Reconciliation By Example

The prospects were gloomy. I had spent the last few sunny days on the back patio of my seniors’ retirement centre, contemplating my brief future on Planet Earth. At 97 pushing 98, “end of days” is a regular mental exercise.

Not a morbid one. Just philosophical ruminations and the back patio at Berwick Royal Oak retirement is an ideal spot for sunny day contemplation. A large ornamental pool with gorgeous water lilies in full bloom is fed by a waterfall tumbling from a higher pool which in turn is stream-fed by smaller pools.

There are goldfish in the pool. In early fall, a blue crane will become a regular morning visitor to check on goldfish growth. And, if deemed adequately fattened, they will provide a midday stork snack.

But, my ideal time for gentle reflecting on a long life well lived, mostly happy, is being disturbed this day by a nagging quote some thousands of years old: “Watchman, what of the night?” and the watchman’s reply: “The morning comes, and also the night.”

We live today in a highly disturbed world, as did the people of the King James Version of Isaiah 21 when they asked how long the dark times would last. And the prophet told them morning was coming – but so was another dark night.

And, that leaves me wondering where we are, three or four thousand years later, engaged in a world-encompassing battle with a dreadful disease and far from winning the fight, watching the advance of global warming and its ominous threat to Planet Earth.

A few weeks ago, leaders of the Tk`emlups (Kamloops) Indigenous tribe had shocked Canadians from coast to coast by making it known that 215 unmarked graves had been located on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School.

It was the first of what would become a growing and sad list of similar discoveries in the Kootenays and on the Prairies; other “schools” where the great experiment to deprive an entire race of human beings of their birthright had collapsed in a shocking and massively brutal betrayal of our supposed morality.

Overnight, several Roman Catholic Churches were torched and destroyed. Senseless attacks on statues of pioneer explorers and early settlers by ugly protests followed.

In my mind, I asked the Watchman when this nightmare will end and got a powerful unsolicited reply from the Indigenes Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc.

Within hours of a forest fire destroying the small town of Lytton and while the provincial government was still pondering its response, the well-organized Kamloops Aborigine Tribe was online to: “Welcome all fire evacuees to the Kamloops Powwow grounds. The Powwow Arbour is open and moccasin Square Garden is stocked with free supplies for anyone in need. We emphasize that EVERYONE is welcome! Plenty of room for camping. Free meals. Free water, hygiene supplies, pet supplies, baby things, clothing. Please feed your children; do not be shy to come here – you are more than welcome.”

It is a message of great hope for the future, however ominous the Watchman’s warning that after every morning comes another night. We can handle those nights if we can meet the high standards our original citizens are setting … standards too many white folks can’t manage to emulate.

7 comments

  1. Jim, perhaps your greatest column ever. Thank for your marvelous insights over the years (and may there be many more).

  2. A fine example of reconciliation. If we focus on such examples of friendship and hospitality and not on vindictiveness and revenge the night, when it comes, will not be long.

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