Monday, 16 February 2015

SAWBONNA: BEING BREATHED EVEN WHILE BEING BULLIED.

When I was a young girl growing up in Guyana, South America, sometimes when my parents were away, my big sister and I ate lunch at the convent of the school to which we went. The school was St. Angela's. It was a Catholic all-girls school. At that long lunch table, similar to the one in the shared community kitchens in residence at The Atlantic School of Theology, my sister and I were the only non-Aboriginal people, that is along with the nuns. One day we were at that long table. We had said grace before our meal of soup and plain bread. One of the young Aboriginal womyn spilled her soup. The room grew quiet. Very quiet. Then, one of the nuns got up, stood beside her, started in a quiet but totally menacing voice told the young girl to stand up, grabbing her by her hair. She then shoved her to the floor, telling her to get on her knees. And pushed her head into the spilled soup and made her drink it.

I was so terrified. I was afraid to say anything. I was terrified to cry. I saw two things that day, I saw how people of different race and colour and how people who can not defend themselves were abused.

I was powerless. Voiceless.
Fast-forward to coming to Canada and me and my family experiencing so much prejudice and disrespect because of our accents. I saw my parents pain at being treated as if they were nothing. Then my Dad was murdered nine years later. Fast-forward to my work in jails, jails filled not only with Aboriginal womyn and men, filled with womyn, with men of many a background and colour and race who have been abused, abandoned, silenced, who have had abuses beyond imagination done to them.

At a Conference in Ottawa, where I was invited to speak, I listened to a Native Elder speak, what she shared about being in residential school and about the prejudice and inhumanity her culture faces, was so raw, I started to cry, and could not stop. My friend, who is the Executive Director of  The Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, came to me, took me outside, and we talked. When the Native Elder was done, my friend, her name is Kim Pate, last week she received The Order of Canada, took me to The Native Elder, and we talked about how abuse and use of power, particularly over children and womyn, can leave us scarred and scared. She told me to continue to do my work against injustice, no matter the bullying, the abuse.


Paradox and possibility live side by side.
My Spiritual Mentor, is a nun, Sister Anne Harvey, sc. Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking, upon which the academy award movie is based, is a colleague, and we are in the same community.We have worked together in the United States. Father Diarmuid O'Murchu, is a priest, a kindred, whose writings are nourishment. Diarmuid was one of my references for acceptance here at, The Atlantic School of Theology. Father Matthew Fox, whose book about Julian of Norwich is a gem, invited me to present at a Conference he held in Ontario.I am close friends with the man,Glen, who killed my Dad, Theodore, and his wife, Sherry and I are sisters.

Poet and Minister Ted (Theodore) Loder, who walked with Dr. Martin Luther King, invites us be "guerillas of grace." Never accepting injustice anywhere.

Kenosis IS and we ARE Breathed.


Sawbonna,
Margot/RavenSpeaks

NOTE: People often speak about "the little" conflicts, the "silly over-reactions," believing that the "grand" conflicts occur in isolation from each time we are disrespected, dismissed, silenced. The continuity of ignoring acts of injustice, including the one misogynistic "joke" and racial slur, the one literal or metaphoric "slap," the one threatening word from a minister or priest, telling us to stop singing, whistling, dancing, forms an accumulation of anguish, anger, and deep pain, which not only sees our prisons fed, and victims ignored, but sees our communities reacting from places of fear, passive aggression, and deep mistrust. Respect. Responsibility. Relationship happens one word, one authentic action, one minute at a time, every single moment, of every single day.

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