30 Apr 2015
“This was the best weekend I have ever had at Corrymeela,” said a community member to me on Monday. She and almost two hundred others had been part of the gathering – a reunion for 5 decades of volunteers. They came from Ireland, England, Scotland, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, The US, Israel and Palestine and even from Ballycastle!
The Centre was full of laughter, tears and conversation as we caught up with those whose lives had once been intertwined so closely with our own. It was a weekend of sunshine and stories. Time and again we heard how volunteering at Corrymeela had changed lives – for some it set them on a totally different path in life and careers, and for nearly all the impact is still felt today wherever in the world they have ended up.
On Saturday we had a poignant memorial service in the Croi – remembering all those who had died and dedicating a bench to the memory of Barry Farrell. Barry was gentle giant much loved by all but especially the children. Padraig remembered Barry loaded up with kids on each limb trying to slow him down, but he could still walk across the foyer while they all squealed with laughter. Barry’s family joined us for the service and the new bench will sit appropriately in the children’s playground. There were tears and laughter as we remembered well those who had once graced Corrymeela with their love, dedication and life.
On Easter Morning a surprising amount of people made it up for the Dawn Service and a few more for the main communion service at midday led by Bishop Trevor Williams. With thoughts of new life and spring in the air Padraig and Colin also shared the current vision of Corrymeela and talked about ways to get our Alumni more connected to the current work.
The biggest thing I will take away though is that the spirit of Corrymeela still runs strongly. Ray Davey’s original vision in 1965 was still clearly evident this weekend. Corrymeela has become the open village – a place where all are welcome and where people learn to live and work well together. I will take away memories of cups of tea, conversations, communion, bonfires on the beach, and under a perfect North Coast evening sky 100 people dancing “The Waves of Tory” on the lawn accompanied by a squeezebox and 3 bodhrans! There was a feeling of community that reached across 5 decades from founder members to this years volunteers.
Thank you to all our current and former volunteers for their work, love and dedication over the last fifty years. Thanks to Colin and especially to Emma for organizing the whole weekend and for a truly heroic effort from the kitchen staff to feed the hordes who descended on them. Truly we are making a world of difference.