This weekend I have been blessed by attending two events. The first was Saturday evening. I traveled to St. David's, Shelton to attend their special meal entitled Harambee! This is a Kenyan word, and a movement in Kenya, the word means basically "to pull together" Kenyans, Moses and Lois, and South African Jonathan cooked and taught us in what this means. Harambee events were designed to be the spark that would spread. The gift of meal and the spirit of sharing and pulling together toward a common goal was supposed to spread from town to town, county to county, country to country. The meal was made with great care, and shared with members of St. David's and with many from the community of Shelton. As the smoke from the grill filled the town, people came walking by, and walking in. The food is why they came, but the fellowship and the sharing is what filled them, and me, as I left.
This evening I had the great blessing of attending the Kairos Closing at the prison in Monroe. About 100 people, some from "inside", some from "outside" joined in the faithful band there to welcome the 38 candidates who have been in retreat since Thursday. I was blessed to be in that band. I am always amazed by the gratitude and the faith of those on the "inside." I have said before that often, in prison, when in the prayers of the people, we get to the place for thanksgivings and blessings, the audible prayers are endless. When the same place is encountered in our churches, there is often a deafening silence. And, it always makes me wonder who is in prison? Our prisons surely are not simply made of walls and bars, but also the barriers we put up in our hearts and minds. One thing the prisoners say draws them to Kairos weekends is the food but they say what I say above about Harambee as well, that although that drew them in, and they are thankful for it, they leave the weekend with a fullness made of something other than food, a fullness that is more enduring, for many even life changing. I am always so inspired by their boundless honesty in their witness, the "open mike" time they get to share. Here some said simply, I am not sure I believe in Christianity yet, but I sure do believe in all of you, and the love you have shared with me. I am moved by this because often I see the opposite in our churches, where we are sometimes more inclined to eat our young, or shoot our wounded when they suggest anything outside the approved response.
As one candidate said, as he looked at the other 37 who had been through this weekend with him, pointing out to the "yard", 'when you see me out there, be there for me, build me up, remind me of what it was like in here, and I will do the same for you.' It reminded me that we should all be about that, out in the "world" too.
This was a good, full, rich weekend. I am going on retreat this week, a much needed one, and I could not be more thankful for these two events as precursors to my time of prayer, reminding me that freedom and captivity are real, but they are also not as simple and clear as we might think; that the most isolated and restrained individual, can be as free as any freedom we know, and the most unrestricted individual, can live in total captivity. With God, we can defy the gravity of our minds , live beyond all barriers, and be "full."