Barbara Van Ausdall is a gifted poet, musician and songwriter. A number of her resources are in the book Gifts in Open Hands including the song “Minga” which she wrote in Ecuador with its music based on the word minga “a good work together” in Quichua, the language of one of the largest indigenous groups in the rainforest. Also included are lyrics to the song “Bring the water” in a version sung in Senegal and one sung in Ecuador. (If you would like to purchase a copy of Gifts in Open Hands, please go here.)
Today in our blog I am sharing two pieces by Barbara. Here are the lyrics to “Her Voice,” a song about the nature of being a guest in another’s country. Barbara reflects, “This song was written to share the vision of mission that recognizes that we are all human, one with the other, sharing our gifts of listening and learning as we share in the Spirit of Christ.”
I was a stranger and she welcomed me
We sat and talked that afternoon
As we shared each other’s language
We spoke beyond the words
As I listened to her voice, I heard …
“If you have come here to help me,
I don’t need help.
I do need you to understand me,
To walk with me,
to be with me…
So, if you have come
Because you know
That your freedom is linked to mine,
And we’ll work together
And you will see
That justice for me
Is justice for you.”
Because she told me she was going again to Ecuador, I asked Barbara if she would listen to voices there and try to capture the words of people who would never think about “writing” a prayer to be included in an anthology. She sent this litany of thanks which offers many voices — indeed, a Pentecost-full
A Litany for Giving Thanks
From student voices in the rainforest of Ecuador, sharing excitement about being able to go to school beyond the 6th grade because of the Yachana Colegio Technico high school founded in 2006 by the Yachana Foundation
One: Come gather as the people of God
and let us thank our God together in this holy place.
All: We gather to pray together,
conscious that we gather with others around the world to be with our common God,
united through the Holy Spirit and our love for Jesus Christ.
One: O God, help us to hear the voices of others around the world
who pray and praise and move us closer together in your name.
All: Hear our prayer, O God.
Voice 1: Thank you, Dios, for our school
where we can learn for our families and our communities.
Bless our teachers and help us to share what we learn with others
about caring for your earth and all its creatures when we are home.
(Christian, 2nd year student, age 15)
Voice 2: Thank you for the work I have here at the school.
I learn so much that I can share with my family.
Thank you that my brother has graduated
and will learn English in the United States,
then share his experiences with all of us.
(Lizbeth, volunteer from Mondaña who works in the school office, age 19)
All: Thank you, loving God.
Voice 3: Thank you for music and my love of singing.
Help me to share my songs with others.
Thank you for our work here at the school —
learning to grow our own food, making jewelry,
and learning about animals and birds and how to care for all of your creation.
Thank you for our teachers who give us helpful advice.
(Jessica, 2nd year student, age 15)
Voice 4: Thank you for helping us to find ways
to have a practical sustainable life, using the resources you provided.
(Byron, 3rd year student, age 16)
All: Thank you, loving God.
Voice 5: Thank you, O God, for my time here in Ecuador
where I am learning with people so different from me.
Help me to know the full extent of your love
beyond our boundaries of race, ethnicity, education,
social status, economic privilege and perception.
I came to teach, yet I have learned far more than I have taught,
and I thank you. (Eric, volunteer ESL teacher from the UK)
All: Thank you, loving God, for helping us to hear other voices in our prayer to you.
Grant us ears to hear daily, as we walk in your way,
serving you and serving others in your name. Amen.