Su Riddell
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20 July, 2010

It is a mellow July evening in a north Oxford sitting room. Outside the late sun is golden through a tree from which a thrush is trilling.

Participants enjoying a reunion after the peace circle (Photo: Su Riddell)
Participants enjoying a reunion after the peace circle (Photo: Su Riddell)
A group of women are sitting in a Circle listening to the one who is speaking. She is telling something of her life story. As she finishes, the leader calls for a moment’s silence, and the group quietly reflect with gratitude on what they have been privileged to hear.

This group have met together once a week for six weeks. Each one has taken this chance to tell something of her life. Each time was a surprise to the others. How can you guess the fears, trials and struggles of people you just pass in the street? Whether they are from different communities, different backgrounds, or look different to you; or the unknown, hidden behind the facades of people you take for granted? Together we created a safe space, an atmosphere of respect and confidence, in which we could open up a little to one another. And found that a little goes a very, very long way.

It’s not all been listening. We’ve been eating (get a group of women together and the food is guaranteed to be good!) chatting, and discussing. What kind of peace do we want? What do we need to be and do, to bring the kind of peace we want to see in the world?

One theme emerged: for each of us it starts with inner peace, in order to be effective. This group already have their fingers in a lot of pies: ethical trade, supporting the elderly, befriending minority cultures, dealing with housing issues, teaching adult education, bereavement support for children, social work, a women’s festival, speech therapy... to mention just a few. We discovered a deep sense of responsibility in common, for partners, children, neighbours and community, confirming the saying, ‘If you want to get something done, ask a busy woman.’

On the last evening, one person wrote, “These sessions have been an oasis and have brought together a diverse and multi-facetted group of wonderful women. We have been challenged and not shied away from some harrowing details but the outcome has been well worth the journey. To be able to share our positive ideas for creating peace in a calm and safe environment has been a privilege.”

More information can be found by visiting the Creators of Peace website



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