When I think of restoration, I think of bringing something back to its original state or bringing it back to life. There are people who can restore old cars, who look for just the right parts to keep its integrity. Others who can restore furniture using the right varnishes and fabrics. Some still who know the intricate and deliberate work of restoring art pieces and books so that we can once again appreciate them in all their splendour. No matter where we engage in the work of restoration, it takes careful attention, practice, and learning.
The Cambridge dictionary defines restoration as “the act of process of returning something to its earlier good condition or position, or to its owner.” This month, I invite us to reflect on our relationship with the Indigenous Peoples of these lands, some of whom are among us in this congregation. What does restoration mean in this context? Restoration in this context is asking us to live into the respect and dignity that should be found in all our relations and that has been lacking in our past and in our present. This is the work of building relationships and tending to them with care and attention.
This month, I have also spent time listening and learning about the restoration of stolen lands from Indigenous Peoples. I have heard the heartbreak and the anger at this ongoing process and the harms that continue to be perpetuated as a result. I have spent time with my own sense of injustice around this wondering why it is taking so long and frustrated that there is no clear answer. As I try to understand these larger-scale issues and processes, what I can do right now is choose where I spend my time – in the work of reconciliation. What can I do to move closer towards healing?
What will you do this month? Will you take some time to learn about the lands stolen from Indigenous Peoples or perhaps learn about lands near you that are being restored with the intent to give them back in good condition? Will you take time to nurture relationships with Indigenous People and organizations advocating for justice?
Where we choose to spend our precious time and attention speaks volumes about what our priorities are. I hope you will join me in our ongoing commitment to reconciliation by committing your time to learning, listening, and relationship building.
Lastly, I want to name that this academic year has gone by quickly and my time with you comes to an end this month. I have been honoured to be a witness to your stories, your growth, your challenges, and your joys. I am moved by the way you care for one another and the thoughtfulness of your discussions. I am grateful for all you have taught me and that you will be part of my formation story as a minister. You have challenged me and helped me grow into my ministerial identity, something which I will take out into the wider world beyond our congregations. As we say goodbye for now, I trust that this congregation will continue to engage in all of the important and sacred work of learning, sharing, worship, and social justice. Post-pandemic, should my work have me travelling through Winnipeg, I will be sure to say hello.
May you be well,