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