Step One: find a man with a long stick
Step two: make friends with a Coptic
Orthodox priest from Australia
Step three: get mango!
Daniel is a monk and the Coptic Church arrived in Australia by way of a handful of families escaping persecution in Egypt. Now it is 20.000 strong. Daniel's hat represents the world, and he only takes it off when he sleeps. It reminds him that in every decision he makes he must consider every point of view - he carries it with him at all times, even in the hot Jamaican sun.
Thought: could we consider the world every time we eat a mango?
Ruth is about to tell us!
Sent these photos to my family so they too can experience something of the surprising nature of this conference. The first is the entrance of the Oriental Orthodox Church members as they led evening prayer this evening. The second is the colourful and tasty tea that we shared this evening. Thought: Look out for the surprises God might serve you today!
Ruth and I went off on some different visits. As you can see I went to a pottery workshop and ended up kidnapping a baby! Fascinating work by a businessman who felt called to work in one of the toughest areas of Kingston - two murders a week and if a man lives until he is 20 he is considered old.
The investment seems to be working and there is a reduction in crime and the hold of the drugs mafia as a result .... he talked a lot about incarnational ministry as if he had invented it, and the Methodist in me wanted to say "John Wesley got that a while ago". But actually, incarnational ministry means a whole lot more if you think you could be shot any moment!
Thought: If we want to stand alongside the poor, then we have to put our bodies where our beliefs are.
A group of mice got together to decide what they were going to do about the cat that was terrorizing them and catching the baby mice and carrying them away. They all agreed that this could go on no longer and that they would have to do something to get rid of the threat. They held a council and decided that the best way to get rid of the problem was to climb onto the cat's back and to put a collar on so that the beast would be tethered and leave them in peace. They were delighted at their plan and sat down to a feast together, and after they had eaten they congratulated themselves on their scheme.
But then a mouse asked. "But which of us is going to put the collar on the cat?"
The highlight of the day has been a mango that feel down from a tree when someone hit it with a stick - the tree that is, not the mango!
We have also been admiring the exhibition of quilts that have been gathered by the WCC throughout the Decade against Violence. Ruth has lots of ideas for creative things - standby Merton Road!
Thought: Peace isn't just about the de-escalation of national warfare, but of the de-escalation of street violence and the culture of violence.
Our rooms are simple and good. There is a kitchen with no cups or kettle so just as well the Team Leader packed the Yorkshire tea and the portable kettle element (best 50p ever spent at a church jumble sale!) We have continued to meet people all day, including a lecturer in Hebrew from Brazil and a young woman from Romania who teaches alternatives to violence. Lots to think about for the Bradford work, and all kinds of wise people around
Thought: If we are to work for 'Just Peace' then we don't do it on our own.
Well, all the rendezvous happened as per plan and we boarded the plane without hitch - well, it was an hour late but in the whole scheme of the Universe that didn't matter too much. 9 hours later, when we got to the airport in Kingston we realised that half the other passengers were also going to the Conference, including the Greek Orthodox priest who had worn his enormous black hat throughout the journey! He also had someone to carry his briefcase, but when I suggested that to Ruth, she wasn't greatly thrilled.
Even at the airport we began meeting people, the Archbishop of Tanzania being our starting point, and then someone from South Africa who knew many of the contacts I had made a couple of years ago ....so we were soon getting to know people, albeit in a bit of a haze as I had not slept at all on the flight, and Ruth had only snatched a couple of hours.
Thoughts : For all the best journeys in life, choose the right companion and an all day breakfast!
A certain superiority swept across me as I stood on Matlock station, a station with but one train an hour and looking like a set from the Railway Children, and talked about my Jamaican destination in a rather too loud voice. But of course, these daily commuters to Belper could be Manager of the World Bank or head of Peak Park planning for all I know. On the London train it is much easier to access some stereotypes - all executives of course reading briefing papers and checking the stockmarket. I wonder!
I am zooming through Kettering, a place for which I have no stereotypes, but through which thousands of people like me whizz at a 160mph with just a cursory glance from the window. I guess nobody wonders in Kettering who gets propelled past their bedroom windows on a daily basis.
We pray for people who are neither here nor there
Don’t know if they are coming or going
Who have lost track of who they are
For people in transition between jobs
For people delayed
In a jam
Or up in the air
Waiting for a signature
We pray loving God, for the ebb and flow of this city
That daily journeys will be continually blessed
With humour, patience and shared humanity
Oh, and just in passing God, I pray for the people of Kettering and all those other places with blurry signs I am going too fast to read.
Police today revealed that a badly-burned body found in a Bradford park this week was a man.
Ruth and I are getting ready to go to the World Council of Churches Conference in Jamaica ... exciting or what?!
(Dog not at all impressed!)