I want to share what I learned as I prepared a keynote speech to a United Church regional council AGM, and also share a link to it so you can see the images.
I became even more convinced that the trauma of displacement and dispossession that my forebears experienced as they were cut off from their commonly shared ancestral homeland in the Scottish Highlands by the Enclosure movement and clearances has been passed down, however residually to me; and I continue to feel that, unhealed. It’s a set-up for addiction.
I learned too that there’s a resistance to confronting this disconnection. And yet, my journey back brought me to the place where I could sense that disruption and then I could choose: to let in the pain or to keep on disassociating.
Here’s a line or two from the talk, where I’d arrived at the ruins of a shieling, the upland common pastures where my people spent the summer with their sheep, cows and goats: “Now the stones were tumbled down, sinking and covered in moss and lichen…I couldn’t enter — because I was up against it: the point of family disconnection from this long-inhabited place. The pain of that rupture was still there, or so it seemed to me. And it seemed too much to take on…” Until it started to rain; whereupon I stepped into what shelter there remained. “At some point while I was sitting out the rain and eating my lunch in the ruins of that shielings bothy, I began to believe in the possibility of their presence; the spirits of my ancestors. It feels like they’ve been with me ever since.”
The third thing I gained was re-connecting with my pre-modern, pre-colonial ancestral heritage when and where my people lived connected to the land allowed me to sense and honour the spirit energy that flows with that connection. As I revisited how much living on this commonly shared ancestral homeland was a spiritual experience (not just subsistence and survival), I thought: The Commons is a metaphor for Creation.
The Bible text for my talk was from 1 Corinthians: “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”