The four faces of my professional life, historian, healer, writer, teacher, have manifested themselves in different ways at different times during the paths that have brought me to the present moment. They are intertwined, interconnected, like so many strands of thread. We heal and teach others and ourselves when we contemplate the past of our country, and our own personal histories. We turn to our understanding of the past, even when we write of the future. In writing, we teach; in healing, we understand. Everything becomes history, even as this present moment recedes into it.
The goal always was to find a way to breathe a greater degree of justice into the world, the world of children especially, but also that of the adults they would grow up to be. Standing at the threshold of medical science, feeling the frustration of its limitations in the face of socioeconomic disparity, we look for answers to old problems in new directions. The issue is not always one of funding, or commitment or political will, but often one of understanding and acceptance of the way the world is. It seems to me now, that the answer lies somewhere in the will to education, the will to educate ourselves, our children, the will to listen to our hearts and children and the indigenous children of our ancient land.
The journey, no doubt, will never be complete. The path diverges. Way leads on to way, as Frost reminds us. But taking the path that seems less travelled, the way that has not grown crowded with those advocating the solutions of yesterday for the problems of a tomorrow still hidden, the path that seems too straightforward, to simple, to promise solutions, seems worth the chance. We need peace and understanding. We need to stand up to the schoolyard bully, the bully of a socioeconomic system that marginalizes our indigenous peoples, and in so doing, marginalizes the Canadian public from itself and its own past. The answer seems to lie somewhere in the intersection of healing and history. The use of history to heal seems a noble employment. The answer may well lie in what we teach our children, and in so doing, teach ourselves. The answer may well be found somewhere in the realm of our desire to allow education to lead us home. A system that needs to not only teach our children where they come from, which intimates what the spirit of our country speaks to them of, but also allows indigenous peoples to find healing in the understanding of their past and encourages the embracing of their future. Healing, in this way, has the potential to spread out as ripples from the stone’s encounter with the surface of stagnant water. We heal ourselves as we heal each other.
Healing, history, writing, teaching may well be different faces of the same prayer. They all seek a spiritual centre, anchored as much to yesterday as to today.