Executive Director Michael Shapcott reflects on the “thin space”
that is the Sorrento Centre…
Connect with Michael at email@example.com
21 September 2018
“Be a gardener”:
Taking up my trowel
“Be a gardener… Toil and sweat… Turn the earth upside down. And seek the deepness.” Those words from the 14th century mystic Julian of Norwich came to life in Caritas, one of the main buildings on the Sorrento Centre campus, on September 16. That was the day that Archbishop Melissa Skelton presided at a Celebration of New Ministry to mark the formal beginning of my work at the Sorrento Centre. Primate Fred Hiltz gave the homily.
During this special service, I was presented with a trowel as a symbol of the ministry of place: Sorrento Centre is on an exquisite 24-acre campus that includes orchards, forest groves, a beachfront on the Shushwap, fields, flowerbeds and many buildings. A short distance away is our 8-acre natural farm – a bountiful place for produce for our kitchen as well as for our neighbours.
A Bible was presented as a symbol of my calling to the Gospel and the Church, and a set of Sorrento Centre prayer flags (learning, healing and belonging) was presented as a symbol of my commitment to people and community.
I’ve been on site since early August, meeting with dozens of people, learning every nook and cranny of this special place, meeting neighbours in Salmon Arm and Kamloops, and bearing down on the range of duties as Executive Director – everything from budget to website to capital and operating plans.
Every morning I awake with joy, knowing that I am in a special and sacred place full of great beauty, walking in the footsteps of giants, working with special people and looking forward to the next five years, as Sorrento Centre moves towards its 60th anniversary.
Less than fifteen minutes from the Sorrento Centre is Adams River, which feeds into the Shuswap. Every year, the salmon run from the Pacific up through the Adams River – and every fourth year is a “dominant” year – an especially large run. In late September and into October, the salmon run begins to reach its peak: An amazing symbol of the cycle of life, and the bounty of this place.
This year, the Salute to the Salmon begins with a two-day symposium that brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders and community members. I’ll be attending to meet elders and elected leaders from the Secwepemc people, along with area residents, environmentalists and many others.
The Indigenous people on the coast and inland understood that the salmon were symbols of determination, renewal and prosperity. In some traditions, the salmon were considered to be ancestors who gave their bodies for food as a form of sacrifice in the cycle of life.
In Celtic mythology, salmon were considered a sacred fish, wise and knowledgeable, strong and transforming. The salmon followed a circular journey of life and inhabited two worlds – fresh water and sea water. Celtic Christians adopted the salmon as a symbol of Christ.
The salmon run is an annual reminder of the abundance of this world, and a symbol of the cycle of life. I am very excited to view the salmon run up close, and to share the experience with others.
The Invisible Hand in the Wilderness is a 2014 book by Malcolm Clemens Young, who is Dean at Christ Church Cathedral in San Francisco. Young draws on economics, ecology and theology to argue that a starry-eyed romanticism about nature is not sufficient to overcome the powerful forces of economic markets. Economics is often portrayed as “value-free” and “neutral”, but it is riddled with assumptions and meanings – much of which are “invisible”. Young argues that theology and ecology have a lot to teach economics.
Theologian Harvey Cox has noted that the market, which claims to be value-free, actually carries a powerful array of symbols and beliefs. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby offers powerful observations on how to move from monetizing everything to making money serve grace.
Young adds to the growing theological literature on markets by arguing that inducing happy thoughts about the environment won’t, in itself, undercut the power of economic forces to dominate public policy discussions.
Phoebe is a three-month old labradoodle who has come to live with me in the Executive Director’s residence at the Sorrento Centre. A sweet and engaging black and white pup, Phoebe is sniffing her way around our campus – learning all sorts of new smells. At first, Phoebe was rather distressed by the loud honking of the flocks of Canada geese that gather on our beach. Lately, she has realized that the honking is mostly hot air. The geese will yield the beach to people and puppies – though not without a comment or two.
The Sorrento Centre draws 70% of its revenues from earned income – meal fees and accommodation charges for the thousands of people who pass through our site annually. We’ve earned a surplus in the last couple of years, even as we have paid down some debt and started expensive work on capital repairs to our site.
There is, however, plenty more to be done – so we’ve created another way for donors to support our work. A quick click will take you to the Sorrento home page on Canada Helps. You can support our well-respect youth leadership programs, our diverse arts and cultural programming, as well as our Anglican and other faith-based work.
We’re re-imagining our campaigns to support the people and work of the Sorrento Centre. Stay tuned for a launch in the near future. Please consider a contribution today via Canada Helps.
Stay tuned for weekly updates as Sorrento Centre heads into a glorious fall…