by Lynette Jackson

This year’s annual GES Giving Thanks Dinner, held October 16 at the clubhouse of the Gabriola Golf Course, proved once again to be a spirited and joyful event. Catherine Woodward, our GES Board social events convener, led by example with her natural grace and flair; from assembling volunteer teams to cook the turkey and trimmings, to coordinating logistics on all fronts, to creating seasonally-themed signage to greet our community feasters, Catherine and her fellow GES board and program committee members created a warm and welcoming environment for this well-attended event.

Our team efforts were ably supported by the the calm and kind golf club staff who somehow made the (at times rambunctious!) meal coordination look quite effortless, and the feast was elevated by the multitude of delicious potluck dishes contributed by participants. The multi-talented Paul Gellman and his merry band of volunteer musical Mutineers filled the air with joyful tunes. Paul’s effervescent life partner and program committee stalwart, Amy Block, led a thoughtful group reflection exercise focused on voicing gratitude for the tangible blessings we enjoy as Gabriolans. 

GES founding member Shelagh Huston led the participatory blessing of our communal meal. “Now Our Hearts are One” was first introduced to our community at this year’s annual summer picnic. Drawn from Robin Wall Kimmerer’s glorious book, Braiding Sweetgrass, this sacred indigenous teaching has been deemed by the Elders as suitable to be shared widely. It enumerates the amazing diversity of blessings we receive by virtue of our co-existence on and with Mother Earth, while honouring our immutable place within the Wholeness of the Universe.

My personal highlight of the celebration? It was the honour of my son Tomas and I “breaking bread” with the Boultons, Eric and Sue. The Boulton family has maintained a long tradition of donating the turkey for this annual community feast. Their offering of seasonal abundance, kindness, and goodwill, which now continues through the generations via the generosity of their daughter Alexa, was well established even before the formal creation of the Gabriola Ecumenical Society 18 years ago.

The Boultons exemplify for me the true meaning of the phrase “pillars of the community”. This same spirit and generous contribution of time, attention, and action is also reflected in each of our GES founding members in attendance this year: Del McCarthy, Anne Sims, David Soy and Shelagh Huston.  We hold these Gabriolans in our hearts as cherished GES Elders. They are well deserving of our deep appreciation, love, and honour for their many years of selfless contribution to the spiritual harmony and well-being of our diverse community. May all generations, right down to the sweet babe-in-arms gracing this year’s gathering, be nourished by the legacy of their steadfast examples.