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End of a journey or only just begun

Last weekend marked the final gathering of our formal meeting together as the Hearts Exchanged cohort in Classis Niagara.  Because of our relatively close proximity the majority of our meetings were held in person.  This was a blessing as it was a physical reminder that we need not journey alone. I am grateful for my fellow travellers and guides.

Early on in the Hearts Exchanged process I was exposed to the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address: Greetings to the Natural World.  The Thanksgiving address has been such a blessing to me and continues to be a helpful guide for living. It begins with these words:

The People

Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as people.

Now our minds are one.

Participation in Hearts Exchanged has indeed been a journey of learning, much of it pertaining to the traditions and history (true stories) of Canada’s Indigenous peoples but also a discovery and an awakening of self.

I’ve listened for hours to Robin Wall Kimmerer, engrossed by her gentle, irresistible voice, tugging at my heartstrings as she read aloud to me from “Braiding Sweetgrass”. In the gentle hands of such a potter, I am profoundly impacted and reshaped.  In quite a different fashion, Thomas King’s biting commentary in “The Inconvenient Indian” didn’t pull any punches and hit hard and often.  In not so subtle ways, his words had the power to bend and twist.

In the end though, I wondered about the reshaping of my very own heart. About it being exchanged and about reciprocity. Is “exchanged” a matter of transforming my heart, the one that beats within me and makes me tick?  Little steps. Or does “exchanged” involve me giving away my heart to another and receiving one from another in return? Big steps. Maybe, it’s both. Either way, I know I’ve not yet arrived and I’ve got miles to go before I sleep.

The Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address: Greetings to the Natural World concludes with these words:

Closing Words

We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. Of all the things we have named, it was not our intention to leave anything out. If something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greetings and thanks in their own way.

Now our minds are one. 

As a gentleman farmer living in Vineland, Ontario I acknowledge that I am situated on treaty land. This land is steeped in the rich history of the First Nations such as the Hatiwendaronk, the Haudenosaunee, and the Anishinaabe, including the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. There are many First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people from across Turtle Island that live and work in Niagara today. As a tender of soil and trees, I stand with all Indigenous peoples, past and present, in promoting the wise stewardship of the lands on which we live.

Want to participate this fall?  Let the Hearts Exchanged team know!

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