Friday, 2 May 2014

May 1, 2014

Kids, fences, balloons and beer

The Centre site has been full of children these past two days ... dozens of pre-schoolers and their parents. The site is filled with squeals of delight, laughter and the odd ringing of the worship bell in the woods - something kids love to do once they figure out it’s there.

They are part of a program called Community Relations in Schools (CRIS), a  “proactive, open, welcoming organisation that is driven by a flexible approach to Community Relations work and an understanding of the need to work with each individual school and community at the stage they are at in their own Community Relations journey, CRIS works alongside children, young people, school staff and parents and community stakeholders withing schools and education communities to challenge bias and promote the values of equity, diversity, interdependence and learning.” (from their website).

Many groups visiting Corrymeela come for a residential experience only after several meetings and sessions in their communities. Their presence onsite this week is a very tangible reminder of the work of Corrymeela in the community, and with a new generation.

Our day was spent with Paul Hutchinson, until December 2013 the Centre Director in Ballycastle. Paul is a mediator, artist, filmmaker, poet, therapist, and all around facilitator extraordinaire ... during the course of the day he took us to many places, mostly in our “gut and hearts” as we uncovered layer after layer of the complexities of the peace process as it is lived out in this country. There was laughter, and times when we were close to tears. Below is a picture of a one of the lighter moments, the group trying to keep a balloon in the air to a count to 40.

At one point in our discussion, Deryk offered a helpful metaphor of the peace process. Comparing it to people of different heights trying to look over a high fence, he said that some people might need one box to look over the fence, while others need two, or even more, and perhaps a very tall person doesn’t need one. But the end result is that everyone is able to look over the fence. We expanded the metaphor ... what about those who might think outside the box and cut a hole in the fence, or even those who might want to take down the fence entirely? Paul pointed out that in the pace process, there are different places for people to work.

Paul challenged us to think about the words mercy, truth, justice and peace, and what each word meant in its true sense. No easy task ... most of us were quite flummoxed in the task of coming back in pairs with a skit, then later when we were asked to speak as our word to one side of the conflict in a very personal way. We were stretched, and uncomfortable, but the learning was deep.

After watching the movie Bloody Sunday after supper, and debriefing in preparation for our trip to Derry Friday, some of us decided a trip to O’Connor’s might be in order. Below are new Canadian friends Maggie from Vancouver and Alicia from Toronto (by way of Saskatchewan) with Deryk, and Sandy, April and Rick. Also, a picture of the many musicians gathered at O’Connors every Thursday evening.


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