Today, I’m sure I heard mention of, or saw displayed, every emotion imaginable to humankind. I remember joy, resilience, pain, fear, elation, solidarity, grief, laughter, tears, friendship, and reverence . . . often all tumbling on top of one another in quick succession.
There was so much pride and celebration in the drumming, dancing, and processing of the opening ceremonies. There was such tenacity and resilience in the words of Indigenous dignitaries who spoke of the incredible failure of the residential schools to assimilate the children they took in. There was incredible, palpable pain in the testimonies of survivors who courageously took to public stages to share how residential schools affected brokenness in their lives. There was also tremendous kinship and sense of community among the thousands gathered – from the podium we heard news of a grandchild’s birth, a call to find and embrace your cousins, and lighthearted jokes that can only be shared by close friends.
From a Christian perspective, this cacophony of emotion felt a bit like experiencing the whole liturgical year all at once. In the collage of testimony, witnessing, shared meals, listening, and performance was all that is rhythmically experience from Advent to Advent. I heard hints of waiting and expectation that echoed eschatological hope. There was also firm sense that reconciliation was taking shape, though its manifestation among us is still incomplete. In the expressions of reconciliation and the presence of the church in listening circles, there were clear words and gestures of repentance. In the tribute performances offered by Indigenous children, shared talents pointed to resurrection and beautiful new life. And in the dozen or so languages spoken today, I was reminded of God’s love for diversity and the movement of the Spirit through our differences.
In these Lenten days, though, I am reminded that repentance cannot be rushed or confused. We must journey the journey God has set out for us, no matter how much our worlds seem to swirl all our emotions and seasons together. On Friday afternoon, the Anglican Church of Canada lives out a small step on this journey in presenting an expression of reconciliation. The Edmonton expression is a detailed timeline of evolving relationships between the ACC and Indigenous people. Like all good Lenten pilgrimages, the time line draws to a close with the unique hope of Easter: It invites you to consider how you can join your church and society in moving towards living into right relationships.
What have your footsteps on this journey been so far?