Ray and Kathleen Davey: Corrymeela
Blog about Corrymeela and its founders, Ray and Kathleen Davey
Ray and Kathleen Davey
By John Callister
When Kathleen Davey told me (when she was in her seventies and I was still in my thirties) that if she and Ray had their lives to live over again, they wouldn’t want to change a thing, I was hugely challenged by her remark. From that moment on, I knew that I wanted to ‘learn’ from them.
If Ray and Kathleen had been raised in wealth and had lived relatively trouble-free lives, those words would not have been so thought-provoking. But considering the fact that Ray had spent three years during world war two as a prisoner of war in six different prison camps in Italy and Germany, and now here they were, spending their lives as a married couple during the height of our Troubles, helping to promote peace and reconciliation. Essentially giving, giving, giving.
I was amazed at how they had adopted a philosophy for living, where they saw themselves as agents of God’s love and peace in this world – where they saw themselves as part of the answer to the problems in the world and in our troubled country. What attracted me to this couple was their obvious sense of ‘contentment and purpose’.
Ray and Kathleen appeared to see and live as part of a ‘wider picture’ in which they didn’t focus on the world as things were, but as how things could be. In the context of our Troubles in Northern Ireland, they created a beautiful microcosm of how our country could be. Where people were free to be ‘different’ yet feel accepted and respected, not threatened. They held the vision for a country of beauty, respect, love, spirituality, and above all, peace. And I knew that I wanted to ‘learn’ from this couple – to be mentored by them.
What a privilege it was for me to get to know them, to spend time with them at their home as well as at Corrymeela, as I researched and ultimately produced a TV documentary about their lives and work, “ The Path of a Peacemaker”. I have them to thank for the decision to remain in Northern Ireland at a time when I wanted to leave because of the Troubles.
I’m dedicating a blog category to expand on how their lives spoke to me, and how what I’m now doing was partly motivated by their influence.