A message from the University Chaplain, Revd Dr Harriet Harris, on support available for students and staff affected by the invasion of Ukraine.
On 3rd May 2023 , 1.30-4pm, we are hosting a workshop by playwright Sarah Woods, founder of Artists in Exile, supporting Ukrainian Artists in the UK. All are welcome to the workshop. Please book here:
On 18 May 2023, we will be celebrating the anniversary of the twinning of the University of Edinburgh with National University of Ukraine, including with a cultural community lunch at the Chaplaincy Centre.
Vigil for Peace on 24th of February 2023
We held a Vigil at the Chaplaincy on Friday 24 February, marking a year on since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We were joined also by students from other universities and by members of the public, many of whom were Ukrainian or had strong ties with the region.
There were also many other events in Edinburgh that day, including an outdoor vigil in Bristo Square that we supported at the end of the afternoon, organised by the student Ukrainian Society.
Aggressive empathy and guerrilla peace: ‘Light up your hearts for Ukraine’
Call to action from the University of Edinburgh Chaplaincy
In support of Ukraine, we call all people to acts of vigilance, solidarity and hope, by day and by night.
As we did with A Light for Aleppo, when that city was besieged: we gathered, lit beacons and lit up our windows, and the path of light went across the world and reached into Aleppo itself. These simple acts of compassion and empathy increased people’s morale there, and helped refugees in Scotland to feel recognised, appreciated, and welcomed.
This, the people of Scotland can do again, and more. Our Capital Cities are twinned: Edinburgh and Kyiv. We can gather, we can recklessly sow seeds of hope, literally doing so with sunflowers that will bloom with audacity as they salute the sun and sky in freedom. We can keep lights shining in our hearts, our lives and our windows, as an invincible display of life against death, insight against tyranny, love against hate.
Tatiana, a woman in Ukraine, made a passionate plea on the BBC news: ‘We need the world to light up your hearts for Ukraine and for God.’
This we can do, in addition to our actions to provide aid and practicalities. We must hold fast to the reality that, despite the difference in geography, we are the same; our hopes and fears are the same. Our desire for peace is the same.
It behoves us then to express such love and hope, whatever our beliefs. If the world joined in, no amount of military force could eradicate every sunflower or candle, nor extinguish the light of hope and power of solidarity.
Let the light of hope reach Ukraine, and people in all parts of the world affected by conflict, and let the eager and expected welcome be truly felt by all who come to Scotland for refuge.
How this will work
We can start now, with lights in the windows, and the sowing of sunflowers wherever you can.
You can display the logo on social media, and print it out to display in windows. The logo shows the actions we can take by day and by night, so that the vigilance, solidarity and hope never cease. Sow seeds by day, lighten the darkness by night.
We will hold a vigil in George Square, Edinburgh, on 7 April to launch the ‘Light up your hearts’ campaign, as a prelude to a larger event after Easter when communities around the country and the world will have had time to organise and join in a chain of lit up rallies and vigils. (Details to follow.)
Our thanks to Marta Christiansen, a fourth year English Language and Literature student, for designing the logo.
Sunflowers as a symbol
Sunflowers have become the symbol of solidarity, resilience, resistance, hope for peace and for the end of the war in Ukraine. Why? The sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine. The yellow fields of sunflowers and wheat under the Ukrainian blue skies also remind us of the colours of the Ukrainian flag. They are used in the patterns of women’s clothing and in headdresses during festivities. They tell of life and hope of new beginnings. Sunflowers are literally “life-giving” as they sustain pollinators, can be used to enrich the soil and are, of course, sustenance for many people as well. Sunflowers are known for heliotropism: they turn to face and follow the sun just before they start to bloom and while the flowers are still young. For me, it is a symbol of hope.
Sunflowers are not endemic to Ukraine, but after arriving in Europe from the Americas in the 16th century they have become an important part of the Ukrainian culture. They grow well in the warm and sunny climate and are a favourite with the people who plant them in their gardens and use the seeds and oil as food. Also- during Lent the Orthodox church had forbidden the use of animal products including lard for cooking. But people always find a way- so they started using sunflower oil instead!
Since the beginning of the invasion in March 2022 the sunflower has been used around the globe to express solidarity and support- planting seeds, giving out bouquets, and wearing them as symbols of hope for peace.
- Revd Dr Urzula Glienecke
Vigil for Peace
When: Thursday 7th of April
Where: George Square, next to Main Library
Two kinds of peace
There is the peace which is the cessation of fighting or quarrel. This kind of peace we pray for and work towards, and we know that it is not a real peace if it is not twinned with justice. So, we can improve our attention to justice, which includes deepening our listening to and honouring of one another’s wounds and concerns. And it includes the courage to challenge injustice and stand for justice and for protection of the innocent and the vulnerable.
For all this, we pray and strive, as Ukraine comes under assault, and we hope for de-escalation; wise leaders; strengthened, compassionate, and courageous communities; and protection of life.
There is another kind of peace that the world cannot give and that surpasses all understanding. This peace is pure gift, or grace. It is given to inhabit us, and we can inhabit it. This peace exists already and at all times. We can ask for it, we can receive it, we may find it is there already deep within us.
This peace that the world cannot give is a strong place to stand, from which we can work and pray for the peace of the world.
‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’ (John 14.27)
Chaplains will be saying prayers for peace at 12noon each day.
A liturgy for peace, from Associate Chaplain, Revd Dr Urzula Glienecke
We invite you to join in the prayers seeking peace rooted in justice in this situation.
Leader: Caring God, Creator of all, we confess the times when we have looked away
ALL: FORGIVE US AND MELT OUR HEARTS
Leader: We confess the times when we have walked by
ALL: FORGIVE US AND MELT OUR HEARTS
Leader: We confess the times we have chosen wealth and power for ourselves over freedom and dignity for all
ALL: FORGIVE US AND TURN OUR COLD HEARTS INTO HEARTS THAT BEAT IN SOLIDARITY AND IN COMPASSION. COMFORT AND SHIELD THOSE WHO SUFFER. GIVE US COURAGE AND WISDOM TO STAND UP AGAINST THE PERPETRATORS OF INJUSTICE AND VIOLENCE. TURN HEARTS FROM WRONGDOING TO REPARATION AND PEACE.
Universal Prayer for Peace:
Lead us from death to life, from falsehood to truth.
Lead us from despair to hope, from fear to trust.
Lead us from hate to love, from war to peace.
Let peace fill our lives, our world, our universe.
Peace, peace, peace.