The work of remembering

I’ve been drawn more and more of late to language I’ve been seeing about creating an ecology of care… thinking about our role in the world and on the Earth, and naming and honouring the importance of care – as a critical contribution, and as a way of being worth cultivating. So maybe it’s this lens that informs my thinking about Remembrance Day this year. I’m feeling less caught up in “is remembering a way of kind of whitewashing war?” and “should I acknowledge this alongside a reaffirmation of the need for peace?” and more heartened by the efforts of care, that go into the entire Remembrance period (which runs from October 28 to November 11), and beyond… the efforts of care that turn a place into a community, or that make a gathering for remembrance and reflection also a community-building moment.

I want to honour the care of all those who purchased pavers to remember a Veteran or loved one, that were then installed over the Thanksgiving weekend outside the Legion. (There will be forms available at Remembrance Day for those who’d like to place one, with the Spring 2023 order.)

I want to honour the care provided by Pemberton Legion members and veterans Lesley & Jim Clark, who went out and placed wreaths at Pemberton Cemetery on all the veteran’s graves on October 28.

And the care provided by all the volunteers who worked to refurbish the cemetery.

Most acts of care are quiet, invisible, and often go unnoticed or unmentioned – they’re like the fascia that holds everything together. When early anatomists were first dissecting human bodies to try and understand what we were made of, they peeled the fascia away and discarded it, and named the bones, the muscles, the tendons, not realizing that they were creating a medical blindspot that would last for years, by not paying attention to the barely visible but pervasive fascia… the stuff that makes everything work.

On CBC on Wednesday, freelance journalist Sarah Lawrynuik offered her documentary Shadow of a once Great City, about the Ukrainian border city, Kharkiv, which has been devastated by the war. What was beautiful was the way the people of the city are doing everything in their power to rebuild, and to provide care for each other – servers at a cafe who cooked for months to bring meals to the people living in the metro, municipal workers who tend the playgrounds and repair buildings that have been bombed. There’s a beautiful defiance in insisting on caring for things, mowing the grass and picking the apple trees, not abandoning them, when they’ve been destroyed in acts of war and invasion and assault. It made me realize there are many ways to fight against wrong.

Respect and gratitude to all those who have taken up arms. The price of that is huge – whether they lived through it or not.

And respect and gratitude too, to all those who practice care and the work of remembering. This too matters deeply.

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