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06 February, 2015

Last time I co-facilitated a weekend peace circle in Britain in January, snow and flu saw to it that only five people turned up – three of them facilitators! So it was with considerable relief that 13 of us gathered in Oxford over the weekend of 19 January, with the sun shining and only two health-related cancellations.

Creators of Peace in Oxford
Creators of Peace in Oxford
The participants came from five countries of origin, and included two who had travelled from Switzerland. Ages ranged from the 60s to the 20s, professions from eco-activist to businesswoman to academic, faiths included Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and Pagan. With so much diversity in the room, it was striking how quickly a common heart emerged, as each woman shared something of her life story. We split into French- and English-speaking groups to work out a (silent) dramatic presentation of what builds and destroys peace; took time on our own to reflect on where we find inner peace personally; experimented with bad and good listening (the former more difficult in this group than the latter); and, on the last morning, wrestled with the meaning of forgiveness.

Afterwards, one participant wrote, ‘One thing that is different for me is to realize that having negative views of people is the seed of conflict. My reaction is often to receive people’s opinions with a big sigh, “here they go again.” But if I can see them as fragile people, needing to be accepted and loved, I can approach them with different eyes and heart. Trying to see people differently, understanding that, just like me, they have their scars, will be a help.’

Another wrote of a new awareness of what was blocking an important relationship: ‘My shift will have been imperceptible to you but runs very deep within me.’

Mary Lean

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