EDMONTON – The key to reconciliation is to focus on memories that are redemptive rather destructive, the Rev. Canon Michael Lapsley, an Anglican anti-apartheid activist who lost both his hands to a parcel bomb, told a congregation at All Saints’ Cathedral on Sept. 30.
“Those who’ve had horrible things done to them have every reason to hate, to be bitter, to want revenge,” Canon Lapsley said in a sermon for Orange Shirt Day, which commemorates survivors of the residential school system. “But in the end, those things do not destroy our enemies. They destroy us.”
Healing comes from keeping the kind of memories the Bible encourages us to have, he said – memories of the good that comes from evil and of the life that comes from death.
Canon Lapsley has served as honorary canon for healing and reconciliation at the cathedral since 2017 and holds a similar title at St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, South Africa. Born in New Zealand, he went to South Africa as a missionary in 1973 and became active in the anti-apartheid movement. He was exiled from South Africa and went to live in Zimbabwe, where, in 1990, he opened a parcel bomb that nearly killed him, destroying both his hands and severely damaging his eyesight and hearing. In 1998, he founded the Institute for Healing of Memories, which gives workshops in South Africa on healing.