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