I found myself getting stuck today between Karen's description of Jeremiah's guidance to those in exile - to "seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile... for in its welfare you will find your welfare" - and the comparison with the early settlers of Ottawa coming together in the midst of much hardship to start our city. Where do Indigenous people fit into this narrative?
I'm not sure that early European settlement in what we now know as North America is the best example of Jeremiah's message to those rebuilding lives in new places. I don't deny that it must have been hard for Europeans to leave everything they had known, to travel across the Atlantic, to make a new home in present-day Ottawa. But did they "seek the welfare of the city" where they had been sent? They might have thought so - they came together and built a new place... but did they pray for those who were already here? Or did they seek their own welfare at the expense of Indigenous peoples? We are now having to backtrack, to apologize, to work for reconciliation.
I like the image of heaven as a city, of all peoples coming together and of God dwelling with us. And we all need to work together to live in communion - those of us who have been here for generations and those of us who are more recent arrivals. I pray that we would first seek the welfare of others and, in so doing, find our own.
"I've been considering the phrase "all my relations" for some time now. It's hugely important. It's our saving grace in the end. It points to the truth that we are all related, that we are all connected, that we all belong to each other. The most important word is "all". Not just those who look like me, sing like me, dance like me, speak like me, pray like me or behave like me. ALL my relations. That means every person, as every rock, mineral, blade of grass, and creature. We live because everything else does. If we were to choose collectively to live that teaching, the energy of our change of consciousness would heal each of us - and would heal the planet." Richard Wagamese, Embers