Just over a year ago I received a touching letter in the mail from an old friend. I opened the letter to find kind words, thoughtful hopes and seeds. Seeds of all sorts from the grounds at Naramata Centre. Seeds gathered in a time of closure, a time of conflict, a time of anticipating change. The seeds stared up at me, holding all that could be in their tiny being. Patiently waiting a time to explode back to life and grow something new.
This summer I saw the seeds again. And this time they had sprouted. The quiet, abundant earth has been holding this space. The trees, the sand, the seeds, the clay hills, the birds, the bear, the spiders and a handful of faithful souls have all been holding this place. A place for all to gather, to play, to rest, to seek the Sacred.
This summer I witnessed the seeds sprouting. In smiles, in tears, in loud beach splashes and quiet sacred pauses, I could feel the sprouts reaching toward the sun and rain. There is still so much to be determined, discerned, developed, but the seeds have cracked opened and begun to grow.
This summer I saw Naramata Centre through the eyes of others. Wise elders, old friends, children, newcomers, board members, volunteers, residents, villagers, visitors, program leaders sharing so many stories, so many experiences. I heard joy, excitement, hope, caution, fear, anger, sadness, concern and mostly, gratitude. Deep gratitude. Gratitude for a chance to come and connect to this place, this space, this experience of being held in a community.
Each story touched my heart, and when I look back at my very full and engaged time on site this summer, two moments in particular stand out. First the back story: this summer my friends gave me the best birthday gift ever. They showed up! Four families, all new to the Centre, all excited about finding a favorite new camping spot. Each shared their own perspective; each connected to the Sacred in different ways.
One friend arrived and beamed as she stated, “I drove the eight hours from Calgary passing beautiful mountains and lakes, thinking to myself, why not stop here, and here or here? I kept driving wondering what I would find. And now, I’m here and I want to live here!”
My friend spent the week at the beach, in the trees, in the village connecting in circles of new community. At the end-of-the-week campfire, with tears in her eyes, she shared her story of her Naramata week . Her story of finding a new place to be, authentically herself, welcomed into community. My week was full of profound sacred moments. My favorite one was sitting in that campfire circle hearing the hearts of our elders, our children, our teens, our newcomers and our old friends, all being present to each other and the Creator, under the trees that lean in to listen.
-Jenne Newman, Naramata Centre Board