We were overcome with a huge feeling of gratitude, that we had been sustained on the journey by God and the prayers of God's people, for the welcome we received by Anglicans and First Peoples, by the positive response to Bishop’s challenge to continue the journey.
We set off this morning from Roche Cove, walking the Galloping Goose most of the way into Sooke. At Roche Cove, we were joined by the Rev Dimas Canjura and three of the people of Holy Trinity, along with Imelda Secker, who works with the bishop at the synod office. What a blessing to have community historian, Liz Johnson along to relate the history of the places we passed.
This part of the ‘Goose’ is particularly scenic and we marvelled at the spring wild flowers, the waterfalls, the forest—all part of God’s creation. We saw wild lilies, a symbol used by many island churches, and to our surprise, a cluster of trilliums, Ontario’s provincial flower. Obviously, someone had passed this way from eastern Canada. Douglas fir (‘fake fir’ according to Liz), cedars, arbutus, larch and other species of trees accompanied us along the way.
As we reached Sooke Rd, we left the serenity of the Goose and headed for the city centre and Holy Trinity. Along the way, a planned visit with the T’Sou-ke Nation proved to be a very meaningful stop. Here we were met by Councillor Rosie Dumont who responded to Bishop’s request to enter the land and to stay by reporting that she had approval to do on behalf of the chief and council of the nation. The entire group of walkers was deeply touched by her warmth and friendly response, and her invitation to visit again.
Then it was on to Holy Trinity for a sandwich lunch provided by the people of the parish and a period of relaxation until the potluck dinner in the early evening. At the evening event, Bishop spoke of the meaning of the Sacred Journey as a symbol of the long journey to reconciliation. Over a delicious vegetarian meal (in honour of Bishop), we talked and laughed and shared stories of the SJ. And then we departed for our homes with a small sense of loss that tomorrow held no down-the-road walking goal (“what are we going to do with ourselves”). Relief soon overcame this.
As Bishop’s words echo in Anglican churches all the way down the island from St Columba in Pt Hardy to Holy Trinity in Sooke, the importance of his message and the sincerity and commitment with which they are expressed sinks in. He is committed to staying the course and the people of the island—Anglicans and First Nations--
The SJ has served as a symbol of the work ahead. With God in our corner and Bishop and an ever-expanding circle of those touched by the potential for a renewed relationship, the journey will continue and the end will be achieved.
And so the second phase of the SJ has been completed and what an enormous privilege to walk this path with Bishop. Just over 100km and 160,000 steps, added to the 480km and 650,000 steps of 2016, we have now walked Vancouver Island from as far north as the road leads and the same south and part way to the west. We have visited and been graciously received by Anglicans and First Peoples along the way. Many people have joined on the walk, for which we are very grateful. Thanks also to all those who have supported the journey in a variety of ways.
Bishop has carried the important message of reconciliation and the challenge to join in the work in a spirit of truth-telling, healing and reconciliation. The principles of simplicity and humility have been sustained and in turn have sustained. Carried by the grace of God and the prayers of God's people, we have survived sore feet and aching muscles, walking further than we ever imagined that we could.
As Elder Jill Harris said of the SJ, “the door has been opened” to new conversations and new relationships. We must ensure the door remains open so the hard and important work, yet to be done, is carried forward and at some future day is completed.
Nelson Mandela’s words echo as we end this step of the long journey. “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”
We must take a moment to rest, and then we must walk on. With God’s help, we will.