Stories as Ancestors

Stories as Ancestors

On the United Church of Canada crest, the Mohawk phrase “Akwe Nia’Tetewá:neren”—all my relations—has been added.  This phrase invites us to think about who we are related to and where we have come from.  What if stories themselves are our ancestors?  How would we honour them and listen to them?  Caryn Douglas, graduate and former principal of CCS, is exploring what it could mean.


To be a ‘people of the book’ in the age of Twitter is to be counter cultural.  Or at least counter DOMINANT culture.  Joining the ranks of the non-dominant could be good for us.  I have been thinking a lot about our book of stories.  Indigenous people I know talk about stories as their ancestors, but not as deceased ancestors. They are ancestors who have an active role in community.  I find this idea regenerative, and it has opened a door of insight on our Jewish and Christian roots.  Hebrew Bible scholar Walter Brueggemann, in his book Texts that Linger, Words that Explode, makes the case for stories having their own agency: like ancestors who visit us from the past to sit at the table, like wisdom that comes to us through resurrection.  In public worship I have been acknowledging stories as our ancestors.  I am open to feedback that this is misappropriation, but it feels to me like I am being visited so I am trying to listen and learn.


When has a story visited you and brought wisdom?

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