Comforting Words: Exodus: Movement from the "Narrow Places"

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Exodus: Movement from the "Narrow Places"

Initially, my idea for this week’s article was that I would do a quasi report of my trip to Vancouver and things I discovered about myself while there.

No, that's not me in the picture! Hopeful as I am to be free of inhibitions - I am not quite that advanced yet. I took the picture though with my new camera phone - what a wonderful thing technology is!

I mulled about how to approach such an article and the issues that I wanted to discuss. High on the list was the relationship of the recent announcement that an immigrant, a woman of colour, a child of Haiti is to be 27th Governor General of Canada and the Gay Pride Parade in Vancouver. Intriguing, right?

As I arose Sunday morning, at my usual 5:00 a.m. or there about, I had a sense that this week’s Comforting Words would take a different twist.

While mention must be made of the trip and the upcoming appointment of Michaëlle Jean as Governor General, I share my thoughts with you on, “Exodus: Movement From the 'Narrow Places'” as my Words of Comfort this lovely summer day.

Along with Words from Scripture and Words from the Heart, I invite you to use this article as a starting point to explore your own exodus. Should you need support, please know that I am here.

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Words from Scripture

From Hebrew Scripture:
Exodus 6: 7
“I will take you as my people, and I will be your God. You shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has freed you from the burdens of the Egyptians.”

Words of Comfort

All week, I thought about the direction this article would take, how I would intertwine the stories of my trip to Vancouver – the events, the worship services and my new perspective on Gay Pride Parades – all of which are somehow connected to Michaëlle Jean’s appointment.

On the day designated to write, as my eyes opened to the sound of the rain softly beating on the windowpane, I knew the focus had somewhat shifted. A rainy Sunday morning was not the backdrop for the hard-core report I had in mind. This was a day for remembrance, gentleness, coffee and maybe even breakfast in bed.

Honestly, I even thought of not writing today – this was too gorgeous a morning to spend at the cold, gray screen of a computer. The afternoon was booked too, with my woman-friend, A, coming over to join us for dinner – one which I was scheduled to prepare single-handedly as my partner, the Chef, went to work.

The cable guy was also expected – as we had decided to switch our telephone service to a digital service – and so I had the prefect excuse not to write or post an article today.

However, Spirit, works in mysterious/mischievous ways, Her wonders to unfold.

We had gone to the Cariwest Parade and Festivities here in Edmonton the previous afternoon and as I witnessed the anticipation and excitement of the throng of people downtown, waiting for the ‘bands’ to go by, I thought, “What a wonderful country!”

Here we were in the heartland of Canada jumping and dancing to Caribbean beats – a mingling of Anglo-Saxons, Asians, Africans, Aboriginal and Caribbean people – mindless of any racial or cultural differences, intent only on experiencing the soul of the music.

“If Canada isn’t the most multicultural and full-of-possibilities country in the world, then I don’t know where is,” was my next thought.

The Cariwest Parade in Edmonton, like the Gay Parade that I witnessed in Vancouver are testaments to a country full of unlimited possibilities, a place where people can live to their fullest potentials and expression. It is in this that I saw the connection with the appointment of a female, Haitian migrant as Governor General.

The announcement came a few days after returning from Vancouver, where I came to realize that the Gay Pride Parade is more about making a statement about Canada – at least in the Vancouver version.

What I learnt in Vancouver was that the Parade is more about exhibiting the fact that homosexual orientation knows no socio-economic, geographic, career or racial boundaries than it has to do with sex or a promiscuous lifestyle.

The Prime Minister of Canada echoed this statement, at least to me. The Honourable Paul Martin in presenting Michaëlle Jean to the nation said that the appointment tells the story of Canada. His words deserve full quotation:
[Michaëlle Jean’s] is a story that reminds us what is best about ourselves and about Canada – a nation where equality of opportunity is our most defining characteristic, giving testament to our longest-held values.”

These values spurred me to write this article and write it in this way. Half-heartedly I had decided not to write an article today but that quickly changed as I started my morning meditation and prayer.

Reflecting on the day and the week past and the lessons learnt, offering the irritation that was deeply affecting me as I knelt at my personal altar to the Divine, I asked for truth to be revealed to me. As if The Creator was simply waiting for me to ask, it all came together.

Freedom, justice, equality and respect I am sure are some of the values that Paul Martin had in mind. Maybe he did not mean it in this context, but I am also sure that the biblical Israelites who fled slavery in Egypt were in search of these same values. (A sidebar: What is interesting is that the Hebrew word for Egypt is Mitzrayim, which literally translated means “the Narrow Places.”)

I know for sure that I left my island home and in fact, my own mother – the source of my irritation – I left my Egypt for these values.

Tearfully, I called Juds at work and shared the revelation about my irritation. “I thought I was over it or at least much further down the road,” I mumbled. “Coming to Canada was supposed to be my chance at real freedom, justice, equality and being respected for all that I am.”

You see, my personal Exodus, my physical journey from a ‘narrow place’ called Jamaica, was an escape from the clawing and nauseating experience of self-denial, being dragged further into the closet by a society fearful of differences and by a mother fearful of her own light.

My Exodus was as much a movement forward into a community where, as my favourite preacher man Bishop Spong describes, all are free to “live fully, love wastefully and be all that we are capable of being.”

Rising from my prayerful posture, with swollen eyes I sat at the computer screen and in a spirit of gratitude I wrote this article to thank the people of Canada for providing such a community.

As I wrote, I had to acknowledge that my journey continues, with my bags of memories, forgiving but not forgetful of the personal and cultural history from which I emerged and hope-filled that as time passes the wounds will heal further.

Indeed my heart is full of forgiveness towards the country, Jamaica, her/my people and towards my mother who could not provide the community of wholeness. However, like Michaëlle Jean, who in her acceptance speech made it clear that she values her heritage, ancestry and her personal story, I do too.

Like the people who paraded the streets of Vancouver and Edmonton naming their realties and telling their stories, I love doing the same – no holes barred.

Moreover, as I continue on my spiritual journey from the mental slavery that many people in my land of origin and my land of adoption remains locked in, I am inspired by the words of Marc Gafin : “Telling the story of our [exodus] – is the journey itself.”

This is living authentically. This is living from the expanded self, remembering the past but embracing the Now and knowing that by Grace you will be ‘delivered’ into the future.

Words from the Heart

Clearing Up The Past – A Prayer
Written by Marianne Williamson in her book, “Illuminata: A Return to Prayer.”

Dear God,

Please take my past and take my future.
Transform them both through the miracle of
Your power into energies of love and love only.

May I know the present as You would have me see it.
May I see only You in everyone and everything
that I might be dazzled by light, lifted up by the light,
given joy by the light, and made new by the light.

Release me from my past and deliver me to my future.
In You I trust; nothing else is real.
In You I have faith; nothing else has power.
And so it is that I am where I belong, and I shall strive for nothing.

I am at home; may I feel this and be at peace.
For I would rob myself no longer through my vain imaginings and tormented thoughts.
You are my life.
You are here and now.

Blessings, until my mid-week voice post join the Discussion.


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