On our own land – learning and sharing together


Early Saturday morning, I headed – with my car’s trunk full of boxes of books – to our yard sale. It felt somewhat exciting to be going home, albeit for a yard sale – a way to share what we no longer need and raise a few funds for our work in the community.

“It feels good to be going back to our own land,” I said prayerfully, anticipating spending the day with others.

And it was an incredible feeling, to go to someplace familiar and share memories, hopes and ideas of what the day would bring. It was good to catch up, share and encourage others.

Out of our long-time building since the fire in mid-February, the past few months have felt like we were journeying in a land we really didn’t know or understand. It is something God understands because other peoples have encountered such challenges; in Exodus 19, God reminded Moses of His faithfulness. “You have seen… how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.”

Still it feels like we’re living out of a suitcase. In some ways, perhaps we are, as a cart with a few hymn books donated to us from another Presbyterian church, we unpack and pack each Sunday morning in the chapel at Steckley’s. Our piano, cleaned and restored after the fire, is at Steckley’s and as we sang our closing hymn, I took in the words “through life’s storm and tempest, our guide you have been.”

It is indeed interesting to reflect on these feelings, as Wednesday, June 21, is National Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

It is a day to learn how they lived on the land they called Turtle Island. Different nations hunted, fished and cared for the land. Some peoples were more nomadic, while others preferred to keep to a more defined area. Then the settlers came. Others had to be accommodated and understandings made.

The Indigenous peoples, however, remained faithful to their grandfathers’ teachings and doing the Creator’s work by caring for the land and one another.

For the first time, the Presbyterian Church in Canada has elected a Moderator who is Indigenous. The Rev. Mary Fontaine will certainly help us better understand her culture and background and help us on our healing and reconciliation journey. You can read more about her https://presbyterian.ca/gao/moderator/

We are spiritual beings on our human journey together. By sharing who we are — our stories and our songs, our hopes and our dreams — we make others richer, just as they enrich and encourage us.

Indigenous elder and retired Anglican bishop Steven Charleston sums it up well:

“In spiritual life, we learn to deal with the unknown, the uncertain, the unexplained.

“While some may say religion is about rules, we embrace the sacred as uncharted territory.

“We are explorers by trade, searchers for the footprints of a holy migration. We hear a voice in the wild places of life. We see a trail over the distant mountains.”

In faith, we journey, together.