Sonjel, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Sonjel has a special regard for language and literature, and enjoys reading, reflecting and sharing her thoughts on Sacred Scriptures. Born in Canada, she grew up partly in West Africa and the Caribbean, as well as in the Maritimes.
“The landscape of Prince Edward Island is dotted with church spires among the farmers’ fields, and Charlottetown now has its first purpose-built mosque. Inspired by this landscape, I thought I could add to the richness of PEI’s devotional activities by organizing a monthly public devotional meeting in our provincial arts centre.
“It is a chance for people to come together and focus on the themes that tie us all together and the core elements that make humanity one – regardless of our gender, nationality, or religious background.
“Together, we explore a variety of themes – including the purpose of our lives, universal equality, fellowship, cooperation, and healthy lifestyles from both spiritual and material perspectives – through readings from a diversity of religious scriptures, writers, and philosophers. These themes are also expressed through live music and imagery, as the arts are a powerful means of communicating spiritual concepts.
“By providing a tranquil environment, free and open to all, and an opportunity for reflection and socializing, I feel these devotional gatherings create a space where we can see how the peoples of the world are in fact ‘the fruits of one tree and the leaves of one branch.’ I really sense a spirit of love, harmony, friendliness and fellowship among the participants.
“The participants stay for as long as possible even after the ‘formal’ part of the program. They engage in genuine conversations on spiritual matters with each other.
“Because this devotional is in a public place, people feel comfortable inviting their friends and acquaintances. By discussing spiritual aspects of their lives in an open and courteous manner, they create new dimensions in their relationships – the devotional gathering is a space for building healthy and sustainable relationships.
“Just as eating well, getting a good night’s sleep and exercising are integral to the health of the individual, I believe that meditation, reflection and prayer are vital components of maintaining a healthy spiritual and material life – both for individuals and communities.”