The Easter season has been rather quiet as things wind down here. I recently went with my grade 8s to climb a small mountain called Dreamer’s rock. We had spiritual guides with us, and the whole experience was very insightful..it’s something I wish I had had when I was in junior high and high school, as it invited these young people to look at their whole being, their whole experience, and allow themselves to be more internalized in a way. I’m not sure how many of these kids did grow internally as part of this experience, but it was still a wonderful experience.
Equally wonderful, though a little more challenging was the Confirmation of all these students that same week.
I had a group of about 45 kids that were getting confirmed and had to organize them and their sponsors as we entered the Church. Not one of my brightest moments here in Wiki, but thankfully, I was very well surrounded by parishioners who are used to organizing this and helped me with the process. The work leading up to this big day was much more labor intensive than the actual work involved in the service -at least for me-. The visiting Bishop who was confirming all these wonderful kids -most of whom I do not know my fist name…event though I’ve been teaching them for almost 3 months..I could never set up much of a rapport with them as I have with the grade 3s (and even the grade 3s, I guarantee you I don’t know the names of half my students…but it is what it is)- was a big hit in Wiki, but more importantly, he was dazzled by our tiny little community…the full Church, the good music, the impressive mix of native and Catholic traditions during Mass etc..
After the service, there was lunch at our rectory. 3 Parishioners that I see often, but don’t know at all, were serving the lunch -Eva, and her nieces that she adopted and has raised throughout most of her life, Megan and Kristen Jackson-. Indeed, I see Megan and Kristen every Sunday…they had impressed me by the fact that they came to Church every Sunday, although, like most teens here, were probably bored to tears by the service, and yet, were able to behave quite beautifully during the Mass. On Tuesday, the two girls actually came to one of our weekday masses, which was a bit of a surprise to us, firstly because Eva was not there -so they weren’t being forced to attend- and secondly because we had never seen them at a weekday mass before. As it turns out, that particular Tuesday evening, would be one of the last time I ever see the eldest of the 2…Kristin.
Thursday afternoon -of this past week-, I was cooking supper for Doug and myself. All day long, there had been rumours in Wiki that a very important man had died…a fellow named Ron Wagegijig, who had once been a Chief in Wiki, and was also a medicine man who worked with mainstream doctors to combat Diabetes amongst natives. The rumour was later confirmed by a rather emotional message on our phone saying “Ronny is gone”.So the loss of this man, although expected, because he had been very sick, was a blow to the community…Doug was already a little shaken since he had known and worked with him for so long. Then, around 4:45, we get a call.
Kristin, had hanged herself. It turns out, Eva and the girls live just a few houses up the road from us, and I had really met them for the first time when we went to the funeral of another teenager, Curtis, back in January. So he went straight over to their place..but he came back pretty quickly, being told that he could not pray over the body or give her the last rites, because the Coroner had not arrived yet..so he just came back.
In all honesty, Doug was much more shaken by Curtis’ death than by this double dose of it because he knew Curtis very personally. Nonetheless…both of us were quite stunned by this news… I mean I had just seen Kristin and her sister walking to or from school a few hours before. So now, like the rest of this community, I’m stuck with questions. Even though I did not know Kristin, she was a presence in this parish that did not go unnoticed. She seemed happy and joyful all the time. It’s hard to conceive how this could happen…or even to begin imagining what was going on in her head, or in the head of her poor sister who was the first to find her
I was so numb after this news that I could not even listen to music while cooking anymore.. it didn’t feel right to be ‘enjoying myself’ when there was so much grief in this community that night. Oddly enough, that same night, watching two separate tv shows -Bones, and Gray’s Anatomy- I picked up a little bit of wisdom that summarized a lot of how I felt. From Gray’s, was this simple idea that we are constantly trying to catch up to God. I’m totally taking it out of context and am not going to bother with the context unless someone asks me to, but essentially, what I took from this was that, there is much that takes us away from God in this world. Grief, our own limitations..and even our abilities. Because we are thinking beings, too often, many people assume that our ability to use science is an indication that there should be no mysteries for humans in this world. But all the science in the world can not help us cope when we’re in darkness…when we are struck by grief and pain…and it’s then that I think we slowly catch up to God, when we start abandoning ourselves to Them -I’m trying to stop using Him as a pronoun for God, and Her doesn’t rectify the problem either, so…genderless them seems perfect, and it could refer to the trinity!!- and give in to the mystery that is God. It doesn’t last long..soon enough, we’re back to some semblance of a routine that makes us forget our mystical connection to the Almighty, but hopefully, we always come back..and continue our efforts to catch up to God, which we obviously never accomplish completely, but can never stop trying!
From Bones (my favourite show these days! I love that they have a practising Catholic as one of the show’s main characters!!) , something way more simple (again, I’m adapting): It’s difficult to continue the walk in Christ when such events happen..but then the next morning comes..God’s little miracles happen all around us, strengthening us with new life and allowing us to continue that walk that we were meant to do with all of our hearts.
It’s amazing how those two lines came when I needed them the most. I don’t think I was angry at God for what was happening, but I was at a loss for what to say to those around me…or if I needed to say anything. In the end.. I learned that I don’t have to say a word. All I can do is to be Christ’s loving presence to all that I meet.There will be more suicides, more confused teenagers, more communities stuck in darkness in my life.
I hope that I will one day learn how to be Christ’s Hope to all who suffer..but for now, all I can do is be His love!! And I do this lovingly!!