Check Uncle Tom’s Cabin
3:37am. It was dark. I was moving through the mist. I put myself in the shoes of a black slave going through the daunting underground railway, an actual network of foot travel, boat, cart and rail. I moved in the night and keep hidden in the forest during the day. I’m with a group of people, family and friends, and we embark on this long journey from the deep South and gradually make our way to freedom. I’ve heaqrd of Reverend Josiah Henson, who’s in Canada and he’s giving sanctuary to people like us. He’s black and he’s offering a kind of heaven to black slaves. Slave catchers might be after me. Me and my group are running for our lives.
So, while it was dark like this, I was walking on the very soil where these occurrences took place during pre-abolition time in the early 1800’s. I thought of how pious Reverend Henson was, you know he never read the Bible, but he was a preacher – and a dynamic one at that! Now I’ll share Josaiah Henson’s favorite hymn:
The Rest of Heaven
There is a land of pure delight,
Where saints immortal reign.
Infinite day excludes the night,
And pleasures banish pain.
Daruka, my sister Roseanne, and Gaura went later in the day to the interpretive centre to what is called Uncle Tom’s Cabin – the actual home of the reverend in Dresden, Ontario. All of us were very stirred up inside and reflecting on the bias and torturous method in the way that the people with origin from West Africa were treated.
More sentiments were aroused, but in a nostalgic mix when walking and passing by the school S.S. No. 1 along Tecumseh Line Road. This was the school I went to which still stands in its red-brick form next to St. Peter’s Church. I also recall fainting in church once after attending high mass on Sunday morning at age six or so. I heard one parishioner joke with another, “Your wife’s having a baby next month, and you just got married? What’s going on?”
The parish, established in 1802, built this church to satisfy the needs of the community. Roseanne, Gaura and I took our first serious break for the day here as we sat with soles soaked in the Thames river water, admiring the loon and crane nearby. It was a good feeling.
By late afternoon, we rested our leg muscles at Erieau’s Lake and were hosted by Karen at her home. She welcomed me for a future visit to do a workshop on the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita. What a day!