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Prophets of hope

Bill Fox

Bill Fox

By Bill Fox/Columnist

The dictionary definition of a prophet is “a person who predicts future events in any way.” You may know that a prophet may also be defined also as a spokesman for some cause, group, movement, etc.

In the mass media, there are many “prophets of doom.” A dictionary definition is “a pessimistic person who often sees the possible calamity in every situation,” or it can also mean someone who always expects bad things to happen. With the spread of the coronavirus and the threat of climate change, it is hard to be hopeful and optimistic at times.

So my wife and I had been wanting for some time to reach out to some like-minded people and share about spirituality and hope. As I have mentioned previously, my wife and I had dinner with Mother Teresa, (along with 10 others) the first time she came to Toronto. We had similarly met Viktor Frankl (Man’s Search For Meaning) and John Howard Griffin (Black Like Me). All of these experiences meeting people of such great courage gave us hope.

In a world where we often hear about the prophets of doom, we felt we wanted people to hear and share about hope. More than a year ago, we began our Prophets of Hope group based on 12 spiritual principles. I found it interesting to find out most world religions share 12 spiritual principles in common – though some have more and some refer to them by different titles.

The 12 spiritual principles are honesty, hope, faith, courage, integrity, willingness, humility, love, justice, perseverance, spirituality, and finally service. I’m talking about Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Cosmology, Islam, Judaism, Taoism and Native American spirituality.

So as of writing this column, we will be starting our second year going through discussing these 12 spiritual principles.

We started off last year by inviting 20 people, and on the second Monday of each month, except for July and August, we connected with at least 12 people each session.

The chairperson for the night will open with a little reflection on that month’s principle, perhaps giving three appropriate quotes on said principle.

Then we have three rounds through our group, and people are invited to pass any of the rounds if they wish.

Round One: We go around the room and everyone gets a chance to tell us how their past month has been if they wish.

Round Two: We go around the room and give everyone a chance for general sharing relating to our topic and the readings of that day.

Round Three: We go around the room again and everyone has a chance to further comment either on what someone else shared or on further reflection on the theme.

We finish again with a small prayer or meditation.

With this surprisingly simple format, we have had some very deep and meaningful sharing and we are all the better for this.

If you are interested in knowing more or starting your own group, I can be reached at Bdfox@rogers.com and I would be happy to be to be involved in the start up of any other Prophets of Hope groups either in a place of worship, a place of learning, a senior’s centre, or wherever.

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