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A house is not a home

“So does your new place feel like home yet?” Quite honesty, the answer is no. No, this brand new house I live in doesn’t feel like home. And this brand new community I live in doesn’t feel like home.

“So does your new place feel like home yet?”

Quite honesty, the answer is no. No, this brand new house I live in doesn’t feel like home. And this brand new community I live in doesn’t feel like home.

This conversation went in a new direction when my friend said, “I live in a strata community, and I don’t unlock my back yard for the maintenance team to come in and work. For them it’s just another tick on their ‘to do’ list. I prefer to be in relationship with that space. When I work it is truly a labour of love.”

That’s when I realized my new place doesn’t feel like home because I haven’t developed a relationship with the space – with the “land” yet. After that conversation I spent the day tending the gardens and pruning overgrown trees, a pruning designed to help the healthy trees stay that way. I finished the day feeling a little more at home.

In my time with Wild Church, I have learned something that those who lived here before me know well. Home is not the building I live in but is the land/space I live with – and the beings, humans and more-than-humans, with whom I share that space. My new neighbourhood includes some wonderful people and lots of children, as well as willow and elm trees, mallards with their ducklings, a very large covey of quail, turtles, butterflies, and many other beautiful, engaging neighbours.

As our calendars turn to July, the very first day of the month looms large. Perhaps a bit larger this year. Canada Day! A day of celebrations, festivities in parks, fireworks at night. A day set aside to celebrate this nation.

The recent discovery of the bodies of 215 children buried on the grounds of the local residential school offer a sobering reminder that the development of this country came at a very high cost to those who called this land home long before settlers arrived.

Canada Day was originally called Dominion Day, and honours the date of July 1, 1867, the day the British Parliament officially named these settled lands as a Dominion. The word dominion, from a Latin root word dominus meaning lord or master, speaks of domination over or domain of.

We acknowledge the majority of residential schools were operated by the church – and so many of the heinous acts were done in the name of Jesus. This is not the Jesus I have come to know. One of the defining qualities of Jesus is his ability to listen deeply to those he encounters – to listen beyond their words to their hearts. Several years ago the Truth and Reconciliation Commission invited all Canadians to be listeners as residential school survivors or families of those who didn’t survive shared their hearts through their words - words that were filled with pain and hard to hear. Words of truth. Words that spoke of homes and communities ripped apart, never to be the same again.

This year we have 215 reminders that our walk toward reconciliation is a difficult one. Each of those 215 lives lost is story – and these stories invite us once again to listen to the hearts of those whose home lands and communities were dominated in the name of empire. Are we listening?

Jesus models deep, heart-centered listening for us. But he does more than that. After he hears the heart stories of those who were struggling in some way, he acts. He demonstrates what “loving your neighbour” really looks like – and it looks like healing: healing physical ailments, emotional and mental disease, pain, and above all, healing broken relationships.

This Canada Day I invite you to remember the 215 stories of brokenness – and to consider what actions we can choose to bring healing in this land we call home.

Rev LeAnn Blackert works with Michele Walker, Lesly Comrie and Linda Clark in ministry with Wild Church in Kamloops, Sorrento and the Okanagan. She considers herself a seeker in her faith journey and wanders the wild world looking for the Great Mystery and the “wild Christ.” July happens to be her favourite month of the year. To find out more, visit wildchurchbc.org and be in touch!