Page 42 - PC_Fall2020
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FALL 2020
Accepting the Smudge Bowl
 By Vivian Ketchum, originating
from Wauzhushk Onigum Nation of Northern Ontario and now a member of Place of Hope Presbyterian Church in Winnipeg, Man., and Life and Mission Agency Committee member
A picture is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes. A picture I took of my Smudge bowl in the park was one of those that had a thousand words or, in my case, a thousand tears. A story of my healing journey.
Looking back at the picture made me realize how far I have come in my healing journey. I was one of those children that attended residential school. I attended Cecilia Jeffrey In- dian School as a child. It left me with mental, emotional and physical scars that are taking a lifetime to heal.
It left mental and spiritual scars on me. The fear of my own culture.
That it was evil and not to be prac- ticed. I never saw anyone practicing Smudging or any of my Indigenous spirituality in residential school. Sunday School and daily prayers were what was seen and done by us children.
As an adult I struggled to over- come my past. My addictions. Grad- ually, I became involved in social ac- tivism. In the early 1990s, I began to see groups of people speaking out about the abuses in residential schools. I even spoke out in a few groups about my personal experi- ences. I also saw people Smudging at these events. When the bowl of Smudge came to me, I would al- ways turn away. Images of church and prayers came to mind. Still I felt a pull when the bowl came towards me. A part of me was awakening, but it was not the right time.
Ironically, part of my healing jour- ney was to walk with the church. The same church that ran the residential school I had attended as a child. I joined committees and added my voice. One of them was the Healing and Reconciliation Committee. Dur- ing parts of the meeting or sharing groups there was Smudging. Again, I refused to take part when that bowl came to me. I no longer left the room when there was a Smudging cer- emony. I let the sweet smell of sage and cedar wrap around me. I found
it healing and grounding when I was working with the church.
I’m not sure when I accepted my first cleansing of the Smudge. It felt so right. Part of me that was lost had come home. Even when I was Smudging inside a church. That Shadow Child that I had carried with me for so long stopped weeping for moments when I Smudged. I refer to the nightmares of residential school as my Shadow Child. A reclaiming of me. My identity. My culture. My heal- ing.
Earlier this year I created my own Smudge bowl. I felt that it was some- thing that I had to do, and it had to be a certain one. I painted it with the four colours of the Wheel. Once I created it, I took it outside and added the Sage. Lit it. Smudged. Took a pic- ture of the bowl. Several pictures. I looked at the pictures. People saw a very nice picture. I saw my healing journey in those pictures.
A thousand tears. A thousand words. A thousand steps.
Of my Shadow Child.
       Be the Light
An excerpt from a reflection by the Rev. Dr. Margaret Mullin, Thundering Eagle Woman, Place of Hope Indigenous Presbyterian Church in Winnipeg, Man.
 I am beyond enraged and that is not good for my soul.
A fury is ignited in me,
I am inflamed by the accumulated feelings of injustice being done and not being acknowledged. Everything is out of balance.
Where is my witness—the one who gets it—acknowledges it —admits my person-hood has been violated, by the treatment of my race.
We Christians, Presbyterians, are all in this together
Life is about all life benefiting all life.
Jesus showed me that
My Indigenous Elders taught me that
The character of my life has been built on that.
Love, generosity, compassion, service.
It’s all a way of being Creator set out for us
Where did that unifying way of being go?
Where did our society go so wrong?
How do we get back to keeping our eyes on the Light, on the Truth, on the Way?
I have no words to define my fury fuelled by injustice.
If you are people in places of influence and power
Make it your business to right the injustices.
Always demand that justice be done.
At home, at work, in the streets, in politics, and in the church.
You can help.
Stay in the Light. Focus on the Light. Be the Light.
  Music Has Charms
 By Patricia Schneider, Forbes Presbyterian Church in Grande Prairie, Alta.
Do you remember Vera Lynn, the songstress of the 1940s, when her music filled the hearts of so many members of the Armed Forces? Perhaps you are asking me, What has this to do with a church news- paper? Let me explain.
Living is a battle...we all have our own little wars to win or lose. As a child I fought mine with asthma and finally won that one at nearly 30 years of age when I got profes- sional help. My husband fought a battle with cancer for five years, but sadly, he lost that one.
Life has its own battle dress code. As a child I was laden with cloth tissues
in those days, and I went through several every day, depending on the severity of my asthma that day. The battle dress of a soldier is very important, but what he has learned before he hits the trenches is im- portant, too.
Vera Lynn gave them music... not in a piece of equipment to be played, but in their hearts. They carried it with them as a piece of armour to fight anxiety, fear, de- pression and even pain.
How often scripture does the same thing. We may have forgotten chapter and verse but we remem- ber what it said and we hold those things in our hearts and we share them with each other.
Today’s pandemic is a war being played out around the world, but God’s word is always there, uplift- ing us, ensuring us of our Saviour’s presence in all situations.
We will sing the Lord’s song of victory: “Trust in the Lord, with all your heart.” And we will trust God to see us through this.

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