September 30 is Orange Shirt Day. If Bill 369 passes in parliament, it will become National Truth and Reconciliation Day. This is a day to wear an orange shirt and renew our intention to acknowledge the violence done to others and ourselves, learn the effects of dehumanization, and choose to live more compassionately.
I began this journey a few years ago by listening to the stories of indigenous people. One story gently led to another. I watched and read Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese, learned about Orange Shirt Day from Phyllis Webstad, participated in the Blanket Exercise, saw the Anglican-made documentary Doctrine of Discovery, joined a book group that discussed Speaking Our Truth by Monique Gray Smith, attended Children of God, a play written and performed by indigenous people, and went to National Indigenous Day celebrations. Each experience opened my eyes and heart to indigenous people and the truths about their history that needed to be named and grieved.
This led to action. I walked for Truth and Reconciliation, lobbied for Bill C-262, and in June, joined others in our SoulStream community and formally renounced the Doctrine of Discovery. We continue to talk together about what more we can do. Education and self-reflection top the list.
Recently, an indigenous friend introduced me to the podcast All My Relations, and I am learning about blood quantum and native re-appropriations. I have also added Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer and Neither Wolf Nor Dog by Kent Nerburn to my reading list.
Last week, I listened to Eckhart Tolle: Being in the Now. Tolle told Oprah, “Love is the recognition of yourself in another. . . You can love your neighbour as yourself because you recognize your oneness with your neighbour.” That was a bing-bing moment for me, as Oprah would say. Loving my neighbour as myself doesn’t just mean loving them the way I would like to be loved, but loving them in our oneness. I am them, and they are me, one in Christ.
What I began to see is that the person I judge (and I am not thinking of indigenous people here) as mean, uninteresting, or unimportant is a part of me–the part of me I don’t want to acknowledge that can be mean, uninteresting, or unimportant. When I cut this person off, I cut off a part of myself. But when I am reconciled with these aspects of myself, this changes how I see and respond to others. As I love myself, I will love them. Or, I could put it this way: as I stop dehumanizing myself, I will stop dehumanizing others.
The action or spiritual practice here is to notice when I’ve judged and disconnected from another, see myself reflected in them, and then welcome that part of me home. For example, when I’m irritated by someone in victim mode, I can take a step back, and remember when I was in their shoes, and offer compassion to that version of myself. That compassion will also be available for them.
In this process of learning, feeling, acting, and reflecting, we become more human. We will be reconciled to ourselves and our neighbours.
[A scribe] asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,
and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
–Mark 12:28-31 (NRSV)
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Are you open to God doing some love mischief in your life? Sally Ringdahl and I are offering an Ignatian Silent Retreat online November 6-8. This retreat is designed for anyone who would like a silent, guided prayer retreat, for anyone who is considering participating in the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises or anyone who would like to experience Ignatian Prayer—Lectio Divina, Gospel Contemplation (Praying with your imagination) and Prayer of Examen. For more information or to register, go to https://soulstream.org/ignatian-prayer-retreat-fall-2020/