Over the last 3 weeks, as part of the #22days initiative, bells have been ringing in churches from coast to coast, tolling for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Based on the posted responses on Anglican.ca, there have been nearly 100 churches taking part in various ways, with an estimated 350,000 combined bell tolls taking place. It received a mention on the floor of Canada’s Parliament as a push toward a formal inquiry. It has received good media coverage. It has been a set of moments for the Church to step into the prophet’s role, standing in solidarity with the grieving, and by giving voice to all lives being important.
In many ways we’ve risen admirably to the invitation. We’ve gotten it right, and we’ve done it together. Bell ringing, in some places, has given family members of women on this tragic list a place to grieve, to ring bells with others who care, and to speak and shout the names of their loved ones. It has been a place where healing has had the opportunity to start to grow. I’ve witnessed it: Healing has started to grow. Now comes the hard part. The hard part lies in the ‘What now?’ part of this equation.
It’s great that we’ve risen to the challenge of the prophet task, but can we be the prophet to ourselves? In our own hearts? Can we live with the hard truths voiced in the wake of the TRC? Are we willing to build relationships of equality with Indigenous people? Will we help to call for justice, and the implementation of the TRC recommendations? Are we truly ready to strive for justice and peace for all people, respecting the dignity of every human being?
I’ll be honest; I don’t know what this looks like. I know that as a liturgical people, it’s hard not to know what’s coming after the psalm, much less be asked to remain in the midst of the unknown. But remain we must. We can’t flinch, run away or bail out now.
We’re in this with our words and our bells.
Now is the time to give generously of our hearts and our time, and our continued action. Taking steps forward in faith, here are the principles I’m trying to abide by: People are people, not issues. Relationships need to be based on equality. Justice, to be truly reconciling, needs to be restorative. Healing must be sought for ourselves as well, not simply wished for someone else. In the midst of what promises to be a time filled with uncertainty, I feel that God is doing something wonderfully new in our midst. In continuing on this path of reconciliation, relationship building and healing, we have the chance to reclaim a piece of ourselves lost when we became participants in colonization. This uncertain time is pregnant with holiness and redemptive possibility. I consider it the most important work we can be about right now.