Atrium: A Day in the Life
Well, it was bound to happen. With all apologies to Sofia Cavaletti (founder of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd) and the many wonderful folks who have led me in this work, I went rogue yesterday in Atrium 3. I felt a nudge, an urge, a compelling need to do something, so I did.
It started on Friday. When I picked Bradly up at my parents' house, he had been watching the news, and was upset and dazed by what he saw. We talked about it on the way home, trying to make any sense out of it. Then Saturday, Mary was upset over some posts on her Facebook feed that were very antiMuslim - with friends at school who are Muslim, she felt compelled to speak out. So the need grew in me as the weekend unfolded, and an idea grew along side it. Where better to unpack the sorrow and disbelief we were feeling than in the sanctuary of our atrium? Where better to bring our questions, our fears, our confusion? It didn't take me long to discover that, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit (and a little help from my iPhone), everything we needed was there.
It's really not outside the scope of what we do in level 3 - as a part of the Plan of God study, we do a presentation called the People and the Peoples of God. In it, we look at the similarities the three monotheistic religions share - the Jews, the Muslims, and the Christians. So what was building in my mind and heart wasn't that unusual a discussion for us. The other reason this seemed the thing to do was this - in training, we are told that our atrium needs to be responsive to the lives of the children in our community. When a significant event occurs, you toss what you may have had on the calendar out the window, and speak to the need at hand. So I did.
We started with a brief recounting of the violence of the last few days, letting the kids lead the way with what they had heard and filling in details or answering questions as needed. I then asked if any of them knew the religious affiliation of those who had claimed responsibility. After a few guesses, they hit on Muslim. I explained that the people who orchestrated these horrible acts in Paris and Beirut believed that they were acting on God's instructions, at which they were all astounded and horrified.
We moved on to remember our study of Moses, and read Joshua 1:1-4 where, after Moses' death, God reminds Joshua of the land he has promised the Israelites after their years of wandering. Then just a few pages later, we read how Joshua acted on that promise - the account of the battle of Jericho. The trumpets blew, the walls came down, and not one living thing was left standing. Not one. We pondered, could Joshua, a faithful Jew, have maybe misinterpreted what God wanted him to do to gain the promised land?
We then went on to read about peace - one verse from Psalms, one verse from the Quaran (which we have in our atrium), and Jesus' words "blessed are the peacemakers." We talked about our one God, who we know by different names - father, Yahweh, Allah - but known to all as a God of love. Three religions, three books to guide us, one God of love to help us figure this out.
In a special twist, we read one of my favorite passages from C.S. Lewis' The Last Battle, the last in the Narnia series. In the passage, Aslan greets one of the enemy soldiers after the battle is done, and greets him as a faithful servant. The soldier is genuinely confused, believing that he has served Tash (the ememy god) all of his life, and should be rejected by Alsan. Alsan explains, all service he has given that is good, was given to Aslan, even though the soldier thought he was doing if for Tash. No evil can be done in the name of Alsan, and no good in the name of Tash. So, since the soldier had lived a life of truth and justice, he had lived it for Alsan, despite not knowing his name.
To wrap things up, we read one of the last pages of the Plan of God book -
"All war, every act of ill will towards each other, every lack of love is against the Plan of God. Every effort that strives toward union, every action that seeks to create peace, every work of love is a 'yes' for the Plan of God and prepares for "Parousia" - the time in which "God will be all in all." We talked about how we can respond to these things, how we can support those around us at this time. And one more common thing these three religions share - they are all made up of people, people who sometimes get it wrong. We pondered, how would we feel if something like this had been done in the name of Christianity? How might our Muslim neighbors be feeling right now?
Our closing prayer time was amazing - children's voices lifted up in support of the families of the victims, thanksgiving for the example of love Jesus has shown us, thanksgiving for our church community who also helps us hear the voice of God.
So, that's what happened Sunday. A day in the life of the atrium. I am filled with gratitude at the gift the time we spend on Sundays is for my life, and hope that it is for our children. Thanks be to God.