The summer is coming to a close.  Schools are opening and teachers and students and parents are getting ready for the beginning of another school year. In September, many of us return to a more regulated time of schedules and plans, deviating from our summer pursuits of freedom, spontaneity and adventure.

Along with the change of weather, the coming of autumn brings with it possible mystery and unforeseen adventure. How might we remain open to all that could be possible in the coming season? It’s safe to say that no one is unscathed by the last 2 ½ years of pandemic in our world. We are different than we were pre-pandemic. How we react to our environment, how we experience emotional connections, how we energize and use our time, are all changed. The possibilities could be slightly frightening, unforeseen, possibly invigorating, and wholly gratifying. How do we remain open to it all?

Some people say that September offers the opportunity for a spiritual awakening and a pursuit for finding the right avenue for spiritual expression. With the sun awakening later and going to sleep earlier, somehow we learn better how to live in darkness. Perhaps this forces us to look within more readily. How do we find that meaning in our spiritual pursuit?

The Autumnal Equinox, when the day and night are equal, is a time to celebrate nature. The Mabon Festival celebrates the Autumnal Equinox and is practised by the Wiccan community. In the northern hemisphere, this will occur on September 23rd.. Mabon, beginning this year on Wednesday, September 21st is the second of three harvest festivals (Lammas, Mabon, and Samhain), when practitioners of paganism reflect on the past season and express their gratitude for the blessings in their lives. The festival is held to thank Mother Earth for providing a good harvest to last through winter, with animals traditionally slaughtered and preserved at the equinox in order to provide enough food for the cold months ahead.

In Jewish practice, Rosh Hashana celebrates the Jewish New Year. It begins with the “opening of heaven’s gates” and finishes 10 days later on Yom Kippur, the day of repentance during which Jews fast all day and spend the full day in prayer until the final hours when God (however you consider God) closes the pages of the Book of Life, with hopes from each person that his or her name will be written in the Book of Life for another year. Letting go of personal sins, creating possibilities for new relations and  fresh attitudes, allows us all to refocus our spiritual growth and awareness.

GES has many ideas for events this coming year (2022-2023). Programmes that highlight everything from literature to ecstatic dancing and everything in between will be offered. In September, our friend Lama LoSang Samten will be offering a 3 day retreat at The NetLoft, the last weekend in September.

Our book club will gather for the first time this fall beginning on Thursday October 13th. Our book selection is Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, And The Teachings Of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer. 

Come and join us this Fall “as we continue to look to Unity In Diversity and Spiritual Inclusivity as guideposts in our programming”.

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Reflections on Collectively Expressing Our Gratitude for All of Creation
by Lynette Jackson

After a prolonged spring season of mostly wet and chilly weather, July 21 bestowed a gorgeously warm and sunny afternoon on Gabriola. It was the perfect opportunity for 32 of us to gather in community amid the splendid beauty and bounty of the Net Loft gardens.  Ably coordinated by Catherine Woodward, the GES Board had prepared a warm welcome, a variety of fun outdoor games, and a bountiful meal for all. We were delighted and blessed to have four of the original GES founders from 18 years ago in attendance: Anne Sims, Del McCarthy, David Soy, and Shelagh Huston. Little did they know then how their sincere efforts would continue to thrive and blossom over the years!

We opened our circle with Brenda Gaertner invoking heartfelt appreciation both for and from the Snuneymuxw ancestors whose spirits still enliven and bless this sacred land.  Reverend Karen Hollis then introduced a moving group practice of collective gratitude. This invocation of sacred First Nations teachings has been translated as “Words that Come Before All Else”.  It was recorded by Robin Kimmerer in her cherished classic Braiding Sweetgrass, with the expressed permission of the Elders to share it widely.  Every paragraph of this sacred traditional First Nations teaching concludes with the affirmation “Now our minds are one”.  As each of us read one of the paragraphs in turn, expressing gratitude for a particular aspect of our universal blessings — from the tiniest insects to the stars gracing the night sky — our collective spirit of unity and reverence deepened.  Brenda’s two stalwart black labs and a sweet little canine visiting from California were included in our circle; it became obvious that all beings great and small were absorbing the clarity and peace of our collective devotions.  It is my hope that this sacred, communal, and truly ecumenical way of expressing gratitude might become a tradition at future GES picnics.

Together we laughed and feasted, strengthened precious community ties, and saluted 18 successful years of GES programs. We enjoyed the enlivening gift of music performed by talented local musicians, led by John Bryson and including Bob Mckecknie, Frazer Gabbott, and Gary Holmes, as well as a lovely impromptu performance by a guest guitarist and vocalist. A particular highlight of the afternoon for me was listening to Shelagh Huston’s lyrical performance of “Teach Your Children” in her soaring, clear soprano.

Sincere thanks to Catherine for spearheading this event, and to Del for her skilled mentoring; in Catherine’s words, “I wouldn’t have been able to do any “coordinating” if it hadn’t been for Del and her expert guidance. She presented me with the detailed “planning” document that had been created over the years and helped every step of the way.” The GES board also wishes to express our loving appreciation to Brenda for her stewardship of the gorgeous surroundings and for preparing the immaculate outdoor kitchen facilities for us, to our talented and generous musicians, and to all who contributed their volunteer efforts and presence to this grace-filled afternoon.

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Summer Solstice Meditation and Potluck with Forest Dweller (Pandit) Tejomaya

June 27, 2022

Saturday, June 25,  Net Loft Twenty-two spiritual seekers experienced deep peace in a progressive series of meditations and chanting of solar mantras, culminating in a flower offering […]

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“Spring, being a tough act to follow, God created June.” Al Bernstein

June 14, 2022

“Spring, being a tough act to follow, God created June.” Al Bernstein So… here we are, in June. We’re looking towards the light as our days grow […]

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Review of the 2022 Seder

May 2, 2022

The April 19 Community Seder at the golf course was a special, well attended event. What a joy to join in singing Rabbi Schlomo Carelebach’s “Return Again” in […]

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Thirza Voysey’s reflections

May 2, 2022

Dear Amy, Paul, and the Ecumenical Society, I am so grateful for our beautiful gathering yesterday at the farm! What a heartfelt gathering of humans discussing exciting […]

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Review of ‘The Wild In Us’ bookclub with author Thirza Voysey

May 2, 2022

As I dropped down into Soul Farm I felt an energy shift. There is a tranquil feeling there where the animal and human residents interact on a […]

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Celebrating the spirit of Maia

May 1, 2022

Our senses are exploding with the gifts of Spring in May! The trees send vibrant colours through. Buds take their time to open and colourize our world. […]

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Review: Toward Wholeness

April 30, 2022

Good Friday (April 15, 2022)  proved to be a blustery day on Gabriola, with rain clouds looming on the horizon and cold winds sweeping across the Commons. […]

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Happy April, happy Spring!

April 5, 2022

Within our collective presence in Gabriola Ecumenical Society, we have been transitioning to our 2022 theme “Nourishing the Spirit in Times Such As These”. Many of us, […]

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Meditation, Chanting and Potluck with Pandit Tejomaya Review

March 23, 2022

Love Manifesto for Gabriola I am a Gabriolan, and I live by love, with love, and in love. I give birth to love each moment of my […]

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Gary Dillon, Hawaiian Spirituality Review

March 7, 2022

The Gabriola Ecumenical Society was delighted to host an informative presentation by Gary Dillon regarding his immersion in the spiritual principles and practices of the traditional Hawaiian […]

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John Bloomstrand’s personal reflections on Gary Dillon’s Hawaiian Spirituality pesentation

March 7, 2022

You have no idea how glad I am that I went to go see Gary Dillon at the Net Loft. But before I talk about the event, […]

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March – The Beginning of Spring

March 7, 2022

March is here! Spring is undoubtedly on her way. We considered and talked about refraining from even mentioning Covid and Covid’s influence in our daily existence. And […]

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Reclaiming the Commons for the Common Good by Heather Menzies

March 7, 2022

It was a delight to come together to discuss the book of  local islander, Heather Menzies, “Reclaiming the Commons for the Common Good”. I especially appreciated being […]

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Welcome February

February 14, 2022

The beginning days of February this year heralds a new moon. In astrologically terms, the moon’s alignment suggests the possibility of fresh starts and new endeavours. Ultimately […]

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Harold R. Johnson dead at 68

February 12, 2022

Harold R Johnson, Presenter of the GES October 27th program titled “Changing the Stories We Tell Ourselves”, died in Toronto on Feb. 9th 2022, surrounded by his […]

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