Faith from the Edges

Faith and life from the perspective of me.

Archive for the tag “reconciliation”

Symbols and Reconciliation

This was first published in The Messenger – the paper of the Anglican Diocese of Edmonton.

Recently in Wetaskiwin the local Canadian Tire store rose the Treaty 6 flag over its store. There it flies surrounded by the flags for Canada. The store owner said it is necessary to move forward and to recognize on whose shared territory the store sits and to acknowledge the need for better relationships with the First Nations in that area. For those living in Wetaskiwin and in Maskwacis this is an important symbol of reconciliation in the communities.

In parishes all around our diocese you will hear someone acknowledging the traditional territory on which the church sits at the beginning of Sunday worship. A symbol that recognizes that we are all treaty people and that we are all neighbours on this land.

Why is this important you may be asking? Aren’t concrete solutions better than symbols? The answer is yes and no. Concrete solutions are important but symbols help us to change the conversation. If we all begin to think that where we live is treaty land, then we begin to think of everyone who lives here as human, for we all share the land together. We all begin to know that we are each other’s neighbours and that we are all loved by God.

In our churches we have a number of symbols that speak to us each week – bread and wine for the Eucharist, the different colours for the different seasons, the robes our clergy wear and so many more. These symbols are the ones that speak to our faith and enrich our faith, they are symbols that we would not be without and would be angry if they were taken away from us.

How many of our churches now have a smudge available before worship starts? Not as many as could be or should be, but some do. How many have First Nations art and other symbols up in their buildings? Some do and we all need to find ways to make room for more. How many of us have invited First Nations leaders to pray before an event or during Sunday worship? Some have, more could. See how the conversation changes when we make our symbols present and more concrete.

This past Christmas I was given a ribbon skirt by one of the members of the Reconciliation Team at Immanuel, Wetaskiwin. Gloria and I have become friends. Her input into the work of reconciliation is so important. Now unless you are from a First Nations community or family, and especially if you are a settler, you aren’t likely to have a ribbon skirt. Gloria’s gift to me of this beautiful symbol was a gift of reconciliation, an understanding that our relationship, our bond as women, our bond as sisters of faith, has come to the point where she has welcomed me into the community of women who wear ribbon skirts. My ribbon skirt and my wearing of it is a symbol of reconciliation, it is a concrete action of relationship, it is wearing the prayers and love that were put into the making of it.

Reconciliation and Symbols

The dear one and I on Easter Sunday. I’m wearing my ribbon skirt.

Let’s look for those symbols of reconciliation and realize how they have changed the conversation between settler and First Nations, realize how they are making concrete the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and realize that neighbours are seeing each other in the light of reconciliation. Symbols of reconciliation can and will lead us to concrete actions of reconciliation.

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Reconciliation Goals for 2018

What are your Reconciliation Goals for 2018?

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. What are my reconciliation goals for 2018 and what are the parish’s reconciliation goals for 2018? I am hoping that readers out there are thinking and wondering the same thing for themselves and for their parishes. If you haven’t then here is a good place to start.

One of my reconciliation goals for this upcoming year is to have more rural and semi-rural parishes fully engage in neighbourly reconciliation work in their communities. Below is a list I have come up to help you think about what you and/or your parish can engage in this next year to further the ministry of reconciliation between Indigenous, settler and newcomer here in our communities.

  1. Read over the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action – take note of those which effect you directly, either the church or in your professional life. Find one that you can take action on with others in your parish.

  2. Read some books by Indigenous authors. There are a lot of them out there. Ask your local librarian for some recommendations if you can’t think of any. Why not start a parish book club that commits to reading together and having discussion time?

  3. Ask your parish priest to start Sunday worship by honouring the treaty that we are part of each week. We live on Treaty 6 land which we share with the Cree, the Nakoda, the Metis and the Inuit peoples.

  4. Participate in a Kairos Blanket Exercise – a meaningful way to learn more about the shared history of Indigenous and settlers on this land. Or how about hosting one in your parish? I know there are facilitators out there who would be willing to assist with this.

  5. Find out who your neighbouring First Nations communities are. Invite someone from the leadership to come and talk to your parish about the life of the community.

  6. Learn about white privilege if you are of European descent and how it affects your decision making without you even realizing it. Make steps to live consciously and name the privilege when you see it in yourself and if you can in others.

  7. Learn about Treaty 6 and the impact that it has had and is having on relationships between Indigenous, settlers and newcomers. What from the treaty can help move forward reconciliation between all of us?

  8. Take time to search the Bible for teachings about reconciliation. What do our Scriptures teach us about living a reconciled life? How will that deepen our commitment to reconciliation in our communities?

All of our reconciliation goals should be about deepening our relationships with our Indigenous neighbours, those who live in our communities and those whose communities are neighbouring ours. I am excited by how much our diocese and the parishes that make it up are committed to reconciliation in our communities. I hope that you are as well.

Happy New Year everyone and let’s all commit to being part of God’s reconciling work in the world with everyone we interact with.

P.S. I first published this in the January issue of The Messenger of the Anglican Diocese of Edmonton. You can find it here.

#AdventWord #Voice

#AdventWord #Voice

Yesterday afternoon I went with the dear one to be part of community resources event focusing on resources for the Indigenous members of our city. While we were there we got to hear from Chevi Rabbit of Hate to Hope. Chevi spoke to us using their voice to encourage us to be change agents for both Indigenous people and those who are gender fluid – LGBTQ2S folk.

Chevi took a hateful thing that happened and decided that hope was what needed not hate and started the group Hate to Hope. Their vision for a world that is filled with hope rather than hate inspired me and reminded me that God is working through so many different people. That using our voices to become our actions is what we are called to do. To include those who some think should not be included is what we are called to do. Yesterday felt all about Advent and listening to one of God’s prophet’s calling us back to the straight path of love for all, justice for all, peace for all and hope for all.

Bye, Bye 2016! Hello 2017!

A lot can happen in a year as we all know. 2016 for me has been all about the recovery. Recovery from cancer treatment and then recovery from the depression caused by having cancer. Seeing my hair grow and finally being able to get it cut and then needing another cut and getting a colour! The two pictures above were essentially taken a year apart. I am so grateful to have made it through all the cancer rigamarole and to mostly be feeling more myself.

There has been much that was good about last year and I don’t want to forget that as we say farewell to this past year.

I am grateful for all the family time the dear one and I got in this year. Time with his folks, time with my folks, time with our adult lovelies, time to take an extra special holiday to the west coast with two nieces and a nephew. How much fun did we all have on our adventures each day! We celebrated his parents 60th wedding anniversary – have to admit that is a life goal of mine. We got almost three weeks with our younger daughter before she headed off on her big adventure overseas.

I am also grateful that this year has been a good one as far as my ministry within the church. I have met many fine folk in this diocese who are committed to the work of reconciliation between Indigenous and settler in Canada and in particular our part of Canada. They want to educate themselves, they want to build up relationships, they want the church to become part of that story. This work keeps me energized in so many important ways.

The dear one and I celebrated 30 years of marriage this year and that really is a high point for both of us. We have been through so much together – both good, bad, silly, humdrum, fantastic and boring. We still look at each other and are amazed by the others love and are ever so grateful.

Here’s the tough stuff. No one warns, or at least not in my hearing, cancer survivors of the high rate of depression following treatment. I mean, really, you don’t think that someone’s emotional and mental health are as important as their physical health. I have to say that throughout this I am extremely grateful to the dear one for supporting me through that and for my family doctor and my therapist – they both got me through the worst. So a shout out to all of you dealing with cancer and its treatment, make sure that you get the help you need to deal with the mental and emotional bits as well as the physical bits.

The rest of the tough stuff is the part of the world I have no control over. The state of politics in the world, the rise of racist, right wing ideologies that just freak me out! The state of our environment – if you are a climate change denier please do some honest to goodness research and let’s all work together to leave a better planet for future generations. The state of so many women’s lives – please hear this men, feminism is not out to destroy you, it’s out to make the world a better place for all of us. I honestly think we can all do better in this regard.

Here are some of my goals for 2017:

  1. To write here more often – it does me good to write and so I am going to commit to at least two posts a month. Oh my goodness, I just put that out there.
  2. To move more – generally this means walking for me, but I also need to get in the water more. I have to get over my ‘they will be looking at me’ fear and just move more.
  3. To drink different beers – so many good beers out there.
  4. To laugh as loudly and as often as I can.
  5. To support those dealing with cancer. It is those of us who have gone through it that can be the best supporters for those going through it.
  6. To pray each day – I know right, you’d think a Christian woman living out her faith would already do this- but you know I really need to dig down into this.
  7. Find a way to deal with my chronic pain that doesn’t spoil every bit of my life – those of you who live with chronic pain will know what I am talking about.
  8. Have more people over for meals, drinks, whatever and spread the hospitality around – it is good for me when I can do this.
  9. I am going to work hard at speaking my truth, standing up for justice, reminding others that reconciliation is necessary and possible, that a healthy environment is our gift to the future.
  10. To find beauty wherever I can – because my goodness this is a beautiful world and there are so many creative people out there, it won’t be hard to find – for me a big part of that will be found in my garden. Oh yes, I am already dreaming of spring.

Thanks dear readers for hanging in there with me. You have brought out the best in me and I appreciate that. Got any goals for 2017? I’d love to hear them. Going to leave you with some final thoughts from a hero of mine Archbishop Desmond Tutu:

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Happy New Year to one and all!!

 

 

#AdventWord #Promise

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#AdventWord #Promise

Promises – I have made a lot of them over the years and I think I have kept most of them. I have had promises made to me and mostly those have been kept as well. I am grateful that my life is full of promises given and kept. It is not the case for the First Peoples of Canada. Promises were made in treaties and they were broken over and over again. As a country we have a long way to go towards reconciliation between Indigenous and Settler peoples.

The Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation and Justice of the Anglican Church of Canada wrote an open letter to the church that was released today. I realized while reading the letter that I have made a significant promise in my life of working in and for the church. A promise to be a bridge builder, to be one who helps to bring about reconciliation between Settler and Indigenous peoples. It is the reason why I do the work that I do for the Diocese of Edmonton.

This promise is going to mean that I have to keep the churches figurative toes to the fire. That we don’t forget our complicity in the Indian Residential Schools or that we have to become partners with the Indigenous church that is growing in our wider church. They have much to teach us if we are willing to listen. I am, I hope you are.

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#AdventWord #Promise

This day seemed to call for another image – as I was going upstairs at about 4 pm MST the sun was beginning to set. The orange glow just seemed to be God promising me another day and that there is hope in the world. So I stopped and enjoyed the beauty. I hope you do too.

#AdventWord #Listen

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#AdventWord #Listen

I work for the Anglican Diocese of Edmonton as part of the Indigenous Ministry team. Those of you who have seen a picture of me might think that is a bit odd. What is a white woman settler doing as part of that ministry team? It seems God wants me to be part of the reconciliation work of our diocese.

The biggest learning I have had as a settler in Canada is that I know or knew next to nothing about the Indigenous history of this country. I didn’t know anything about the treaties, I didn’t know how the doctrine of discovery had affected how European settlers dealt with the First Peoples of this land. I learned that I needed/need to listen.

To listen to survivors of Indian Residential Schools again, again and again. To listen to Indigenous friends share their stories of being affected by racism with me. To listen to Indigenous leaders tell me and others that their communities need to lead the way. To listen to God speaking through all of this, that this is part of the work of reconciliation, that is the work of the kingdom of God.

So I listen and I listen. I urge others to listen. As a country we need to listen. As a church we need to listen. For it is from listening that we will begin to understand the horror and the pain. For it is from listening that we will, all of us, Indigenous and settler, work on healing and move to reconciliation.

#AdventWord #Surprise

#AdventWord #Surprise

Yesterday I was gratefully surprised when the federal government here in Canada announced an inquiry into the Murdered & Missing Indigenous Women & Girls of our country  that has been at a crisis point for a number of years. This is something that I and many others of different faith traditions have been praying and lobbying for, for a number of years. The church I worship in, the church I work for, is actively engaged in reconciliation work. This work is hard, necessary and God driven. It is about repairing relationships between indigenous and settler peoples who share this land.

So I am grateful for this surprise, for our federal government following up on one of its promises made recently. I am grateful that prayer has been answered. I am grateful that they are going to listen to the families of the women and girls. I hope that this will mark a real shift in this country about how we deal with indigenous women and their struggle for equality. I am looking forward to more surprises.

P.S. Sorry about the crappy photo – taken with my iPhone of my computer screen while watching the news conference yesterday.

 

#AdventWord #Care

#AdventWord #Care

I am a little behind on this, so you may be getting a few blog posts from me today on Advent Word. The word for December 6th was care. To care for each other, for those we know well, for those who are our family is easy most of the time. To care for those we don’t know as well, that is harder, especially if it means stretching us beyond our normal comfort zones. The gospel, the good news of Jesus, calls those of us who follow his way to make that happen. We are called as disciples to love our neighbours as we have been loved by God our creator. That means all of our neighbours in this messy, painful, often violent world, all of them. We are called to care for the least of these most of all.

The dear one, as many of you know, is the rector of Immanuel, Wetaskiwin here in central Alberta. This past Sunday we remembered St. Nicholas – the bishop of Myra who cared for three young women who didn’t have enough. He made their lives bearable. Our parish has done some of that as well. We brought in gifts for children who wouldn’t likely get gifts this Christmas in our community, we brought in gifts of food for our local food bank to make sure that people in our community will have enough to eat. In other words we cared. We continue to care and hopefully share the love of God with those who are our neighbours, both near and far.

 

#AdventWord #Forgive

#AdventWord #Forgive

Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Most of us know where those words come from, the Lord’s Prayer.  But do many of us know this prayer in another language? I don’t, sadly. I need to learn. The picture above is the Lord’s Prayer in Cree syllabics. You can hear it here.

Today’s Advent word got me thinking about forgiveness as it relates to the work on reconciliation I am doing as part of the Indigenous Ministry Initiative of the Diocese of Edmonton. I have been privileged enough to be at two Truth and Reconciliation events – one locally held and the other a national gathering. I have heard the stories of Residential School survivors and heard members of my church offer words of remorse and ask for forgiveness. I work as a settler person on assisting rural churches develop actions of neighbourly reconciliation with indigenous communities. It is hard work and often means seeking to forgive our church for its past and asking others who were hurt by those actions in the past to do the same. It is the work that God has called my church to do and called me to be a part of. It is how I make forgiveness real.

 

Lent as Reconciliation

I have been pondering reconciliation a lot lately. It has something to do with the work I do, it has something to do with some personal relationships, it has a lot to do with my relationship with God. I decided yesterday that the word I am going to keep in front of me this Lent is reconciliation, as it seems to be the word God wants me to pay attention to. Over this holy season I am going to pray about reconciliation, write about reconciliation, work on reconciliation. I want this word and all its meanings to seep deep into my soul and become part of my being.

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Tonight like other Christians I will be going to church for the Imposition of Ashes. I have been getting a cross put on my forehead in this way for most of my life. It is a way for me to mark the beginning of this season. It will be a way for me to mark my reconciliation as a child of God, as a follower of Jesus. I will repeat the words over and over again today, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” as my prayer. I will remember how I have turned away from God and that God’s mercy and love is ever present even when I don’t recognize it. I will embrace that love and mercy and claim it as my own. I will remember that I am dust and to dust I shall return.

I want to be about the work of God’s reconciliation in the world and to do that I need first of all to make space for God in my life, to sit in silence (something I am not always good at), to let the words of Scripture be present and work through me, to hear the voice of Jesus through the voices of others.

This Lent I am going to hold these words from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians in front of me:

 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation;  that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.

(2 Corinthians 5:17-19)

Have a holy Lent. May you find God’s reconciling acts of love and mercy wherever you go. May you be Jesus’ ministers of reconciliation. May the Holy Spirit guide you in acts of reconciliation with others. Have a holy Lent.

 

 

 

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