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Weekly Pause & Ponder

We are called to be whole-makers, to evolve by uniting, growing and becoming more complex.  We are not to seek the living among the dead. Rather, we are to forge a new future, a new hope, a new life that begins with our own lives.

The Emergent Christ by Ilia Delio, p.150



Many Windows … One Light

A weekend celebration of Peterborough’s rich spiritual diversity began as the desire of a few members of the Unitarian Fellowship here to respond to the horrible massacre of worshipers in the Quebec mosque last March. The idea grew and developed over the next few months as citizens of other faith practices worked with them to produce a rich and powerful sharing of divergent practices. Many Windows…One Light became the logo that captured the intent of the weekend that was held on October 14-15 in the Jewish Community Centre in Peterborough.

Saturday afternoon began with short presentations by 15 citizens who spoke about how the practice of their faith contributed to their personal journey in life. This section began with acknowledgement of the land and a song by a First Nations woman who later shared her indigenous faith perspective. She was followed by representatives from the following faith groups: Anglican, Unitarian, Sikh, Roman Catholic, Quaker, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Baha’i, Hindu, and United Church. A humanist spoke as well, explaining his lack of belief in God and his faith in the ongoing evolution of humanity to throw light on our source of life. More than 80 people were present for this enriching and enlightening programme, chaired by Reverend Julie Stoneberg, Minister of the Unitarian Fellowship.

A potluck meal followed immediately upon the Saturday afternoon presentations, a highlight of the weekend as the group assembled shared a delicious and inviting display of vegetarian food from diverse cultures and backgrounds. Shared as well was an interesting and informative dialogue between speakers and listeners at the attractively set tables. The evening was a time for celebration as entertainment provided by a number of religious and cultural groups as well as individual performers was well received. We heard songs by an indigenous woman, by Catholic musicians, by a Jewish doctor, by the Trent choir who chose numbers from Hawaii and Zimbabwe. We listened to the poetry of a young woman born in India, skillful storytelling by a social activist, and enjoyed cultural dances by Iranian and Afghani children. A spectacular Punjabi dance by students from Sir Sanford Fleming College in colourful costumes was much appreciated by those present. A spirit of unity and respect for diversity was evident as the day ended.

Sunday afternoon was marked as a day to go deeper as 27 people gathered at the Jewish Centre to be led by Peter Pula of The Resonance Centre through an experience that we would call contemplative dialogue. The afternoon began with an invitation to place on a centered table whatever we had been instructed to bring as a symbol or artifact that had special meaning for us. We then formed triads with participants we knew least to respond to challenging questions about our spiritual journey. Focussed listening was at the heart of these dialogues which were guided by the facilitator. The sharing was rich and powerful as we repeated the process three times over the afternoon. The session ended with a short reflection by each participant on the experience, as comments expressing appreciation and gratitude echoed around the circle that had formed.

This beautifully – orchestrated weekend that could be called a success at many levels left many with the hope that such a project would somehow go on. Many ideas came forth about the next step as committee members met to evaluate.  Hopefully this was only a beginning for Many Windows … One Light.

Joan Driscoll, CSJ


Multipurpose Meal draws Capacity Crowd

Tickets had sold out for the annual Food for Thought dinner, a fundraising event for The Mount Community Centre on September 29th.  As 120 guests gathered in the newly named Austin Doran Hall (formerly the chapel of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peterborough), they sat down at an elegantly set table to discover by lot whether their meal was to be prime rib with all the trimmings or spaghetti with a simple sauce. The more fortunate half spontaneously offered to share, or enjoyed the better plate with a bit of discomfort. Such a concrete experience of inequality gave all present cause to reflect on poverty and injustice in our society and the need to do something to help. The fact that the room was filled with people who have done much to alleviate poverty in our area resulted in a spirit of joy and fellowship that permeated the room.

This gathering was also called to be a celebration of what has been accomplished to this point at The Mount Community Centre. The first phase, the construction of 43 apartments, was completed almost a year ago. The guest speakers were two tenants from the complex who silenced the room with their stories of how so many have worked together and supported one another in such a way that they are no longer only neighbours but friends. Pat Ainsworth commented on a life-changing move for some into safe, affordable, clean homes and sincerely expressed her gratitude to the donors and volunteers assembled, saying: “This is a wonderful community and it would not exist without your support and generosity.”  Jim Jamieson echoed her message, and described how the tenants have merged into a community, meeting weekly for games and music nights in the common room.

A third dimension of the evening was the announcement by the board chair, Stephen Kylie, of a new fundraising campaign to build the community food centre, and to undertake the construction of more than 40 new apartments. He introduced the campaign team that has so far accepted this responsibility, and 8 prominent and accomplished citizens of Peterborough rose to receive his acknowledgement, and the support of the gathering.

In the outline of future plans, Mr. Kylie announced an exciting partnership with a recently incorporated group known as Shared Dreams for Independent Living. This is a group of 5 families who have joined together to create a supportive, person-centered, family-directed and driven, permanent home for their sons living with developmental challenges, who have chosen to live their lives together.  They have chosen The Mount Community Centre as their preferred home because the vision and mission of this project clearly reflects their own.

The evening was truly a celebration of an impossible dream that has been partially realized in the community experience of tenants in the 43 finished apartments, and in the growing interest in and use of portions of the building and grounds that continues to expand. This dream finds hope in the commitment of staff and volunteers who have faithfully and generously worked toward its fulfillment without counting the cost.  This dream now holds an energy that will carry it forth to new and exciting phases that are yet to be shaped.

Joan Driscoll, csj


Weekly Pause & Ponder

Love calls for transformation, not change alone, for that can be temporary.  Even God continues to be transformed inviting us into newer and greater perceptions of who God is and what is required of us as believers.

The Unbearable Wholeness of Being, by Ilia Delio. p. 197


What Shall We Do With Our Hearts?

“What do we do with our hearts, confronted daily as we are with so much suffering of our world?”  I ask this question often as I listen to others speak about countless numbers of people and places battered by hurricanes, fires, floods, drought, and the unleashing of senseless violence, deadly prejudice and pervasive injustice. I hear in us a felt sense of compassion.  I realize that we live in a time of great loss and chaos, and find myself grieving so much destruction by human hands. I feel deep angst about the dangerous planetary crisis we humans have already precipitated, and wonder what we might do next.

I’m remembering a movie I saw some years ago, “Life is Beautiful”, in which a Jewish father uses his loving imagination to keep life beautiful for his young son in the midst of the Nazi takeover of their lives.

This is a similar time for me, and I want to learn to take the angst I feel, and lift it to a place of transformation. Perhaps this is a time for us to find one another, a time to remember that we belong to each other and that together we can change the story in which we find ourselves living. It is a time to remember that we are surrounded by love and beauty, and can open our hearts to others and invite them in.

May we find one another and come together to share the work of our hearts–our fears and dreams, our needs and our visions.  May we find hope and strength as we imagine together “the world we know is possible” and work together and encourage one another to build that world right now wherever we are.  May we deeply know that each of us is beautiful and is created to enjoy beauty and create beauty.  May we surrender to the beauty and wisdom of our generous Earth, and be strengthened in the joy and gratitude which will arise from living consciously within the embrace of our human/earth community.

Reflection and Artwork by Sr. Mary Southard, CSJ (used with permission)
Mary Southard Art



Copyright 2013. Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada.