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UNION OF SISTERS OF THE PRESENTATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

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Presentation Sisters from Around the World Gather in the Garden of Oneness, Zambia

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04/07/2019

Presentation Sisters from around the world gathered in the Garden of Oneness in Kaoma, in the Western Province of Zambia, Africa in May this year. Some of the Sisters have shared the reflections of their experiences of this time. 

We are very grateful and privileged to have had an intercultural and intergenerational experience in the Garden of Oneness. We were very much touched by the warm welcome of the local community and by the hospitality of our Presentation family (Sisters Terry, Lucy and Prema) in the Garden. Our experience in the Garden was very enriching. We were inspired by the way the dream (Garden of Oneness) has been turned into a reality by the Sisters and the local community. Each and every thing we walked around or prayed with told us a new story and led us to a new way of thinking and a new energy.  We were privileged to have Sr Anne McDermott as our facilitator, who guided us in such a gentle way to reconnect ourselves with God as we took a walk in the ‘Sacred Web’ – the love story of God. She also gave us the opportunity to take time to reunite ourselves with our ancestors. The visit to the Presentation Hill also helped us to be in Union with our Presentation family and above all with God, who is the creator of us all. 

We pay our gratitude to each and every one of those who was present for this Oneness, all the Sisters from different countries, the local community and the community in the Garden, for their love, care, hospitality and the comfortable environment that we have experienced in their gentle and loving presence. May God bless you all. With lots of love, prayer and thanks.

- Sisters Saima and Mehwish (Pakistan)

My visit to the Garden of Oneness was a wonderful experience of being in communion – of being more connected with Earth, with the culture and rich traditions of Zambia, of connection with the local people, our ancestors and with the companions who journeyed together for our gathering. 

During our few days together, we immersed ourselves in the beauty, simplicity and creativity of the garden, in rituals, stories and song that touched deeply the awareness that all life is sacred...all life is one. Our visit to the local village was a special moment of joy and of deeper connection with the local people who are so much part of the life and story of the Garden. I was grateful for the time to be present in this sacred place, to be still, to walk, to dance, to ponder, to pray and to feel at home amidst the temple of the trees. “The way forward is the way inward” – Ilia Delio

Walking in the Garden, especially the ‘Path’ or ‘Journey to the Heart’ and the ‘Sacred Web’ reminded me of my journey inward into the heart of love, and of the great love story of God at the heart of all of life. I am also deeply grateful to all who made our Gathering such an enriching and inspiring experience. Special thanks to the resident community, Sisters Terry, Lucy and Prema, to the local people who welcomed us to the Garden and to their village, to Anne McDermott for facilitating our Gathering and to all the Sisters in the Unit – your welcome, generosity and hospitaliy knew no bounds! May you be blessed in abundance.

- Sr Mary Deane

One of my abiding memories of the Garden of Oneness is one of exceptional hospitality, with a warm welcome the size of the Garden itself and beyond. No stone was left unturned to ensure our every need, no matter how small, was met. Every part of the Garden was ours for the week. A feeling of being at ‘home’ best describes my experience as there were no ‘exclusion zones’!

What had I expected? I had no idea what to expect when I responded to the invitation from Terry and the community, Lucy and Prema, to a meeting in the Garden. Little did I think it would be such a unique place of conservation, with nature at its best and a heart for welcome. It was a place, and I quote from the Garden of Oneness brochure where:

All life is Sacred

All life is One

nurturing the communion with the Holy One,

with one another and all of creation. 

Nature, in its entirity, seemed to be at one with itself and with all of creation, in total harmony. I felt we were walking on holy ground and touching into the spirit of God and of his creation in a very real and tangible way. Walking contemplatively around the ground, the biblical image of “God walking in the garden in the cool of the evening” (Gen. 3:8) evoked many thoughts in me. 

Both Anne McDermott, our facilitator, and Terry ensured that we were gently but purposefully guided in a manner that was soulful and inspiring. 

It was such a great privilege to experience the richness of prayer in many and varied forms and to share what was ‘stirring within us’ with so many of our Sisters from around the globe. A guided cosmic walk as the evening fell was one of the memorable experiences, where the presence of the Divine was in everything. Opportunities for contemplative silence and reflection were deeply appreciated as we wandered around the Garden in absolute awe at the abundance of God’s creation, nurtured and cared for in such a responsible and loving way.

Song, dance and good fun were also part of the experience and a general air of relaxation underpinned the entire experience. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to visit the Garden of Oneness – the Sacred Web.

- Sr Sheila Kelleher, Ireland: South West Unit

Earlier in May I was privileged to participate in contemplative listening and dialogue with eighteen other Sisters from around the world and a local Friend of Nano at the Garden of Oneness in rural Zambia. While Terry had the dream for this wonderful thirty-acre spiritual and ecological oasis, it was obvious, from the moment of our arrival, that this is not merely Terry’s dream. The whole African Presentation Unit has taken the vision of this sacred space to heart and helped in a big way before, during and after the gathering. The new all-African Leadership Team participated in the whole week. My greatest delight, though was to witness the ownership of the Garden by the Friends of Nano and the local community – a proud example of joyful collaboration for the sake of mission. 

From the joyful African welcome to our ancestral home by Lucy, Prema and Terry, the Friends of Nano and the local community to the closing moments, this was a lived experience of oneness. The closing anointing of the participants by Patricia, a true daughter of the soil, village elder and Friend of Nano and the invitation to the Sisters from Australia, Canada, England, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, USA, Zambia and Zimbabwe to bless the Garden filled me with a sense of communion with all of life. 

The Gathering at the Garden, gently faciliated by Anne McDermott, was truely an intercultural and intergenerational experience in the spirit of our CG2018.

Nano’s proclamation that “there is no greater joy than to be in union” took on cosmic proportions in this place of awe and beauty, a vibrant expression of living a spirituality of being in communion. 

- Sr Betty Rae Lee

‘I bow to this Garden before me

I bow to this Garden in space

I bow to this Garden so beautiful

The Garden of blessing and grace.’

- Jan Navotka

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