It has been a blessing for me to meet Sarah from the Diocese of Western Massachusetts. She shares my passion for Christ and development in Africa
I want to start my blog post with a prayer. There are too many wonderfully eloquent and powerful prayers that are more than fitting for this occasion. However, I just simply want to pray: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” This prayer has been going through my mind continuously since my selection to the UNCSW, and I believe it has given me the strength to really put all of this into perspective.
I would next like to thank all of those readers of this blog post. It is only with the prayer and support that we receive from you that we are able to attend such a phenomenal event. My home parish, Holy Trinity in Gainesville, Florida, has supported me in this endeavor, and I would like give them my most heart-felt thanks.
Now onto some meatier subject matter…..
Our opening chapel service on Saturday had the theme of gathering at the well. Water is something that has a place in the symbolism of every faith community, and it was a clever way to unify the disparate faith communities present. Being the Anglo-Catholic that I am, I immediately thought about the rich Easter Vigil liturgy (all 2 ½ hours of it) and how we are reminded of water’s essential role in the history of our faith. The worship leaders invited us to visit one of the ‘wells’ in the sanctuary and to share a moment at the well with a complete stranger. I found this a bit unsettling — such an activity isn’t in the prayer book. Even my days in Vacation Bible School didn’t prepare me for such an unusual activity. I approached the well with a woman from South Africa, and the two of us held hands in the water and offered each other very natural prayers of thanksgiving and strength. Lovely, no? Thanksgiving for all of the wonderful opportunities that we’ll be greeted with this week. Strength to survive all of the wonderful opportunities that we’ll be greeted with this week. I then rinsed my hands off by sprinkling the water behind me (throwing salt over my shoulder) and hopefully any good Anglo-Catholics behind me remembered to cross themselves.
But on a more literal level, water is something whose existence (and lack thereof) is at the crux of many-a-struggle throughout the world:
A woman who sat near me from Bangladesh likely fears the encroachment of water into many low-lying and vulnerable places.
A woman who sat near me from Sierra Leone likely gives thanks to the water infrastructure that’s come about since the years of political unrest.
A woman who sat near me from Canada knows how blessed she is to have water to care for her sheep in the harsh environs of Northern Ontario.
In so many cultures of the world, women are charged with being water-providers. This water sustains the plants, animals, and families on which we all depend, and this is a central focus of this year’s UNCSW. Understanding water and its power, both literal and symbolic, is crucial to developing our planet and empowering both women and men.
I think the people who planned the worship service must have known all of this – they really are delightfully clever.
For those of you still reading, I want to again thank you. I suppose its hard to bow your head and still read, but I would like to offer this prayer: I pray our Lord Jesus Christ, whose majesty is beyond inconceivable, keeps you free from stress, sorrow, and suspicion. May you enjoy life like Christ enjoyed life. And may we all give thanks for the many water bearers in our lives. Amen.