Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Don't only water your own garden

This evening I've been interpretting for the closing ceremony of the Bossey Ecumenical Institute's graduate school. It's always a moving ceremony as the students from so many different countries of the world receive their certificates amidst friends from the local village of Céligny and from the University of Geneva.
This evening the Institute's director Father Ioan Sauca encouraged the students to be leaky watering cans, ones which water not only our own personal garden but which also water the pathways along which they go from well to garden.
[You can read one version of the story of the broken jar here. I've heard other versions told in my time but I find the image powerful and moving. Through our vulnerabilities and imperfections other people and places can nevertheless be watered and brought to full bloom - a little bit like the parable of the seed which grows and bears fruit in Mark's gospel.]
Meanwhile Professor Andreas Dettwiler from the University of Geneva theology faculty encouraged the students to listen to Origen when he said if you are on the path you are going in the right direction. Rather a lovely idea but at first I only really understood it by interpretting it into French - si vous êtes en chemin vous êtes sur la bonne voie. (And no, although it's very unprofessional of me, I haven't checked with copies of Origen's work to see what official translation in English or French might be.)
Taking the experience of living in ecumenical community back "home" is a challenge. We are caled to bear witness to our experience of Christ and to the potential for unity in Christ, to do that in a leaky way, in a way which lets seeds germinate and bear fruit and flower.