This summer the Undivided Leadership program met at Naramata Centre for our third weekend workshop.
The weekend focused on deepening our understanding of power, privilege, and allyship with Natasha Aruliah, learning about justice and economics with Seth Klein and exploring anger as a tool for change with Natalie Maxson.
Keri Wehlander led us through contemplative practices that allowed us to deepen our connection to ourselves, each other and the natural world. It was a rich weekend of learning, growth and transformation. During the course of this weekend, participants were invited to share the contemplative justice projects they have been working on with a panel of social change experts. The experts offered feedback to help to shape the future direction of the projects.
On our final day, in response to participant requests, we had a participant-led session exploring the history of contemplative justice movements in Christianity and beyond. One of the stories we looked at together comes from a book called “Faith-rooted organizing: Mobilizing the Church in Service to the World” by Alexia Salvatierra and Peter Heltzel. It helped remind us we are part of a long line of contemplative justice practitioners, that there are many before us and there will be many after.
I will leave you with this story:
In the Philippines, workers in the sugar plantations have been trying to build a union for many years. Their Sugar Workers Union logo, Jesus with his fist raised, is an apt symbol for workers who labor long hours for so little pay that their children show signs of malnutrition. In 1987 I (Alexia) was able to spend some weeks with the sugar workers. An innovative young worker had initiated an act of creative resistance; to provide food for their children, she organized the women to plan banana trees around their huts. The managers of the plantation (run by an American corporation) sent guards to tear up the banana plants.As the woman wailed, I asked the woman who organized the effort how she could continue in the face of such discouragement.
She replied that she knew they would win.
Anguished and furious, I asked her “When will you win?”
“Soon” said the organizer.
“Are you crazy?!? What do you mean, ‘soon’?”
“In the time of my daughter’s daughter,” she replied. “Soon.”
If you would like to deepen your leadership skills and increase your understanding of the links between spiritual and systemic transformation, contact Justice Coordinator Christina Kinch at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and an application form for the Undivided leadership training program.