Wacantognaka- Generosity

Yesterday was a healing moment for me. I am grateful for the Interfaith Chaplains here in the Twin Cities and the amazing people in my life. Our goal yesterday was to bring a peaceful presence as voters showed up to polling places. However, yesterday was different. We did not know what to expect. And it was a day of respite for most of the Poll Chaplains. What I am learning from this amazing group of Chaplains is the importance of a ministry of presence. NOT swooping in to fix things. But to just “BE”.

Healing comes in so many forms for each of us. Our main focus for our training as Poll Chaplains was about knowing our bodies, the trauma we have, and how our bodies react in tense, or uncomfortable moments. Because as faith leaders, we interact with so many people, and oftentimes hold other people’s pain. We forget about ours, and we don’t focus on our care. If we cannot care for ourselves and understand what our bodies are telling us, we cannot fully be present for our neighbors. Indigenous ways of healing have been around for centuries. We have ceremonies, plants, and prayers, all focused on not only the “WE” but the “ME” as well, because the “me” is a part of the “we”. These things have provided the survival and wellness of Indigenous people for so long. When we understand our bodies and our connections to trauma and creation around us, we are building ourselves to be resilient people who can thrive in the various environments that we place ourselves in. And in return, we can pass these forms of healing and being to those around us.

Yesterday on Election Day was a quiet day, but it brought healing to the many faith leaders who were our Poll Chaplains. We started the day with anxiety, but then as time moved on for each Chaplain, we were also given the time to be in community with our small teams of 2-3 people. Something many have not had. As we became comfortable, that emulated outward to the community. And in turn our roles as Peacemakers became natural. Whether we were in a field next to the polling station, at home posting a positive presence online, donating, or on a corner or in a park, peaceful presence flowed for everyone. Living together in God’s peace is the deep acknowledgment that not one of us is meant to be on the outside, it shows we are a community together in and through our wonderful Creator! So THANK YOU CHAPLAINS.

So for what happened yesterday, I say Wacantognaka, the Lakota word for generosity, means to contribute to the well-being of one’s people and all life by sharing and giving freely. This sharing is not just of objects and possessions, but of emotions like sympathy, compassion, kindness. It also means to be generous with one’s personal time. The act of giving and not looking for anything in return can make you a better person and make you happy.

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