UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

'You can't do this alone'

We're rooted together in this brief borrowed paradise

By Carolyn Pogue

In the dark of winter, I need good stories. In fact, an email from my friend Claire McMordie last week made me realize that many of us feel low energy during this season.

“I am feeling something new this winter —  sort of an empty, dazed  feeling. I’m reeling from the shock of so many horrors erupting, mainly in other parts of the world, but the violence seems intractable and part of all human fabric, including within myself: the unspeakable suffering of families uprooted and of people without food and with no sense of safety. I try hard to look for and celebrate good news whenever there is any. Lately, the search has seemed harder.

“Partly, too, I’m worrying about [adult] kids being so relentlessly busy that they don't even notice how weird it is, and how impoverishing.”

Claire hit a chord with me; I, too, was feeling dis-ease. But I was glad to share some good news. Theresa Wolfwood, an activist, poet and artist from Victoria, B.C., was giving a presentation at Calgary's Hillhurst United Church. Theresa has been my friend and mentor since we first met in Yellowknife in the early 1970s. In those days, I wasn’t clear about feminism nor of the importance of the arts in weaving a world worth leaving for the next generation. She taught me.


It's been an education hearing about Theresa and her husband Gerd Weih bear witness to elections Central America, accompany Palestinian school children past armed Israel soldiers and stand in solidarity with refugees in the western Sahara and Chiapas, Mexico. It's been an education listening to her perspective on a global woman’s “place." Author Alice Walker’s quote, “Resistance is the secret of joy,” seems to be the theme of their life.

Born in China of British parents, Theresa is a geologist while a German-born Gerd is a medical doctor. And both are truly global citizens. After their marriage, they created The Barnard-Boecker Centre Foundation to support grassroots peace-building initiatives. It was named for their grandparents, who had been enemies during World War I.

Theresa’s recent book of poetry,  Love and Resistance, is filled with reality, hope and love. Much of it was penned in refugee camps, on planes or in conflict zones. She puts her passion for justice into action, presentations, photography, fabric banners and a small organic garden. On the Sundays when they are home, she and Gerd feed street people in Victoria with the group Food Not Bombs; on Thursdays, Theresa passes out leaflets with the peace group Women in Black. In between, they will host visitors from around the world, and Theresa will write and edit essays, poetry and articles.

Theresa’s writing — both personal and political — sings us to a better world through lament, challenge, hope  and — above all — love. What gives her strength in the face of violence, she says, is seeing the courage and joy in people even as they face challenge, and in being part of groups that seek justice. "You can’t do this alone.” She also reminds us that we're rooted together in this brief borrowed paradise.

Words like these are exactly what I need to get through these cold, dark winter nights.


Author's photo
Carolyn Pogue is a longtime Observer contributor. New posts of The Pogue Blog will appear on the first and third Thursday of the month. For more information on Carolyn Pogue, visit www.carolynpogue.ca..
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!

Announcement

New Observer editor and CEO, Jocelyn Bell. Photo by Lindsay Palmer

New editor named

by Observer Staff

Promotional Image

Editorials

David Wilson%

Observations

by David Wilson

A perfect send-off

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: My Year of Living Spiritually

by Observer Staff

Anne Bokma left the Dutch Reformed Church as a young adult and eventually became a member of the United Church and then the Unitarian Universalists. Having long explored the "spiritual but not religious" demographic as a writer, she decided to immerse herself in practices — like hiring a soul coach, secular choir-singing and forest bathing — for 12 months to find both enlightenment and entertainment.

Promotional Image

Society

November 2017

Trump country

by David Macfarlane

A northern Alabama county voted almost unanimously for Donald Trump in 2016. One year later, the writer, together with photographer Nigel Dickson, travels there to try to understand why.

Faith

November 2017

Involuntary pilgrim

by David Giuliano

The return of a tumour sets David Giuliano on a path he calls his ‘Camino de Cancer’

Faith

October 2017

A tale of two cancers

by Catherine Gordon

One year after the writer discovered she had breast cancer, her sister in California received the same diagnosis. They both recovered, but their experiences were worlds apart.

Society

November 2017

Trump country

by David Macfarlane

A northern Alabama county voted almost unanimously for Donald Trump in 2016. One year later, the writer, together with photographer Nigel Dickson, travels there to try to understand why.

Faith

November 2017

Involuntary pilgrim

by David Giuliano

The return of a tumour sets David Giuliano on a path he calls his ‘Camino de Cancer’

Faith

November 2017

Grey matter

by Trisha Elliott

Is consciousness just a function of the brain — or something more?

Promotional Image