As I move fully into vacation mode, Parker Palmer’s essay on Summer helps me reflect on the past few months at Five Oaks (www.fiveoaks.on.ca).
Palmer writes, in part: “Here is a summertime truth: abundance is a communal act, the joint creation of an incredibly complex ecology in which each part functions on behalf of the whole and, in return, is sustained by the whole. Community not only creates abundance – community is abundance. If we could learn that equation from the world of nature, the human world might be transformed.”
The past few months here have been abundant. Within the limits of time and space today, I will mention only a few of many remarkable events. From May’s Greening event with Rosemary Radford Ruether, Elizabeth May and other remarkable leaders, to June’s Labyrinth programs with Lauren Artress, to John and Warren’s glorious wedding, to July’s energy with dozens of children and teens week by week at Day Camp, and the Annual Celebration of the Francis Sandy Theological Centre, we have been reminded of the abundant opportunities we experience at Five Oaks to support emerging leaders for whom environmental awareness and justice are as essential as breathing and for whom attending to Spirit has led to witnessing to a love of God’s creation. We enjoy produce from the Five Oaks garden and are planning for other environmental projects on-site, following the successful removal of the dam. And we continue to work together, aboriginal and non-aboriginal, to offer listening circles and find ways to be transformed and transforming so that our communities might know the summertime truth that “each part functions on behalf of the whole and, in return, is sustained by the whole”.
Two weeks ago I became a Companion of the Francis Sandy Centre (a theological school of the United Church of Canada with a mandate to serve aboriginal theological students preparing to be United Church ministers.) I am deeply grateful for this honour as I believe it represents how we as Centres together, are learning from the world of nature, and from our brother Jesus, the Sacred Fire, so that the human world may be transformed.
Time now to return to some great summer reading, Blessed Unrest, by Paul Hawken. Hawken writes convincingly about how the largest social movement in history is weaving together care for the natural order, for social justice and for the wisdom of indigenous people. Clearly, Five Oaks is part of this movement, and living into the truth of the words of the 1977 General Council of The United Church of Canada:
We cannot care for the garden without caring for one another and we cannot care for one another without caring for the garden.
May your summer garden-tending and relationship-tending bring as much joy as ours do here at Five Oaks.