And what did you do on your summer vacation?

This weekend feels like the final hurrah of summer at the Centre (www.fiveoaks.on.ca) as marginalized men (and the volunteers who support them in community through the coordination of the Mennonite Central Committee) enjoy the pool and the grounds in a hungry way. From small, hot city apartments in communities where they rarely feel cared for, they gobble up every blessing this sacred place and, yes, especially the good food!

Earlier in the summer Five Oaks we raised the funds and hosted a similar weekend for marginalized women too – our 7th year of doing so. Please let me know if you’re curious about these weekends and how to help them happen.

 In addition to these, our summer ‘vacation’ brought a Leadership Circle of 22 young community leaders from across Canada with Kofi Hope, to experience the Centre as they marked the first year of the Youth Connections project which has nurtured intercultural and interfaith understanding. Last month Kofi spoke at the ‘For Such a Season’ event in North Bay, about the wonderful resource and support that Five Oaks has been to this project.  Through July and August, more than 400 children grew in confidence and compassion through our camping program. These include 35 teens who participated in leadership development programs and 17 young staff who honed their skills.

Summertime writers gathered here as usual to refine their words; and a playwright’s words led our program participants into a profoundly honest portrayal of a United Church congregation’s journey with the challenges of tradition, change, forgiveness and acceptance. Experiencing Reverend Jonah, by Paul Ciufo, was another Five Oaks program opportunity providing for deep reflection.

The highlight of my summer vacation was participating in an invitational Courage to Lead Circle of Trust retreat led by Parker Palmer, and I’ll share my reflections on that in blog entries to come this year. My ‘new year’s resolution’ is to take a few minutes from all of the exciting things happening here every week to give you a taste in weekly blogs. If I disappoint, nudge me!

And in the meantime, allow me to give you a taste of Parker’s leadership to guide us all at the beginning of another year…. “Whether the ‘scarce resource’ is money or love or power or words, the true law of life is that we generate more of whatever seems scarce by trusting its supply and passing it around.” Clearly that includes time for blogging…..