I took this title to describe a course in which I participated in January 2012 at St. Joseph’s Baulkham Hill . I think it is the best explanation of what the course was about. The title is also taken from The Prophetic dialogue, reflection on Christian Mission Today by Stephen B. Bevan & Roger P. Schroeder.
The Cross Cultural Summer School was prepared for those who are called to live and minister in different culture settings from their own. To live in a different country or to minister across cultures is like entering someone else’s garden. This course helped me to open my eyes more widely to see myself, the richness of my own culture and the richness of cultures around me. I would like to share some thoughts that are important to me and share my own story.
When I first came to Australia everything looked different. It doesn’t mean bad or better but simply different and I was unfamiliar of many things. It took a while until I could confidently walk through the “new garden”which included a new country, language, community, life style and make it as a part of my life. I know that in the beginning I created some distance towards many things that I was not familiar with because of my lack of knowledge about them. It raised many misunderstandings and sometimes some unnecessary judgements. I needed some time to look at them closer. I needed a time of transition and help of my friends to realize that these “new flowers and plants in the new garden are beautiful and special. They are all important and everything had its own place. What is more important, I could enrich this new garden with all that I brought from my own culture! My own culture and my roots are the treasures which I needed to keep in my heart and give the opportunity for others to be endowed and enriched with them.
I think the most significant message of the course was that we need to keep our culture as a treasure to enrich each other instead of forcing ourselves or others to be who we are not. It is important to create a balance between our own culture and a new culture where we live. The balance should be full of respect, acceptance, dialogue and appreciation.
Bevans and Schroeder(2011, p. 86) quotes Abruckle in their book I mentioned in the beginning:
Gerald Abruckle describes the process of interaction between people of different culture: (1) fascination with enjoyment of cultural differences; (2) disillusionment and tension due to the difficulties of communication and interaction; and (3) movement to overcome these difficulties to reach real dialogue and mutual interaction. (Arbuckle, 1995, p. 330)
The process of enculturation is not easy but possible. It is a challenge which is worth our struggle.
There are so many things to share but maybe, it is the moment to stop writing and leave you to give a space to think about it. I hope that this little can help each of us to think and discover more than was said. I would like to recommend to everyone to watch the movie “Necessities of Life”. It is a very touching story and it shows how sometimes it is so hard to find yourself in someone else’s garden.
I would like to finish with the words of Blessed John Paul II that he addressed to the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders in 1986. This message was said in a different context, but I really like it. For me this reflection is a beautiful prayer and a great encouragement for everyone who started living in the “new garden”. Although all fears and doubts exist, there is the opportunity to rebirth. There is the opportunity to find one’s own place and a way to live with others.
Abruckle, G. (1995). Multiculturalism, Interlationality, and Religious Life. Review for Religious 54(3). In BevansS.B.& R.P.Schroeder,R.P. (2011), Prophetic Dialouge. Reflections on Christian Mission Tooday.Orbis Book.
BevansS.B.& R.P.Schroeder,R.P. (2011). Prophetic Dialouge. Reflections on Christian Mission Tooday. Orbis Book.
J. P. II. (1986). Address of John Paul II to the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders in Blatherskite Park. Retrieved February 18, 2012, from http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/speeches/