The Seventh Wave:
Allan David Smith-Reeve September 2022
My joy is gone; grief is upon me;
my heart is sick.
Listen! The cry of the daughter of my people
from far and wide in the land:
The three spirals of the Celtic Triskelion image can represent so many different interconnected ideas. With a closer look, you’ll notice that from the center of each spiral, a new spiral begins to unwind from the center, beginning a new path out beyond the core.
The second decade of this century saw three, inter-related, historic waves crashing on the shores of Canadian consciousness. While each of these powerful realities are not new – we’ve been warned for decades that the reckoning is coming – it seems to me that the “seventh wave” – – the largest and most powerful in a series – has crashed this year on all three of these powerful realities.
Environmental abuse of western culture: Climate change is upon us. Environmental catastrophes are no longer a future threat. We are only beginning to be conscious of how our dominant consumer culture serves the creeping global corporate rule. The Covid pandemic has raised our awareness of a global supply chain that gives the earth rest when interrupted. We have also seen how our economies are dependent on racialized minorities whose low-waged, and unpaid, work calls us to re-evaluate systemic inequities. The resulting divide between rich and poor is mirrored by the alienation of our civilization from our role as one of many species co-dependent within the web of life.
How might our conversations and stories challenge the dominant consumer culture’s assumptions that a rich life goes hand in hand with the comforts of economic wealth?
Truth & Reconciliation: The discovery of so many hundreds of unmarked graves at former Residential Schools this year has made tangible the cultural genocide of Canada’s racist, colonial, crimes. Amidst the calls for Reconciliation is a call from First Peoples all over the globe to listen to the earth’s cries.
“The cry of the earth and the cry of the poor are one.”
We are slowly learning what it means for us as “ordinary citizens”, and as members of a religious institution complicit in historic systemic racism where a path of Reconciliation might take us. We are only beginning to experience how to grieve and accept the shame of our blindness and hardened hearts.
Western Christianity’s long slow disintegration: Institutional Christianity cannot be separated from its role in the above abuses. We see how each new generation becomes more soulful and less religious. We see, for example, this year the closing of congregations in the United Church at the rate of one per week. The ways that our church has served the privileged, white, classes and kept the poor in their place as charitable recipients of the poverty industry is far from the good news Jesus had in mind.
Scholarship published this year entitled “After Jesus and before Christianity” reveals the original Jesus movement as diverse, cross-cultural, and opposed to the Empire that eventually swallowed it whole.
We wonder if we are experiencing a time of a similar historic movement of Spirit? A post-Christianity “Revolution of Kindness” where we might be but one example of a global grass-roots movement.
o North American/European/Colonial Culture of Empire puts a strong value on Self-Reliance and shames those who need to depend on others. This cultural norm leads to the division of the socio-economic classes. The poor are kept dependent and considered “worthy” only for their marginalized role in monetary terms.
o Global, indigenous, earth-centered Culture puts a strong value on our inter-dependence and shames those who exploit others for their own gain. This cultural norm values “all my relations” honouring traditions of earth-care and communal wealth redistribution.
o The path we are on as followers of Jesus (if you are…) calls us to reconcile the above two divergent values systems. Can we hear the ancient call to repent and follow Jesus’ fearful path towards a counter-cultural witness?
In the Triskelion image, you’ll notice how each path from the centre has a new beginning at its end point. The path unwinds and spirals out to create a new open-ended cycle. Each of the three unwinding paths create a new circle. The image contains both the old original paths – and the new unfinished paths.
How might we encourage one another to “stay awake” to these realities?
How might we grieve the tragedies brought to our collective shores this year?
How might we – with heartfelt grieving – name an end point – and be intentional about beginning to walk paths as we “Draw the circle wider still”?
Thank-you for the very meaningful service this am, Allan. You must know the creator approves when services go together so well & there’s even thunder rolling when we read Psalm 77! You’re one of ”God’s people’ (though I’d really like to say men).
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