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Jeremiah 8:7 Yea, the stork in the heavens knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming.

The New Testament speaks of two kinds of time: chronos and kairos. Chronos is the kind of time you can measure with a watch or a calendar. Kairos is God’s time. It is the time when a fruit is perfectly ripe. It is the time when a girl becomes a woman.

The earth always moves by God’s time, and the earth always know what time it is. So do the creatures of this earth. We two-leggeds are the only ones in all creation who get confused about this.

For Native people, this land where we live is a partner in creation. It is not a passive partner to be used according to our whim. It is living, breathing, powerful, and fragile. It is much like life itself.

This is why Native people often call this land “Turtle Island.”

The Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) say sky woman fell to earth, but there was no land for her to dwell so the animals came to her aid. The muskrat gathered mud from the bottom of the sea and the great turtle held it on his back. This land grew until it was the size of North America.

Many Native people have similar stories of a watery creation aided by animal helpers. Come to think of it, Genesis also talks about a watery creation, with a firmament separating the waters above and below—and with animals preceding the creation of humanity.

“Turtle Island” helps remind us that life is a balance that is easily upset. It reminds us that our place in creation is a partnership with all of God’s creatures.

It also reminds us that life on this continent did not begin here with the arrival of Italian explorers like Columbus or Amerigo Vespucci (for whom America is named). Our world is much older, much stronger, and much more alive than that.

We accept the term “Native American,” for the sake of convenience, but that is not who we are. We have been her much longer than the name “America.” Of course, “Indian” is wrong too—but it is still in use today.

So what should you call a Native American… err… Indian… err… whatever you are?

Well, my momma called my Larry from an early age, and that still works pretty well for me. Most of my Native friends prefer to be called by name as well.

As a matter of fact, we serve a Creator who knows us personally and calls us by name. Our Creator always knows what time it is, even when we get confused. Our Creator knows who we are and whose we are, even when we forget.

No matter who you are, you have a family story that goes back way before 1492. That story is a part of you, even if your family has forgotten it. But your Creator still knows who you are and whose you are. Your Creator knows the seasons of your soul and calls you by name.

Today as you make your way through the concrete jungle and rivers of asphalt, keep in mind that there is a living earth holding you up. You are a citizen of Turtle Island and God is calling you by name.

For our prayer today, please insert your name in the blanks, and listen for God to call your name:

For God so loved _________ that God gave His only Begotten Son, that __________ might have everlasting life. For God did not send his son that ___________ should be condemned, but that _____________ should have life.