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.