God’s goodness to humankind, and I agree with Genesis 1:25 when God declares that all of his creation is good. I feel this deeply as I travel through the mountains on holidays with my wife. My wife and I live just outside of Edmonton, AB, where we both grew up. When we have the opportunity to go on a trip for a couple of weeks, we always love going to the west coast. For us, it’s not just about arriving on Vancouver Island, it’s also about the journey.
As we make our way from the edge of the Prairies, through the interior of British Columbia, then to the ferry that takes us to Vancouver Island, we see so many wonderful sites. We absolutely love the rivers, lakes, mountains, flowers, birds, waterfalls, wildlife, and all those wonderful cups of coffee along the way. When we arrive on the island, we also love being surrounded by the ocean. One of God’s attributes is goodness, and therefore it makes sense to me that what he made reflects his goodness. All that natural beauty and grandeur is so good.
Some of my fellow Indigenous peoples hold a more traditional Indigenous view of creation, and feel that the spirit of the eagle, the bear, the wolf, the buffalo, and the salmon need to be part of their ceremonies. They believe that these are the Creator’s spirit helpers. I don’t personally adhere to a belief in animal spirits, but my wife and I have come to have a special appreciation for certain animals, such as the eagle.
For us it’s because it’s such a wonderful, unique, and fascinating bird. Why? It’s a bird that flies the highest in the skies, has a beautiful wingspan, glides so effortlessly, using just its wings and the wind. The eagle is also a mighty, majestic hunter, with such a wide variety of types.
I also love salmon for how they are interconnected with the world around them. For instance, the salmon lives in the same water that runs in the rivers and lakes, which have run down the mountains. The salmon makes its way upstream to spawn and returns to where it came from. This “salmon run” is what bears eagerly await to eat, because they want to bulk up their fat content before hibernation. But before the bear hibernates, it walks along the riverbank and deposits its waste in the soil. That soil is now rich in nutrients because that waste is a very natural fertilizer from all the nutrients of the salmon. That rich soil then produces beautiful flowers and trees, forests that host all sorts of insects and animals of all variety and sizes. All of this creation produces all sorts of amazing noises, smells, and colours.
How can all of this creation not be good? Especially when you see the circles of reproduction and interconnectedness.
My Indigenous ancestors lived off the land, shared the land, shared the knowledge of the land, loved the land and everything it possessed. This is why my people only took what they needed. For example, they used every part of the buffalo and nothing was wasted. They also saw the animal spirits as spirit helpers. As a Christian, I believe the Holy Spirit is all we need to help us, but after my description of the eagle and the salmon, you too might see why they believe that they are so special.
When I view creation, especially on a trip like I just described, I can’t help but see how all of the goodness reflects the Creator. Whether it’s the taste of good coffee on my tongue, the smell of the flowers when stopping on the side of the road, or the water rolling under the ferry––my wife and I can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the greatness of the waves of God’s creation.
Learn more about Parry’s ministry at wordofhopeministries.ca.