Places Where We Can Find Ourselves

Attempts to alleviate regrets or guilt may require us to clear our thoughts and review the content of our lives. Fortunately, in our community, thoughtful people are already involved, in creating “environments” to assist us in this quest.

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Surrounded by the Parkdale region of Toronto, nestled on a quiet, heavily treed avenue called Sorauren, stands a church. An expansive, windowed dome, spreading the afternoon sunshine into a soft warm glow, covering the walls and intricate altar area, dominates the interior. All the images, decorating this “sanctuary”, are pleasant and peaceful. Even the gently arching pews, surrounding the altar, present us with an aura of stability and security.

After spending, only an hour, in solitary contemplation, I felt a restoration of my energy and capacity to confront some of the problems of my life. Deciding to find the person responsible for maintaining this remarkable “spiritual cocoon” I made inquires and arrangements were made for me to meet Father Peter, after wedding services, on a Saturday afternoon.

We met in the first pew, to the right of the altar. He was clearly the man described by his parishioner. An energetic “parish priest”, with a reputation for solving problems, he is undaunted by their complexity and gravity. His face, with a twinkle in his eye, reflected a genuine compassion, and a confident yet open-minded spirituality.

He told me that, after a recent fire, his parishioners supported the hope of creating a space, not just for ritual and prayer; but also for, contemplation and meditation. He pointed out the historical fact that priests, monks and Christians generally, practiced meditation with a “mantra” of prayers. Young people are of particular concern to Father Peter. He believes that before we develop an “individual identity”, through accomplishments and success in life, we require a “group identity”, to shelter us in a hostile world. This, normally, is provided by a loving family and also by a community of friends, where love and trust can be exchanged. Pitfalls in life require the continual refuge to this “group identity”, even among the most self-assured among us.

Assistance from others is necessary, but we are still required to assist ourselves, and this can only be accomplished by honestly clearing our minds of triviality and reflecting on our own reality. Father Peter, in his humility and obvious sincerity wants us to achieve fulfillment. He has dedicated himself to being a “spiritual guide”; over the past 15 years and the hub of his activities revolve around The Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Virgin Mary, at 136 Sorauren Avenue in the city of Toronto. Thank you Father Peter for your “sanctuary” and for your love and concern for all faiths and creeds, in our community.

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