Spirit Quest on piecing together

Spirit Quest

Putting the pieces together

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan
True North Perspective

15 March 2013I was enraptured as I watched my six year old granddaughter survey the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle. Occasionally her long eyelashes gave a little flutter as she recognized a place and a piece that belonged together. I watched her as her long shapely fingers moved the piece into place. Such are the little moments that I shall always cherish.

But as I watched Sophia I thought of the many children like her, but not nearly as fortunate as she. We have read about them in refugee camps in Turkey who have managed to flee the carnage of Syria, or those in the Sudan and other parts of Africa. We have all seen their pictures on the screen and on the pages of our morning papers. I suppose that they are the fortunate ones being cared for by the UN and other agencies that we support with our donations. They are lucky in comparison to those huddling in some makeshift shelter or wandering back alleys and dumpsites searching for scraps to nurture their thin bodies. All around this world there are children like my Sophia but unlike her in their fate and circumstances.

As I watched her contemplating the picture puzzle I wondered about her. I particularly think about the world that my generation is passing on to her. I think about the consequences of global warming that can no longer be ignored or passed off as simply cyclical, normal, with no human initiator, the strange weather, violent and unseasonable storms, drought, deluge, crop failures and pollution. How will it affect her life and the lives of her many brothers and sisters all around the globe?

I suppose that a secure life has never been a certainty. I think only of my own childhood growing up in a safe home, going to a good school and receiving medical and dental care until that day when I picked up my bag and with my mother fled from home. I was lucky landing on this wonderful and peaceful shore. Of course, I wasn’t aware that in remote places in this vast country there were children dying by the thousands in residential schools, having been infected by TB as government and churches endeavoured to “civilize and whiten those redskin kids.” But I also think of some of my school buddies who were left behind to experience the ravages of war. And when the war was over there still was no peace for them.

I recall hearing about the conversation of two Germans in a bunker in Berlin during the final days as the Soviets flattened much of their city. As they huddled together hearing the thunder of the guns and feeling the vibrations of war, one turned to the other and said, “Enjoy it while you can, there is worse to come when the guns go silent.”

The end of the war witnessed a mass migration such as the world has never seen. It is well described in a recent book by R M Douglas  called facetiously, Orderly and Humane: the Expulsion of the Germans after the Second World War. Look at its cover, which depicts children my Sophia’s age, fear-filled dark eyes and hollow cheeks such as I hope my beloved will never see.

Life is full of uncertainty but that is no reason to be complacent about the future, to do nothing, claiming impotence. We are only too prone to continue to live as if our lifestyle makes no impact on the generations to come.

As I write I am aware of the massive protests in Washington against the building of a pipeline that will bring crude from northern Alberta to refineries in the American south. Some at least are awakening to the potential catastrophes unleashed by the transport of the toxic products of the tar sands, or the fracking that some in the US hope will make them energy sufficient, but perhaps they are less conscious of the carbon emissions of coal mining in their own backyards.

There is something radically wrong out there and I fear it has much to do with untrammeled human greed that has become systemic, that allows us to lose sight of those “little ones.”

I want very much to ask our leaders of government what are the ideals that they are striving for. “Its the economy, stupid,” I can hear them respond to my naivety.

But wealth has a human cost in terms of health among other factors. Nor is that promised pie ever equally shared. More and more since the latter seventies has the chasm between the poor and the rich grown wider. The middle class which is the glue that holds the economy together, those consumers who trade almost all of their income into goods and services, is diminishing. The working class is stagnating. Their piece of the pie has remained largely the same as it was forty years ago. Meanwhile wealth in search of more wealth advocates austerity and seeks to privatize the services that the public fought for and enjoy. They know very well where to make a buck.

As I watch Sophia move her pieces into place, I am aware that there is a total picture she is seeking to create in which each piece has its essential place and each is as important as the other.

I live in a hope, though often it wears thin, that humankind will discover a picture that is beautiful, peaceable and equitable. That picture is not created by one player amassing all the pieces, but by bringing them together into harmony with others.

In spite of this power of greed there is nevertheless a spirit abroad, a force of love — love for “the least of these” as the Palestinian prophet spoke about so long ago. It is also a love for this planet home that it remain intact as it once was seen from outer space. It can only do so as we share equally, as we find the pieces in the puzzle that makes it whole.