The Main Course

Posted 9-03-2003
The parish progressive tea was on the same weekend as the aboriginal pastor had guests in town from down south. We offered to host a main course and were assigned the pastor and his wife, the two aboriginal men from Adelaide- one of whom was a single dad and had his three sons with him, two elderly Scottish women I'd never met, and ourselves. It felt like someone decided to put all us misfits in the one "too hard basket." 

The conversation limped along. Everyone did their best to relate, but we all knew we were not the ideal dinner party. The evening really got underway when my wife asked one of the women where she'd come from in Scotland. The answer was Dundee, and she told us of her early life. Then the conversation stopped again. The aboriginal pastor mused into the silence, 'Dundee, hey? The Mackenzies came from Dundee.' 

There was a noticeable thinking break as the Europeans in the room came to terms with the notion of the aborigines from Dundee. Pastor Mark, with just the tiniest hint of enjoyment said, 'Yes, my Grandfather came out from Dundee.'

Later he was telling me of his visit to one of the massacre sites of his people by early white settlers. He spoke of the feeling of violation about the place- almost with souls crying out. The old lady from Dundee spoke across the room. "If it's massacres and atrocities you're talking about, you might remember what the English did to we Scots!" And there was a melding of understanding and the making of a strange alliance.

We went somewhere else for sweets, but I always remember the main course.


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