Thursday, June 18, 2015

Our Reconciling Commitment

In a workshop this past Saturday, the 13th of June, in the city of Bucaramanga, as we talked about the role of the church in working toward reconciliation, we were all grateful for the humbling presence of children. Two thirteen year boys and a ten year old girl participated, actively and profoundly, in our conversations.

The conversations started with everyone sharing how they define the term reconciliation, how they understand what the word means. Lizeth Toloza, the ten year old girl, offered her definition early on. She explained that she understood reconciliation as a process, not as an event, that we must always be working towards to build it or to safe-keep it; that this process of reconciliation is very fragile and is in need of constant upkeep.

Lizeth Toloza (10 years old) sharing her understanding of what reconciliation is. (photo by Jenny Neme)
This set the stage for how our group would continue to discuss the concept of reconciliation; looking towards those processes that the church can support or initiate. Continuing with the active and deep participation of these children, their perspectives along with their “beyond their years” wisdom became integral to the entire workshop.
Lorena Lemus (speaking, 17 years old), and Samuel Romero (placing his paper on the board, 13 years old) explaining what we can learn about reconciliation from the story of Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25-33). (photo by Jenny Neme)
Anyellot Aparicio and Jose Antonio acting out the parts of peace and forgiveness, as components of reconciliation. (photo by Curtis Kline)
These inter-generational activities and conversations held throughout the workshop dealt with processes of reconciliation at levels from the personal to the church, and from the community to the nation. The participants brainstormed the creative and the practical and even dreamt of the seemingly impossible ways to defend, promote and respect the reconciling work of the church in the world.

Emperatriz Carujal explaining her thoughts on how to get involved in processes of reconciliation. On the board behind her are columns of: personal, family, church, community and nation, as levels of reconciliation. The many pages under each column showcase the creativity and commitment of the group, as well as the deep desire to work towards reconciliation in a country that has experienced more than 50 years of armed conflict. (photo by Jenny Neme) 
I look forward to continue these workshops about reconciliation. There remain two more planned for this year, one in Paz de Ariporo and the other in Sogamoso. We have already completed two, one in Bogota and this one in Bucaramanga. They have been inspirational and encouraging.