...And deep appreciation to the many who were able to join us physically on the walk (we estimate that over 200 joined us along the route), symbolically, and those who prayed for us along the way. Your presence and your prayers sustained our spirits and made each step easier. Thanks to all.
39.4 km, 54,000 steps, a very long day as we took the scenic route.
Last report from the road as tomorrow we get Bishop on a morning ferry at Mill Bay and turn the SJ over to Stephen. We received word today that National Indigenous Bishop Mark MacDonald would walk with Bishop Logan tomorrow and Friday.
First, an oversight. On yesterday's report, I failed to report (tired I guess) the 70 good people who met with Chief Brown, the elders and the Bishop at St Michael and All Angels and thank those who organized such a wonderful pot luck dinner. Thanks to all who made the evening sing.
Further, Elder Harris shared an important lesson- when first peoples issue an invitation, two people deliver it by hand- no emails, no phone calls, no snail mail.
Today was walking and visiting with church folks. Several joined in the walk and even more in the lunch at St John's in Duncan and dinner at St John the Baptist in Cobble Hill. Thanks to Revs Clara and Heather and all the people of both churches for their welcome and generosity.
Bishop spoke of the importance of right relationship with first peoples as he shared the experiences and learnings of the SJ. Of particular note, he mentioned the emotion of hearing Chief Willie Good's story. He expressed his pleasure at the openness of the many Anglicans he had encountered on the journey. The foundation for the work ahead is solid, a great base from which to move forward.
Jim summarized his experience in two words- "wow and ow" pointing to his feet on the second word. He said "the ow will soon fade but the wow will last a long time." This reflects the sentiment of the entire SJ team- we will not soon forget what we have been privileged to have experienced. We have been changed and will hopefully be better because of our part in this journey.
In closing, I want to express my sincere appreciation to everyone involved, from those who were there at the first glint in Bishop's eye, to the volunteers on the planning team, to the parishes, their clergy and laity who organized events and fed us so well, to the motor home drivers who took on extra tasks without hesitation, to the first peoples who met us with such grace and open hearts, to our wonderful hosts who gave us refuge and a comfortable bed, to our sponsors who provided t-shirts at cost and lodging, and to Mama Bishop who fed us many great lunches.
And thanks to our Bishop who dreams of a better world and then sets out to make the dream a reality. Our church and our world is better off for that reality.
The Sacred Journey is almost over. The path to reconciliation is a long one with many, many steps yet to be taken. But together, we have taken a huge step; we have made the SJ a reality and we have made a difference, and for that we can be humbly proud.
With God in our corner, nothing is impossible. Let us continue to act on this magnificent dream of justice and mutual respect for all.
Wayne for the SJ team
A long day, 33.5 km, 49,000 steps
First a correction- Chief Willie Good did not attend residential school. Many family members did; he was speaking of the impact on his family and of their pain in his life.
Second, a bow with sincere appreciation to our wonderful hosts with whom we were billeted. In Lantzville, Rev Chillman and Jude, in Nanaimo, Syd and Joyce and Carol and Boyd, and in Duncan, Sarah and Gary. We got to know many wonderful people and we are most grateful.
Today was a long walk. One huge highlight was the many people who joined the SJ for parts of the day.
As we left St Paul's, Susan, Adela and Gill from Gabriola joined along with Daryth from St Philip's, Cedar until the first break.
In reflections as they departed, Susan said she wanted to think more about leadership and the loneliness that leaders must encounter as she watched Bishop walk at the front, alone and in silence. A message for all - our obligation to all Anglicans to support the bishop so that his walk (this one and the many more to come) are walked in the company of saints and angels.
Adela spoke of the honour she felt in joining the SJ today. Despite walking fast down the main road, "I sensed we were walking through history- leaving behind the regrettable past and embracing a new level of awareness and respect for 'all our relations'. A humbling and in-Spir-ing experience."
Later we were joined by Ruth and John from Ladysmith and Sara from Duncan for the journey into Chemainus. Our friends from Port Alberni, Jeanette and Amber also joined. As we walked together, Jeanette said she could not explain the 'pull' that the SJ had on her, "but I have to be here." Expressing what many pilgrims along the way are feeling.
And so we walked on. Traffic on the main road was heavy, but the sun shone and our spirits remained high. As soon as possible, we diverted off the highway to Chemainus road and more quiet. At our afternoon break, as the entire group shared cookies and stories in the motor home, rain poured down. As we got ready to resume the walk, the rain slowed to a trickle, so while we walked for some time in rain - not bad. God graced our path with several rainbows today.
On to St Michael and All Angels for a wonderful dinner and a meet-up with Revs Wimmer and Cutten. Here we were graced with the presence of Chief Brown of the Penelakut nation and elders Jill Harris and Val Bob.
In his presentation, Bishop read quotes from government and church documents of the 1920s and 1930s indicating the terrible attitude of officials at that time toward 'the Indian problem' - the basis and justification for residential schools and their devastating effects. He offered a sincere and emotion-filled "I am truly sorry" to the First Peoples present and reminded Anglicans of the work to be done.
In response, Jill Harris used the parable of the Good Samaritan to remind us all of our responsibility of all our neighbours. She asked for respect in her most gracious response to the bishop's apology.
Stories of the experience of the SJ were shared in the hope that words would give a picture of the indescribable honour of our participation. First Peoples have been gracious and kind every time we meet, and we are learning.
The most poignant moment occurred during the gift exchange as Rev Heather presented Chief Brown with a pewter replica of a dragonfly. In an emotional thanks, Chief Brown explained that her mother had passed away a few years ago. The symbol that they remember her mother by is a dragonfly, something unknown to Heather when she obtained the gift. As the story unfolded, Rev Michael said "more evidence of God's work," to which we all agreed.
Another day full of God's enormous love for us all; another day that we will not soon forget.
One more long day to come. Blessings.
Wayne for the team
19.3 km, 26,000 steps
Started out in the rain this morning with five hardy souls from St Martin of Tours, Gabriola. George, Jill, Rose, Rob and Richard caught the 6:15 ferry to join us at St Philip's as we began to walk. Meagan and her children, Zion and Amaya from the Emmaus community also appeared - a pleasant surprise to Bishop and the rest, and off we walked on what was to be a short walking day with tight deadlines.
Syd was there to take pictures and join in morning devotions a and Joyce met us along the way.
Last evening, we had received word from Rev Evans, who had organized our visit to Nanaimo, that Hereditary Chief of the Suneymuxw, Willie Good and his family would meet us at Departure Bay this morning.
Although likely to leave us late to the important service of Blessing of the Oils, this was an important meeting, and in the event, proved most profound and transformative.
Our entire group of pilgrims travelled down the hill to the bay. As we watched, Bishop said how sorry he was for the part played by the Anglican Church in residential schools and for the approach of the settlers on first entry to traditional and sacred lands.
In an emotional response, Chief Good, himself a residential school survivor, explained the impact on himself and his family. He said that he had almost decided not to come as he did not want to remember the pain and suffering that he and his family had endured over a long time. The chief showed great courage in opening his heart and soul to the assembled pilgrims. With tears streaming down his face, his words had an enormous impact on the assembly -transformative, powerful, life and attitude-changing.
As others watched, I was doing a twenty-minute live interview wit CFAX radio, replacing the bishop who was with the Goods. I explained the unfolding ceremony as best I could, admitting that it was impossible to explain the impact unless present. As Chief Good was ending his comments, the interviewer asked "what are they doing now?" to which I excitedly exclaimed, "they are all hugging." As I write these words at 5am the next morning, I get such a warm and tingly feeling; evidence of the impact on me even though I was observing from several feet away. You really had to be there to feel the emotional and spiritual impact - a powerful confirmation of the importance of the SJ.
After a gift exchange and more conversation and more hugs, we set off back up the hill, now hopelessly late. At the same time, imagine how our spirits were buoyed by the honour bestowed by Chief Good and his family, by his words and the courage he showed in opening his soul and his story in front of his family and a group of strangers. The spiritual boost is hard to capture in words. Evidence was confirmed by the pace set by Bishop who was soon several blocks ahead.
An hour late, we arrived at St Paul's where 40 clergy and 100 people waited patiently for the service to start. Rev Evans began the service as the bishop got into his vestments by proclaiming "we have a bishop."
Bishop's homily gave a different meaning to the difficult walk of yesterday. He said we all have to push through such times just as Jesus pushed through to the cross during Holy Week. A powerful lesson from a very unpleasant experience. A clergy luncheon followed where stories were shared and friendships strengthened. Bishop's comments were warmly received by all.
On our daily reflections at day's end, the transformative impact of the day was evident as we shared emotional reflections. Courage and openness as a model for truth-telling, displayed by Chief Good, set a standard that we can only hope to emulate. We wish that all Anglicans could have been with us.
We carry you in our prayers and our hearts as we encounter such spirituality and hope that our words convey at least part of what we have experienced on the SJ.
Wayne for the team
26.3 km (after noon), 35,100 steps.
In the interests of catching up, a short summary of a very full day.
Our day began with a beautiful Palm Sunday service including a confirmation.
To a full church, Bishop delivered a stirring homily on the theme "Is that all you have?"
We processed from the beautiful old St Anne's Church waving palms and cedar boughs to a full church and witnessed the confirmation of Evan. Chief Recalma was with us, honouring Bishop and the SJ once again.
With many km to go and people from another parish to see and a stop at a FN tribal office to make, we set off right at noon, joined by three hardy souls.
John Woodruffe joined the team as driver and Doug returned home with our most hearty thanks for his service.
On the path just outside of town, a small red car stopped, a man crossed the road to thank the bishop for what he was doing. The man had been at St Mark for the morning service and had heard of the SJ. He was from Edmonton. The word is spreading!
At Nanoose Bay, we met at the Petrocan station with members of St Mary's. Val and granddaughter Ava joined us for a few kms. Mary and Elaine wished us well. So good to have people join us along the way - evidence of a growing awareness, stirring our souls and spurring us on.
Given time constraints, we were forced to travel down the main highway for several kms - not a pleasant experience. Rain was an added issue, so we walked heads down...we persisted.
Down the road, three members of the Nanoose FN were waiting in the rain to ensure we didn't miss the turnoff. Imagine what a pleasant sight that was. We walked with the three and others joined along the road to the tribal office.
In a gazebo, out of the rain, we had the most wonderful short ceremony with young tribal leaders. We were honoured with a song in the language of the nation and a welcome from a council member who was also a residential school survivor. The welcome touched us all deeply; John said this had given him a perspective that would forever change his attitude toward the First Peoples.
Then on to St Philip to meet with Rev Chillman and his people and team and cookies.
Our days are getting full and joyous. By day's end, the rain and traffic were forgotten in the delight of the FN ceremony and the visits with fellow Anglicans.
May you all be as blessed as are we.
Wayne for the team.
...The highlight of our day was the evening feast prepared by the people of St Anne and St Edmond. 100 people representing six parishes, two First Nations (FNs) and the young man who would be confirmed the next day were fed a bountiful meal catered by the FN folks.
In his remarks after dinner, Bishop explained his family crest (the Logan clan) includes a heart with three nails. The nails represent, for Bishop, truth-telling, healing and reconciliation. In providing detail on the first, Bishop read a 1938 quote from an official of the residential school partnership between government and the Anglican Church. The quote was shocking in the obvious underlying objective of the schools; to remove the Aboriginal from the children who were taken from their families by the system. His presentation made the point dramatically in a manner that confirmed the need for Anglicans, along with the victims, to be healed as a precondition to reconciliation.
Chief Recalma spoke of the importance of the SJ and repeated his welcome of the previous day.
The Nanoose FN was represented by education director, Patti Edward and elder, Barbara Barltrop. Patti spoke of the current attempts to introduce First Nations languages and cultures into the education system.
The most poignant moment of the evening was provided by Barbara who thanked the church for its support during recent crises (see video below). Then she paid high honour to Bishop, the Anglican Church and the SJ saying, "This is the only church taking action like this, on an issue of such importance." "You must be very proud of your bishop and your church." Imagine how touched we all were. In fact, she had articulated what our team members had been saying to each other as we watched the bishop's vision unfold over the previous days while on the journey together.
Another wonderful day - a day full of good experiences, pleasant surprises and profound learning. A day that confirmed the importance of the SJ for those of us travelling with Bishop. A day that must give all on these islands - Anglicans, First Peoples and others - hope that the future can be one in which relationships have been made right and we are all better for it.
Would that everyone could have the experience we had today. We just hope that our modest reports and the stories with which we return give a sense of the opportunities that we are witnessing.
Days are so full as we journey southward and my reports are getting behind.
May God be good to you as God is being to us.
Wayne for the SJ road team
28.5 km, 43,000 steps
First, acknowledgment of our gracious and generous hosts, Lynne and Mike Downes, who welcomed us into their home, fed us so well, and gave us a place to lay out tired bodies. Thank you so much.
With a long walk ahead, we left another wonderful scene beside the ocean and began early this morning. God provided a glorious sunrise to send us on our way.
On Friday, Bishop had mentioned to Chief Recalma that the eagles seemed to be following us as we walked. Chief Michael replied, "Of course they are." A mystery to us and a natural thing to First Peoples that we are learning to accept.
So it was again today, that we walked with the eagles and the joyful sounds of song birds along the way.
Rev Twiddy and a few others from his congregation joined as we diverted from the highway up a long hill to a path through the woods to lunch at St Mark in Qualicum Beach. Joined by Rev Susan and her folks and by Ian Alexander from Christ Church Cathedral, we walked along a path through the woods, able to observe creation in the quiet, away from the noise of the road. At St Mark, we watched the production of palm crosses and some of us learned to make them. "The best lunch we have had," said Jim- cheese on hot cross buns and cookies (apologies to Marcia whose soup lunches have been wonderful).
After lunch, we were off to Coombs, joined by Rev Will and Melissa from Tofino and others from Port Alberni. Our group was growing as we progressed south.
About 4 km from Coombs, we diverted onto the old highway, which is closed to traffic. As we entered what we knew to be a quiet route, Bishop asked that we walk in silence, paying attention to creation and listening to what God was saying through it.
Before we rejoined the new road just west of Coombs, we stopped to share reflections on the question. A theme that emerged was that nature was reclaiming what human hands have allocated to the road as trees closed in from both sides. One person offered that in the long distant future, there would still be a memory of human intervention in the remnants of broken asphalt as nature took back the entire space. All is us reported that we were more aware as we walked without talking - our thoughts stimulated by the important question.
In Coombs, we were met by a large contingent from Port Alberni in this quirky little town that has become a delightful tourist destination. Here Bishop got an ice cream cone as he visited with old friends from his time in Port Alberni.
During the planning of the SJ, Bishop had been firm that we divert to Coombs to make it easier for folks from Port Alberni and further west to join us. The welcome we received as we reached the Goats on the Roof proved him right.
After a respite for conversation, hugs, and of course ice cream, we were off again, this time with a bigger group. Now 17 joined Bishop for the final stretch into St Anne and St Edmund and a wonderful feast prepared by the Qualicum First Nations people.
Here we were met by Rev Andrew and visited the ancient and historic St Anne's, a beautiful church and one of the oldest in the valley.
Reflections were shared and again some profound insights and much appreciation expressed to Bishop for his leadership in initiating the Sacred Journey.
As our numbers increase, the bounty of energy is spurring us on and sustaining us as our feet grow sore and our bodies weary.
More to come...
Wayne for the team
21.6 km, 30,400 steps.
Words to describe today: wonderful, glorious, precious, memory-making, spirit-filled. And perhaps most of all- historic and truly transformative. For today, in a ceremony that touched us all deeply, Chief Michael Recalma of the Qualicum First Nation gave Bishop permission to enter the nation's traditional land, and to stay, at the boundary of that land. As the bishop asked and the chief responded, emotions overflowed with the significance. This was what the Sacred Journey is all about. Even the noise of passing cars seemed to fade as the two leaders shook hands and stood for photos. Rev Andrew Twiddy, instrumental in the arrangements, said that the day was the most important day for the church and the people of the Island in the past 150 years. God, the Creator did some of God's finest work today. Hard to recall other things of the day in comparison.
Yet... We began the day on the beach in the sun. Moraig had a ball chasing the frisbee. Brenda O'Brien from St Peter's in Comox, joined us again as we began to walk.
Our first break, as we waited for Chief Recalma and others, was in Rosewell Creek provincial park, a beautiful little park that most people drive right on by. Here we met the Santarelli family who had driven from Port Alberni to walk with the Bishop. We were parked in the park, well off the road, and they had been driving up and down the road trying to find us. About to give up, they pulled into the park to use the facilities. God at work again; imagine their surprise and pleasure, and ours as well, as we met and shared hugs in this beautiful setting. And then we walked.
Part of the day beside the ocean with the coastal mountains again in the background. Sun all day; our faces showing that. Along the way, joined by Rev Twiddy and Kirsten and Jeff. In reflection time, the emotional response of the group was evident. Jim said the experience had given him a humble pride in his church, a feeling to which we all agreed. Others mentioned the SJ as the spark that will alight the conversation and stimulate next steps on the path to reconciliation. And how privileged we all were to be part of the bishop's vision and to be able to share in the journey. Sandy from Port Alberni said "Enough talk, the SJ is action," and how pleased he was to be part of a church that was actually doing something.
A truly transformative day that has deeply affected all. A day that has the potential to set our church on a course to a new, to a right relationship with First Peoples. A day that provides evidence of hope and of God at work. A day that points to the importance of the path ahead, and provides the stimulus to ensure that the steps still to be taken on the long road are put into action.
May all people of these islands be blessed as this day has been such a blessing.
Wayne for the SJ team and those who walk with us physically and spiritually.
30 km, 40,600 steps.
Leaving Courtenay and our many friends and fond memories was bittersweet, but the road beckoned. Further we walk, the more it just seems normal to wake and walk.
Breakfast with Fr Anthony and Mary Ruth of Shaw who had interviewed Chief Everson of the K'omox First Nations yesterday. Chief Everson had been unable to meet Bishop due to funeral and pressing business, but agreed to give Mary Ruth five minutes (Bishop had met with the chief on his way north a few weeks ago).
In the interview, the chief said he believed Bishop to be a man of good character. He was impressed with Bishop's commitment in undertaking the Sacred Journey and was pleased he was taking this action. Mary Ruth has promised YouTube segment of the interview - stay tuned. Needless to say, we were most pleased.
For much of the day, we walked along the ocean with the majestic coastal mountains in the background. As we approached Fanny Bay and the oyster beds, sea lions barked at us, seeming to me to be calling me to look, and what a view. Truly one of God's wonderful days in God's creation.
Today, was mostly just walking - no events planned, so we walked in silence most of the day. A good day for reflection. Along the way, people joined us to wish the Bishop well and to walk with us for a bit.
Susan Ryan stayed with the RV until we arrived for our break. Brenda O'Brien walked with us for four miles into our overnight stop. At the stop, Doug was explaining the SJ, she came running over to give Bishop a hug and wish him well, something that is happening with more regularity as we move south.
Reflections at day's end again proved awesome insights. Brenda said the SJ had replaced hopelessness with hope. Others remarked that the time was right, that there was a sense of openness to deal with the issues to which the SJ was making a significant contribution.
So we travel on, commitment and hope alive and thriving.
Wayne for the team
28 km, 38,000 more steps ( by day's end, it sure seemed like more as both Jim and I had slowed to a crawl).
Bishop walked on at a healthy pace to day's end, propelled by certainty that he is doing God's work on behalf of the Anglicans on these islands through the Sacred Journey.
Today, God made us a glorious day filled with sunshine - our only issue being too many clothes. We said goodbye to the beauty of the ocean and the serenity of our overnight place far off the main road and began another day in God's great creation.
As we walked toward Courtenay, we were joined by several people. After morning break, Cedric Trueman from St George's, Cadboro Bay joined us for 5km. When he first heard of Bishop's intentions to embark on this long walk toward reconciliation he thought, "Wow, this is truly inspiring and I must find a time to walk with him." Like others, Cedric found the RV and waited until Bishop came along.
As we passed the road to Miracle Beach, Bishop told us the story of Miracle, the badly injured young whale nursed back to health and maintained by good people in Oak Bay marina. A well-intentioned person, attempting to release Miracle into the wild, instead caused her death - just one more example of the unintended consequences of human intervention in nature. The learning from Bishop and his stories never stops, and we are truly privileged to be walking with him.
At our lunch break at Tsolum school, St Peter's Comox walkers joined us for the 8km walk to St Andrews, the oldest church in the Comox valley. 11 walkers, organized by Jennifer Pass, walked with us; our first group walk. Two sweet ladies walked as far as they could, leaving at a friend's house down the road.
Bishop asked the group, as we prepared to walk in silence down the road (in spite of the road noise), to reflect on what was going on inside ourselves, what we were thinking and feeling, what we were learning about ourselves and our relationship to God.
In reflection time at St Andrews (a practice that we follow with all who walk with us), insights reinforced the importance of the journey. Alison said the SJ had given her a language to talk about residential school victims and reconciliation. Others spoke of the journey as inspiring and empowering. Jennifer spoke of how appalled she was at the garbage that had been thrown onto the roadside (we had witnessed this all the way) and the noise pollution from passing vehicles. "This is the culture that we (the settlers) have brought to these lands." She also reflected on observing the roadside streams and the way the grass bent into the path of the stream; 'going with the flow' as more representative of the way God intended. These reflections always cause further and deeper understanding.
At St Andrews, we were joined by Fr Anthony and warden Marion Edmondson for the final leg to St John the Divine, where a pot luck feast had been organized. Here we joined the congregation (about 70 people) in a wonderful dinner and good conversation.
In his remarks, Bishop articulated the mission of the SJ as a further step on the path towards reconciliation; a path that cannot end when we finish walking; a path that requires that all Anglican join in the work. He said again that residential schools were a bad system "with some good people" that caused great harm to the children taken from their families. The good people caught-up in this bad system have also suffered. Healing was needed for the victims. Healing was also needed for those good people. And since the Anglican Church was involved with government in the operations of these schools, all of us must participate in the healing process, including our own healing.
A day full of the joy of the journey - of meeting new people and learning from them. And then Doug and I were off to stay with those gracious and generous people who offered us a place; me to the Edmondson's and Doug to Joyce Bainbridge's. And some sleep.
Blessings on your personal journey. May we see you down the road.
Wayne for the team
lives in Calgary, Alberta where he is an active member of the Anglican Diocese of Calgary. Wayne is spending the winter in Victoria generously donating his full-time efforts to organizing all aspects of the Sacred Journey. He is also Bishop Logan McMenamie's walking companion on the two-and-a-half week journey from Alert Bay to Mill Bay and, as he likes to tease, the bishop's bait while they walk along the less populated stretches of the route.