St Wilfrid's, Preston
Lenten journey with refugees
In the weeks leading up to Lent, an idea emerged out of the parish Faith & Justice group to try and connect creatively with both the refugee situation and the imminent liturgical journey through Lent and Easter.
A small group of us met and an idea emerged of using one of the church’s side chapels to host a scene that would gradually develop and evolve in keeping with the themes of Lent and Easter. Ignatius encourages us to use our imaginations to make the gospel story ever more present to us, and therefore to allow God to speak to us in our own lives. The scene was to be an invitation to all who saw it to contemplate, prayerfully and personally, the realities of our world and Christ’s place within it.
The first scene we created represented a desert with a dry river bed whose dried up source could be found at the foot of a wooden cross. We printed and cut out of card, human silhouettes, and placed them in a box at the side of the chapel scene, inviting people to write a personal prayer on them and to then place them in the sand that formed the course of the dry river bed, looking towards the cross. The desert scene also included a scattering of a child’s sandal, a dummy, a discarded teddy bear and a foil thermal blanket. These were to draw attention to the plight of refugees who had endured the hardship of the desert in their flight from trouble in search of a better life.
Over the weeks of Lent it was incredibly moving to see the number of figures that were added to the scene each day scribed with touching and personal prayers of intercession.
As Lent drew to a close and we entered into the Easter Triduum, the desert scene evolved into a one representing the Garden of Gethsemane; the sand became soil and the desert cacti became verdant grass and foliage.
The final stage of the evolution of the scene was the bursting into to life of the Easter garden with the once bare cross now surrounded by colourful flowers, complete with a resident Easter Bunny, while the once dry river bed now became a symbolic flowing river that had its source at the foot of the cross now draped with the white cloth of the Resurrection.
The experience of the whole journey was a source of inspiration and a focus of appreciation, not just for those who contributed so much to the development of the evolving scenes, or the other parishioners of St. Wilfrid’s, but also the many random daily visitors to our beautiful city centre church who visit us for moments of tranquillity and prayer. Each prayer that was offered was someone’s way of engaging personally with the world around them and with Christ’s story – an array of imaginative contemplations in the heart of Preston.
Pray with us imaginatively
Try these audio Stations of the Cross produced by Pray as you go, to help you imaginatively reflect and pray these traditional devotions.
Can't see the playlist above? Find the Stations of the cros on the Pray as you go website too.