National Aboriginal Day: It Will be Love
On May 4th, Calvary hosted a blanket exercise. I was privileged to attend with others in our church community. I had participated in a blanket exercise previously at a school council conference, but my heart desperately yearned to participate in the exercise within my church community.
What about the blanket exercise appealed to my spiritual life?
Why did I long to participate as part of a church community?
Would it be different?
Would it hold greater significance for me? Would I feel something else?
There is a part of me that recognizes the value of restoration and reconciliation like I recognize the value of fresh air and a healthy diet. I can go without and find easier and more convenient ways to live my daily life. Things will fall into place and life will continue.
But will it be a full and abundant life?
Or will it be affected by my choices?
“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”
—2 Corinthians 2:14-17
I long for life in fullness and abundance. It’s one of the many reasons that I choose Jesus. For this reason, I was drawn to questions around the Truth and Reconciliation Commission .
What are we doing as a church?
What am I doing as an individual?
What does this mean for my children?
When the blanket exercise was introduced to me, I thought, “This is my chance to do something.” I had no idea the impact it would have on me. But I approached it with the gravity that hundreds of years of colonization, oppression, and genocide demands.
Throughout the exercise I had opportunity to consider the roles represented and empathize with the people affected by the events of our national history and identity. The settlers, the indigenous people, the church, the politicians, the mothers, the children … I came to a new understanding of the truth of the history of our nation. It was not an easy acknowledgement but it was necessary.
Recently, I heard Charlene Bearhead speak on residential schools. She was speaking to a room full of parents of school aged children. Many of her revelations were shocking and disturbing. All of them were true. The room was silent. There were tears. Then Charlene said, “The intended response to the blanket exercise and to residential schools is not guilt or shame, rather it is a greater understanding of the truth.”
That makes me think of our Father … knowing that service out of guilt and shame holds no freedom.
And the blanket exercise makes me think of our Jesus … who would take my place, free me up, so that I don’t need to move forward in guilt or shame.
And my response must be … to acknowledge the truth because of Jesus, because of the grace and mercy that He has shown me.
At the end of the blanket exercise, Sissy, the facilitator from the Native Healing Centre, shared that she was nervous to come to a church because of the truths contained in the script of how the church had participated in residential schools.
Lord, have mercy on us.
The harm continues unless we actively do something to stop it.
Will it be prayer?
Will it be repentance?
Will it be friendship?
Will it be education?
Will it be activism?
I don’t know. But what I do know for certain is this, it will be love.