Remembering La Loche, Adam Wood, five years later

Adam Wood

It has been five years
since the school shooting in
the Dene community
of La Loche, Saskatchewan.

Undoubtedly January 22, 2016,
this tragic anniversary,
haunts all who were impacted
on that terrible day.

The families and friends of those
who were wounded,
and those who lost their lives:
Dayne and Draydon Fontaine,
Marie Janvier,
and our friend, Adam Wood.

I was given the terrible honour
(and yes, those two words go together here)
of leading the funeral service for Adam,
our friend, farm mate,
practical joker, and brother.

We have shared on this site
Sylvia Keesmaat’s homily
from that funeral,
together with another reflection
on the first anniversary of that tragic day.

To mark this 5th anniversary of the
death of Adam,
we share a Wendell Berry poem
that his friend, Finn Keesmaat-Walsh
read at the funeral.

Adam posted this poem in his last blog
from his year of living in a tent at
Russet House Farm.

Wendell Berry
Wendell Berry

Closing the Circle
by Wendell Berry

Within the circle of our lives
we dance the circle of the years,

the circles of the seasons
within the circle of the years,
the cycles of the moon
within the circles of the seasons,
the circles of our reasons
within the cycles of the moon.

Again, again we come and go
changed, changing. Hands

join, union in love and fear,
grief and joy. The circles turn,
each giving into each, into all.
Only music keeps us here,

each by all the others held.
In the hold of hands and eyes

we turn in pairs, that joining
joining each to all again.

And then we turn aside, alone,
out of the sunlight gone

into the darker circles of return.

The interweaving circles,
the cycles of the cosmos,
the dance of creation,
the joining of hands,
the music that keeps us here.

These are joyous images.
These are invitations into communion.

It is the last, broken, stanza,
that catches the tragedy.

This turning aside … alone.
This turning out of the sunlight,
into the darkness.


These are words that face the
devastating loss.

These are broken words
that reflect our brokenness.

These are words that Adam knew to be true.

And yet, the poet holds hope
in the face of violent tragedy.

You see, this is a turning aside
into the darker circles of return.

Yes, a return to the earth.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
A return that a man of the earth 
– ‘adam of the ‘adamah –
could embrace.

But also a resurrection return.

That is what we proclaimed at Adam’s funeral.
That is what we hold to this cold January 22.

Usually we voice this hope through our tears.
Seldom in loud proclamation,
such a hope can be heard
whispering through our sorrow,
choked out as we groan in travail
with all of creation.

Bruce Cockburn wrote an instrumental piece
in response to the La Loche shootings.
It is, of course, a blues tune,
appropriately titled, “The Groan.”

Have a listen friends.
And then read Mr. Berry’s poem again.

Brian Walsh and Adam Wood supervising a work day.
Brian Walsh
Brian is an activist theologian, a retired CRC campus minister, the founder of the Wine Before Breakfast community, and farms with Sylvia Keesmaat at Russet House Farm.He engages issues of theology and culture, and has written a couple of books you might want to check out. His most recent offering is cowritten with Sylvia Keesmaat and entitled Romans Disarmed: Resisting Empire, Demanding Justice.

One Response to “Remembering La Loche, Adam Wood, five years later”

  1. Rose-Marie Walsh Lamoureux Fogarty

    That was such beautiful writing Brian, the poem heart felt and yes I listened to Bruce on Alexa and re read the poem.


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