Editor’s note: We are so honoured to start off the new year with the voice of one of our indigenous sisters. Melaney honors us with her presence, her voice, her song and her gift of words. She goes first, like our sister Miriam. Together, we long for the Promised Land. Together, we long for a new world.
By Melaney Gleeson-Lyall | Twitter: @melaneyglyall
The Great Mystery, the Uncreated One has gifted us a new year, a new season, a new day.
Most years on January the first, I head to the mountains.
I walk down a snowy path flanked by ancient cedars and humbly approach the cascading river.
“Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” —John 7:38 (NLT)
The breath of God fills the air.
As an Indigenous woman, I understand my spiritual, physical, social and cultural connection to creation and the land of my ancestors.*
Bundled up, I sit on rocks by the river and offer prayers, sing songs and open my heart.
I wash my face with glacier waters, rinse my feet and cleanse my hands.
It is a spiritual act, a personal cleansing ceremony.
With open hands, open heart and an open mind I ask the Spirit of God to recreate me.
Dying to self is never easy. This day comes with tears and resistance.
Eagles call from the forest and fly above me. Creation speaks. The Nature of God is calling.
Like the sacred moment of baptism—this ritual is a tangible reminder that I am created in the image of God. Creation is my witness.
Honouring the Divine, this tradition has become one of my acts of worship.
Though struggles and hardships have sometimes consumed us, we stretch out our hands to touch the cloak of Jesus. We take a step of faith and take hold of our Father’s hand.
We cherish each other, our circle of sisters who carry songs, medicine and gifts of healing.
“A friend knows the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails.” —Donna Roberts
Great Spirit, may we hear your song on the wind. Sing it to us when we have forgotten your promises.
We pray for courageous hearts to walk into our own unique destinies this year.
With trembling voices may we say a resounding “YES” to our spiritual conversion.
Deep calls to deep.
May we surrender to the deeper places with our Creator and with each other, the created ones.
The Breath of God fills the air. Breathe deeply.
The Breath of God fills the air. Breathe Deeply.
Exhale your gifts, your calling, exhale the breath of God.
Lovelys, do you have any special rituals for the new year? Rituals allow us to focus and welcome God into our lives. Reflect on ways to form a daily ritual to connect with our Creator. Be mindful of the promptings of the Holy Spirit during the meditations of your heart. Be prepared to respond or exhale your gifts and callings.
* For Christians, the best way to relate to this idea of ancestors, is when we talk about the cloud of witnesses. Or when we remember Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It’s not a worship of our ancestors, but an honouring of those who have gone before us, those who have made way for us, those who have walked this journey of faith.
My name is Melaney. I was born on the unceded, ancestral lands of my ancestors, the Musqueam people in Vancouver, B.C. Between my adopted family and First Nations bio families I have 17 siblings. My grade one report card read “Melaney is justice-oriented.” I love Dr. Seuss and Henri Nouwen. I am an introverted contemplative and lifelong learner. Ever mindful, I stand in the strength of those who have gone before me and walked the earth before me. I am learning to live between cultures; between worlds—yesterday, today and forever.