After a while, the thread of truth, the rhythm of life and death, the visceral loneliness—after a while they are impossible to ignore. Standing, kneeling, the liturgy of ashes gets personal, as the sign of our origin and our end smears the foreheads of the faithful: “Remember, you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19).
In recent years I have come to deeply appreciate the rites of smudging conducted by indigenous peoples. From a pouch containing cedar, sweet grass, sage and tobacco, an elder draws a handful and places the mixture in a shell.
In last month’s editorial, Canada deserves better (Dec. 2013, p. 4), I concluded by saying, “It would be gratifying in 2014 if we were able to see political leadership centred on integrity, justice and honesty, at all levels and in all branches of government; leadership that gives us a sense of pride. It is what Canadians deserve.”
While in the Eastern Townships in Quebec for the 125th anniversary of the Church of the Advent, I enjoyed a visit to Abbaye Saint Benoît-du-Lac, a beautiful Benedictine abbey nestled in the hills surrounding Lake Memphremagog. The abbey is renowned for Gregorian chant and the production of world-class cheeses and apple cider.
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