SASKATOON — Meditator, yoga instructor and missionary Elaine Zakreski is passionate about sharing the peace of Christ with others.
As a student of the Living School, a two-year course of study through Richard Rohr’s centre for Action and Contemplation in New Mexico, Zakreski is embarking on an experiment linking women in Saskatoon to women in Malawi, Africa through meditation and prayer.
Elaine and her husband Peter are the founders of the Hope for Malawi Foundation Inc. Since 2006 the couple has been travelling to Malawi, getting to know the people in the community and offering assistance through the construction of a medical clinic, preschool and gathering place for the local grandmothers. The elderly women of the region have made a big impact on Elaine.
“Through my yearly visits to Malawi I have built trust relationships, and with the help of donors I have been able to assist the Go-Go Grandmas in Malawi with their material needs. Their lives are desperately difficult and heavily burdened. The AIDS epidemic has caused the death of their children and many are now raising their grandchildren. Worry and grief have resulted in high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.”
With a desire to help the grandmothers physically and spiritually, Elaine is establishing mediation circles in Malawi and linking them with an already established mediation circle of Ursuline Sisters in Saskatoon.
Each week, Elaine visits St. Angela Merici Residence, a retirement residence in Saskatoon for the Ursulines of Prelate, to teach yoga and to lead the sisters in prayer and meditation.
“For the last six months (the Ursuline Sisters) have been keeping the Go-Go Grandmothers in their hearts and in their prayers,” explains Zakreski.
To assist the Go-Go Grandmothers of Malawi in managing some of the stress they are experiencing raising their deceased children’s children and in helping them to cultivate a returned sense of peace, Zakreski will invite the elderly women to meet in small groups and lead them in practices of mindfulness, breath awareness and the technique of resting with their Creator just as she does with the Ursuline Sisters in Saskatoon.
“It will be an experiment in unitive consciousness,” she explains. “I will share the stories of the Ursuline Sisters with the Go-Go Grandmothers of Malawi (and vice versa). I will share pictures of these women in Canada and explain how the sisters are holding them in their thoughts and prayers.
“We will be united in prayer and we are enabled to do this by the fact that we understand the communion of saints,” continues Zakreski.“We have an interconnection with each other — something author Ilia Delio calls the cosmic entanglement. . . . two particles can affect each other in physics, no matter the distances between them, so too can we affect each other, no matter the distances between us.”
The Ursulines of Prelate have been connected with the people of South Africa throughout their community’s missionary history and have found deep meaning in this unitive project of prayer with women of Malawi.
“Love has no distance” one sister commented. “What else could connect us more to each other and to God than love?”