Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ceremony and Conversation

I've dressed for the wedding and leave Rob's house, letting the girls and him keep sleeping while I get a coffee at Tim Horton's. I'm sitting at the table, computer and bible out, going over my notes. Naomi has asked me to bring a blessing, and I'm really nervous, praying I'll say the right thing.

I'm working and reworking my thoughts, like this bit below:

"Ever since you asked me to play a role in your wedding, I have been thinking a lot about ceremony. Every culture has ceremonies. We have graduation ceremonies and awards ceremonies. Where I live in Fort Qu’Appelle, I hear First Nations people talking about ceremony as part of living in a good way. But what is a ceremony?
"I offer that a ceremony is a time of gathering, of family, of community. A time to mark a transition and all who leave a ceremony are invited to walk in a new way.

o   Today, we bring this man, Dustin

o   And this woman, Naomi

o   Two halves of one whole

o   Two elements like earth and sky

o   Two beautiful buds, two buddies, ready to bloom under the purifying sunshine, and the cleansing rain, digging deep into the rich soil, making our world a more beautiful place.
I imagine my brow is furrowed when a man walks toward me. I look up and smile. He greets me and passes by, but then returns. "What is it that you are working on?" he says.
sunshine slips over the hills
where he stands
and into the valley of the table
where I write
words mist the morning
“what is it you are working on”
he listens and sunbeams pour
now from his eyes
as he sits behind me
warming the earth
and little does he know
he has sent sparrows of kindness
to pull weeds between my lines
and only as they are laid aside
do I see their colours
blue-teal of insecurity
burnt orange of fear
purple parrot of pride
he gardens with words
his voice sends the rain
his eyes send the sun
and even at his command
the coffee blown air shifts
in the Tim Horton’s landscape
I learn this is Martin Ravelo and I am intrigued by his immigration story as our conversation passes back and forth between our reasons for being in Quesnel, British Columbia.
Martin is from Madagascar and when he was young he knew it would be mandatory to serve in the military. Although he respects people who serve their country, he also knew he believed in conversation to solve conflict. So he talked to his parents and they told him he could consider leaving the country. While still in Madagascar he went to a Canadian run school. He had two teachers: one was European and one was a Canadian from Quebec. When these men assessed the students, the European was very concerned with the product; and although the Quebecer was also interested in the product, he was equally concerned with the process. In fact, Martin says that the Canadian even considered the local ways of knowing and being in the assessment. This is why he chose Canada.
I confess that I have always been a very proud Canadian, but the past ten years, or so, I have been frustrated with my coutry as I've learned more about white priviledge and unimplemented treaties. Martin explains his belief that in the year 2014, colonialism will lose a lot of power because the Canadian population is aging and the colonial attitudes which keep First Nations and immigrant people from having equal opportunities will break down. I ask him if he's aware of the Idle No More movement and he isn't, but he thinks it's wonderful that people gather to discuss ideas and hope. "Like Sartre," he says.
Martin's perspectives on Canada and life in general encourage me. I am also touched by his purposeful insights he has given regarding my blessing. I ask Martin if I can interview him further for my blog, and he agrees.
I drive back to Rob's house to get the girls ready for the wedding. I am feeling humility and confidence, thanks to my new friend. Maybe this conversation has been a bit of a ceremony, an invitation to walk in a new way.


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