Posted by: riverchilde | August 26, 2011

Watery prayers

The faces of my young charges at Camp Noah in north Minneapolis keep flashing through my head. Like Mrs. Weasley sobbing over the boggart impersonating her murdered family members, I try to keep from imagining them someday sharing the fates of their barely-teenaged neighbors who were gunned down this week.

Despite how challenging the campers’ behavior was during our week together, so many of them nestled deep into my heart. Our one-on-one moments taught me so much about love, and the entire week was a lesson in the importance of curriculum contextualized to the needs of a particular group. I want so much to do it again, differently, with words and activities that would speak to all the traumas of their lives, not just those engendered by the tornado in June.

Today I recall a conversation I had with the sixth-graders, about how God so desperately loved the world that he sent Noah’s flood to wash it clean. I asked them to imagine with me a world where children were not cherished, but hurt and killed; where neighbors fought and murdered each other over food; where every behavior was contrary to the ways in which God intended his people to live. One girl muttered: “Sounds like the ‘hood.” My heart broke as I realized that my imaginings were perilously close to their reality. And yet that was our opening to God’s Word. Later, as we wrote down what our hopes and dreams were for the world, another girl suggested this: “That God would wash away all the badness in the ‘hood–but not with a flood.” While I did reiterate our statements from earlier in the week that the North Side tornado was not due to God’s wrath, I wish I could say that I also told them about the blood of the Lamb that washes away the sins of the world. It was only when I shared the kids’ words with my daughter that the connection between the two biblical stories struck me. 

For now, all I can do is pray with the people of the North Side for the violence to end. And hope that my young acquaintances remember our words and join their prayers with mine: Dear God, wash away all the bad stuff in the ‘hood.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.


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