Forum - Good things Happening

Posts in Topic: Good things Happening
2016-12-24, 14:04:41#1

Join Date: 2010-02-05
Location: Peterborough
Posts: 652
Good things Happening

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These days, in my personal rejection of Trumpism, with all its ugly and frightening aspects, I prowl about Peterborough in search of good news stories: stories of people helping one another, respecting others' dignity, building peace and healing.

And I find them. They abound.

On Dec. 5, as early dark deepened the feelings of grief experienced by many among us who have said farewell to a loved one this year in death, the locally-owned, non- profit Little Lake Cemetery Company organised its fifth annual Candlelight Memorial gathering.

Though I have a plot in Little Lake ("pre-need", as they say), I didn't know the fascinating history of this public trust, which also owns Highland Park Funeral Centre. I was motivated to read Elwood Jones' wonderful 2010 account, a short book I borrowed from the library, entitled Little Lake Cemetery: a Public Trust is a Beautiful Thing.

The Candlelight Service was at Highland Park Funeral Centre on River Road South. It drew nearly 200 people, an open, no-cost, public event where strangers shared mutual sorrow . The room was decorated with giant poinsettias, given by McKnight's Flower Shop. The silence was profound.

In what is becoming a Canadian way of experiencing meditation and finding community without explicit references to the divine, much less making a reference that would exclude any faith or any non-faith, this Candlelight service was unifying and met a deep need in the community.

I sat beside a burly man who wept silently throughout the half-hour service. With no words, tissue was passed among people, one to another. I spoke to an older woman who said simply, "I have lost everyone. I am alone. This is the first time I have come. I saw it in the newspaper."

David Kennedy, who is a well-respected grief counsellor at Hospice, spoke about memory, and about choosing one's company carefully, people who have given support in the past. He spoke of the importance of including the person's name in holiday gatherings. If tears come, he said, simply tell others you are having a moment of remembrance. His words were entitled Season's Grievings. Grief, he said is both a necessity and a privilege.

A welcome was offered by Mary McGee, president of Little Lake Cemetery, and a John O'Donohue poem was read by past chair Ann Farlow. Danny Bronson offered his lovely music, instrumental and vocal, with deep feeling and musicianship. Candles were lit. Then there were refreshments, provided by the Cheese Shop.

It was simple, inclusive and gentle, in a gracious space.

My second discovery of goodness was Dec. 6 at Trinity United Church, where Telecare Peterborough held its annual commissioning ceremony for 31 new volunteers. Since 1977, Telecare, which is a free, confidential telephone distress line, one of only five in Canada, has been offering compassionate listening to callers, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. One man has done overnight shifts for 20 years. The Telecare volunteers take 30 hours of training in active listening and knowledge of community services. One young man, a Trent student from Yukon, told me it was the best course he's ever had.

These volunteers seek anonymity. They are known only by their first names. As someone who appreciates publicity, this is a marvel: to do good and no one knows.

For many, it is a dark time, personally and politically. But look "below," not "above," for radiant examples of light, reason and kindness in Peterborough.

Sympathize with the U.S. right now, but resolve to create a different, made-in-Canada ethos. Join the Alberta movement of women so shocked by the "Lock Her Up" chant at a recent Conservative meeting, they formed a "Lift Her Up" campaign.

Merry Christmas.

Reach writer Rosemary Ganley at