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Disgrace drove me from the church. In drumming, I discovered the spark of God’s presence once more

This First Individual column is the expertise of Pauline Cyr, who lives in Calgary. For extra details about CBC’s First Individual tales, please see the FAQ.

WARNING: This story comprises distressing particulars.

Tall pine timber whispered within the cool night breeze. The celebs got here out and tiki torches flickered round a quaint drumming circle gathered in a park in southwest Calgary.

I sat subsequent to a pricey buddy, hiding my grief behind laughter. Because the group started softly drumming, I hesitantly joined in.

The drumming grew to become progressively extra harmonious and significant. I used to be shocked by how a lot I relaxed and have become enthralled. The unison sounds had been just like the heartbeat in my chest—a voice for the ache I used to be struggling and could not categorical in phrases.

May this be potential? Had I discovered the deep non secular connection I felt inside a church out right here in nature with a drumming circle?

Pauline Cyr, proper, along with her buddy Vicky Van Heyningen at a drumming circle in Calgary. (Pauline Cyr)

I grew up in Ile-des-Chênes, Man. We had a loving household, the place the church, religion and repair had been part of on a regular basis life. We attended the native Catholic Church all through the week and, till I used to be 21, I aspired to be a Catholic nun.

However I am additionally Métis from my father’s facet, and when the 215 suspected unmarked youngsters’s graves had been discovered on the web site of a former residential faculty in Kamloops, BC, I reached my breaking level. I felt disgrace and realized the church was now not in alignment with my values.

I am grateful for the pope’s apology. However I made the selection to now not attend mass till I see an actual unity — the total inclusion of Indigenous members throughout the establishment — or till being at peace with the previous and the forgiveness in my coronary heart are in alignment.

With out the common observe of attending church, I felt spiritually disconnected. I missed God’s presence — that peaceable feeling of by no means being alone, the observe of placing my worries in God’s palms and recognizing the various blessings that come my approach.

With out church and a devoted area for prayer, I felt extra anxious, much less capable of forgive and settle for. However this was not the one burden of loss I used to be carrying.

In 2021, my 93-year-old mother’s well being began to say no. I moved in along with her for six months, cooked her favourite meals of hers, frolicked collectively and tucked her into mattress every night time.

Two hands touch just by the fingers.  One hand is deeply wrinkled and a bit swollen.
Pauline Cyr touches her mom’s hand simply earlier than she left on the day her mom Anita died. (Kathy Diehl Cyr)

Throughout Mother’s remaining hospitalization, she declined quickly. Then in the future, I touched her arm from her earlier than I left her bedside from her. She reached along with her hand from her to the touch mine and, an hour later, she was gone. It was surreal.

I felt the lack of a cherished one and in addition a lack of function. That sense of function was reduce additional when, inside two months of my mom’s passing, each my youngsters left Calgary to pursue their post-secondary schooling.

The ache of dropping my mother, dropping a way of God’s consolation and now not connecting with my youngsters face-to-face created a void.

That is why my buddy advisable the drumming circle. It was organized by a musician and therapist, open to the general public with drums offered, and drew about 100 contributors weekly. My buddy and I acquired to the park early and put our chairs proper close to the middle of the drumming circle.

A man speaks to a small crowd while holding a tam tam drum outdoors in a park.
Organizer Julien Lepage with Circles of Rhythm leads a drumming circle in North Glenmore Park, the place Pauline Cyr found how highly effective a non secular software this may be. (Sky Room)

Surrounded by the beating of these drums, I closed my eyes. Out of the blue my tears flowed and I sensed my mother’s presence from her. Her candy voice de ella, her scent de ella and her ever-so-familiar laughter de ella. She felt so shut.

After which I additionally grew to become conscious of God’s presence, a sense of calm or stillness and a way of affection with no situations or limitations. I spotted that religion can develop wherever—whether or not that is inside a church constructing or the good outdoor.

That feeling of affection — that life is filled with blessings — was proper there after I created the area to be current.

Reconnecting with my religion introduced gratitude. Out of the blue I knew that my youngsters had been precisely the place they need to be, and I did not lose my position supporting them as we stay linked with postal deliveries and video know-how.

It was my first and final drumming of the yr however I am planning to renew when the climate warms up. I nonetheless hope to return to the Catholic Church sometime, however within the meantime, that one superb drumming expertise warms my coronary heart and provides me hope.

That deep religion connection I as soon as had is re-emerging—a present of therapeutic, and now with the reminiscence of a drum.


A nationwide Indian Residential College Disaster Line is obtainable to supply help for survivors and people affected. Folks can entry emotional and disaster referral providers by calling the 24-hour service at 1-866-925-4419.

Psychological well being counseling and disaster help can also be obtainable 24 hours a day, seven days per week by the Hope for Wellness hotline at 1-855-242-3310 or on-line chat.

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As a part of our ongoing partnership with the Calgary Public Library, CBC Calgary is operating in-person writing workshops to help group members by telling their very own tales.

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To affix a workshop, counsel a subject or volunteer a group group to assist, e-mail CBC producer Elise Stolte or go to cbc.ca/tellingyourstory.

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