We live in a lovely village. Nestled in the Bandon river valley between Kinsale and Bandon we are the only village on the main route from Cork City to West Cork which does not have a bypass, due to the river. You have to slow down. When you get through you are rewarded with beautiful views of the river and thousands of trees which line the route.
This is a place of prayer. Its tradition is Christian, though there are a very few people of other faiths here too. Our prayer can be found in our greetings and farewells; in our churches; in the hearts of women out for their walks along the hedgerows; in our schools and homes; with children at bedtime; at Station Masses and funerals; in sickness, on farms and at exam time. It is part of our goodness. It is part of sharing life with one another and belongs to all of us. It runs through us like the river.
Like the river it did not begin with us and does not end with us. It extends with the journeys of emigrants and travellers. A candle lit on a windowsill here prays in Sydney, Paris, Capetown or Quebec. Healing words breathed on a misty morning bringing in the cows are carried on the Texan heat to a grandchild’s hospital room. We are no strangers to the global Church.
Here, on the side of the valley, I followed the World Council of Churches conference on mission and evangelism in Arusha, Tanzania. Thanks to the tweeters I could see a beautiful landscape with exotic birds, lush plants, purple flowers and avocado trees. I watched as colleagues arrived from all over the world and greeted one another. I saw colourful and passionate worship and read about ideas, challenges and mission. Themes like transformation, moving in the Spirit, justice and mentoring, and images of the planting of trees and the sharing of peace found their way into my prayer and my days in this valley. The cultures and colours of Arusha drew me into a deeper connection with the prophetic global Church.
This morning, as the light begins to look like spring in Ireland, and as St Patrick’s day comes, I am re-reading the Arusha ‘Call to Discipleship.’ From the particularity of African contexts it laments economic injustice, violence, climate change and the idolisation of the market. It remembers our call to discipleship and theosis and to proclamation of the Gospel in service of those on the margins. It calls for transforming discipleship realised in prayerful obedience to the Spirit. This is a global call for all disciples in all countries. It can be heard and heeded here.
Here’s a link to the ‘Call to Discipleship,’ Arusha, March 2018.