Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Lenten Symbols

Last month I had a retreat with my fellow South America YAGMs. As a part of our Lenten worship one of the nights we were invited to share symbols of both brokenness and wholeness that we have experienced here. Here are some excerpts of the liturgy from that night along with the stories behind my symbols.

As we walk beside our companions, we accompany them along the Way of the Cross, where we witness the brokenness of our world. Our previous understandings of the world are often shattered and we feel like the disciples who walked away from Jerusalem after Christ’s crucifixion—sad, confused, and broken. Within this circle we now place symbols of the brokenness that we witness along this Way of the Cross, as part of our Lenten journey…

Ball & Bandaid

The kids I work with at the Hogar Amanecer have lived through kinds of pain that I can’t even imagine. Not only can they not live with their families, but their families are unable or often unwilling to take care of them.

This brokenness causes a lot of emotions: anger, sadness, distrust, rage, frustration.  Many of them don’t know how to deal with their emotions in a healthy way.

So they react in a physically or verbally violent way. Throwing a rock or a ball. Swinging a big stick. Punching, kicking, biting. Screaming every bad word they can think of at you.

Inflicting their pain on you in whatever way they can think of, literally creating more brokenness. Sometimes it can be healed with a bandaid, but more often then not it runs so much deeper then that.

Along the Way of the Cross with our companions, we also witness glimpses of your Kingdom, signs of hope, new life, and the Resurrection. Within our circle we now place symbols of this joy and wholeness, the Risen Christ whom we experience in the breaking of bread with our companions…

Camp Mail

During the summer I went to camp with the youth from the IELU (partner church) in Argentina. It was full of great activities, games, discussions and fun. But one of the highlights was the mailbox. Yes, the mailbox. It was a place where anyone could write a note and it would be read aloud to everyone during mealtime.

As the week went on the mailbox got fuller and fuller. Each day there were more letters then the day before. But nothing can compare with the last day. We got on the bus to go back to Buenos Aires and several of us thought that the leaders had forgotten about the letters. But they had just been saving the best for last.

When they opened the mailbox on that last day, it was literally exploding with notes. For most of the two hour bus ride they were reading the notes to us. But it was deeper then that. There were silly notes, sure. But there were notes saying thank you to specific people for their friendship. Notes saying how important this camp was to people, how they had been able to find desperately needed community here or been able to reconnect with God in a new way. After a particularly powerful note there would be hugs. Often we would all break out into a spontaneous chant or song about the note writer. Through it all the mate was circling throughout the bus.

There was such a strong feeling of mutual love, appreciation, and care. I remember sitting on the bus and thinking “this is what community should look like.”

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