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

secret stories

asking sticks stones soil “do you remember?”

wondering

knowing

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.”

 

Permanence.

Land.

Home.

 

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

I’m unsettled.

 

And those whispers multiply to a loud shout

impossible to keep out

unsettled.

 

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.

 

I’m unsettled.

Listening to creation’s moans and groans

to the violence in silence

sifting

through broken pieces

molding, shaping, holding a new story

of home

of land shared

of people who dared

to reconcile.

 

We are connected

We all fall down, ring around roses,

pockets full of poppies, bleeding hearts, forget-me-nots,

arms outstretched

bodies to earth

listening

sharing our stories of loved-lands, lost and found

hearing

knowing

living

another story

 

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.


Joe Miller – Executive Director

Joe Miller is the Executive Director for Souls Harbour Rescue Mission. After working in the manufacturing industry for many years, he felt called to move from 'building things' to 'building people.' He has a passion to see the people that walk through the Mission's doors, get the help they need; whatever their situation may be. He enjoys fishing and the outdoors and often finds God in the stillness of nature. He writes here his thoughts on poverty, society, faith, and his reflections on life.