Resiliency & Meaning

Resilience is not a word I use that often, but it is a good one for our times. The definition in my dictionary for resilience is “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” 

Our resilience, our capacity to pull ourselves through these difficult circumstances continues is made easier when we have the support and care of others. When we suffer a personal loss or trial, our own personal capacity to be resilient is revealed, but also, often simultaneously or quickly thereafter our community, friends and family, become part of our resiliency response. 

I was thinking about resilience because of a YouTube video I watched this past week. 

In February of this year McMaster University held an independently organized series of TED Talks, called TEDxMcMaster, and one of the guest speakers was Dr. Jeff Sutherland.

Jeff’s talk is entitled “Redefine your Life with Meaning, Following Profound Adversity.” For me, having had the opportunity and privilege to get to know Jeff and Darlene, I can appreciate the how powerful and truthful the title of his talk is. And in this short-format talk his example of resiliency is demonstrated.

Resiliency is complex. We would all agree that resilience is an important personal quality to have, but unfortunately it is only by having it truly tested do we have an idea of how much of it we have. And, it is important to note, a person’s resiliency can be made greater by the support they have around them, be it loved ones, family, friends or their wider community. The fullness of any person’s resilience is important combination of both resilience as a personal attribute and also as a reflection of that person’s community around them.

Jeff and Darlene know this first hand. Jeff’s talk reflects it. Its communal nature is also intentionally reflected in the “Choose 2 Be Resilient” scholarship that they and Kaya’s parents set up to honour and celebrate the lives of Zach and Kaya after their tragic deaths. This scholarship strives to be a way to recognize and encourage resiliency in youth who have experienced significant loss. 

Our resiliency is both deeply personal and at the same time, importantly, communal.

The website for the scholarship describes both the personal and the communal nature of resilience. In describing the purpose of the scholarship it says:

“We believe that the seed of resilience is already within every young person facing adversity in their lives and that we all have the power to create the conditions for that seed to take hold.  We can water it with love, nurture it with compassion and nourish it with nonjudgmental acceptance of their feelings and experiences.  By doing this, we as their families, friends and community can encourage them to Choose 2Be Resilient.”

Our resiliency is both deeply personal and at the same time, and importantly, communal. It is a capacity that we have but it is also a capacity influenced by how it is nurtured and supported by those around us. 

Be Well and God Bless.


The Rev’d Canon Rob Park

P.S. Just a note to remind folks that the Walk to End ALS in Georgetown will be virtual again this year, and do note that the date for the walk has been moved to June 20 to correspond with Global ALS Awareness Day. We are planning to enter a team again this year, so I hope you consider being a walker or supporting a member of our team the St. George’s Saints. Details to come and check out the event website here.