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Living on the Ledge of Caribbean Theology

It is said that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.

Today there are many hands that are rocking the cradle of life.

As we prepare for our Caribbean Theological Conference within the next few days, let us be mindful that though we depend on social media connectivity to make this conference a vibrant, successful activity for all participants, it is our unique Caribbean spirit of blended theological reflections, that can rock our regional cradle.

Many years ago, a tiny group of passionate, zealous visionaries sought to create a platform for a distinctive approach to doing theology. A theology that flowed from the spiritual and intellectual reflections and insights gained through our multi ethnic, cultural and religious practices and customs.

Today Caribbean Theology, I believe, stands on a new threshold while adapting to the effects of a world-wide pandemic.

Talk about living and sharing our faith experiences “in faith” while we stand on our ledge of hope!

My mind is flooded with memories of several of our early conferences that occurred throughout the region – Jamaica, St. Vincent, Barbados, Guyana and right here in Trinidad. Regrettably, I missed the one in Suriname, due to family constraints – my pets who would have no pet sitters available! 😊

I recalled my first Theology Conference experience at Mt. St. Benedict. I believe that was held in the seminary.

I had received an invitation from Fr. Joe Harris, now Bishop Emeritus, to attend this conference. The theme was “The Spirit World” and I was duly mesmerised by both the topic and the various presentations.

One that comes back very vividly to me was a lecture given about the ‘Mourning Ground’ by a Baptist woman.

I will never forget that sense of wonder I had as she shared her personal experience of being on the ” Mourning Ground.” 

Another presenter that impressed me was Fr. Henry Charles who sought to explore and define the meaning of the term “Spirit World.”  I recall his use of the  term ” cosmology” in relating to what such a world could be defined as from a theological stand point.

Later, I would learn about the various funeral customs that included dancing with the coffin as the dead was taken to its final resting ground. 

Perhaps these memories returning in great clarity on the eve of All Saints and All Souls, is not merely coincidental.

After all, as we seek understanding through faith, these feast days proclaim our deep connectedness to the Spirit World and Life after life.

Indeed, I listened, I pondered and I reflected on what those lectures presented to me. Certainly, the knowledge gained was not fake news passed on from a social media site, but authentic experiences of people who were present….before you…non virtually, of course.

The Spirit World as presented through the lens of these various Caribbean lecturers was a fascinating topic. There is so much to explore in the rich heritage of the past and the generational legacy it provides for us today.

In the light of all that has unfolded in the world through the present-day pandemic, I strongly hold this view that the Spirit is within our World, sweeping us from our narrow ledges.

We are being led to plummet to new depths! 

The swirling tide may not take us where we desire to go but where we must go so that the cradle of our regional life is strengthened, sustained, nourished enhanced and unified.

Culture, economics, politics, technological advancement, social development are not merely our secular spaces. They are the varied contexts which affect and impact on human lives in phenomenal ways. 

Let us remember Haiti and stop weeping for her. She needs far more than our tears. She also needs the power of Hope.

Let us not forget St. Vincent and how life has been affected by both the volcanic eruption in the middle of a pandemic. 

We also face our collective, regional issue of Global Warming.

Climate Change is crashing on our shores and creating impending changes to life and all life forms.

As we sit on virtual shores and ledges to listen, reflect, ponder and share our insights on COVID effects and the waves they created…we welcome the Presence of the Spirit. She has already received our invitation, so it is up to us to welcome Her presence. Be aware that this Presence may shift not only our tides but tumble us off those ledges that have become our safe havens. 

The Synodal Church must never be seen as a ‘sacred haven’ for the righteous or self-righteous….only. 

It is missioned to seek out the lost, rescue the shipwrecked, welcome the prodigals, invite the secular minded and the spiritually bankrupt to enter God’s Kingdom.

We need the oxygen that Caribbean Theology may provide in these times through what we do, what we share and our willingness to be even light-hearted, (throwing a little picong from time to time) in the midst of theologising or as we say…doing theology. 

I do miss the presence of Peter Telfer but his drums will never be silenced.

 COVID can never take the sounds of those drums away from us…Never.

Don’t you agree? By Dianne Diaz