This morning, I received a thoughtful and probing email from a parishioner (shared below with his permission) relating to a recent revision to the Territorial Acknowledgement we use in our public worship:

         We acknowledge and respect the land and territories of the Lək̓ʷəŋən speaking people, Songhees, Esquimalt and the WSÁNEĆ people where we gather to worship.

Personal email Friday 5 November:

Reading Rohr’s daily email this morning (* see below) has crystalized a thought that was gradually forming around our response to the revised territorial acknowledgement.

Upon reflection, I think our new Territorial Acknowledgement has it exactly right and our awkwardness with it highlights the deep-seated problem with our Western perspective.  We do have a hard time getting our heads around respect for the land itself.  We are so human-centric (and usually so selective as to which humans that we’re proud of ourselves for remembering those outside our caste.)  It’s about dominion, damn it!  But the earth and more concretely, the very specific bit of it on which we dwell, is also our sister according to St Francis and his modern papal namesake, and that’s the bottom line (literally and figuratively) of Rohr today.

It reminds me once again that our greatest and most challenging task of reconciliation may not be admitting our collective guilt for past sins, nor accepting that the financial privileges from what we stole lead to us compensating accordingly, nor even recognizing and wrestling with our continuing racist tendencies, but to be humble enough to embrace and learn from the Indigenous way of thinking, living and being which our culture sought to crush.

And part of that is recognizing how much we’ve already learned from the people who already lived in and with this land and knew its ways.  Our history thus far couldn’t have taken place without it. How much of what we now know as Canada would have been even explored by Europeans let alone made profitable without the canoe?  In fact, how much of my own life would be possible? For my very words and thoughts are shaped by the privilege that came from having a highly educated mother, whose father went to university to study theology and enter the ministry, based on the wealth and privilege that his father’s business provided back in the late 1800s.  The successful business that my Irish immigrant great-grandfather started in Lakefield, Ontario was a canoe factory.


This raises some challenging questions:

How do we in our small suburban “civilized” mechanized environment, “embrace and learn from the Indigenous way of thinking”?

What might it possibly look like to be an Anglican/Christian church community that has truly and authentically embraced and learned “from the Indigenous way of thinking”? 

Where does this learning begin? How might it become genuinely embodied in our lives and community?

some assistance in beginning to think about these questions:


* Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation

From the Center for Action and Contemplation

Week Forty-Four: Rediscovering the Common Good

The Global Common Good

In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis urges Christians to consider the long-term effects of our actions which impact the future well-being of the human species, all living things, and our planet itself: 

The notion of the common good also extends to future generations. The global economic crises have made painfully obvious the detrimental effects of disregarding our common destiny, which cannot exclude those who come after us. We can no longer speak of sustainable development apart from intergenerational solidarity. Once we start to think about the kind of world we are leaving to future generations, we look at things differently; we realize that the world is a gift which we have freely received and must share with others. . . . Intergenerational solidarity is not optional, but rather a basic question of justice, since the world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us. The Portuguese bishops have called upon us to acknowledge this obligation of justice: “The environment is part of a logic of receptivity. It is on loan to each generation, which must then hand it on to the next.” [1]

Theologian Daniel Scheid offers a prayerful approach to this expansive way of thinking, what he calls the “cosmic common good”:

The cosmic common good provides a larger moral perspective, but it also exhorts us to “sink our roots deeper” into our native place and to work for the good of our place on Earth. The cosmic common good enjoins us to adopt and intensify the many Earth-oriented personal daily choices and movements for structural change with which we are already familiar, for example reducing consumption and energy use, eating less or no meat, minimizing our dependence on automobiles. . . .  

Sinking our roots in our native place on this fertile Earth, but with the larger perspective of the cosmic common good, may we become like the righteous, “like a tree planted near streams of water, that yields its fruit in season,” whose “leaves never wither,” and that “whatever [we do] prospers” (Psalm 1:3–4). May the larger perspective of the cosmic common good inspire us to live and to work for the good of all members of this vast and wondrous cosmos:

for the poor, the vulnerable, and all those imperiled;
for the contexts in which creatures flourish, and for the greater wholes of
      which they are a part;
for the order in creatures, by which they glorify the Creator;
for the good that creatures provide to other creatures;
for the good of the order of creatures, by which the cosmos is sustained;
for the emergent universe and the communion of subjects;
for the solidarity that binds us to all creatures;
for the promotion of justice for all creatures;
for the sacred that lies in the innermost being in all creatures;
for greater nonviolence and peace;
for the interdependence that shines like a jewel within all creatures;
for all of our relations above, below, and around us;
and for the land and this plot of Earth by which creatures come to discover
       ​the cosmos at home. [2]

[1] Pope Francis, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, encyclical, May 24, 2015, paragraph 159.

[2] Daniel P. Scheid, The Cosmic Common Good: Religious Grounds for Ecological Ethics(Oxford University Press: 2016), 181–182.

Image credit: Rose B. SimpsonRiver Girls in situ (detail), 2019, sculpture. Photo by Kate Russell. Used with permission. 

We featured the artist of these sculptures, Rose B. Simpson, at our recent CONSPIRE conference—so many of us were impacted by her creations that we decided to share her work with our Daily Meditations community for the month of November.

Image inspiration: This is a piece that was specifically about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. It was about empowerment and companionship and the moment of heartbreak and how do we find strength to create a new reality. I called them River Girls because there was a young girl from my tribe that was found in the river real close to my studio as I was making these. I made these pieces and every bead on their arms was a prayer, every day that I worked in the clay was a prayer for strength and for protection and for clarity… —Rose B. Simpson, from CONSPIRE Interview, 2021

Learn more about the Daily Meditations Editorial Team. 


ps. this voice of reverence for all creation may have been largely unheeded in twentieth century western culture. But it has never been entirely silent. In the early twentieth century, a most unlikely source bore testimony to an integrated wholistic view of creation that affirmed a strong acknowledgement of the Creator at the centre of all life.

In his curious and uncategorizable enormous tome Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson, G.I. Gurdjieff wrote:

I repeat: all beings, large and small, of all brain systems without exception, existing on the Earth, within the Earth, in the air, or beneath the waters – all are equally necessary to our Common Creator for the common harmony of universal existence. 

And since all these forms of beings, taken as a whole, constitute the form of the process of universal existence required by our Creator, the essence of each being is equally dear and equally valuable to Him. For our Common Creator all beings are only particles of the existence of one whole Essence spiritualized by Himself. (BTTG, 183)