We had both short-term and long-term goals at the start of this Sacred Canopy season with Contando Historias (see Day 1). What follows is a brief reflection on where we now stand in relation to those anticipated outcomes:
1. Our short-term goal was to stage a performing arts presentation with 30 kids from the Cuchilla del Tesoro neighbourhood telling the creation story from Genesis 1-4 using musical and cultural art forms from Chiapas (or, when necessary, generic Mexican motifs). This goal was met with success that surprised even us. As described throughout the blog we had in excess of 30 kids who worked hard on rehearsals and art projects for the 5 days of the program and then delivered solid public performances on Saturday and Sunday. The Mexican elements that we worked with – costuming, storyline, art, music, and even the ancient practise of inscribing epic stories on stelae – was met by the congregation with enthusiasm and wonder. We leave this season feeling confirmed that our work of telling biblical narrative through the unique lens of Mexican cultural traditions has strong potential to make a meaningful contribution to how the local church in Mexico views its artistic and cultural uniqueness within the context of the global community.
2. The first of our long-term goals was to nurture a stronger, local leadership base for the story guild community, Contando Historias, in Cuchilla del Tesoro. There is no question that our strongest local leaders are Reuben and Eva, the lead pastoral couple from the congregation themselves. They not only jumped into the primary roles as lead narrators but went over and above even our own expectations in their work promoting the prediction throughout the neighbourhood and in the work they put into designing the indigenous costumes for their parts. They get the vision of Sacred Canopy storytelling. The biggest challenge with them is that they are so busy at so many levels in their community that it hardly seems sustainable for them to give primary leadership to Contando Historia as well. There were half a dozen younger leaders (post-secondary) who have now been a part of both Mexican seasons and who put in long hours of work on behalf of the storytelling. None of these emerges as an obvious primary leader but over time we may continue to develop and discern this important layer of Contando Historia’s future.
3. The third goal, also long-term for this season, was to “get a feel for” the Catholic community vis-a-vie the “evangelical Christian” community in Cuchilla and to begin to consider possibilities for a joint Catholic/Protestant storytelling in the future. In general, our sense was that it is premature to move down this path. The relationship between the two communities still seems fragile given the stand-off two years ago (see Blog 5). A reconciling agenda would need to be the church’s initiative, not ours. That being said, we did have some meaningful opportunities to engage one of the local Catholic parishes as we attended the very relational morning prayers (lauds) with a group of about a dozen devout women. My hope is that we could continue to develop these type of grassroots pockets of interpersonal relationships as a means for establishing points of connection in future seasons.
It is also worth mentioning that our audience for the public presentations was a Catholic/Protestant mix and that the enthusiastic responses to the Sacred Canopy style of storytelling came from both communities (see Blog 15). The collective sense of goodness seemed affirmation enough that we are travelling down an important road. At the same time, as this season draws to a close, we recognize that the direction this road will take has yet to be fully defined.
Thank you to all of you who were part of this season and who a us through thought from afar or through rigorous hands-on in Cuchilla. Until next season, adios (“with God”).