Disclaimer: I am a very spiritual person and I believe in God. I am strong in my faith and proud of my faith. That being said, I am respectful of all spiritual and religious beliefs and I am completely non-judgmental and I expect the same in return. I am not trying to force my beliefs on anyone. My faith is one of the most important things in my life and has played a significant role in making me the person I am today.
In my last blog post I talked about my grandfather William Moore and the fact that his artistic talent flows through my veins. I credit his penchant for and ability to create wonderful and beautiful things for being part of the reason why I became an artist.
But there is another reason I am who and what I am and that reason is – God.
I have always been a spiritual person. From the moment I was exposed to the traditions of my Ojibway culture and heritage, I yearned to be close to the Creator. As a young man, I was given the right to conduct the Sweat Lodge ceremony by a trusted elder and friend. I laid down tobacco to offer thanks to the Creator whenever I sought His wisdom and advice. I sculpted pipes for myself, for elders and for friends so we could use the tobacco and smoke to offer our prayers to the Creator. I shared these ceremonies and spiritual beliefs with my children and those who were interested and wanted to learn.
I have also always known that, in addition to being hereditary, my talents for creating art were a gift from God. Art is something He wants me to do and in my darkest hours, when I’ve wanted nothing more than to just live a “normal” life and have a “normal” job because it would somehow be easier, He was always been there to remind me that He gave me these gifts for a reason.
Despite my strong faith and intense connection with My Creator, my relationship with Him has been a complicated and tumultuous one. I’ve cursed and blamed God for the struggles and obstacles I’ve faced on more than one occasion in my life. I’ve been angry at Him. I’ve yelled and sworn at Him. I’ve threatened to turn my back on Him and never look back. I’ve shed tears when I felt He wasn’t listening to me. I’ve succumbed to fear and deep sadness when I’ve believed He abandoned me and didn’t care what happened to me.
Looking back on it now though, I know God has always been there for me. I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for God’s unconditional love and steadfast guidance, my life would be in shambles or, worse, I’d probably be dead. He has always been there to protect, love and guide me. He has always been there to listen to me and offer His wisdom and advice to me. He has always been there to shine light in the darkness and bring peace in the chaos. The problem, the reason why I often felt so disconnected from Him, was because I didn’t understand my relationship with Him. I didn’t fully understand how to be completely connected to Him. All relationships are give and take and require the effort and attention of both parties in order to make them work. I wasn’t willing to accept that I couldn’t just take all God had to offer without offering Him something in return.
I spent a lot of time thinking God would bless me if I shared my spirituality and traditions with others. I thought if I made big bundles of tobacco tied in beautiful red cloth He would look more favourably upon me. I believed the main lines of communication between myself and Him were the Sweat Lodge and my pipe. I believed that I needed eagle feathers to prove that I was a spiritual man worthy of God’s love and wisdom.
I’m not saying these things aren’t important because they are. They are important pieces of me because I am a proud Ojibway man who deeply values his culture and traditions. But now I know that I don’t NEED all of these things to make God happy or to forge a deeper, more meaningful relationship with Him. In fact, at the end of the day, God doesn’t care about how many eagle feathers I have, how ornate my pipe is or how many tobacco bundles I offer Him. I don’t have to be inside a Sweat Lodge to communicate with God.
God is around us all of the time. He is in the air we breathe. He makes strong the ground under our feet. He is in the song of the birds when they greet the morning sun and He is in the brilliance of a sky set on fire as that same sun sets on the day. He is the stars on a perfectly clear summer evening and He is the raindrops that water theflowers and cause lakes, rivers and streams to swell. He is the rainbow after a thunderstorm. He is in all things. He is all things. All of the time.
I can talk to God any time I want. No matter where I am – whether I’m sculpting in my studio or lying down in my bed after a long day – God is there. He wants me to talk to Him and tell Him about my day. He wants me to confide my fears in Him so He can ease them. He wants me to share my joys and triumphs with Him just like any proud Father would. He wants me to ask Him for help when I need it and to thank Him when He blesses me with His strength, courage, wisdom and love. He wants me to share my needs, wants and dreams with Him so He can make them a reality.
And, when you think about it, He really doesn’t ask for much in return but faith, love and loyalty.
There are many times I’ve looked back on my life and felt sorry for myself or angry that my life has been so hard. But today, I am able to look at everything I went through and survived and know that it is by the grace of God that I have what I have today. I know, without a doubt, that He helped me survive the hardships so that today, I can truly live.
I don’t have all of the answers and I learn something new about my faith every single day. My faith is tested often and there are times I still find myself confused, frustrated and yes, even angry. But I know I am not alone and I know that all I have to do is sit down and talk to God. I know that any time of day or night, He is there and He is listening.
And you may be asking yourself just how it is that I know all this. I can assure you, the answer is quite simple….
Because I am still here to share this truth with you all.