Augustine United Church Away Day, 27 August 2016
Pick two cards that represent your own current belonging and contribution to the AUC family. Pick two cards that represent your aspirations for your own belonging and contribution to the AUC family.
These tasks are often the kind that I hate doing. I don’t like having to define who I am. I don’t like having to choose just two things from a huge list. I don’t like having to share these things with other people. However, today, this was different.
Today I saw love, compassion, heartache, fun, empathy, solidarity, care, joy, respect, sympathy, openness, warmth, pain… I saw a rainbow of emotions from a diverse group of people.
When the space is safe, tasks like these become more comfortable. When everyone is open and respectful, it is easier to share and participate. When the air is clear, and ears and hearts are open, it is easier to be yourself. When love is held at the heart of what you are doing, you can’t help but love back. As our wonderful facilitator said early in the day, “when you bring the holy spirit in to your planning, there is no box”. When there are no boxes, there are no sharp edges, there are no barriers, we can be more open.
So, why do I say this? Because to me this all added to the importance of today, as a whole body of people walking with God, and as individuals walking with God and each other. Because without all of this, it would have been easy to put up a barrier of self-protection and not talk about the unknown aspects of life. Because love is important, and so often we stumble at truly living it out, and when it works so beautifully I can’t help but remark on it.
So, what cards did I choose?
Current belonging and contribution
A camera — AUC is so important to me, and has been now for over four years, and I can’t help the fact that I want to share that with the outside world. By picking this card I am not saying that I am a photographer for AUC, but that I am someone who tries to capture even some of what AUC is to share with others outside of the four walls. And not only that, but I try to capture some of what it is to be an inclusive church, to be a Christian in this world who accepts everyone for who they are, to be a member of a congregation that sees the uniqueness in everyone, to be a light in a world of darkness — all by just living my life and sharing about this place, these people, the accepting loving God that so often isn’t shared. This is especially true in LGBT circles where so many have been hurt or understand the church as a painful place for them where they are not accepted. They are accepted, and they need to know that, by Christians just living their lives and loving them where they are.
Warm — This is not that I think I am always a warm person, because I am sure I am not! But what the word made me think of at the time was that I won’t do something just because it needs to be done, I will do something because my heart is in it or says it is right for me to do it. I could try to explain this more, but I am not sure this is the important part of what I want to say today, so I won’t!
Aspirations about belonging and contribution
Mountains and valley — This is where life began to get a little trickier today, and where the previous things I have said hold their importance. Out with the safe space, I wouldn’t have been able to share my thoughts about this so openly. So, what were my thoughts? Well, the picture of the mountains and valley jumped at me straight away when I thought about what was next, for me within AUC, within this community. The path winding through the middle currently has me walking on it, and I am not sure when I will reach the tipping point when I cross to the other side. I am unsure of when I will be getting my visa, when I will be moving, when I will be saying my ‘see you laters’ to those around me in this community. I am also not sure after that point when I will next be on that path again, saying my ‘hellos’ again and journeying even briefly with AUC again. And so to look ahead and aspire to be part of AUC in any particular way is difficult, and it will depend on how long that path is, how smooth it is, how steep the climb is. There is nothing I can do about this but to keep walking it and knowing that I have the people around me and the faith with me to take the journey step by step.
Creative — And this is where the word ‘creative’ comes in, as I know I need to be creative in my ways of being involved with AUC for the coming weeks and months, and even more importantly after I complete this part of the path and set on my way to the other side of the pond. I wonder how I will stay in touch with not only the individual people but the community of AUC. It is unique and important and I would never want to lose or replace that in my life. And so I need to work out how to creatively feel that my heart still belongs here, whilst also settling in to a new church, a new community, a new daily way of life and having my heart belong there also.
If life on Iona taught me one thing, it would be that it is entirely possible for your heart to have more than one home — spiritual home, family home, physical home. Today I have been reminded of how important it is that on this journey it is ok to be unsure of the unknowns, whilst sitting in the comfort that my heart will always be at home here, and it will also find other homes to add to the list. Home is where the heart is, after all.
Sizohamba Naye – We will walk with God
Ngomhla wenjabula – We will go rejoicing
Thank you AUC for walking with me and rejoicing with me, until the Kingdom comes.