Once a year, A Rocha staff and their families gather from across the country to share stories of the past year, strategize, and to be encouraged. Our gathering has grown to over 50 adults and children. Three full days of “retreating” at our Brooksdale Centre included times of prayer and thoughtful reflection led by Dr. Jonathan Wilson of Carey Theological Seminary. Jonathan encouraged us to see our work in creation care as a way to bear witness to what God is already doing in the world as he “draws all things to himself” (Colossians). Therefore, when the Bible declares that God is “making all things new” (Revelation), the implication drawn is that A Rocha’s work in restoring environmentally sensitive habitat is active participation in God’s regenerative work.
The gift of the weekend was not only grounding in the theological basis for our work, but the goodness of sharing stories with colleagues from around the country. We learned of Samuel Chiu’s work with church leaders and seminary professors at the Global Christian Chinese Conference in Bali this past fall. We heard that the members from Ottawa’s Trinity Church of the Nazarene ran with the very training they received from A Rocha, starting a flourishing Community Garden on their church property. They are reaching out to their community, and in particular those living on low-income. We learned of the serenity folks are finding at the Pembina Valley Field Station in southern Manitoba as they enter a landscape where their cell phones no longer find reception, but their hearts seem freshly attuned to the beauty of the creation that surrounds them. These stories found resonance with A Rocha staff, as we reflected on a myriad of similar experiences across Canada caring for creation and caring for people. The weekend also held fun and frivolity, as we enjoyed a family “talent” night, played games, and shared music and stories.