Saturday, October 09, 2010

dictionary of everyday contemporary spirituality: O is for origami boats

Over last weekend I spoke to a group about hospitality and mission. I began with Brendan the Navigator and his story of Irish pilgrimage, of setting sail in response to God’s call, with 12 friends but without a rudder. It’s a powerful story of simple trust – trust in the wind (of the Spirit) to lead and guide!

Given they are all adult-learners, who learn in different ways, I then paused and invited them to engage the theme not only by ears, but also by hands. I invited them to make and to name their “mission” boat. This would involve me supplying paper and an origami pattern, and them making a boat out of origami. And as they played, to reflect upon what word or phrase might best describe their mission dreams. If you like, to christen their mission boat.

Much fun, laughter and group work began. As there should be among adult learners! We broke for a cup of tea and upon return, I invited reflection on what people might have been thinking and processing as they made their origami mission boats.

It was a great exercise, was the common response. We enjoyed the creativity.

But it got me thinking, one person commented. As I made my boat, I was so intent on following the origami pattern, so worried about getting it right. Then I remembered the story of Brendan the Navigator. That had no pattern. That had no instructions.

So I stopped.

And so I started my boat again.

I’ve thrown away the pattern and I’m just having a go. It might not work. The boat might sink. That’s the risk. But isn’t that always the risk of mission? Sometimes, don’t we need to throw away the pattern and just explore?

What a great response, I commented back. There is so much pressure to read the books, buy the programmes, keep up with the “name” church down the road. And yet so much of our mission challenge today is about simply listening to the unique work of the Spirit in us and in our communities.

(This is another entry in a dictionary of everyday spirituality. While God is everywhere, sadly sometimes Christianity reduces God to Sunday and to buildings. In honour of a God who by definition belongs in all of everyday life this blog is developping a dictionary of everyday spirituality. For an index of all the entries, go here).

Posted by steve at 10:29 AM


  1. great image for mission – made me teary eyed though – wanna come back to Chch for a repeat

    Comment by Jo Wall — October 9, 2010 @ 2:24 pm

  2. thanks Jo. Appreciate the feedback. One of the things I have been discovering/working on this year is the place of storytelling in mission and this is part of it. Did have this mad idea yesterday of coming back mid-2011 on a “stories of mission” storytelling tour,


    Comment by steve — October 9, 2010 @ 6:42 pm

  3. story telling is very interesting around chch at the moment. everyone has one but I think we find it hard to listen. it’s one good thing about the internet reaching outside chch. A city council employee encouraged me by saying it was a key to community development to be able to tell and listen to stories. I don’t think that idea is too mad – but in the mean time its great to have your thoughts on here 🙂

    Comment by Jo Wall — October 10, 2010 @ 4:10 am

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