Gabriola Ecumenical Society
Still Here – Still Planning – Still Dreaming
Wow!! Times have been really crazy lately! Our comfortable ways of connecting in person have been transformed since we last gathered as a GES community on Gabriola. Terms like social distancing, personal bubbles, quarantining, and isolation have taken on new meanings for us all. Hugging others, attending live concerts, hanging out with friends in restaurants, attending worship services, family gatherings, weddings and funerals, even simple friendly party times, these are all missing from our lives. “We are in this together. Wash your hands. Keep your hands away from your face. Stay at home unless absolutely necessary. Avoid travel.” These expressions have become part of our daily vocabulary.
Have you noticed that even when we are in the lineup at Nesters, many of us avoid contact and general verbal interaction? Even the basic “Hello, how are you?” doesn’t happen as it would ordinarily. It can be a sweet relief to connect with smiling eyes through a face mask or plastic shield. . .and yet it’s not an adequate substitute for the comfort and ease of that full personal interaction. Many of us are feeling isolated and disconnected, craving in-person contact and companionship. Some feel increasing lonely, confused and uncertain about outcomes and even basic next steps. Letting go of what is familiar is a huge challenge that, for many, seems almost unbearable.
Our Ecumenical Society’s scheduled programming for 2020 has been curtailed. Here’s what we had planned: March – Everything Belongs in our Universal Story; April -Communal Passover Seder and Dinner; May – Programme of Poetry, Music and Storytelling; June – LoSang Samten Retreat/ Particle Mandala of 21 Taras; July -Summer Picnic; and August – Co-sponsored Retreat with Arinna Weisman. They have all been cancelled.
One summer afternoon in July, the GES board and program committee gathered outside at the Netloft. Our intention was to hold a small, socially distanced picnic, a casual gathering of personal interaction and spiritual support. Yet at the same time we were all eager to get some momentum going after our covid-induced hiatus. After enjoying some live music, we gathered in a large circle. Each participant chose from a deck of angelic messenger cards, and spontaneously spoke to what that particular angel represented to him/her. The results of that process are included at the end of this article. We hope that, by sharing some of these brief reflections with you, our collective spirit of enthusiasm, gratitude, giving, serving, inclusion and joy might flow to you in meaningful ways.
We recognized that we have to open to new ways of seeing, being and doing and we soon discovered we have lots to share despite current limitations. Many new ideas for future programming flowed during our circle time. Here are some of the active suggestions generated by our team that day, reflecting this year’s theme “Spirit in Action, in Times Such as These”:
- Monthly Guided Nature Meditation:
socially distanced, preferably on a beach. Contact Janice Power at email@example.com.
- Devotional Zoom Gathering:
Thursday evenings, 7:30-8:30 pm. Shared devotional contributions from participants from all traditions, with musical interludes. Email Gary Badke, firstname.lastname@example.org, to receive Zoom link.
- Guided Gabriola Spiritual Pilgrimage:
a multimedia experience with booklets provided, to be completed independently with friends, or in your bubble, followed by a Zoom discussion facilitated by Board member Karen Hollis. Contact Karen at email@example.com.
- Musical Uplift:
local musicians gathering with appropriate social distancing to play music and lift the spirits of people confined to their homes and elderly groups. Email Gary Badke, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The development of an online course focussed on spiritual thriving in pandemic times was proposed for consideration, as was the possibility of a monthly column in the Sounder. Do you have additional ideas? If so, please don’t be shy — let us know!
We so look forward to reconnecting our GES community this fall to activate “Spirit in Action, in Times Such as These”.
Our Annual General Meeting will take place on October 29 via Zoom.
With in-person programming still curtailed, we are counting on renewed and expanded memberships to see us through times such as these. To renew your membership via PayPal, click the PayPal button on the membership page, and follow prompts
Thank you for your ongoing support in these uncertain times.
Here are the reflections of some program committee and board members regarding their randomly drawn Angel Card:
POTENTIAL – What I witness at this time is the willingness and enthusiasm of the gathered working membership of the GES to seek a new vision and new direction as we explore the challenges of our times during this pandemic Unfortunately, we have had to cancel five planned programs but believe it is now time to seek a new momentum and a new plan as we continue to respect the guidelines related to responding to Covid-19 . Our theme “Spirit in Action, in Times Such as These” is our motivation.
FULFILLMENT – What I take from this (and I know this is quite a leap) is Gratitude. I am “filled” with Gratitude for so many things. I am so grateful to be a part of the Gabriola community; to be blessed with wonderful, loving friends; to be surrounded by caring and helpful neighbors; to have the opportunity to participate in many meaningful activities; to be so close to so many talented artists who share their music and their art so willingly. I am “filled” with Gratitude on being so close to Nature; to be able to walk on the beach and on a forest path any time I choose. I am “filled” with Gratitude that I have my family (children, grandchildren, great granddaughter) close enough that spending time with them is always a possibility. I guess with all of this I have a sense of Fulfillment.
FORGIVENESS – When I think of forgiveness, I think I want to forgive myself first, for wrong thinking and emotions, for worry which is unavoidable and not helpful. And I want to forgive others who may have caused me pain or confusion, everyone is going a little crazy right now, so forgiveness goes with kindness during these times.
ATTENTION – I realize that in these difficult times it is more important than ever that I pay attention to my feelings and my needs. But it is even more important that I pay attention to the needs of others. Do you need some assistance? What can I do to make you feel safe? What can I do to bring a smile to your face and ease your tension? How can I serve you? It is only in attending to others that my own needs can be fulfilled.
JOY – During these times I am reminded to think carefully about how I find joy in my life. In fact, I realize it’s the simple things that make my life meaningful. Being able to create, whether it’s writing, singing, biking, growing food and flowers, cooking, or simply spending time with others, it’s definitely about finding ways of sharing joy. And, for now, sitting together with our beautiful group of GES members is joyful because I like each/all of you so much and I know that, in our work together we strive to bring joy to others. For me…that’s the ultimate!”
RELEASE – To let go of preconceived ideas of the way things need to be done…ideas of how GES needs to deliver its programs and open the box for the healing light to flow over. This message for myself conjures up pictures and ideas of how I think I need to be to fit in, limiting the possibilities for things I want to do. So my challenge is to release those conjurers and allow new pictures and ideas to become a reality.
AWARENESS – Reminds me so poignantly of being here and now and hence for me so much less suffering without being in my thoughts….being in the past and future, not present experientially. Hence when experiencing suffering be it physical, mental, spiritual I ask myself “What am I actually experiencing this moment?” and aware with relief I am not suffering…..not suffering in the present moment. Continuing or practicing in the moment of course takes continued daily practice and with my monkey mind most of the time out of control this is such a challenge. Habit, habit, habit. Change will come only with practice. However I see it as healing and in fact do have brief experiences of healing….at least in the moment. Cherish these moments. Thank you , Angel.
WILLINGNESS – In these stormy times it can feel as if we have been cast adrift in a sea of collective disruption and uncertainty. Chaos is apparent where the illusion of stability once held sway. Could it be that we are being called to Presence — to quiet the chatter, to listen deeply within, to hear and align with that ancient, authentic voice that can be so easily silenced by familiar habits and distractions? As old scripts fail and expectations falter, I find myself resonating to a new vibration, a quiet and pervasive opportunity to attune to greater inclusion and wholeness. My angel gently nudges me to keep asking: Am I willing, here and now, to let go of the past and welcome transformation?