The journey home: a prayer for healing

On the occasion of the seating of the Maine-Wabanaki Truth and Reconciliation Commission

by Lucy Duncan


“People can be transformed by being open and human. We believe that people have a need to be heard, but how they are heard really matters – if they take the risk of telling their story, it needs to make a difference.” – Denise Altvater the story


All they knew was the reservation

The bit of land that wasn’t stolen

They lived surrounded by the sea

The few that had survived

They were poor, but this was home


One day, the state came

No one said where they were going

They rode in a car for the first time

Taken from all they knew, and from those they loved

To strange homes and ways

Where some were cared for, others beaten and broken

But either way, they longed for home, for the places they belonged

Taken far from who they were, far from their heart mother

Into places that would demand that they forget

But the heart keeps beating like a drum


Hard won, the journey home has begun

With each story told of the pain of separation, of loss, of hurt

With each story held lovingly

And carried with tenderness by those who listen

They are slowly coming home

Home to look each other in the eye and say, “I see you.”

Home to family lost

Home to ways of being that rest on their limbs like skin


As each story is told, another story rises

A mother tells of being taken

A son tells how her hurts were passed on to him

How he passed them on to his children

Recognition comes, the hurts so deep begin to heal

The children waiting to be born will learn the story

But not carry this deep weight of pain


The stories together

Tell the whole truth

The truth that stings as it heals

And maybe, just maybe, if all of us can hear

In our bones, in our being

Even those descended from the ones who plotted decimation

We will remember

To honor the mother, all mothers

To honor the land, all land

To honor the Spirit, rising


Shh…. listen….