Sunday, April 28, 2013

Blogging as bridge-building

About 9:30 last night this blog, Hermano Juancito, received its 50,000th hit since June 2008. (I think I had about 12,000 before that.)

I began blogging in June 2006,  a year before coming here to Honduras as a way to share my experience here as a lay missionary in the diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán. I thought it important to share my life, especially with those who were supporting me – especially the parish of St. Thomas Aquinas in Ames.

The blog received a sudden influx of hits in June 2009 after the coup here in Honduras as I began to share my experience living under a coup and sharing here and in another blog what church people were saying in translation.

Last month, I began to reflect on Pope Francis. At one point I decided to translate an article of Jon Sobrino on Pope Francis. It attracted a lot of hits. What a surprise for me. (And also a warning: don't write so that you get more hits than other people. Write because it moves you in the depths of your being.)

In Hermano Juancito, I try to share what I experience and my reflections. I do some analysis and criticism, but I have tried to keep it grounded in daily life here. I have tried not to pontificate nor to bring in too much ideological analysis – though my positions should be fairly clear to those who read me. It is important that I start from my experience and the experience of the people I serve with.

In February 2011, after a friend asked me where to find a blog for daily devotionals, I began a different type of blog: “Walk the Way: Reflections on events and witnesses of faith and justice.”   For years I have been keeping a calendar with dates of important justice events as well as the birth and death anniversaries of saints and heroes, together with quotes from them. I had also edited a Lenten prayer and reflection booklet for St. Thomas for several years while I was a campus minister there. I decided that it would be good to share these to a wider audience.  I have also included in this blog some reflections on the daily lectionary readings.

Writing a blog is not easy, but it has been an important discipline for me, a way I reflect on my life as well as share my thoughts and prayers with others.

I also see it as part of my mission. I am here not only to serve the people here, but also I see my ministry as a work of bridging – providing access to the world here to people in other parts of the world, sharing the lives of my heroes and my reflections on scripture with people who may or may not know me.

A few years ago a spiritual director noted that in many ways my ministry in campus ministry and social ministry in Ames, Iowa was bridge-building, trying to make connections and help people meet each other and share their thoughts.

I think that now, more than ever, a part of my ministry is building bridges and writing blogs is one way I can do this.

I pray that I can continue to do this and do it with integrity.

I also pray that I may know when I should refrain from writing about someone or something.

I also pray that I continue to have the courage to speak boldly, but lovingly, when I see something differently. At times I was reluctant to write something publicly, like my Prayer for Osama Bin Laden or my reflection of the killings at the Boston Marathon.

And so today I offer this prayer for bloggers

Lord Jesus,
as I blog today,
may my heart be compassionate,
my vision clear,
my words true,
my thoughts without anger.
May I help others see not me,
but the reality of the world,
especially the reality of the poor and marginalized.
May my thoughts lead people to see You,
a merciful, all-embracing God;
you have bridged the gap
between ourselves and God.
Let my blogs build bridges – not walls,
reconcile people and not alienate them.
And let my words bring light into the darkness
of a world beset by war, violence, hunger, injustice.
May they be words of hope
so that all of us may begin to experience life
as a gift to be lived in love.
May You shine through my blog
and may my words share love
and inspire hope.

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