By Christie Goode (Vice President of Advancement)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about “holding the space.” As many of you know, A Rocha’s dear friend Rob Des Cotes passed away last April. He and his wife Ruth were hosts at the Brooksdale Guest House, a role which Ruth continues, along with her work as an environmental educator.

Rob had hosted contemplative prayer services for well over a decade as part of his ministry with Imago Dei, and at the final service before his passing, he commented that there were many times when no one showed up other than the musicians. But, he said, the most important thing was not how many people were present, but simply to “hold the space.”

A Rocha is a prayerful organization. Over the past year I have been blessed many, many times by the spiritual maturity and faithfulness of my colleagues, as expressed in communal worship or prayer, re-orientation in “business” meetings, and in casual everyday encounters. In January it was my privilege to contribute to some of our corporate moments of “holding the space,” specifically creating times to sit in gratitude, and to pray for creation.

At the January planning days for the Brooksdale Environmental Centre, the local staff spent time sharing stories of our encouraging moments with donors, and discussing the joy of participating in a movement of gratitude.

Afterward, we spent two hours writing thank you notes to A Rocha donors. (So if you got one recently, now you know why!) My colleague Tim, after an hour of writing notes and seeing how much time it takes for each one, shared something rather profound. He felt a desire to leave and do something ‘more productive’. “But,” he said, “I’m also recognizing the value of staying in this moment, and dedicating this time to practising gratitude. It’s hard, but that’s what makes it valuable.” Since then, other colleagues have also shared about how good it was to “hold the space”, and to take time just for gratitude for our donors.

Then January 27 to 29, at Missions Fest in Vancouver, A Rocha hosted a prayer space for guests to join us in praying for God’s creation. Visitors prayed in appreciation for the Goodness of Creation, in lament for the Suffering of Creation, and in anticipation and faith of the Healing of Creation. To represent those prayers, they added strips of fabric to a triptych of hooked art. When it’s done, this prayer art will depict air, earth and water in God’s good creation (the left third of the webbing), in our current age where creation is groaning (middle), and in the age to come, when all will be renewed (right side).

Prayer Rug in Progress

It will take some work to finish though. The webbing has spots for 13,000 pieces to be hooked on. That is a lot of prayers for the earth!

Missions Fest visitors added some of the fabric when they visited our prayer station at Missions Fest. Then last week, A Rocha Canada held its annual national staff retreat with about 50 people from Metro Vancouver, Ontario, Manitoba and Northern BC. We spent four days together to be equipped, aligned and encouraged as a team. There was much prayer. It was a gentle space of grace and gratitude, as we acknowledged the hard realities but great gifts of engaging in environmental care. So as we listened and conversed, I hooked “prayers” onto the prayer art — yet another way to gather prayers for creation and “hold the space.”

Prayer Rug in Progress

As you can see in the photo, there is room to capture thousands more prayers on this prayer art. Rather than race to finish it as a project, I’ve decided to keep it as a holding space: to honour the prayers thus far, and to invite further prayer. I will make it available at Brooksdale events or special gatherings, and invite you and others to add your prayers to the work. If you want to email me and tell me you’re praying for us, I will add a piece just for you. (Truly. Wouldn’t that be delightful?)

Thank you for your partnership – in whatever way you are involved – in the work of stewarding creation. May creation’s suffering diminish and healing unfurl around us.