Last week I had the delightful experience of helping my son prepare for a science test on ecology. One of his tasks was to explain what composting is. As he shared his theory with me, he reminded me of an important lesson: There is no waste.

As I shared this thought with my son he agreed and then explained that some things though, like plastic bags, take an awful long time to compost. So, even though there is no waste, some things are harder to break down – mostly the stuff that we humans make. 

This got me wondering about my ‘waste’ – the hard to break down stuff.  

My thoughts turned to my Grandmother. She was a woman of the Métis Nation. Because of the racism she and her ancestors suffered she would not hold me when I was a baby - I looked too Native. My Grandmother would look at a picture of herself as a teenager, wearing moccasins and holding the hand of an obviously Native man. She would look at that picture and deny that it was her. Our heritage was kept secret from my mom’s and my generation until 12 years ago. 

I never lived on a reservation and had no contact with our relatives who did. Because I had no direct relationship with the abuse that so many of my relatives suffered, I initially felt that I did not carry grief like so many of them did and still do. I realize now that this is not the case. Even though I do not know my language or my family’s songs, the history of my people is still within me. It is who I am. I carry an ancestral grief. I carry it deep within my psyche and bones. Bones are what feel the most ancient within me. Interestingly, the cancer with which I was diagnosed was concentrated in the marrow of my bones. I wonder if there is a relationship.

The infinity sign is the emblem of the Métis people. It represents the belief that the Métis culture will live on forever. It can also be perceived as two conjoined circles, standing for the unity of two cultures, First Nations and European. The figure 8 also reminds me of our journey through time. That it is not linear but that it has many twists and turns. It is infinite; in order to go forward we need to look to the past.

So many of my relatives do not know their culture; in many cases it was taken from them. As part of the process of healing this ancestral grief, I participated in a ‘Coming Home' ceremony. Even though my Grandmother wasn’t physically there, I called her name and brought her and all my ancestors into the circle. I imagined myself walking up to them and looked them compassionately in the eyes. I saw myself gently stroking their heads, faces, shoulders, and arms. I told them that I was sorry for what happened to them. That it was not their fault. I greeted them with love and tenderness and welcomed them home. While I did this I was surrounded by a community of relatives who did the same for me.

This week, beautiful big snowflakes fell. As I looked up and saw the snow falling beautifully and softly I was reminded of something I read: That snowflakes are alive; that they contain the spirits of our dreams, that with imagination, courage, and free-will we can awaken, access our connection to the Great Mystery, and remember ourselves into wholeness.  I am profoundly grateful for the beauty of this place and for how nature seems to have this inexplicable way of healing our souls.

I am curious to know – Where is there waste in your life? How might you compost it?