Truths and reconcilations
Today is the 2nd time that Canada as a nation has recognized a Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It is a day where we are meant to pause, remember, and seek reconciliation with our history. The strange thing about history, is that it is still with us. Jean Gebser (https://gebser.org/jean-gebser-bio/) would call this the Ever-present Origin. Just as sure as I can trace my ancestry right down to my gene expression, as a nation we are built on the tragedies and the triumphs of our forebears. Our past is our present, our present is our future. I had a strange revelation one winter day, on a frozen lake, in the deep bush of northern Ontario. In the way that things descend upon or awaken in us, I came to understand that the past is in front of us and the future is behind us. We walk in the snowshoe prints of our forebears and our descendants will walk in ours. All we really have is this ever-present origin.
I do not want to appropriate, sully, or grift on this Day of Truth and Reconciliation and what it represents for indigenous people, or what it can mean for all of us. I have no hidden agenda, but I suspect much may be projected on to what I say next. I ask only this, make space between stimulus and response. In that space, as the poet Rumi entreated, meet me there.
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other”
doesn’t make any sense.
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.”
I am not woke, but I am awake. Or, at least I am waking up. I am paying attention. On the heels of over two years of unprecedented global, local, and personal upheaval, I have had lots of time to ponder. I have had lots of time to explore, study, cross-reference, fall down rabbit holes, and misunderstand so much. We are all in the reeds. Anyone who tells or shouts or tweets at you otherwise, is coming from the muck as the flood waters rise. We build Towers of Babel and try to secure our shrinking islands of knowing. We endeavour to build Arks and save the heritage seeds. We retreat and hold our hands over our ears to drown out the noise. But, whether from the towers before they crumble, the deck of the ships before they sink, or the static sounding in our own heads, one thing is clear, the world we knew is no more and the upheaval is far from settling.
These old woman musings will be my way to let my words sound up from the chaos, from the margins, from the edge. And maybe you are who I am speaking with, not the Edge Lords, but the edge refugees. Those of us who see that the centre is not holding and in the ruble of an old world dying and a new world labouring to be born, history is repeating itself.
The Residential School travesty that we remember today, surely marks us as a nation. It scars us. Brands us. Have we reconciled? NO! How do I know this? I know this because as Sigmund Freud declared, "we repeat what we cannot bear to remember". We are not reconciling, we are repeating. We are caught in a massive repetition neurosis. Government overreach happened, happens, and keeps on happening. Stealing children from their homes to civilize, educate, and protect them was a tragic and devestating government and church mandate. These mandates and doctrines were believed to be for their own good, for the common good. Sound familiar? People who dwell on the margins, outside the centre, at the edge of the known Western world, are not to be tolerated! I can barely reuse that widely accepted argument without tearing my clothes and gnashing my teeth.
So, dear reader, I ask you this: when the government mandates what a woman, or a trucker, or a farmer, or a health care worker, or a member of a 'fringe minority' can or cannot do with their own body, when the strongest argument is that it is for the common good, one has to wonder, have we learned nothing?!
If we are to reconcile this Day of Truth and Reconciliation, the historical and contemporary truths we deny or deform must be courageously and compassionately approached. We need to see that history keeps on happening.
I believe in a world where we acknowledge and respect the constancy of the centre, and the creative and unique beauty of the edge.