Yet, something kept drawing me back and caused me to pause and to think. Even though I spent the next year and a half trying to prove to myself that God really did not exist, I was drawn back. Even through university and then theological college, I still challenged, questioned and wondered. I discovered I was on some sort of weird spiritual quest to find the bigger answers to life's questions. In the process, I found God. I found peace.
As the Anglican priest in this parish of Caledonia, which encompasses the Douglas Creek Estates, I struggle to be a pastor to people on both sides of the land claims issue which has gone on for a year now. These people are all grappling with anxiety, fear, depression anger, sorrow, and bewilderment. I believe that the most prevalent emotion is fear; fear of the unknown, fear of losing something precious, fear of the future, fear of a repeat of Ipperwash--a situation that remains unresolved years later. Fear is a terrible way to live. Fear calls out the worst in people.
From outsiders trying to prove a point by using and abusing our community to vandals wreaking havoc on the lives and homes of people who are well beyond the breaking point, we might wonder where God is in all of this. I guess I would say that God is on the edges. God is in the small details and moments of our lives, particularly when we are afraid and uncertain. God is with each of us when we are most vulnerable. In my heart I know God is with each of us, walking every step of the way with all of us in our fear and our anxiousness.
Someone said to me awhile ago that this way of living was the 'new normal.' What does that 'new normal' look like? For many of us, it is easier when asked how we are to say we're fine when life gets tough isn't it? Quite a number in town are simply getting on with life. They recognize that traffic has lessened, businesses have closed and others will be closing this winter but their own lives are not directly impacted. Some are simply desensitized to what is happening here; they've become so overwhelmed with all the media coverage that they have just shut down in terms of attending to the issue.
Others, living on the edges of the disputed property, are very much living in the thick of it still. So it is for St. Paul's. We have natives in our congregation. We have natives and non-natives in our families here and on Six Nations. We have friends on both sides. Each is part of us in some way or other and many relationships continue despite the current struggle. There is a long history of good relationships. One day, there will be great relationships again.
Time and again, I have said that I can not even begin to understand the breadth and depth of native land claims across Canada. I do however understand justice and freedom for all. Somewhere in this journey we are all on, there will be truth and understanding and eventually healing. I believe it. Maybe that seems like a small start but small starts can be powerful. A new year is upon us. The negotiations continue to drag on with the government. We can impact this. We all need to take a firmer stance with regard to connecting with our elected officials.
We need to use those channels to flood their offices across Ontario and this country with requests to get moving on native land claims. In particular, we need to urge our government to settle the Caledonia land claim so that we can move to a place of healing and peace. Caledonia and the people of Six Nations cannot continue to live in fear, anxiety and anger. The financial, emotional and social costs are crippling us. We need action and we must press our elected officials to move now. I ask you to write to your elected officials, federal and provincial, urging them to be strong voices for a speedy resolution to the land claims; most of which have been lingering in the system for years....
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