Image Copyright Jake Lever. Find out more here.

Over the summer months we have all been challenged and moved by the mass movement of thousands fleeing from war torn countries such as Syria, Iraq, Somali, Eritrea and Libya. After years of war, people are literally getting up and walking west. Some are risking it by sea; one person interviewed said “A place on a dinghy on the sea is safer than staying in my own land”.

I happened to sign up for a quiet day during the summer Led by Chris Thorpe who works closely with the artist Jake Lever. Together they use imagery, poetry, music and words to help people connect with their inner creativity, the imagery used all day was that of journeying in boats, the ones shown in the photo.

Among the various strands of enquiry and reflection during the day we looked at questions such as: Where is your harbour? What cargo are you carrying? Where will our boat take us?

However the question that leaped out for me was – What is our most treasured cargo?

The suggestion offered by Chris was “The child within us all”

Jesus taught on the importance of being childlike to enter the kingdom of God in Matthew 19:14 – Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”

Many of us have asked ourselves what should our response be to the refugee crisis? It’s an overwhelming situation with nations struggling between political and economic arguments, with compassion and care seemingly lost in the frenzy to cope. Over the summer the battle between care and economics played out in the media until one moment that changed the focus.

Aylan Kurdi aged 3, was washed up on a beach, and the photos of him face down in the surf went viral across the world. Opinions began to change and a deeply serious situation took a new compassionate turn.

I wonder if the inner child, the precious cargo in all of us resonated with this small boy, making an overwhelming distant crisis into a personal response? The kingdom of God is in the heart of us and the image of this boy touched the hearts of many.

Our quiet day ended with us all making our own boats as part of Jakes installation project. Two thousand handmade boats will hang in Birmingham Cathedral; all gold on the outside and personally decorated on the inside. We often use the imagery of journeying to reflect the Christian faith, for those ending their journey with us here in the UK we pray that our practical love in action will reach out to our new neighbours.

Birmingham Cathedral is celebrating its 300 year anniversary in 2015 and Jakes work is being used as part of the celebrations.

See the details here.

Rev Chris Thorpe leads quiet days and retreats and is available at chris@christhorpe.org

Mo Trudel