May 6, 2013
The Pilgrimage to Corrymeela has three objectives – to increase our awareness of peacemaking in a faith-based Christian context; to learn the history and practice of the Corrymeela community in the context of Northern Ireland and around the world; and to consider how we might live out our learnings back in our home context.
It was a keen and excited group that climbed onto the bus, which arrived 20 minutes early, this morning. After about an hour and fifteen minutes of watching the rolling green hills filled with sheep and baby lambs, we arrived at Corrymeela. Rachel Craig, the person assigned to be our accompanier on our Corrymeela journey, greeted everyone personally as they stepped off the bus. Rachel is a community member, former staff person at Corrymeela, and married to Colin Craig, a former Centre Director. Rachel and Colin have both visited Tatamagouche Centre to facilitate programs.
After getting settled into our rooms and experiencing our first meal in the dining room, we spent the afternoon with Paul Hutchinson – poet, artist, musician, conflict mediator, therapist, and the Corrymeela Centre director. Through a mixture of personal storytelling, poetry, and conversation, Paul helped us understand some of the complexities of the conflict in Northern Ireland. It was engaging, informational, and inspiring. What I began to understand during our nightly reflection is that Paul’s presentation was particularly meaningful to me because of the way that he did it.
Rather than just a straight “talk” about Corrymeela, he invited us into conversation through a variety of “third things”, as Parker Palmer would call them – poems, a song called “Listen” by Christy Moore, some personal stories, some yarn pulled taut to demonstrate a line, polarized views, and tension. Each one built on the other, and each one opened up a place inside of me for new ideas, understandings and reflection. For me personally, it was a joy to experience his passion and creativity as a teaching methodology, and reminded me (at a time when I need to be reminded ....) what can happen when one does what one truly loves to do.
After dinner, Rachel led us through an activity using creative materials to help us reflect on the day, and ourselves. As usual at Corrymeela, we ended the day with worship in the Croi and then hot chocolate and toast in the lounge. It was a long, full day, but one of energy and awe. To be once again in this beautiful setting, connecting with old friends and new, is something for which I am extremely grateful. I pinch myself that I have been given this opportunity for more learning and another experience in this amazing place.