from the principal's desk. . .
October is a month full of connections for me: I have a couple of national meetings that gather in October, we have two learning circles, and I have often made it home to my parents’ for Thanksgiving with family, including my kids. This year all these connections translated into online meetings and gatherings and phone visits. And I have found that often our small talk - checking in between provinces - has included local updates on coronavirus counts and surges, as much as we have compared weather.
Our Ministry as Listening and Eco-Justice learning circles have convened online, and our students (and staff) have continued to adapt to the challenges of integrating learning in our homes, while we forge and foster connections across distance. Our Ministering by Word and Example course, focusing on Anglican deacons, starts at the end of the month. I miss the sounds of students arriving at Woodsworth House for the fall circles – the singing, the laughter, the thoughtful silences and the feet going up and down the stairs. Some of our students miss the focused time-apart that comes with travelling to Winnipeg for circle, the gift of time and gathered community to focus on learning, and continue theological conversations over supper.
And yet, we have much to be thankful for! Most of our students have the internet connectivity needed to support long zoom gatherings. We have learned to recognize one another’s pets, living rooms and family members. And as profoundly unsettling as this upheaval is, all the shifting opens space for us to question assumptions. Months into the pandemic, cracks are starting to show, and the line from Leonard Cohen reminds us that “there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light comes in”.
Many times this month, my mind has turned to our ancestors. To the deaconesses who served overseas, and were away for years at a time. Who maintained friendships and cultivated support for their ministries through thin airmail letters. I’ve thought of my grandparents' experiences during the wars. I’ve thought about the deadly apocalyptic arrival of smallpox in Indigenous communities, and the leap of faith that immigrant ancestors took across oceans.
I think about how faith and ceremony and prayer sustained our ancestors, and continue to connect us to them and to one another. I think about how diaconal practices of listening connect us and hold space for people to speak their truths. I think about listening to the land and the water. I think about how leadership that centres justice, compassion and transformation is needed today, just as it was needed in the past. I think about all of you – who care about education at the Centre for Christian Studies, and support us with your time and energy and financial gifts and prayers.
October continues to be a month full of connection. And much gratitude.