The Heart of a Child

I have to write about my first born son.

He is an atheist, which is fine. I brought my kids up or am bringing them up to have their own beliefs and thoughts, no matter how I feel about it. He is very against organized religion. I don’t blame him, when you study how many people have died over religion, it makes it hard to the “those who are not baptized” to decide what to believe in.

But what I’m trying to get him to understand is that our Lakota spirituality is not a religion, it is a way of life.

While I am still working on and learning about our ways, I already know he has a good start.

Texting with him the other day, I talked about being poor. I told him I never meant to raise them that way, that life wasn’t supposed to be that way, nothing that happened was supposed to in my dreams as a child, when I knew for sure I was going to be a mom someday.

He said “It’s ok, mom.”

We talked about how so many people hate the poor, hate change, and why.
He opened my eyes up to some new environmental issues that I never gave a plugged nickel about.
We talked about poor people not wanting pity. Then what he told me floored me.

“Exactly.” He said “I don’t ever want pity and at the same time, I never want to feel privileged. Wanna know what I did?”

Then he proceeded to tell me all the gift cards he has been saving for the past year that he won as awards at school from sports and stuff, like from Scheels and other major shopping places where he could have bought himself a new pair of shoes, some shirts, socks, the stuff I know he needs, he gave away to a family with kids whose house had recently burnt down.

I don’t even know what to say. I didn’t know what to say, I was astounded and so full of love.

Maybe he says he don’t know about our way of life, but he has the heart of a Lakota already.

He did this and told no one about it, until that minute he told me in a text.

Reminded me of a letter my brother wrote me when I was locked up.

Last year my nephew tried to give my brother the allowance money he had been saving up for a Wii. He said “Dad, I don’t need a Wii, just get Auntie Dana out of jail.”

And my brother wrote in a letter after he wrote that-

“Sometimes it takes a child to show us how a heart is supposed to work.”



4 thoughts on “The Heart of a Child

  1. Having once considered myself an atheist, I have seen how some label as soon as they hear the word. Your son, myself, and pretty much every atheist I know has the same core values that those who label themselves “religious” have, and sometimes even better. I never had a word for it, but when I heard the term “secular humanism,” I knew that fit a little better than any label I had ever come across. It’s all about doing the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do, not out of fear of hell or the promise of heaven. It’s about doing what your heart or your gut (or whatever you want to call it) tells you to do. Where we get that moral compass–who’s to say where it comes from? A lot of it is our environment, but like you said, a lot of it is something unexplainable within our core. Perhaps it’s the theoretical collective unconscious, passed from our ancestors? As a parent, I worry sometimes about NOT raising my daughter within a religion. Am I denying her spiritual experiences that she needs? But I remind myself that I teach those things I worry about through my actions–how I treat others, how I react to certain situations, how I treat myself. You’ve done a good job, Mama. And regardless of where he goes in his spiritual journey, you can feel proud that you have raised an amazing young man.

    • FORMER young republican and FORMER cheerleader–haha! I’m also a recovering Southern Baptist. When my mom died last year, I actually WISHED that I believed in the teachings of my youth. I wished for a heaven, a floating soul, something… But I guess you really can’t choose what your head and heart believes. Nowadays, when someone asks me if I believe in God, I say, “I don’t know.” What I do believe in is the power of good over evil, the kindness of others, and the ability for people to change. Oh sister, the stories I could tell you… We should co-write something one of these days!

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