Since the Truth and Reconciliation (Canada) Commission’s 94 Calls to Action people across this wide nation presently called Canada have struggled to find ways to humble themselves and meet their indigenous kin on the place Rumi, in his poem, “A Great Wagon” describes as “a field” which is “beyond wrongdoing and rightdoing” where “even the phrase each other doesn’t make sense…”
This is not easy work. Indeed, it can be highly emotionally charged where defenses come up, sometimes accompanied by harsh words.
So, I am trying to find words that are gentler and kinder which say what needs to be said.
Because so much needs to be said.
Apologies must be made.
Not because each of us as individuals have done wrongs – though perhaps we have –
Apologies are necessary because harm was done from which most of us have benefitted in so many invisible ways. Ways that are woven into the mundane fabric of our lives which makes it hard to tease out the wrongs from the rest of the fibres.
Here is an attempt at a Greeting to the Land (which in modern parlance has become a “Land Acknowledgement”) for an online book study on “Braving the Wilderness…” by Brené Brown that I am facilitating.
I feel these verbal salutations of gratitude are essential whenever the people living in Canada, or more aptly, Turtle Island, gather. Gratitude is an important piece of being human which we are in peril of forgetting.
So here it is…
We gather in this place, all of us, on precious land.
We gather in places where we live and work and play and pray.
This is a time of waiting in the darkness. The cold, darkness reminds us that we are a storytelling people, like the many people before us all over this precious planet. And this is the time to gather around the fire and tell the stories that remind us why we are here. Who we are and whose we are.
If we go back 5,000 years, we know we all have ancestors … what do we know of them? How did they re-member their roots? How did they honour the land on which they gathered? What did their language sound like?
They told stories.
We not likely would understand their words. Certainly they were not Christian as we are. But they surely understand their place in the bigger picture – just as the people who lived and worked and played and worshipped on this land where we now stand did.
Mostly, these folk cooperated and lived in peace – perhaps because of necessity. Perhaps because they knew that they were kin. Perhaps because they saw in the features and the creatures around them cohabiting on the land were put there by a Creator. A Creator who put them here on purpose and who loved and cared for them just as they loved and cared for their own children.
And so we are grateful to our brothers and sisters who happened to be born in this place; who trace their roots for millennia to this very land and whose ancestors stewarded these lands, we have inherited, with such care that it was pristine and a welcome balm to our ancestors when they arrived here, homesick, lonely and afraid. Our ancestors who were welcomed and nurtured on this land as kin by our brothers and sisters who called this land home for generation upon generation.
Though we do not know their names, nor could we pronounce them if they were here to tell us, we re-member that we are all relations, all kin, and it is our “god given” responsibility and privilege to welcome the “stranger”, the one who is different, and to steward and care for the gift from Creator which is this land on which we humbly stand.
Aho! and may it be so.