- How Xenia Came to Be -
“Xenia on Bowen Island, British Columbia, was created out of a vision
for children to feel safe to be creative. All children, including the magical child
within you. We are born into this world with a seed, a gift awaiting expression.
If given the right environment it will flourish and fulfill its destiny.”
- Angelyn (Founder of Xenia)
The Magical Sanctuary of Xenia
Xenia is a 38-acre Sanctuary in the heart of Bowen Island, one hour from downtown Vancouver and 90 minutes from our international airport. It is also surrounded by hundreds of acres of protected government forests and lakes. It is a place of safety and beauty. It is a place to heal, to rest, to play and to discover one’s true nature and inherent gifts.
“I thought this miraculous, spiritual experience was in the land – and it is. But I have walked many lands, in India, Africa, Europe, Canada and the U.S. – and have not experienced it before. And then I thought it must come from the structures and holy places like Opa and the Sanctuary – and it does. But I have been in many structures and holy places around the world and have not felt this before.
And then I thought it must come from the spirituality of the people there, those dedicated, that enliven the Creative Force – and it does. But I have been with many people in many structures in many lands and have never experienced this kind of spirituality before.” - Joan O’Flynn
From the Founder, Angelyn:
“When I first walked on this land it was a derelict old sheep farm and every single building was dilapidated. Most people thought I was crazy to imagine it could be transformed to what it is today, but see it I could and believe in it I did. Over the years I have watched this place emerge out of the ashes into a beautiful natural and inspiring sanctuary. Visitors are always astonished to see pictures of what it once was. Where once a junkyard littered the landscape, there now lays a forest glade with a sacred labyrinth at its centre.
Thousands come every year, quietly arriving unannounced along
the shaded forest paths, just to walk the labyrinth and be brought once again to the centre of their being.
A ramshackle neglected shack has been restored to reveal one of Bowen Island’s proudest heritage buildings. The original split-log dwelling built by pioneers in 1882 (the oldest still standing on our island) is itself an education in the wisdom of native building techniques, developed in this region over thousands of years. Its thermal properties excel any other we know of, both in winter and in summer. Just to sit quietly within this central room at Xenia is to feel nurtured.
The energy from its ancient walls (massive slabs of wood from original growth trees over 600 years old) soaks into your cells, giving you an experience of what a humble shelter can be.
This Lodge now forms the heart of the Xenia community, and has been expanded to include a kitchen and dining room that comfortably services over 25 people at a sitting.
“All the architecture being artfully and lovingly crafted in wood and glass, to celebrate the glorious natural setting and be attuned to it.
In another corner of Xenia stands Opa, our 1000 year old Douglas Fir tree. To simply sit and be with Opa is to be helped to a state of grace. A bench awaits you to sit and marvel at this sentient being, and thousands make use of this every year.
Nearby we have built a beautiful Sanctuary, all crafted lovingly from timber grown on Xenia. In all weathers, people come to sit in silence and meditation, sharing the space with a sacred and eternal flame. From time to time, people gather in the Sanctuary for a variety of spiritual purposes and silent vigils. You will notice an, absence of dogma here. All beliefs are respected at Xenia, none more than others.”
“A lot of us arrived here not knowing what to expect and as the crazy lives of the city melted off everyone they were able to just be themselves. Sometimes it’s hard to find a place where you can just be loved and accepted for exactly who you are.
Xenia is this place.” - Nancy (Street Youth Program)
Within sight of the Lodge, unique and beautiful wooden cottages dot the landscape, surrounding a broad grassy meadow several acres in extent. Leading away from this centre in every direction are easy paths taking you to secret places in the woods, to deserted lakes and beaches to beautiful views. Xenia and its surroundings are blessed with so many beautiful and spiritually nourishing locations, it’s impossible to detail them all.
Along all of these trails you soon find yourself exploring your own soul as much as the nature around you. And what you find is good. Xenia works its magic upon you and calls you home.
“There are magical places that change our lives; this land is one of those places. Thank you for holding this vision of healing and for not giving up on your dream….You have dreamed-in power, beauty and grace. I leave here changed and transformed.”
Sonya Weir – Editor Shared Vision
I remember the first year noticing the lack of birds. Literally I couldn’t hear or see signs of birds on the land. It seemed dead energetically. Now it is a vibrant and prolific home for many a flyer and crawler – not to mention the four legged. Healing and transformation happens regularly because of their presence on the land.
The energy has shifted so radically through the hundreds of people who have contributed with their love, skill and gifts. It is a place people love to come and be of service and it still amazes us that people work hard all day and then phone and thank us for the
privilege. They consider they are the ones who received the gift. This is so rare in our society.
Our 30 ft diameter yurt, a circular structure based on a traditional Mongolian design,
provides a functional and attractive venue for workshops and group events.
Xenia is the venue of choice for many providers of weekend workshops, not just from the Vancouver area, but also internationally. Pioneers in sustainability from Britain, film-makers from Germany, healers from Japan and Peru, Tibetan Buddhists, Australian educators, and many other groups have all found Xenia an ideal place to foregather. Over the years has grown up an extraordinary community that embraces Xenia. This extends out to the larger community of Bowen Island as well as globally with many members around the world who visit yearly.
This quote from Margaret Mead, the famous anthropologist and activist, expresses better than I can, the real mandate of Xenia. On her deathbed, Margaret said:
“I have a revelation… God I wish I could live long enough to see it through! People have to grow together. They have to do physical, mental, psychological, spiritual processes together. And as they deepen and hold each other’s dreams, by God they go out and make a difference.
We need to grow together and deepen the dialogue. We have to get to the place deeper than the agenda. We need to find the common ground where the fundamental Christians and the gay community can talk together. Where the loggers and the environmentalist can learn to respect and protect the environment together. The agenda is the smokescreen for the deeper issues of transformation that are going on. And at a very deep level we are all in the same boat together.”
The name Xenia means: cross-pollination of ideas between guest and host. It stands for hospitality and the gracious acceptance of whomever comes down the path. It is not about shelter, it’s about sanctuary – providing a container, a space, a home that amplifies the energies being shared by the community. It is an incubator for talents and gifts to birth. It is a non-denominational spiritual university, a synchronistic discovery centre.
The empty space for creation to happen within.
~ A Place to Be Inspired ~