…this isn’t a programme. This is a deeply relational journey […]
The journey began. 18 pilgrims on a Wednesday in September 2023. We started from whole UK to the Northern England – and as well to ourselves. Module 1 was titled with “Reconciled to Self”: From where does our peacemaking emerge and how is it sustained? What are the habits of a reconciler? And what does reconciling mean?
For sure all these questions didn’t came up for the first time – but difference was in the surroundings: We’ve lived in a beautiful estate next to Carlilse, encircled by lush and green fields, the forest, sheeps and cows, and we also enjoyed the comfort of a pool (16 degrees!) and a hot tube. Besides that member of Rose Castle (Jane, Lauren, Elysha, Georgia and Nick) hosted us with delicious food, tea and wine which we enjoyed while siting by one of the firesides.
And we were together as pilgrims: 18 persons who decided “Now is the time to start the Journey of Hope which is facilitated by Michael Gibbs and Rebecca Brierley since 2018, supported by contributers in UK, Ireland and North America.
18 persons at some point of life where something is going on – change, reinforcement, empowerment? And 18 persons who are familiar with peacemaking and facilitating; who run their own retreat centres, places of refuge and faith communities – all of them are already deeply engaged in reconciliation-processes. Leaded in and grounded by their faith and borned by a hope which (still) does not accept a situation as it is.
And now these 18 wonderful people came together: To share, to reflect, to learn from each other, to discuss, to create, to be together. Deep-grounded relations were born. Such an energy in the room, e.g. when Hannah and Georgiaguided us trough questions like“Lament as a habit of a reconsiler?” or “Do I prefer being the host or the guest – and why is hosting myself so difficult?”
And besides all the creativity, curiosity and empathy – we were reminded to accept there are issues we can’t handle. There will be objections which are heavy and seeming overwhelming. And to accept: I can’t know everything. But I still stand with my hands cupped at my heart and accept myself for who I am – and for what I started my Journey of Hope.
A contemplative practice can help to take a break from rushing or pushing forward to solutions and choosing to ‘sit with’. Contemplation is not just an activity for our minds – but it is for our bodies as well. We were invited to an embodied prayer by Julian Norwich which is comprised of four poses: Await. Allow. Accept. Attend. And every day we prayed together we were asked: What is my posture today?
Incredible Zaza too enriched our sacred circle. As a woman deep connected with God she shared her wisdom and expertise with us: She guided us trough Scriptural Reasoning (Bible, Luke 2:43-52 and Qur’an, The Clot 96:1-5), exercised ways with us in how to name and address an ‘elephant in the room’ and she also talked about her experiences as being a muslim well educated woman in a world where sexism and antimuslism still exists – and how she can still going on.
After three days in an intense, intimate and fulfilling community someone said “We are a brave and inclusive group” – and I want to add: And so ready to move forward. Module II “Reconciled to our communities “– we’re coming!
Looking forward to Corrymeela which is located in Northern Ireland and was founded with the vision of a more peaceful N. Ireland as well as a building a network of relationships based on trust and reconciliation. As pilgrims of our Journey of Hope we will dive deep into their programme and I’m sure everyone will leave Northern Ireland with new perceptions, modified skills and one or another imburing relation.
All people we met and meet and all places we got and get to know have for sure varying focal points and community across differences (even within our group of different backgrounds, different faiths etc.) is perhaps the treasure of this journey. Many different people and one same vision: Peacemaking via Reconsiliation.
Ayla is a Pastor from Frankfurt, Germany and is spending the last part of her education at St Ethelburga’s. As a Protestant she’s interested in the relation of faith and justice and how to live in peace – with ourselves, our neighbours and the whole Creation. At some point the world’s collapsing overburdened her and and questions arose: “How can I deal with it? And what can I do for ‘a better world’?” Asking these and further questions are the nature of Ayla’s being. Spending time together with other people feeling the same urgent need to just do something is the reason why Ayla chose St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace.
She’ll support Becca and Michael in Journey of Hope with the Reconcilers Together partnership as well as creating a new offering for secondary schools to visit the Centre, including a workshop on peace-making.
In addition to that, Ayla loves football, vegan lifestyle, and political commitment, and she is looking forward to explore the city and all its sides during her (limited) time with us.
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St Ethelburga’s work sits at the intersection of climate and peace. We believe there can be no peace on Earth unless we also realise peace with Earth.
We offer events, training, leadership programmes and multimedia content which equip and inspire people to become peacemakers in their own contexts. Our project areas include community reconciliation, refugee inclusion, radical resilience, viewpoint diversity, and spiritual ecology.
St Ethelburga'sCentre for Reconciliation and Peace