Thursday, 19 June 2014

When you've massaged some-one's feet, you can't kill them

On Tuesday June 10th I flew from Newcastle to Belfast, arriving just after 8.00am for a visit to the Corrymeela Community. I was met by  Pádraig Ó Tuama, a member of the Community. Pádraig drove us to Ballycastle along the beautiful coastal route and as we travelled we talked about Ireland, the work of the community and various issues of justice and inclusivity. 

Pádraig is a poet and I was fascinated by some of the things he told me about the Irish language. There are no words for 'yes' or 'no' in Irish, you cannot affirm or deny in the abstract but always have to include yourself in the statement, for example you might say, 'I will' or 'I may not.' In a similar way there is no single word for love, love has always to be grounded in experience and relationship. You have to tell the other what they mean to you. I find something very appealing in this grounding in relationship, it is incarnational.

The Corrymeela Centre at Ballycastle is in a very beautiful setting and the community is rooted in peace-building and reconciliation. 'Reconciliation is  a place, where something happens that gives space for encounter, learning, acceptance and change.' (The Corrymeela website) 
For me, this day spent at Corrymeela was extremely significant and important bot because of the conversations I had with community members and volunteers and because of the time I spent simply being there. Towards the end of a year where much of my focus has been on issues of justice and peace, this was a good place to be. No simple answers were offered; pain was recognised; the requirement for justice was stated; complexity was not ignored, neither was it an excuse.

Rachel, one of the community members told me of her work.  People are brought together to share an experience as 'me' and not as a member of a group or faction. On one occasion she had been working with women from the Falls Road and Shankill, enabling them to encounter one another. They were massaging each other's feet when one woman looked up and said, 'When you've massaged some-one's feet, you can't kill them.'

You can read more about Corrymeela here

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