Today is the start of the Renovaré international conference. In the following few posts I will make some observations as someone who is an outsider of sorts. Not as someone who is not sympathetic to the Renovaré cause, but as a South African visiting America, who is a participant in the international spiritual formation conversation.
Earlier today I had two very significant moments.
The first one was when I joined some friends for the worship of carrying boxes into the various locations that will be used for selling books at the convention. En-route we found ourselves in the basement of the hotel where most of the guests stay. The space down there is where the kitchens are located. It is also where the cleaning and cooking takes place, where the garbage is disposed of and from where the food and other necessities are taken into the ‘nicer’ parts of the hotel.
I got a few minutes alone in that particular space and reflected on the effect geography has on the ways in which we are formed; how are we formed in an air-conditioned hotel and how are we formed in a stinking basement?
I sometimes fear that the means with which we teach spiritual formation are forming ourselves out of the realities of spiritual formation in the grind of life.
My second experience was when we carried some books into the main auditorium where the ‘platform speakers’ will speak (the platform concept is another observation for another time). The view exiting the auditorium is one of a life-size American flag with a memorial with soldiers commemorating the Vietnam and Korean war. How do Americans view these symbols, and the internationals? What effect does this image have on our formation?
The statues in front of the building show soldiers with their guns, poised for an attack. They are symbols confronting one with the imaginations we are forming and the stories which influences our view of the world.
These two geographies and the soldier statue lead us into a particular story. They populate our imaginations.