Ever since I completed my Racial Reconciliation blog series last year, I have been more attentive to the voices of my neighbors who are of a different race or ethnicity, particularly my American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic American, and immigrant neighbors because I do not get to intimately engage these neighbors on a daily basis. In his book, The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor: Seeing Others Through the Eyes of Jesus, Mark Labberton reminds us that what remains out of our sights, will surely remain out of our minds unless we intentionally engage it. “We prioritize what we are attracted to and barely register what we find irrelevant (pg. 75).” Therefore, we must choose to see others who are different than us and allow what we see to engage our hearts in a very intimate way to change the way that we see and perceive others. This is an act of biblical justice.
During an interview with Kimberly Owen, a member of the Lumbee Indian Tribe, my eyes were opened to the plight of American Indians. American Indians have made great contributions to this country that we love and today many of them continue to suffer. We have severely altered or lost their stories. I say “we” because all Americans are beneficiaries of the original sins committed against our American Indian neighbors and therefore, we should all be drawn to a place of repentance.
Only a true state of repentance can bring us to a place of restitution. Restitution is an act of restoring; sometimes the acts are small and sometimes they are more significant. Restitution is always an act of grace. Authors Anita Lustrea and Caryn Rivadeneira have written a novel, Shades of Mercy: A Maine Chronicle which was inspired by the Maliseet Indian Tribe of Maine. I like to think of the book as an act of restitution, an act of bringing the story of this people group to the forefront and saying that their lives and stories matter. The story is set in Northern Maine in 1954. It is a story about love and justice. It also reflects many acts of mercy, repentance, and restitution. Here is my Amazon review:
Anita and Caryn have written a beautifully human story about what is means to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. It is a story about grace, second chances, new beginnings, redemption, and of course, mercy. It is my prayer that this story will open the eyes of Christians and all readers concerning the plight of our American Indian neighbors. The characters are devoted to their families, their communities, and to the discipline of work and they remind us to live out the virtues of faith, hope, and love. Read this story, wrestle with the life struggles it presents, and share it with a friend.
If you are looking for a book to read this fall, are participating in a book club, or looking for holiday gifts, I encourage you to pick up Shades of Mercy. Read it and purchase a copy a friend.