Reconciliation requires lamentation. An expression of sorrow at the ways we allow oppression to persist is an important step before true reconciliation can take place. Accordingly, this is my reconciliation lamentation…
I lament because I look out the window
and see a world crumbling
as crooked corporations steal sacred land.
I lament because I see people
running from their hurts and pains
every single day, refusing to heal
and opposed to finding peace.
I lament because reconciliation sometimes seems like a foreign concept.
The strange thing is that I like to talk about reconciliation; I often find myself talking as if I am an expert at restoring broken relationships and making peace throughout the world. Don’t get me wrong, reconciliation and peacemaking are core values of my gospel and I often find myself surrounded by followers of Christ who seem to have these values coursing in their blood. Yet, somehow reconciliation seems foreign to my experience. It’s a word I have heard from a young age and it’s a word that usually gets me excited, but I struggle to fully comprehend what reconciliation really looks like.
Reconciliation is so foreign to me because I live in a world that seems to be spinning faster and faster each day. This culture that raised me makes slowing down and shutting off for the night a difficult thing to do. I am attached by the hip, literally and figuratively, to a (de)vice, and I am a device to an economy that never seems to stop taking, even when it seems I have nothing left to give. Our world spins faster and faster, and I know I ought to slow down, but that is not the way of the world.
How can reconciliation be possible in a world like this? We’ve been taught to keep going and to never slow down, but reconciliation and restoration require slowing down. We need to listen, and, in this context, to listen means simply to be present with the misery and sorrow of another person’s hurt, and to recognise how we (or our ancestors) are already implicit in it. This is an uncomfortable state that goes against the spinning of the world. We are comfortable taking action—offering advice, giving consolation, trying to somehow make the hurt we hear disappear. However, the kind of listening that reconciliation requires is a humble, quiet type, a type of listening that demands we shut up and slow down.
And so I lament…
I lament because I like to talk and talk and talk.
I lament because I don’t know how to slow down.
I lament because I can’t keep my own pride at bay.
I lament because I live too comfortably to understand suffering.
I lament because my privilege invisibly pushes others down.
I lament because [corporate] colonialism persists and prospers.
I lament because my money is stamped with the image of Caesar.
I lament because I live, love, and breathe on stolen land.
I lament because all of these things can prevent me and many other Christians from being agents of reconciliation in our country, let alone the world. For that reason, Indigenous peoples across this land (and many other lands) continue to suffer the burden of colonialism, sexism, racism, and other forms of oppression.
I have hope that the Lord is whittling away at the logs in my eyes, slowly but surely, and that soon my lament will turn into songs of joy and celebrations of dance; but while I wait, I will choose to lament, repent, and let grace refine and reshape me into the quiet, patient and humble man I was made to be.