Saturday, August 05, 2006

Spirit of the Mission

My students walking up to Saint Paul's Mission.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

Dakota at Saint Paul's Mission.
Copyright © 2006 Barry G. Moses.

On Wednesday, I led a group of community college students on a special tour of Saint Paul's Mission at Kettle Falls. I presented the cultural and spiritual history of the falls and discussed the impact of white settlement in the region. The event culminated with a special presentation in the old log church, including several traditional songs from the Plateau Salish people. I sang two hymns in Salish and then one traditional song.

The feeling in that old church was electric. When I started singing the traditional song, several eagles flew up to the mission door and circled the building. A feeling of power fell over me and all around me. Every time I closed my eyes, I could hear the foot steps of people dancing. It was truly amazing.

Apparently, I was not the only one who felt moved by the experience. Several other people told me they heard dancing, and one Christian couple said they heard me pleading to the Father using God's ancient name Yahweh. They said they felt the Holy Ghost fall on me and that my singing reminded them of when they witnessed people speaking in tongues.

It was a sacred experience for all of us.

A great deal of historical trauma lingers at the site of Saint Paul's, from the loss of Kettle Falls, to a history of coerced conversion to Catholicism, and yet that place still holds unimaginable power from the ancestors and our Creator.

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