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Weekly Pause & Ponder

To be human is to belong. Belonging is a circle that embraces everything; If we reject it, we damage our nature. The word ‘belonging’ holds together the two fundamental aspects of life: Being and Longing, the longing of our Being and the being of our Longing.

John O’Donohue. Eternal Echoes: Celtic reflections on Our Yearning and Being. www.allgreatquotes.com/john_donohue_quotes.shtml


The Spirituality of Canning 

These late summer days, I await the showing of those first red tomatoes in my small garden. I anticipate their delicious taste fresh off the vine and the enjoyment of preserving them for sauces and soups for cold winter nights.

Participating in the ‘4 P’s of Local Food: Planting, Picking, Preparing and Preserving’* and following the 100 mile radius for purchasing local food continually raises our consciousness about care for Earth. We impact global warming by reducing long distance transportation; we foster relationships with local farmers; and by canning we provide local food year round, decrease food waste and reuse glass Mason jars. However, beyond the environmental impact how does preserving: bottling and canning, deepen our evolutionary spirituality? A few sisters** generously offered to expand my musings.

Julian of Norwich prayed, “Within us-as a sheer gift of God—is the capacity to bring forth what has never been before.” Canning is a work of art and in this creative expression we participate in new unfoldings of the Universe. Graced with Earth’s abundance we share in its cycles of dying and re-birthing as fruits are transformed into delicious jams and jellies and zucchini and cucumbers into zesty relishes and pickles. Our rootedness in Earth’s values of diversity, inter-dependency and intimacy is embedded in these sacred relationships with the natural world.

Inter-relatedness is also enlivened as we recapture fond memories of our mothers and grandmothers lovingly putting down garden produce. A sense of belonging to cultural identities and ancestral heritage is nurtured as we now carry forward generational wisdoms of the land. Even if we are not attracted to doing canning, we are steeped in these connections each time we enjoy tasty homemade preserves.

Essential to inter-dependency is community building. Nature manifests this in the intricacies of eco-systems. Canning embodies our charism of presence to the dear neighbour. Together, Sisters Sharon Miller and Pauline Guidon (SSM) make jelly from their crab apple trees for the community at North Bay’s ecumenical “Gathering Place,” which welcomes the homeless, disadvantaged and economically and spiritually challenged. Sister Gwen Smith (Toronto) makes preserves with the participants at the Mustard Seed Community Kitchen. The communion climax is, “Taste and See the Goodness of the Lord,” with all sharing a dish made from the fruits of their labour. Sisters Linda Gregg and Mary Rowell (In Canada) ensure that food from the Community Gardens at the Villa is preserved and used to nourish the many retreatants that come throughout the year.

Mary Oliver in her poem, Answers, writes: “How she (her grandmother) poured confusion out, how she cooled and labelled / All the wild sauces of the brimming year.”

Preserving the fruits of the earth is a holy activity. It takes time, patience and care and fosters joy. It invites us to attend the body of Christ with reverence and a grateful heart. Even the simple act of giving a gift of preserves to family and friends is a reaching out in love. Most importantly it is an act of hope and optimism trusting in the providence of the divine, bestower of fruitfulness, ever promising the flourishing of all life.  

Guest Blogger: Janet Speth, CSJ, Toronto

Photo: Making jelly...Srs Sharon Miller and Pauline Guindon (SSM)

* Planting, Picking, Preparing and Preserving … These are the 4 P’s of Local Food, as coined by Neil Tilley, an organic farmer and advocate for environmental stewardship from Newfoundland.  

** Thank you to Sisters Betty Lou Knox, Pauline Guindon, Sharon Miller, Gwen Smith, Linda Gregg and Mary Rowell



Reconnecting and Connecting

Can you imagine a reunion of your 62 sisters? Can you hear the gaggle of excited voices! The hellos. The echoes of 'what have you been up to'? The laughter echoing in the crowded hotel lobby full of bodies and suitcases at Peterborough's Best Western Plus ... I don't have to imagine this scene - I was in the midst of it.

On the picturesque banks of the Otonabee River – the river that beats like a heart, my religious Sisters and I met for our annual gathering. The 62 of us from our Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph came together to celebrate being in one another's company. Greeting each other was like coming home. We were warmly welcomed by the members of the planning committee attired in red cowboy hats in the spirit of Canada's 150th birthday. Our meeting room was also fittingly adorned with festive Canada finery.

As usual, our speakers were from our own ranks, with their own extensive life experience. Ranging in age from 50 to 90 plus, we pondered maturing with grace and graciousness. In my London home community, I recently had a first-hand experience of the 100th birthday of two sisters who model gracious aging. Here is the interesting paradox of aging. While our physical ability lessens, our spiritual capacity often deepens. This is the gift of community living and life experience.

To keep a wholesome balance, we spent leisurely evenings playing games, and enjoying each other's company. I can't wait to celebrate the 20th anniversary of our gathering next year.

Loretta Hagen, CSJ


Weekly Pause & Ponder

A wise test of right action is this:  What is the effect of this action on people seven generations from today?

Matthew Fox.  A New Reformation.


KAIROS Reconciliation in the Watershed - October 14, 2017 @ 10 am – 4 pm

In partnership with the Sisters of St Joseph in Canada – London, KAIROS Canada will host a full-day Reconciliation in the Watershed workshop at King’s University College on Saturday, October 14, 2017. Supported by the Echo Foundation, this workshop is part of a series being delivered by KAIROS Canada across Canada this fall.  The KAIROS Reconciliation in the Watershed Program aims to increase the number and diversity of Canadians who are, knowledgeable about their immediate watershed, able to identify issues related to its protection, and make connections between local ecological issues and Indigenous rights.  The full-day workshop aims to renew the relationship between Canadians’ and their local watershed on a path towards reconciled relationships with Indigenous Peoples.

Wherever we live in creation we are part of a watershed, an interdependent eco-system nested in a larger eco-system, which is also a watershed.  We all have a relationship with the bodies of water that sustain our lives and we too are living parts of a watershed.  In Canada, our watersheds continue to be threatened by mining, fracking, oil exploration, pipeline development, agriculture, water bottling, and more.  The impacts of colonialism and industrialization have alienated us from our watersheds by creating political territories that ignore watershed boundaries and turning our water and natural resources into commodities.  Colonialism has also damaged the relationship between non-Indigenous and Indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples, who affirm the interconnectedness of our watersheds, continue to offer gracious welcome to settlers and seek partnership in a just transformation of the land. 

It is time to repair these relationships and build relationships of ecological integrity with our local watersheds and between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.  To do so, we need to go in to our watersheds and listen to the voices of Indigenous peoples who were its first protectors and stimulate learning, affection, and ultimately a commitment to protect our water. The Reconciliation in the Watershed workshop is a great place to start! 

This day of learning, relationship-building, and action, will include presentations and activities focused on decolonization, Indigenous rights, environmental issues, and reconciliation.  In the afternoon, the workshop will move to the Museum of Ontario Archeology, where participants will learn about the history of the land and the watershed’s first peoples.  Participants will also engage in a medicine pouch activity, to learn about the importance of medicine pouches to Indigenous nations and the sacred plants that are used, as well as the significance of the Medicine Wheel.   

Registration for this event is $20 regular/$10 students and includes lunch and activities at the Museum of Ontario Archeology.  Register here or email Mary Shamley at mshamley@csjcanada.org.


Guest blogger: Beth Lorimer, KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives

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