Listening to Wisdom

Saturday, Feb 4th, 2012

    Two insightful persons, Dan and Sharon Buttry, are participating in our pilgrimage.  Global peace consultant with ABC (Dan) and wise pastor/community organizer (Sharon), have much wisdom to share.  Seasoned ministers and global travelers, they offer perspective on ways to enter other cultures, respectfully.

    Dan and Sharon ButtryAt breakfast this morning Sharon asked me about the students.  She wanted to know more than names; she wanted a sense of who these learners are--what are their needs and how she might be helpful.  It was my delight to tell her of the remarkable members of this create cohort. How grateful I am for her model of pastoral sensitivity and care.

    This afternoon as we gathered for further orientation, Dan prompted us to consider cultivating  curiosity about the culture we are engaging.  This requires one to quieten the heart so as to be present without imposing our presumptions.  Whereas Americans often enter another culture with bombast, he encouraged a quiet reflectiveness that allows receptivity without judgment.

    Even the ubiquitous use of cameras and iPhones may lessen our capacity to be fully present as the lens distances and objectifies persons and places.  This caution will be especially helpful as we visit a refugee camp on Monday.  Attempting to "capture" the scene may be more exploitative than we might realize.

    More wisdom was voiced by John Gravley as he reflected on Asian ways of showing honor and deference to elders.  (I really liked this since I am the elder of this band of sojourners.)  He reminded us that some of our informal ways are challenged by a culture where age commands significant respect.  Besides, in humility counting "others better than yourselves," as the Apostle Paul enjoins (Philippians 2:3b), is at the heart of our faith.

    Tomorrow we will worship at the Maitrichit Baptist Church and have opportunity to practice this wisdom.  We look forward to participating with faithful Baptists in Bangkok, whose witness spans 175 years.

    Molly T. Marshall