We had a unique and moving worship service today. First of all we were welcomed to Stolo nation land. After what we as settlers have done to the indiginous people it was moving to hear this welcome and to hear that he considered all of us “people of the river.” Then we heard a dialogue between a descendant of Mennonite settlers [Don Klaassen] and a descendant of people who have lived in North America for 10,000 years [Isadore Charters]. They enacted the story of the Good Samaritan and it took on new meaning as a “white man” played both the priest and the Levite and the “Indian” played the Samaritan.
We enjoyed a potluck meal after the service and were also invited to participate in carving a healing pole that Isadore Charters has been working on for almost a year. It is part of his healing journey from the pain inflicted during his experience at a residential school. Hearing his story brought on a lot of varying emotions and layers for me. I live on land that our ancestors took by force. The church tried to convert indiginous people by removing children from their families and their culture. As a survivor of childhood abuse I can identify in a small way with his experience of abuse. I also have a sister who is of aboriginal background.
As he told the story of going back to the place where he grew up and a few others with very different pasts shared similar stories of revisiting childhood geographies, I was also brought back in my mind to where I grew up as a child. It has been more than 12 years since I have been back there. I wondered… Is it time for a return trip? What are the additional layers of healing for me?
The whole morning was a powerful reminder of the importance of stories. Mixed together were stories from the Bible, stories of Canadian history, stories of escaping from Russia, and stories of revisiting childhoods on the prairies. Each of us has a story. Each of us has many relationships that are part of our stories. When the story contains brokenness and pain then healing is needed. The healing pole was a living illustration of the process of healing. It takes participation in community and it takes care, patience, and time.