On May 31, Salal + Cedar celebrated on of our most anticipated and colourful traditions together with Open Way Community Church. Half a dozen people gathered for a service that included words from mystic Hildegard of Bingen, “Just as the wheel encloses within itself without limitation, and it exceeds everything.” and from the prophet Ezekiel, “I saw a wheel on the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them. As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction: their appearance was like the gleaming of beryl; and the four had the same form, their construction being something like a wheel within a wheel. When they moved, they moved in any of the four directions without veering as they moved. Their rims were tall and awesome.”
At our new location in the Cedar Cottage neighbourhood almost every passing cyclist, many of them families, stopped for snacks, conversation, prayers, and tune-ups from our excellent mechanic Agnes.
In the words of our intercessory prayer that day: Creating God, We give thanks for all those who cycle, scooter, wheel, walk, bus, or carpool as a way to be mindful of and care for your creation, and for those who travel this way because it is what they can afford, we ask you to bless them and keep them safe. Amen.
In a beautiful and complimentary juxtaposition, Salal + Cedar council member Francis Hart D’Emilio was confirmed in the Anglican church on the morning of Saturday May 6 and led the community in a celebration of the cross quarter day Beltane or May Day, in the afternoon. The outdoor service included fire, mead, a may crown, and was attended by a very enthusiastic Anna’s hummingbird. We share a collection of photos for your enjoyment and the order of service for you to adapt and use.
Host/Leader will lay out a simple elemental altar: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water will be represented thusly in a cross formation:
Water: Vessel filled with water
Air: A feather (most likely from a woodpecker)
Cauldron with a charcoal burner for burning resin-based incense in the centre
Wine and Bread will also be present on the altar. Because we are not having a Eucharist/Communion, the bread, water, and wine will be offered to the Earth.
All of Metro “Vancouver” is unceded, stolen Coast Salish land. Most of our work takes place on the ancestral and occupied territories of the x?m??k??y??m (Musqueam), s?wx?wú7mesh (Squamish), and s?l?ilw??ta?? (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations. The Metro Vancouver area is home to nine First Nations communities who have been stewards of this land since time immemorial and whose Rights and Title have never been extinguished: the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, Tsawwassen, Katzie, Kwantlen, Kwikwetlem, Matsqui, and Semiahmoo First Nations. As advocates of justice, solidarity, and respect, we must always remind ourselves of the historical injustice of colonialism that makes our gathering here possible, and to redress the injustices that continue to pervade our institutions, society, and culture. It is our responsibility to each other and to future generations to go beyond land acknowledgements and confront the ongoing systems of colonial oppression and exploitation in Canada.
Intro to Salal + Cedar’s Work
Through outdoor worship, we seek transformative encounters with the species and geography of the Fraser River to the Salish Sea basin and the wider Cascadia bioregion. We explore wilderness, sustainability, and justice themes in Christian scriptures and Anglican social teaching, and we learn about our roots and roles as individuals and as a church, in the multi-racial, labour, and Indigenous-Settler history of lower-mainland British Columbia.
Check-in – names, pronouns, access needs
Host/Leader lights a candle, incense should already be burning
The Beltane Blessing
Originally from the Carmina Gadelica I, 183–185
Taken from Esther de Waal, editor, The Celtic Vision, pp. 26–27
Bless, O Threefold true and bountiful,
Myself, my spouse, and my children,
My tender children and their beloved mother at their head.
On the fragrant plain, on the gay mountain sheiling,
On the fragrant plain, on the gay mountain sheiling.
Everything within my dwelling or in my possession,
All kine and crops, all flocks and corn,
From Hallow Eve to Beltane Eve,
With goodly progress and gentle blessing,
From sea to sea, and every river mouth,
From wave to wave, arid base of waterfall.
Be the Three Persons taking possession of all to me belonging,
Be the sure Trinity protecting me in truth;
Oh! satisfy my soul in the words of Paul,
And shield my loved ones beneath the wing of Thy glory,
Shield my loved ones beneath the wing of Thy glory.
Bless everything and every one,
Of this little household by my side;
Place the cross of Christ on us with the power of love,
Till we see the land of joy,
Till we see the land of joy.
What time the kine shall forsake the stalls,
What time the sheep shall forsake the folds,
What time the goats shall ascend to the mount of mist,
May the tending of the Triune follow them,
May the tending of the Triune follow them.
Thou being who didst create me at the beginning,
Listen and attend me as I bend the knee to Thee,
Morning and evening as is becoming in me,
In Thine own presence, O God of life,
In Thine own presence, O God of life.
(A shieling is a hut or collection of huts on a seasonal pasture high in the hills, once common in wild or sparsely populated places in Scotland. A Kine is a group of cows
Intro to Beltane
A major Celtic festival to mark the beginning of summer. The festival is associated with fertility. In Scottish Gaelic Bealtuinn means May Day, and in modern Irish Gaelic Beltaine is the name for the month of May.
Beltane is a Cross-quarter- halfway between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice
Gospel Reading: two readers (one read, pause for reflection, second re-read)
Reader: The Gospel of Christ
All: Praise be to you Lord Jesus Christ
Time for Contemplative Reflection:
The assembled people are invited to take some time for reflection in the garden however that feels right for them. When people come back, Host/Leader will offer them some small bits of paper to write down something they would like God’s help with. What would you like to bring into existence or let go of? Write that thing down, and drop the little paper into the fire.
After folks have dropped their papers in the fire…
Prayers of the People
In peace, we pray to you, Lord God.
For all people in their daily life and work;
For our families, friends, and neighbours, and for all those who are alone.
For this community and the world;
For all who work for justice, freedom, and peace.
For the just and proper use of your creation:
For the victims of hunger, fear, injustice, and oppression
For all who are in danger, sorrow, or any kind of trouble;
For those who minister to the sick, the friendless, and the poor.
For the peace and unity of the Church of God;
For all who proclaim the gospel, and all who seek the truth.
For John, our bishop, and for all bishops and other ministers;
For all who serve God in Their Church.
For our own needs and the needs of others.
For everyone who is homeless, refugees, internally displaced persons, people living on the streets and in insecure housing; we pray for and honour the life and memory of Jordan Neely, a talented young black man who, for expressing that he was hungry and tired, was murdered by a group of strangers in New York City on a subway car this past Monday. May his memory be a blessing. We pray for help as we confront organized evil inherent in this capitalist system, which has always sought to divide the people with racism, classism, and fear of the Other.
We pray for members of the Salal + Cedar community (individuals and particular situations can be named aloud)
We pray for all victims of sexual violence, especially those harmed by the church; the people of Sudan; the rights, safety and wholeness of trans and non-binary persons, especially femmes of colour; the worker injured at a Trans Mountain pipeline worksite; for justice for all workers;
We pray with and for: white-crowned sparrows, epidonax flycatchers, ruby-crowned kinglets, dark-eyed juncos, steller’s jays, and black bears. Amen
Host/Leader extinguishes candle and cauldron.
Host/Leader, or any other person pours out the water and wine and places the bread at the foot of a tree.
May the blessing of the Creator be always with us.
Thanks be to God!
Laurel Dykstra spoke on March 8 as part of the New Westminster Ministerial’s Lenten speaker series on reconciliation. As requested by participants in the event these are Laurel’s speaker notes with links to resources.
My background for approaching these questions
I am the priest of Salal + Cedar -worship outdoors, equip ppl for climate action, for next brave step
8 + years doing work to engage Christians and churches in climate justice work
-started by asking youth
Wild Church movement, – In the past 10 years, dozens of Wild Churches, communities which gather outdoors to pray, have sprung up all over North America. Wild Churches have a range of practices, leadership models, and relationships to denominations and even to Christianity. They are a kind of functional critique of Christianity’s failure to care for creation and most Wild Churches claim to exist as a response to climate crisis or as a place for engaging climate grief.
Watershed Discipleship -older movement with Ched Myers as the key articulator.
A Watershed is the geographical rain catchment area that divides up our land, the area within a circle of mountain peaks that drain into the ocean at the same place. Watershed discipleship plays on two aspects of this word—the first is that the watershed itself—a natural division where species, weather and sometimes Indigenous languages change—is the primary place where we live out our discipleship (more on that later)—the little lifeboat of species with whom we are thrown together.
Watershed is also a word that is used metaphorically—we say that we are at a watershed moment when things are critical—a raindrop above a mountain could go 2 different directions with vastly different outcomes. –and in terms of species extinctions, deforestation, ocean pollution and global climate change we are at a watershed moment. A little difference now could result in a big change.
Prior to that I was part of the team preparing for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Residential Schools
-for 3 years met with Indigenous and church leaders building relationship
TRC out of process in South Africa
-El Salvador(?), -both offered amnesty in exchange for truth in a situation of extreme power imbalance or imbalance of perpetrators
-Greensborough –Klan shot up a rally, Detroit -redlining of Black people from housing
I had mentors who worked in each of these processes
I don’t know of a process that I would call an unqualified success -but from my people I know they have sometimes been places of transformation and healing
Why we need to be careful about reconciliation language
In Canada particular caution -even though TRC process was requested by indigenous -residential school survivors it was also a government mandated process
-in my experience right now many more church people are enamoured with the idea/language of reconciliation, and many indigenous people feel very disillusioned
-among the critiques that I hear and these are not all, are:
the truth was not told (esp the way the commission excluded examination of the deaths that occurred at the schools)
-that reconciliation supposes a return to a right, good and equal relationship
Latin roots: to become friendly again, or to reinstate a friendship
-many ppl this never existed between indigenous and settler people, between Indigenous children and govt. mandated, church-run schools
-the harms of residential schools continue to be perpetrated in ongoing ways and benefitted from, so cannot reconcile (in Christian language) without repentance and without restitution,
Without stopping harm
-despite the fact that “all Canadians are named parties”-side-stepping of responsibility -at the height of the residential school era the vast majority of Canadians identified with one of the denominations that ran RS, people who are not Christians say -it wasn’t us, Christians say it wasn’t our denomination, or we paid our share of the settlement agreement, or that was another generation
-that the Calls to Action of the TRC have mostly been ignored or taken up in less than meaningful ways –as we move to talk about reconciliation with land/creation/ the calls around Indigenous People’s right to Free Prior and Informed consent to what happens on their land is particularly relevant.
Reconciliation with Creation
So we’ve riffed a little on some of the issues with “reconciliation” -let’s talk about creation, the planet, the more than human world.
I cannot overstate the magnitude of climate emergency. The biggest deal in our lifetimes. The future is likely to be very different for young people, in ways that we can’t imagine.
Anthopocene –age of human impact
Eremocene -age of loneliness (e.o. Wilson)
Is reconciliation the right language?
-yes humans have lived in relationships -mutually nourishing with place, creatures,
Different cultures differently but all of us have an ancestral past that
But some of the same critiques apply
-Are we telling the truth? –Gale Yee Hebrew Bible scholar talks about bible in climate denial, denial about culpability Center and Library for the Bible and Social Justice event (Lenten Bible Detox)
Are we committed to not doing harm?
Are we taking meaningful action?
I think it is fantastic that you are embarking on these questions together during the season of Lent -a time when we think about sin and repentance
-biblically an awful lot of the focus on sin and repentance has nothing to do with individuals and everything to do with nations, cities, peoples, communities. –so individual repentance won’t change corporate sin -are we taking corporate responsibility? And that doesn’t mean beating each other up for using straws or not eating vegan.
But naming and opposing the principalities and powers -that we participate in
Capital-ocene –just ordered a book theology ecologically focused, with solidarity as key
So there are a LOT of cautions and caveats here but if Christians are to seek reconciliation with the more than human world it must be both individual and corporate
What I offer for the rest of my talk is a review of some elements (not a comprehensive program) that I think are core to that work.
Act like it is an emergency
–Seth Klein’s book A Good War looks at Canada’s mobilization in WWII as a model for how we might do the corporate work to respond to climate emergency
-policy and funding “do what it takes”
-tell the truth
-leave no one behind
We have to act, and action is an antidote to despair
Climate Justice Approach
In their unprecedented Joint Message for the Protection of Creation (2021), Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of the Orthodox church, Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic church, and the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby leader of the global Anglican Communion echo the language of the climate justice movement saying, “the people bearing the most catastrophic consequences of these abuses are the poorest on the planet and have been the least responsible for causing them.”
The term “climate justice” has been in use since the 1990s, its origin is credited variously to groups from the global south and communities fighting environmental racism in North America. In deliberate contrast with the term environmentalism which positions “the environment” as a backdrop acted upon but separate from humans, climate justice attends to power differences between individuals, communities, and nations related to race, gender, indigeneity, economic status. The impacts of global climate change are not borne equally and neither is the work of responding. Racialized, impoverished, Indigenous, coastal and island peoples experience the greatest impacts while bearing the least responsibility and are at the forefront of movements for land defense, mutual aid, and corporate and governmental accountability globally and in North America. Climate justice reshapes climate action from a technical effort to cut emissions into a just transition that also addresses human rights and social inequality.
Climate reparations although voluntary were part of the -latest COP gathering
Reconciliation with creation means talking about racial and economic justice and it means being alert to ecofascism (teen Vogue has an excellent primer) -overpopulation in impoverished places as key problem
Interspecies humility, curiosity and reciprocity
Western/Christian worldview is that humans have a special place -above creation -whether that is steward, or extractor
–kin Queer Nature –who I really can’t recommend enough talk about creature-kin and the practice consent with creatures
Robin Wall Kimmerer -potawatimi botanist -braiding sweetgrass, gathering moss
Grammar of animacy, species as sovereign, relationships of reciprocity
“Knowing that you love the earth changes you, activates you to defend and protect and celebrate. But when you feel that the earth loves you in return, that feeling transforms the relationship from a one-way street into a sacred bond.”
-not romanticizing wilderness as “untouched and human-free”
Sallie McFague -work around the sanctity of the more than human world
The earth as God’s body
S+C take traditional sacrament -esp eucharist out of doors
But more importantly to see the sacred in all that is around us
To practice wonder
-around grief, loss, lament, repentance
-listen for the divine word in Scripture and in nature
not b/c it will change what is wrong in the world -but b/c we hope we will not be changed by the world
We do that in 3 ways—through 3 spiritual disciplines.
To know our story
To know our tradition
To know our place
Most of us in this room are not Halkomelem speaking people but here we are on this land to know our story/or our histories—how did our people come to this lower Fraser Watershed? Our you one of the first people’s whose creation stories are here and whose ancestors have been here for tens of thousands of years? Did your family come 100 years ago? Or 10? Or last year? What are the forces of extraction, migration, flight, conquest that brought you here and how do they connect with the trees, minerals, fish, oceans of this place
knowing our tradition—delving into scripture and church practice to find those places that particularly honour and celebrate our connection to creation and engaging those and applying them here in our watershed. Do you know how many figures in the bible have a great spiritual experience under a tree? By a special body of water? Do you know how many trees have names? That the Land is called a witness and participant in covenant?
knowing our place—also called Watershed Literacy means learning the geography, the geology, the plants and animals of our bioregion. I have heard that on average a child can identify more than 100 corporate logos and fewer that 10 plants. –Can you tell a cedar from a hyssop? Do you know our 5 local species of salmon? Could you tell them apart?
For me this spiritual discipline has been the one with the greatest spiritual richness -coming to know and love my watershed neighbours
Senegalese environmentalist Baba Dioum said, “we won’t save places we don’t love; we can’t love places we don’t know; and we don’t know places we haven’t learned”
Having plugged others’ work in my talk I want to do a little “shameless self promotion”
Book coming out in the fall –Wildlife Congregations -Hancock House that is about attending spiritually to creatures and the question of interspecies loneliness –really about spending a year visiting as many gatherings -mass congregations of local wild creatures as possible
Invite Salal + Cedar come and animate your Sunday Worship, or Sunday School, or vacation bible school.
And as we move into discussion I’ll leave you some paired concepts to ponder:
Sin and repentance
Collective and individual action
Kinship and wonder
A solstice reflection, our Mutual Aid and Solidarity Campaign, and a musical year in review can be found here.
We have been supporting “Gwen” through our mutual aid and solidarity team. We are pleased to get this update and encourage folks to continue their support.
At the go fund me campaign https://www.gofundme.com/f/gwen-a-life-worth-living
or by e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org with the password friendsofgwen
While reading Matthew’s gospel recently, my eyes teared up when I came across “but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs”” (Matthew 19:14).
I realized that the images from my research work for Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada had not gone away. The discoveries of unmarked graves rekindled the vicarious trauma of those images. I’m not Indigenous, still, one cannot escape the realization that the triumvirate of empire, colonialism and racism made unwilling martyrs out of thousands of Indigenous children and their families. I use the term “martyr in its original meaning as “witness”, as they were witness and victims of government sanctioned cruelty just like the early martyrs of ancient Rome. But unlike the ancient martyrs, these saints remain unsung. But now, some light shines in the darkness.
Among the many making cracks in the colonial armour, allowing light to enter our consciousness three come to mind: Alanis Obomsawin, Abenaki filmmaker and activist, who work sheds light on discrimination and injustice, but also on Indigenous strength and resistance; Dr. Cindy Blackstock of the Gitxsan First Nation, works fiercely and tirelessly for the rights of current Indigenous children; and, Sleydo (Molly Wickham), an Indigenous spokesperson for the Wet’suwet’en land defenders and their allies, who struggle to preserve the health of Wet’suwet’en natural ecosystems for future generations, Indigenous and non-Indigenous.
These three living saints are numbered among the innumerable unsung saints who have struggled against the injustice of empires from time immemorial. Let’s begin to remember and celebrate Unsung Saints, and by our own actions amplify the light.
Art and writing by Rev. Dr. Victoria Marie
For the month of September, Marineview Chapel joined in the celebration of Seasons of Creation. As a church we desired to encounter God as the Creator, to celebrate the goodness of His Creation, and to attune our ears to better listen to the voice of creation. A friend directed us to Salal + Cedar as a good compliment for the children in Sunday School. As a small church, it can be difficult to find curriculum that appropriate for a wide range of children. Currently our Sunday school program includes 10 children ranging from grades 1-7.
Salad + Cedar graciously loaned us “The Trees” and “All the Birds of the Air” curriculum. The children enjoyed the interactive and hands on opportunity to explore creation through these two programs. They particularly enjoyed guessing the various types of fruit as part of the Tree Fruit Salad activity and marveled at the wide range of variety of fruit God created and how even similar looking seeds would yield very different fruit at maturity. Leaves collected from the church property and nearby forest provided wonderful material for leaf rubbing, and they all diligently worked to create their own works of art with the flower press that was provided. When it was time to work through the “All the Birds of the Air Curriculum”, they so enjoyed foraging around the outside to look for additional material to compliment the material already provided to build a bird’s nest. Building a nest is apparently hard work for the birds! We also studied the various types of feathers, guessing that type of bird they belonged to; all the children left the station wishing they could take home a feather or two.
We were very pleased with the detail of the above wonder box curriculum, the quality and quantity of the material and even the care taken to refresh the boxes after use. In fact, one child saw the large bin labeled “Birds” and exclaimed, “There’s so much stuff just about birds?!”. Although we were only able to use a portion of the curriculum due to time constraints, I could see how the program could be extended into a longer period of time, or possible several sessions to reinforce the original lesson. Our hope is that the children left the two sessions with a greater appreciation and wonder at the created world around them.
Blessings to all those at Salal + Cedar for developing and sharing this wonderful resource.
On the 7th anniversary of Salal + Cedar’s commissioning as a new ministry we offer our quarterly update.
Orange Shirt Day was the first day for Indigenous peoples to understand who our parents and grandparents were. It is a day where we discovered conversations around knowing our parents went to Residential school. I feel our family was missing something in our lives prior to that. I grew up in a world of adults that were in Residential Schools, these adults were once children who were severely neglected, sexually & physically abused, tormented, medically experimented on and in many cases as we are finding out today, many died and were buried in unmarked graves.
Orange Shirt Day marks a day of a long journey. Much healing is required by our community, both indigenous and non-idigenous peoples. We have been sitting for many years now with society and government talking of Reconciliation, but having no idea how to do that. Now people like myself have to be the voices of Indigenous People and saying the way to healing is through OUR cultural practices. Being able to do ceremonies without barriers.
On my healing journey, I found that the best way for my family to heal is through the lands and waterways. I believe Creator guided me into this path to heal my family and help others find a healing path. I have trained with some knowledge keepers and now I am a Indigenous Cultural Facilitator. I work with Indigenous Plant medicines. I started by harvesting plant medicines with my children around Vancouver. Without forced teaching, my children are learning to identify plants and the benefits. They watch me create Salve Medicines, Tinctures and know how to dry the plants we harvest. This is a family thing that we do together, and it becomes a normal thing we do from Spring to End of Summer. A cultural event that I am handing down to my children and they will hand down through their children.
For me, working with plants is a way of healing. Advocating for garden spaces within parks to be able to get our hands in the dirt, which is a proven method of mental health healing. Touching the dirt helps with depression and gives you that connection to the earth. Being with our Indigenous Plants is one way to be culturally connected to who we are as people.
While we are on this journey to healing, it opens up a safe space to discuss among each other of how our people got through residential schools and how we are recovering and learning why we are who we are today. The Earth is our Ceremony and we are in ceremony everyday.
It is important for Non-Indigenous people to give us this safe space to talk about our experiences, residential school is not over: instead it is called Child and Welfare today. If we are given our safe space to talk, we share our lived experiences. We are not necessarily asking for help to heal, only a safe space to listen to us.
The Park spaces that I have created so far, I call Bridges to Decolonization. They are not only a space for learning Indigenous Plant medicines and food, but also a space for People of Color or IBPOC, particularly immigrant people to share their own cultural food from their own home lands.
It’s very important that Non-Indigenous people know that Systematic Genocide is real and very much alive today.
Gitxsan by my parents, Caroline & Earl Brown
Nisga’a by my grandparents, Harold & Elizabeth Wright
By the Grade 11 Team
Our third day of PEAK week started early with the bus ride to Salal + Cedar full of nodding heads and heavy eyes. With weak feet, we joined Laurel in a circle and introduced ourselves. As we slowly warmed up, we proceeded with a grid activity, exploring our views and opinions visually. We discussed topics such as environmental impact, and care in creation. We had the chance to listen to members of a church who had an ardent love for the change we can make in climate change.
Letting their testimonies settle in, we had a moment to reflect before getting our hands dirty and working on community projects. We handled and broke down pallets, built bug hotels for insects and explored a creek and smaller labyrinth similar to the one we walked on day one.
As an ending activity, we explored Rice Lake and experienced a Eucharist. Being in a Christian denomination, it was a first for many of us. I remember Laurel preparing the altar on rock, with all of us breaking and sharing bread while returning wine to the earth.
What impacted you the most?
The different outdoor experiences had their own impacts to offer. A grid activity which was led by Laurel gave us the opportunity to know ourselves, and our friends better. We explored how we feel and view different topics such as faith and climate change. Exploring Rice Lake and Coleman Creek opened our eyes to see the beauty which was offered. Alone time in the forest at rice lake during the Eucharist allowed me to understand why God gave us the Earth to preserve and restore. God entrusted us to care for his creation, so we should carry out his will. As people have built an attachment to the area of nature around them, this gives us more reason to continue to care for God’s creation.
Dear God, We are thankful for the opportunity we were given through this motivational and formative peak week experience. The time we had at Salal and Cedar gave us takeaways of how important God’s creation is and how we should respect and admire the earth around us. God provided us with this wonderful opportunity through VCS and Salal + Cedar and we are very thankful! Amen.