As a person of First Nations ancestry I cannot help but wonder if the failure of Caucasian Americans and Canadians to reveal and teach about the horrors their ancestors carried out against North American First Nations Peoples during and after colonial times is a deliberate cover-up or an indication that they hold within their minds a notion that the life of a First Nations person is valueless – not worthy of human considerations. The latter is probably the more plausible, because it is an unchallengeable fact that the crimes against humanity that were committed against our Peoples over the centuries by people of European descent are not viewed with the same abhorrence by Caucasians that such crimes against other races of people are viewed. If such were the case there would be unconditional condemnation of it, and the knowledge would be readily available and taught in schools.
- Daniel N. Paul, We Were Not the Savages: Collision between European and Native American Civilizations (2006)
(These sobering words are a reminder of the changes that we are needing and wanting to make in terms of education. They come from a well-documented history of the treatment of the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet peoples in the Maritimes by European colonizers. This work, along with many others, is part of our library’s new Indigenous Studies Collection, which was in turn part of our Education for Reconciliation project made possible by a grant from Stronger Together.)
We need quiet time in the presence of God. Although we want to make all our time time for God, we will never succeed if we do not reserve a minute, an hour, a morning, a day, a week, a month, or whatever period of time, for God and God alone.
This asks for much discipline and risk taking because we always seem to have something more urgent to do and “just sitting there” and “doing nothing” often disturbs us more than it helps. But there is no way around this. Being useless and silent in the presence of our God belongs to the core of all prayer.
In the beginning we often hear our own unruly inner noises more loudly than God’s voice. This is at times very hard to tolerate. But slowly, very slowly, we discover that the silent time makes us quiet and deepens our awareness of ourselves and God.
Then, very soon, we start missing these moments when we are deprived of them, and before we are fully aware of it an inner momentum has developed that draws us more and more into silence and closer to that still point where God speaks to us.
– Henri J. M. Nouwen, Reaching Out
[from a back-to-school transition liturgy crafted by Agnes Kramer-Hamstra, and prayed together last night at a small gathering of faculty and staff]:
….We turn again to the little way station that is SSU
We turn to this small happening microcosm where
we try to play out the largeness,
the grand languid move and
the almost invisible quickstep
that is your life in and with our lives,
in and with the life of this world,
Creator and Redeemer.
And, as we turn, we ask for help:
Help us each to accept who we are and what we are able to give right now
Help us to offer what we can, gladly
Help us to hear and see the people students are, see them and hear them as you do
Help us to teach; help us to listen.
Help us to ask for help.
Help us when we feel overwhelmed.
Grant us your peace.
[a poem by SSU ministry student, Jessica Williams]:
Find me in the Darkest Night
afraid of flight
praying to the God of Light
to find me.
Find me when my head’s bowed low
turned from Love
and all that glows
when shadowlands have gathered slow
to find me.
Find me in the shame that grips
when ancient roots
arise and trip
eroding paths I thought
were sent to guide me.
Find me where the Thistles Bloom
as Pain and Beauty
holding space, creating room
within my heart
to find You.
It is there I recognize
You’ve been inside
that’s come along
beneath this Sky
to find me.
We will name them
large and small
I am held
within them all
even as I rise and fall
to find You.
Help me then to keep my gaze
on what is here
within this Place.
This is where I know your Grace,
this is where I see your Face,
this is how I find You.
– Jessica Williams
[After an amazing week in which SSU helped to host the inaugural Bonfire Festival in St. Stephen – with the help of many alumni and friends – we had some final songs from visiting artists to wrap up this morning at St. Croix Vineyard. In the middle of the service, when the vulnerability and presence of the Spirit were getting thick, Rosie Funk read this passage from Thomas Merton]:
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
- Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude