In the hours after learning Lisa McCully was one of those killed in Nova Scotia, the Berwick Camp community came together online to remember her by placing candles in their windows.

A candle sits upon a black cloth memento, which says "Jesus is my Forcefield, Berwick Camp, 2015.
Credit: Ruth Noble

Memories can be so easily recalled, a scent, a piece of music can bring you back to a particular time

A day after the tragedy of mass shootings in Nova Scotia, I found myself listening to 80s tunes, especially “Funkytown.” The beats of the song brought me back to an end of Vacation Bible School party at the Berwick United Church Camp’s Oxley Youth Centre, where I was bopping and laughing with one of the leaders. I had encountered this leader on the stoop of my neighbor, who over time became more than a neighbour. Little did I know that the person I was bopping and laughing with was her sister Lisa McCully, whose life ended on this fateful weekend. A senseless act of violence that ended a bright loving spirit.

Berwick camp is a United Church camp that feels like family. It is a microcosm of everything that makes the United Church unique. Each summer is like a family reunion. I did not realize just how important this connection is and how much Berwick has taken a hold of my heart until the news of who had been shot. Berwick has been part of people’s lives for generations, Lisa and her sister and family grew up at Berwick and now their children are part of the Berwick fabric of life.

As I write this, I am surrounded by the scent of a candle with a gemstone in it, which I bought at Berwick. The candle scent reminds me of camp and the hidden gemstone gives me hope for a way forward through the shock and grief that we all feel.

In the hours after Lisa’s sister shared a post on Facebook about her death, the Berwick community came together in the lighting of candles and placing them in our windows. I used a battery-powered candle so that I could leave it lit all night. It felt like the light was travelling to all of the Berwick family.

— Ruth Noble is The United Church of Canada’s Mission and Service Engagement Coordinator, and previously volunteered at Berwick Camp.

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