1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, American Standard Version)
I feel a little out of step; this weekend in Ottawa, at the historic National Forgiveness Summit, was a time for forgiveness. But for me; privileged to be there to witness this moment in time; it was a time to mourn.
Chief Kenny Blacksmith wrote in his welcome to those gathering:
Two years ago on June 11, 2008 Prime Minister Stephen Harper sincerely apologized for Canada's role in the Indian residential school system, and asked the forgiveness of the aboriginal peoples of this country for failing them so profoundly.
At that moment, the onus was placed on our people as individuals to respond. We all know it is impossible that no offence should come in our relationships with one another. We also know that offence imprisons and limits the freedom of all people, and forgiveness is not political; it cannot be legislated. It is not economic; it cannot be bought, sold or traded; forgiveness is spiritual, and it is borne of the unconditional love of our Creator.
June 11-13, 2010 will be our time to choose to forgive, and this will break the generational cycle of victimization and accusation, and forgiveness will release a blessing on those who seek forgiveness and those who forgive. This is our time to embrace and celebrate our freedom.
I was struck by the beauty, and gracious spirits of the thousands of Aboriginal people who filled the Ottawa Civic Centre this past weekend. Everywhere there was dignity, gentleness and grace.
They spread a rich cultural feast before us in the form of dance, drama and music. Everywhere there was pulsing rhythm; movement; ribbons, colourful shawls, and flags, flying.
My heart broke to think that newcomers ever thought it right to isolate children from parents and attempt to obliterate a culture in which there is so much wisdom, and from which we still have much that we could learn.
On Friday evening, representatives of the Church in Canada from every denomination, streamed onto the platform, led by the Reverend David Mainse, to ask for forgiveness, on their knees, for its role in the abuse and mistreatment of the Aboriginal peoples. It was an important and powerful acknowledgment and a repentance in which we all shared.
The next day an Inuit leader read Isaiah 61:1
1 The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is upon me; because Jehovah hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; (Isaiah 61:1, American Standard Version)
He said, "We forgive you for using your God given authority to oppress and suppress our people. We release our judgment, especially me--hidden judgment, on the church of Canada. You will see our people worshipping with you in dance and with drums. You will see and hear things you have never experienced before because the fullness of time is God's time to proclaim the gospel. He who came to set the captives free will once again set captives free."
The offence had been fully and completely acknowledged. Forgiveness was the response.
To be continued...