“Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark.”
Caribbean women are survivors. They are not afraid of the dark. They wait in the dark on so many occasions, fearful, like Mary of Magdala, but hopeful.
Our nation is in many ways in the dark and waiting for “midwives” to bring us to life, to new birth. We see many institutions in our country facing collapse, but the Easter message of hope tells us it can be better.
Many have been asking God to “put ah hand”. The question is how do we interpret “put ah hand”? Our tradition tells us that grace is never pure grace; only God is pure grace. We experience God as mediated grace – grace that is experienced through us that impels us to act.
The violence we see in many of our secondary schools is but a sign of the failure to act. Children are violent because they are traumatised and this trauma, if not addressed, will escalate into more violence when young men in particular join gangs to secure self-esteem and have their daily needs met.
The trauma is due to what they experience in daily life – a struggle for survival, the need for basic amenities, poor family life, food, education, community infrastructure and spiritual guidance.
Many have quoted the dictum: “God helps those who help themselves”, claiming it’s there in the Bible. But look as you may, you will not see it.
It is truer of biblical wisdom that God helps those who are incapable of helping themselves. Jesus helped those who could not help themselves – the paralytic, the daughter of Jairus, the epileptic demonic etc. – and we must too.
Traumatised young people feel as if there is a big stone in front of their future, in front of their becoming all they can be. They need to get that trauma out by talking about it, but also processing it through ritual.
We have read in the dailies, and also mentioned by Archbishop Jason Gordon, that panyards do exactly that.
The panyard is a life-giving ecosystem that gives hope to the young. There, they encounter other young people, make friends, share stories, have some of their daily needs met, and get the trauma out through the ritual of pan playing which gets to their very soul.
This too is mission. The panyard is a kind of church, a mission space where evangelisation is taking place.
There was another sign of hope last month where, through the assistance of the Inter Religious Organisation (IRO) of Trinidad and Tobago, there was the blessing of social workers for schools.
We need to graduate and employ many more social workers. We also need the private sector to invest more heavily in youth development, to help remove fear and trauma from the lives of the young.
All parishes need to prepare small evangelising units, properly trained and founded on prayer, to go out and meet those on the periphery. One non-practising parishioner in a bar in St Joseph remarked to clergy: “We did not leave the Church; the Church left us.” The only way to cure this is by going out.
As Mary Magdalene went in search of Jesus, conscious of her fear, let us conquer our own fear by going out and being a presence of hope for the people the Church left behind.