Sing to the Mountains Article.. by: Patrick Butler
July 4, 2010 – Patrick Butler, In The Waterfall: The “Warrior Heart of Forgiveness” Helps Our Dreams Come True
Are circumstances leaving you feeling defeated, lost, baffled or hurt? Have things just not gone the way they “should have” the last few months or more?
As I still myself in God’s presence, which I like to think surrounds us all like a waterfall, I’m convinced God is out to make our dreams come true, somehow, some way. God puts people in our path to help us because we cannot – and should not – do it on our own.
Maybe that’s why it’s so important to keep all relationships free from bitterness and vengeance so we find those people to help us much faster. So much of what God wants to do seems to be held up because we will not forgive. It is not in God’s nature to be unforgiving, so how can ours be?
Isn’t that what it means when it says God causes all things to work together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose? That’s mind-boggling. God takes care of our dreams if we do it his way.
For instance, after seven years of being Tyler’s Religion editor and just 24-hours after my last, official day – a sad day for me– I was transported (by car, thank you) to Oklahoma to the base of the nearly magical-looking Wichita Mountains.
At the Sing To The Mountains Music Festival, Canadian “First Nation” and Native Americans came to play their traditional and contemporary music with the express purpose to worship Jesus. The sound these good, humble people made with their music was like nothing I’ve heard before. Ever. That in itself astounded me, because I thought I’d heard it all with Kabuki music in Japan and Gamelon orchestra in Indonesia.
But after listening to music live in 22 nations and then through recordings throughout my life from outlets like NPR’s “The World,” this sound at Meers, Okla.- from our own people on our own soil, was new. Amazing.
Isn’t it just like God to “make all things new?”
As I basked in the happy scene at the festival’s mainstage, where colorfully feathered and beautifully beaded men, women and children were beating hand-held drums and dancing to Jesus, I was told this was the first such festival ever to be held in America’s history, another mind-boggling concept. .
If this isn’t spiritually ground-breaking, I don’t know what is. And this was a perfect place for me, a religion writer to be; witnessing an historical, breakthrough religion story unfolding before me.
The Gospel and Native Americans have been mixing on this continent for four hundred years. How is it that this is the first Native festival exclusively to Jesus? Finally, a native Americans gathering simply to honor the great Holy Spirit, dance, beat their Big Drums and sing in native languages to him. Brain-busting.
I was there at the nexus of this mind-boggling “God Thing.” If my “last day” in Tyler hadn’t happened, I never would have been free to come this event. Sing to the Mountains was actually the beginning of something new, meaningful and full of God’s extensive plan for many peoples here and abroad, I realized. Again, amazing.
I laughed and almost cried inside and thought, “God knew what it would do to me, seeing this historical and beautiful sound-filled moment. He got me here as quick as he could. He had this planned all along. The thought brought a huge smile that went down to my shoes. Maybe that’s real thankfulness, when your stomach muscles relax and sing, too.
As I stood on the stage taking pictures of guys in braids, colorful shirts and Indian-looking faces – beating the common Big Drum hard in unison as a heartbeat – with sudden, powerful “Honor Beats,” as they offered honor to Jesus, I was transfixed by the sound, look and historical significance just feet in front of me.
Allow me to elaborate:
Just 12 miles to the south of the festival stage and mountains where the full moon was rising in slow sky-soaring majesty – like a host of eagles flying to the beat of the drums – was the Army fort where Col. George Armstrong Custer had been based. It was at that fort where the bad news came the day of Custer’s terrible fate, causing national wounds that rent many peoples for decades. It was if the reverberation and sores of a conflict that had not spiritually addressed for years, could be felt.
And General Nelson Appleton Miles, the man who chased and captured – instead of killing – Chief “I-Will-Fight-No-More-Forever” Joseph at the Canadian border, was also stationed at Sill. Miles also purposely captured – instead of killing – Geronimo and secretly shipped off his prisoner off to relative safety in Florida – against President’s wishes – in order to escape angry Arizona citizens wanting to lynch the captured man.
Now on this Wichita Mountains stage filled with the descendants of those crushed people, I took another look at those historical events; before me were the great-great-great grandchildren of families who travelled the Trail of Tears of misery and death that ended at this very area – here they now were; Cherokees, Caddos, Chickahominy, Comanche, Apace, Osage, Seminoles, Sioux, Mohawks, Kiowa, Pawnee, Euchee Cree, Creek, and more.
And they were all lifting their voices, strength, songs and dances to Jesus.
As they danced with all that was within them, with all their strength, I was reminded of King David who danced before the Lord with all his might – and some didn’t like that, even in the land of God’s chosen people.
David was despised by a close member of his very household for his dancing. He was called “undignified” by his wife. As a result of her harsh judgment, she bore no children to carry on her skewed perspective.
I realized, standing on the stage while video-recording the Sacred Thunder and All Nations Drum teams, that there are religious people who will yet despise Native Peoples, their music and dancing that they bring to the throne room of God.
There will yet be fear, concerns that it’s “over the top” and somehow ungodly. Jonathan Maracle of the band Broken Walls – who conceived the event – attends church at Desert Stream church of the Pentecostlal Assemblies of Canda. He told me that in the 18th century, the cultural instruments of tribes were gathered and burned.
“You can walk into a Hispanic church with your eyes closed, and by listening to the sounds of worship, know you’re in a Hispanic church,” he said. “The same with an Asian church, or a black Gospel church. But if you go into a Native church with your eyes closed, you couldn’t tell it was a Native church. We are the only culture in the world that was told we couldn’t come to Christ with our culture, and to be Christians we couldn’t come as we were.”
As I took another look a this historical, God-healing, cultures-embracing scene before me, I saw – and heard – nothing to fear. The feeling was like a little bit of heaven. This was being done for the right reason, directed to the right person, done in the right way, held at the right time, with the right motivation and displaying the right result.
There was the peace of God that passes understanding ruling at the base of Wichita Mountains at this first Sing To The Mountains Music Festival. These gentle and humble men, women and children were not vociferously protesting, as I’ve seen so many times at American Indian movements since the 1960’s. There were no venomous speeches, no accusations against injustice and the cruelty they experienced at the hands of those who also claimed to be Christ-bearers.
Instead there was the comment from the stage between songs, by Maracle, “We can forgive what happened to us. We have warrior hearts when it comes to forgiveness.”
I’ve never heard anyone say this. Isn’t that what America’s church needs today?
There was worshipful surrender to Jesus instead of accusations. There were the astonishing sounds of strength from God to replace the hurts from man. There was joy and dancing, replacing the tears of pain and anger.
There was divine and genuine worship of God and the celebration with a future and hope because of God’s plans for his people – these people. And we could all stand to learn a lesson from these very people we thought had nothing to offer but bargain price on beadwork and sovineer trinkets.
It was if I were witnessing the rebirth of a nation. Our nation. It seemed to be a holy moment as I saw God reaching down to his children to restore their souls and return them to their rightful place.
“Then will all your people be righteous and they will possess the land forever. They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor.” Isaiah 60:21
And, curiously, their rebirth of was mine, too. God gave me the highest mountaintop, mind-blowing experience I could think of, just days after I didn’t think I could get much lower.
That sounds just like God to me. Please take another look, and see if God may be trying to get you to a similar experience, as you are now walking in the valley of doubt, or the mired in the test of obscurity or injustice. Wait for it.
If you missed this festival – and Charles Barnett of Tyler’s Vineyard Church did make it from our area– there will thankfully be another Sing To The Mountains next year. Get yourself ready to go and have your mind and spirit broadened and blessed.
Visit the Web at http://singtothemountainsmusicfestival.blogspot.com or www.brokenwalls.com for more information.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Friday, June 4, 2010
Monday, November 30, 2009
To honour our Creator from our heritage as First Nations People... All nations welcome!
Start time Friday: 6pm June 25th, 2010
Saturday & Sunday: 6:30am Sunrise ceremony, followed by free time until 1pm
1pm to 6pm Drums and Dancers
7pm to 11pm Live Bands
Location: Camp Y'Shua, Meers, Oklahoma, 30 min. north of Lawton
Drums Include: Broken Walls (Canada), Jimmy Reader All Nations Drum (Oklahoma),
Gray Bear Drum (Washington), Sacred Thunder (Florida), more TBA
Bands Include: Michael Jacobs, Cheryl Bear, Rainsong, Broken Walls,
Jerry Chapman (Drum Speaker to the Nations), more TBA
Arts & Crafts Village: There will be vendors featuring First Nations arts and crafts from across North America. To reserve a vendor space ($20.00 fee) for the weekend, call Camp Y'Shua at 580-429-8700. (Please note: no tables or electicity will be provided. Vendor sites are not considered overnight camping sites.)
For pre-registration (on or before June 1st): Send a cheque payable to Broken Walls for $30.00 per person attending with a list of names and email addresses to: Broken Walls, 234 Bayshore Road, Tyendinaga Territory, Ontario Canada K0K 1X0 (All pre-registration spectators will receive an email confirmation from Broken Walls.) The cost at the gate per person for the weekend is $40.00 and the rate per day per person is $20.00.
Camping & RV sites available. Call 580-429-8700 for reservation. Camping and RV sites available by reservation only. No pets or animals on campgrounds. For hotel information, contact Lawton / Ft. Sill Chamber of Commerce http://www.lawtonfortsillchamber.com/
For more information: email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 613-396-1954
Food will be available for purchase during the afternoon and evening periods only. Public may bring personal picnic food and drink items. No alcoholic beverages or fireworks of any kind permitted. No seating provided for the outdoor venue, bring personal lawn chairs and pop up tents.
Friday, November 20, 2009
HELP US GET THE WORD OUT!!!
The poster is available by email attachement and prints at 11" x 14"
Just contact Elsie in our office at email@example.com to have it forwarded to you.
Sound for the festival is being provided by Miller Pro Audio of Oklahoma City
If you have any questions please contact us Monday, Tuesday or Thursday at
Friday, October 16, 2009
The first annual Sing to the Mountains Music Festival is being planned for June 25-27th in Meers, Oklahoma at Camp Y'shua. We currently have Drum groups confirmed, First Nations bands as well as artists from all over for an Arts and Crafts Village. If you are interested in being a part of this event please contact Jonathan Maracle at firstname.lastname@example.org.