We're All Related


Rev. Ken HaydenDeuteronomy 8: 11- 20
Our church frequently provides a funeral meal for members of our church and community.  In this small rural village we are truly ‘all related’ if not by blood, by our relationships. 

After the mourners have eaten, our volunteers get a bite to eat.  I decided to sit at a table where I knew some folks but not others.  Introducing myself, I sat across from a middle-aged man and his son. They started telling some stories. Many were humorous and made everyone smile. There was even a tale about her growing so much food that she gave it away.

The young boy asked, "‘why did she do that?"

After a reflective silence, the young man’s father told of his grandmother’s story of his mother’s near starvation during the 1940’s. 

Glancing over to me, he said,  “There was this Indian family who lived outside the town.  They kept mostly to themselves and we didn’t know them and didn’t want to.  They were different than us so we would say hello but that’s about it.  One day they walked by and gave your grandma and grandpa some taters, onions. 

"Your grandma refused their vegetables at first, but the Indian man said, ‘we’re all related and someday you will pass it on to somebody else who is hungry.’

A couple of people looked at me knowing of my Indian blood.  The father continued, “Your grandma never forgot those words and she always made sure no one went hungry around her.“  He paused again. 

The father’s chest sighed with a slow release of air.  “The Lord provided and we want to remember that story too.” 

The man looked down then up at me, “I’m sorry my parents didn’t treat them Indian folks better.”  

I felt the Holy Spirit welling up in me, realizing the importance of what he was saying not for me but for his son and family.   I smiled and said, “Wanishi ta (Thank you very much) for saying what you did and for remembering the story and that we’re all related.”

Rev. Ken Hayden is a retired United Methodist pastor living in the Illinois Great Rivers Conference. A member of the Shawnee, turtle clan, he belongs to the Eastern Delaware Nation and has utilized both Native American and Christian traditions to help hospital patients when he served in Pennsylvania as a chaplain.