The weather remains the subject of the day. The sun is bright, the sky is blue but its a lot colder than the inside of a deep freeze out there.
As I walked a few blocks to meet Jane, Bishop of Edmonton yesterday morning I counted through the garments I was wearing. It was 19 -including two hats, one inside the other.
We had an Italian lunch together, me still in the strange confusion of jet-lag. The problem seems to be that different parts of one’s person adjust at different rates. So my brian knew it was lunch, but my body thought it was evening and in the rest of me was divided between these options and many others. I fear I will have come across as extremely confused.
Not that she let on if I did. I was treated to a compelling set of insights about the issues facing the Church today in this context. Among them the way in which to relate to all the issues around First Nations people being strikingly interesting. There is a TRC (Truth and Recoonciiliation) process going on here and I have been trying to understand its ins and outs. It’s clearly modelled on the South African version, but like all such is an amalgam of several previous models with an added local flavour.
One of the problems with TRCs is that they can create extremely diverse expectations. To aim at truth is a lofty enough ideal – but to aim at reconciliation too is asking a huge amount of everyone. What will those hopes look like in a few months or years time, I wonder.
Nonetheless to embark on this sort of venture in a spirit of respectful listening and positive hope is completely admirable; and this is what I see Bishop Jane doing. One of the things I like about her is that her engagement in wider issues of social justice does not feel political, rather it feels pastoral. It is genuine pastoral care and the attendant personal vulnerability played out on the biggest local stage with the toughest of issues. Hmm, that sounds to me like a practical definition of ‘bishoping’. And she is, indeed, an inspiring priest.
After lunch I am interviewed at come length by the diocesan communications officer, who has done far more research on my writing than I would have imagined, and asks some excellent questions. She was clearly startled, as well as charmed, however, when I told her that I had indeed encouraged people to give up busyness for Lent last year and still thought it a good idea for this. I can tell she liked the thought and is beginning to imagine the challlenges.
Then I wander off to the central shopping mall, find a bookstore and buy Thomas King’s ‘The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America’ which has just won a prize and has popped up on several websites I have researched. This is manifestly required reading.
In the Mall the 19-garment collection into which I am bundled is less of an advantage and I am soon very overheated. Popping outside quickly rectifies that, though. As it has now warmed up a bit, I only wear one hat for the walk back to the hotel.