Thinking Outside the Box
How clever of Jesus. On that mountain, when he fed the multitudes with only a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish, he managed to accomplish two things at once. In feeding the crowd, he also fed the imagination of his disciples. Can you picture them as they distributed food to that last row of five thousand people? Even better, picture them gathering up the leftovers!
Wonder. Awe. Humility. Amazement. Delight. All of which can feed the creative spirit in some way. New experiences lead to new ideas and fresh approaches. Participating in this event must have changed the way those first disciples thought about their own roles in ministry, about the possibilities which lay ahead of them.
That’s why two thirds of the parish staff, along with some others, went to Pittsburgh this past week. It is site of this year’s annual liturgical convention that draws people from all over the country. Made up of concerts and lectures and workshops given by various artists and writers, the convention offers the opportunity for people who work in parishes to learn what’s new on the liturgy front. It’s also a chance to share stories and have conversations with like-minded people about parish experiences and challenges. It’s a great way to “be fed” with new ideas—a way to broaden personal horizons and flex the creative muscles. I’m sure Eleanor and Frank will bring back with them some exciting things that we can consider implementing in our own parish. (…I am SO sure, in fact, that I’ve asked them both to write this column next week and share their thoughts with us! I called it an “opportunity”, they called it “homework”…)
Being fed with a new thought or idea, taking in a new angle or point of view, are so important to the creative life of a parish community. Another way to get the creative juices flowing is to invite others in. That’s why I was delighted to hear not only how many parish members benefited from last Saturday’s day of reflection for women, but also how many women attended from neighboring towns as well: Wilton, New Canaan, Norwalk. There was even a woman there from Canada! There’s a richness that is gained when so many different viewpoints are shared.
Being part of the experience on that mountainside certainly made an impression on the Lord’s disciples. It is the only miracle that is found in all four Gospels and acts as a reference point to everything from social concern issues in the Church to Eucharistic theology. For us, it might serve as a dramatic example of how, with the help of God’s grace, nothing is impossible if we offer whatever loaves and fishes we might have on hand, and begin to think outside the box………