Leah Perrault

Leah Perrault

Perrault works in Catholic health care in Saskatoon and writes and speaks about faith. Her website is leahperrault.com. Her Register column will appear monthly.

Trust wasn’t the lesson I was expecting when my partner planned a surprise anniversary weekend away. Seventeen years later, we returned to the Cypress Hills where we stayed as newlyweds. The lodgepole pines appear not to have changed as much as we have.

When I think about the long list of things I need to practice, resurrection has never made the list. But I have been returning to the theme year after year in my writing. In 2017, I wrote about not being ready to rise. The next year, I was baking buns and reflecting on relaxing into the rising work of God. And then, the danger of daring to embrace joy. Apparently, I need more practice than I thought.

As the world feels like it might give way into dust, I’m clinging to a promise of hope. I can still feel the faint dry spot on my forehead where it was marked with ashes. We haven’t been promised permanence, and that annoys me. And still. The eternal Word promised to be with us always. Hope is falling, even here.

Complexity is piling up like snowbanks on my lawn. We just get one wet snowfall shovelled in time for the next one to blow into a bank around the door. The piles started out neatly enough. But it is February now and the ice threatens to freeze my heart along with the missing mittens. The chaos and division desperately need some spring.

It is a January deep freeze in Saskatchewan and my three-year-old buries himself in his blanket in the morning and says, “It’s cold and I’m tired. I’m not getting out of bed.” He just says what the rest of us are feeling.

For the first holiday outing in our new city, we headed out for the tree lighting in the town square. (It felt very Stars Hallow, for the Gilmore Girls fans, with lots of twinkly lights and a mayor’s words and Santa arriving by fire truck with all the usual characters.) After a line for sleigh rides, a queue for hot chocolate and another turn to take to see Santa, my little girl exclaimed loudly that “Mostly tonight, we were waiting in line!”

Interrupting is a bad habit I have been working to break for a long time, with some success and more work yet to do. And every struggle has a flip-side strength: While I need to stop speaking over people, the weakness is driven by a persistent perseverance that can also be a strength. God has been asking me lately to interrupt some of the patterns in my life that are not serving me well.

Thanks is a word and a way of being. It seeks out the gift in what is. It assumes there is a gift to be seen here. In the hardest seasons of my life, thanks has been a ladder out of darkness. A therapist once reminded me through my tears that what we focus on is magnified. When we actively practise gratitude, the gifts of the present become easier to see.

I have been listening to people within my (Catholic) faith community wrestle in a deeper way with Truth and Reconciliation this summer. The reckoning has been too long coming. Saskatchewan columnist Doug Cuthandrecently wrote that Canadians may be waking up to face our collective residential school history.  I hope he’s right. And I hope that the same will be said of the Catholic Church in this season.

It has been my experience that defence often follows discomfort when reconciliation is needed. In my Catholic faith tradition, the discomfort can be understood as a gift that invites us to turn back, to repent, to make right. And defensiveness is a self-protective strategy to avoid taking responsibility. Defences divert us (for now, or forever) from being in real relationships with the ones we have had conflict with.

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