This morning I had the urge, huge urge to get in my car, travel to a pilgrimage an hour away from my city, a nice drive out in the country to the lake. And when I parked the car I heard my name called a few times, “Gail! Gail!!” trying to get my attention. My mother, bless her heart was in a vehicle with two of my aunts parked a few cars down. I knew that this was providence and going to be a fun day even though the services would be solemn but joyous. Love the singing part myself!
Lac Ste. Anne is a site for the annual pilgrimage, a spiritual gathering with many hundreds in attendance. Here follows what Parks Canada explains in more detail than I could.
“Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage is a site of national historic significance because as early as 1889, Aboriginal people, including Cree, Dene, Blackfoot and Métis, have been coming to Lac Ste. Anne to celebrate the Feast of Saint Anne. Saint Anne embodies, for many Aboriginal peoples, the traditional importance of the grandmother figure. For the Aboriginal people of Western and Northwestern Canada, the pilgrimage site is an important place of social, cultural and spiritual rejuvenation, which are important aspects of the traditional summer gathering.”
An outdoor church, a huge building that seated hundreds under that wooden roof with many benches was the first time for me to experience this since I was a child. The service took no time at all and after I walked towards the lake as it is known for its healing waters. In ankle deep water and watching others going way deeper, I said my prayer, the whole reason I came.
People come from near and far for this event and my mom introduced me to long lost relatives from my father’s side of the family. My Aunt Violet, seeing me for the first time since I was a baby couldn’t get over the family resemblance and frankly neither could I. Her son Dennis and his son, Raymond and I made an instant connection, just like we knew each other for the longest time. No sooner had I met them there were more cousins that came over to say hello. That was pretty darn cool to meet this friendly bunch, getting to know each other and then hugging each other goodbye. I sure hope to see them again!
There were many vendors and I was walking along and spied my Aunt Bertha who I met a couple of years ago. My dad and her were inseparable and when he would come into the city he would stay with her. She was telling me stories today about him, how impeccable he was. Always cleaning and keeping everything neat and tidy including her children. I started to tear up as I really never knew what made this man tick. But it also made me laugh because I picked up on his ways. For me everything has to be perfect.
So there you have it. That huge urge to make this trip and not only to see what this pilgrimage was about with my adult eyes but also to walk into wonder and connection for my emotional being. Dad, I know you are watching me from where ever you are and I thank you for making my day!