Is That a Giant Wall of Junk?

Only at first glance! Allow me to explain...

At The Center we believe that it’s not our job to deliver God to our partner communities for God is already present in the communities our groups might visit! Instead, it’s our job as visitors and new friends to look for and join in the joyous and creative ways the Holy Spirit is dancing.

As groups visit, a whole lot takes place. In the span of just a couple days, a visiting group member will meet many new people, make new friends, play games, share meals, travel all around Baltimore on a justice tour, play games, learn about their specific partner community, experience their mission site, attend evening programming and much more! As all of this is experienced, sacred moments abound. These sacred moments work on our hearts and sometimes they change our minds, urge us into action, or compel us to live differently.

Given how powerful that sounds, these ‘sacred moments’ must look grand and spectacular, right? Fireworks? Large, blinking neon arrows?

Sometimes! But, more often than not, these sacred moments jump out of the otherwise mundane. Sacred moments happen through conversation, when we meet people we didn’t know our hearts were missing. They happen when we listen well and encounter God in new ways. They happen amidst pain and decay when we are challenged. They happen when we dance and laugh, when we are moved to build relationships with each other by asking the hard questions.

So, for the past four months or so, Mel and I have been working with our partners and our visiting groups to create a collaborative art piece that embodies and displays some of the surprisingly sacred, often goofy, sometimes challenging ways the Holy Spirit is dancing in Baltimore. We are asking visiting members and our partners to keep an eye out for a “Sacred Object,” something they find during their time here that reminds them of their experience.

Sometimes the objects themselves, like the sacred moments I’ve described, are easy to overlook if you’re not paying close attention. So far, such beautifully sacred objects include (just to name a few) a door knob, a plastic frog, a piece of broken pottery, a drawing, and a glove. These objects have been added to their respective groups boxes and will later be added to the shelf. Once completed, this piece will be on display at General Assembly 224 in 2020 and will act much like a gigantic 8’x12’ shelf containing many shadow boxes of different sizes full of all sorts of sacred objects!  

Check out this rough sketch of what our Sacred Object Shelf will look like one day and some of the object descriptions our visitors have provided!

-Liv, Hands and Feet Fellow

A visitor’s reflection on a bent screw they found:  “While helping JC the carpenter repair some of the old raised flower beds I had to remove that screw. It took a lot of effort to get that bugger out. Afterwards, I felt attached to it. It’s been in my pocket for the last day and I keep pulling it out and trying to bend it back to being straight again. It wasn’t until tonight that I realized it was perfect the way it was. Sometimes when you walk into someone else’s community it might look crooked and bent. The instinct is to take action immediately and fix it. Before you’ve even taken time to just be with it. In time you might learn that which looks crooked or bent is beautiful just the way it is. The problem was your eyes and lack of perspective.”    A visitor’s reflection on a small, fresh cut wooden pyramid:  “I’m drawn to new things. This piece represents the construction of new plant beds and all that they will mean to the community. I had a similarly sized and shaped piece of wood in my dining room table growing up. My mom told me it was from our old house. I suppose that makes it an old thing, but this new thing reminded me so much of it. All of our work this week focused on creating room for gardens and for things to grow. This piece to me helps symbolize that transition from old to new. God, however, did not show up in the soil or wood, but in the people who were excited to have us help and appreciated our work.”

A visitor’s reflection on a bent screw they found:

“While helping JC the carpenter repair some of the old raised flower beds I had to remove that screw. It took a lot of effort to get that bugger out. Afterwards, I felt attached to it. It’s been in my pocket for the last day and I keep pulling it out and trying to bend it back to being straight again. It wasn’t until tonight that I realized it was perfect the way it was. Sometimes when you walk into someone else’s community it might look crooked and bent. The instinct is to take action immediately and fix it. Before you’ve even taken time to just be with it. In time you might learn that which looks crooked or bent is beautiful just the way it is. The problem was your eyes and lack of perspective.”

A visitor’s reflection on a small, fresh cut wooden pyramid:

“I’m drawn to new things. This piece represents the construction of new plant beds and all that they will mean to the community. I had a similarly sized and shaped piece of wood in my dining room table growing up. My mom told me it was from our old house. I suppose that makes it an old thing, but this new thing reminded me so much of it. All of our work this week focused on creating room for gardens and for things to grow. This piece to me helps symbolize that transition from old to new. God, however, did not show up in the soil or wood, but in the people who were excited to have us help and appreciated our work.”