Many people on Gabriola will remember last April 18th and 19th 2008 as the time of the spring snowstorm; the power out for days and lots of trees across the roads.  I woke up on the Saturday morning to no power and over a foot of snow and laughed out loud. A Buddhist saying comes to mind:  “Man plans and God laughs”.  It was the week-end of the Ecumenical Society retreat or workshop.

We had over thirty people for the Friday evening and were down to a dozen after the snow – many did not expect the event to happen but Islanders don’t let minor things like impassable roads and no power stop them.

We met with shawls and blankets over our shoulders and laps and pressed onwards.

The sessions were designed to bring together previous meetings which featured different religious traditions; especially as different faiths approached peace.

Facilitated by Roger Kimmerly from Ladysmith we looked at peace as being more than the absence of war; peace as security and peace as a spiritual quality.  We looked at especially the Benedictine approach to listening from the heart and the Buddhist approach to mindfulness or wakefulness as similar paths to greater peace.  Someone has said that a good definition of “church” is; “gather the people, break bread, tell the stories”.  We told the stories in a secure and nourishing community so that telling our stories became a healing process for us.  We also used poetry as a way to stimulate a peaceful community.

One of the poems was adapted from Jean Vanier and goes as follows:

To be a Peacemaker is not to give of your riches
but to reveal to others their riches
Their gifts, their value
And to trust them   And their capacity to grow
So, it is important to approach people in their brokenness and pain
Not forcing yourself upon them but accepting them as they are
with humility & respect