I’ve been reading this book called ‘Buffalo Shout Salmon Cry’, and I’m really enjoying it. It’s been an intellectual challenge and a deep stretching of my mind, especially with respect to my views and the things I’ve learnt and/or been taught. Specifically, coming to terms with the lamentable clash between Indigenous and Settler cultures and the idea and process of working towards reconciliation. The book showcases a variety of voices – both traditional and Christian, calling us to interrogate how the logics of colonialism have infused Christianity. Having said that, I’d like to share the following poem from it, in the hope that it challenges your way of thinking; and perhaps it will encourage you to read the book too.
Unsettled – by Rebecca Seiling
As a child, I lay down – did you play this game too?
body melting to the ground,
ear to earth,
listening for sounds of footsteps
asking sticks stones soil “do you remember?”
another story whispers
I learned to love the land
through raspberry thorns, potato eyes, corn ears,
acres dotted with swamps and sugar maple trees
land nurturing growth
connecting seed to harvest to God
My people were the quiet in the land:
Do not conform to this world.
Be transformed by the renewing of your minds.
Be in the world, but not of it.
Each year my grandparents grew bountiful produce:
“I love every square inch of this land,” Grandpa said.
“I was born here, and I want to die here too.”
Through perennial plants dug up and shared my grandparents live on,
each spring a reminder that they will never die.
As long as there is land to hold them.
Their land, now paved with asphalt-
a parking lot offering new produce:
drive through Tim Horton’s coffee.
My heart, forever cracked, like pavement over gardens.
I crouch down,
ear near concrete
straining to hear
another story whispers
through unforgiving asphalt ceiling
And those whispers multiply to a loud shout
impossible to keep out
Whose lands are these? Yours? God’s? Settler? Indigenous?
Every division a fragile line . . .
If this is your home, where is mine?
Ashamed of skin and story
every identity a sorry embarrassment
I carry guilt, anger, a muted voice,
claiming: this is not my story.
This was not my choice.
But these were my people.
My ancestors: settlers.
Listening to creation’s moans and groans
to the violence in silence
through broken pieces
molding, shaping, holding a new story
of land shared
of people who dared
We are connected
We all fall down, ring around roses,
pockets full of poppies, bleeding hearts, forget-me-nots,
bodies to earth
sharing our stories of loved-lands, lost and found
Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Unsettle my soul and renew a right spirit within me.
Unquiet me to shout this story’s whispers
so that I won’t settle for less than your kingdom come
on earth as it is in heaven.