Padre’s Corner: Who are your people?

St. Brendan’s Chapel at Stadacona.
Photo: CFB Halifax

Padre’s Corner: Who are your people?

By Padre Lt(N) Krystal Sheremeta,
Fleet Chaplain

I had a conversation with someone recently who asked, “why can’t it just be a little bit easier?” 

I think it’s a fair question. Being a human is difficult. It takes courage to keep engaging in the world, with the people in it, day in day out. Between the news cycle that never ends, social media, and the reality of living in days of inflation and rising insurance rates, there are days that are anything but easy, at an already difficult time of the year for many. We have just come past Remembrance Day, a time of year that is challenging for many who serve or have served, as those we are missing are at the forefront of our hearts and minds, while all around us the stores and malls are decorating for the festive season. It’s a time of year that can bring great joy, but also a lot of stress and expectations.  With all the outside stressors, as the weather begins to turn, it can be an isolating and challenging time of year. I have found one thing to be universally true. It is the people we surround ourselves with that enable us to get through the more difficult days and times. So, I encourage everyone to pause and consider, who are your people? For we are not meant to go through these challenges on our own.

A few years ago, pre-pandemic, I took a trip to Scotland. While there, I spent part of my time in an international Christian community on the island of Iona. I even took part in a mini pilgrimage. This is where I first learned the Finnish word for pilgrimage – “Pyhiinvaellus”. It roughly translates to “trekking with the saints.” There is a phrase in the Christian tradition, “the cloud of witnesses,” referring to those who have come before us in the faith. This includes both the saints and giants in the faith as well as those we’ve known personally, those who have impacted our lives, guided and inspired us. When we think of and refer to the saints, it is generally in these terms, those who have gone on before – but that is not only who is referred to in the Finnish term for pilgrimage. Instead, it is a reminder to walk or journey with those who have come before, but also to build that community around you now. 

Who can you always call on? Who is the person that will help you with a flat tire, or to watch the kids for 5 minutes? Who will always have time for that cup of coffee, some sympathy or advise? Who can you count on to help make the load just a little bit easier? Keep building those connections. Keep being those connections. For you never know when you will be counted in someone else’s circle of “their people.” We won’t solve all the problems for everyone tomorrow – but we can all help make it just a little bit easier for someone.