"As I mused, the fire burned"

Reflection on life as a person of faith.

Redress Exhibit — Ni wapataenan (We see)

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I attended the closing of the Redress exhibit this past Saturday.  The display was a spiral of de-branched pine trees, each holding a red dress on a hanger.  Artists had contributed literary works that were also attached to the trees.  In the centre of the spiral was the bare frame of a tipi, and in the centre of the tipi an empty fire pit.

The bare tipi frame and the empty fire pit are both images of the vacant hearth.  Those duties, raising the tipi and keeping the fire pit burning are responsibilities of the women. Because the women are all gone, there is no one to ensure the hearth and home are complete.

The redresses on the trees represent the missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW).

As the “undoing” of the exhibition, the dresses were taken off the trees by the people present, and were strung together into a tipi skirt.  The bare frame was covered with the dresses that formerly represented the murdered women.  A fire was kindled in the hearth, started with prairie sage (one of the sacred medicines).  So the sadness and loss of the first part of the exhibit are transformed in the closure into a restored hearth and home.

Reforming the tipi skirt with the redresses:

redress 2

Rekindling the fire:

redress 1

The tipi skirt just getting started:

redress 3

The experience was extremely powerful.  I’ve mentioned before that this had some beginning in a vision of a snowy poplar forest, with a cold and empty tipi frame and firepit.  Cold and empty because the women were all gone.  That vision was transformed on Saturday into one of hope.

After the undoing of the exhibit we had a round dance with all the participants.  On my left was my wife, and on my right was a young Cree woman.  We spoke afterwards with her and her mother, and they mentioned that one daughter had died as a result of violence.

This offers me an image of what reconciliation actually looks like in practice…Metis man, settler woman, two Cree woman dancing around the symbol of hope and remaking of what the future could look like.

As I stood there and watched the fire burn, with the smell of sage and wood wafting around me, I was struck with a sense of call to the prophetic.  Not necessarily a good thing albeit a holy thing.

That sense of uncertainty continued to today, until I heard a portion of Psalm 32 read.  My answer came clear in verses 7-9:

You are a hiding place for me;
    you preserve me from trouble;
    you surround me with shouts of deliverance. 

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
    which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
    or it will not stay near you.

The first part my prayer to God.  The second two verses God’s response.  Sometimes the answers come quite clearly, although not always the answer you were hoping for.




Written by sameo416

March 6, 2016 at 9:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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