Saturday, 12 January 2008

Words against woes - Mots contre Maux!

Today I had catechism again with the young people. It's very much a joint enterprise - we learn at least as much from them as we manage to teach. We looked at the problem of evil and suffering with them today. I became a storyteller and told the tale of the Magi visiting Herod the dictator - rather more briefly than in my sermon earlier in the week. Afterwards we got them to write letters of lamentation and protest either to Herod or to God ( we all found that quite therapeutic!) and then we read some passages from the book of Lamentations, from Job and from Psalm 22 "My God, my God why have you forsaken me?".
Later still we painted posters, pictures and ideas for overcoming evil. One of them painted words in the colours of the French flag calling for help to all people who are disadvantaged, others painted stars and colours of hope shining to overcome evil. I came up with "an alphabet of responsability - words against woes". It works rather better in French "Un ABCédaire de responsabilité: mots contre maux", which literally means words against evils, but the two words mots and maux are pronounced exactly the same.
What in part inspired this was being in the same room where a few days previously I had joined the newly founded local section of ACAT (Action by Christians Against Torture). Working against evil is about a spirituality of resistance, it's about plodding on, writing letters, raising awareness of the problem of prisoners of conscience, struggling against the death penalty, month after month, year after year. Doing the boring, repetitive abc work. It's also about being willing to be in a tiny, sometimes rather disorganised and unfocused minority. A spirituality of resistance is also about making do with small insignificant changes some of the time, picking oneself up and starting over when all seems lost.