Further Learning for the Add-on Eskimo
Ayit went to where his father and the others were gathered. The shaman was just finishing
his ceremony and the people were drifting away.
“There you are, Ayit,” said his father. “I wondered where you were. Come now, we are staying with Kingeekuk.”
Ayit followed his father to the house where they all sat down on the floor. Kingeekuk’s wife and daughters brought them food: walrus meat, fish, tundra greens and sea fruits, along with tea. They talked until late, then all slept together on the sleeping platform.
Ayit lay awake thinking about Apa and Jesus, about freedom from the spirits, about how to talk with his father about his new faith; and Jesus gave him an idea.
They all woke early and after breakfast, Okfagit went to visit others in the village, exchanging news, asking about hunting, getting hints on where to find seals.
Ayit went to visit Kolawi again, as he had questions about his new faith.
“What does our Jesus expect from me now?” he asked.
Kolawi thought a bit before answering. “The portion you memorized yesterday gives direction. Can you recite it?” Ayit repeated it exactly as he had heard it.
“Faith is Jesus’ gift to us,” said Kolawi. “Then we are to add to it the things he provides, but we must decisively take up and use them. Jesus does not expect ritual or religion. The first thing we are to add, virtue, means agreeing with Jesus. That is, we take his thoughts, his values to be our own. It is a full surrender to him.
“The second thing to add to your surrender is knowledge. You need to learn more about him, and this morning I will teach you another passage which will give you a wider view of him.
“The third thing to add is self-control, which means doing what he wants, doing what you are learning, whether you want to or not.
“This is then followed by endurance, for when we obey Jesus the spirits are not happy with us and may attack us; and for the same reason, many people will not be happy with us. They will oppose our new faith, for they do not want change and they are afraid of the spirits, of offending them by abandoning the old way. I know this from my own experience with my family and neighbors. But we can endure, press on through these difficulties with Jesus’ help.
“Then we are to add godliness, which means becoming like Jesus in our character. As we rely on him in our difficulties, we will be transformed by his Spirit. We will be more loving, more gracious, more kind and more wise.
“Then we add brotherly kindness, being good, kind and generous to each other, and add then God’s love, which keeps on even though the other person does not love us back. With God’s love we do good to those who do evil to us.”
“This is so different from what we all do now!” said Ayit.
“True,” Kolawi agreed. “We might say that the world is upside down, but knowing Jesus turns it right side up! Now, let’s go back to endurance. I want to repeat that when we leave the old ways it makes people afraid, for they think we will offend the spirits by not appeasing them and will bring suffering on the village. But the truth is, Jesus has vanquished the evil spirits and will protect us. Which is subject of the passage I’m going to teach you today.”
They talked some more, then Ayit went out to find his father. He was sitting and talking with Nungwook, a great hunter in the village. Nungwook had gotten a whale in the spring and was held in high regard by the other villagers.
“Yes, Apa gave me a whale but the spirits took my child shortly after,” he said. “She was a beautiful little girl—seven seasons old—happy, pleasant and hard working. She became sick shortly after the whaling season ended, although we did all we could to make her well.
“We changed her name to fool the spirits that were making her sick. We went to the cemetery up on Mount Sivukuk and offered sacrifices to the spirits of our ancestors. And, of course, we called the shaman to perform ceremonies, to use his good helper spirits to drive away the evil spirits who made my daughter sick. But nothing helped. The evil spirits were too strong, and they took my girl, my beautiful little girl!
“Oh, that we had stronger help! Oh, that Apa had used
his power to defeat these spirits that torment us!”
Nungwook hung his head and looked so sad. He did not cry, for that was for women, but he was stricken by this loss.
Picture: shaman in his ritual garb with boy he’s trying to heal