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Ministry Spotlights
May 9, 2024

Owen Project Computer Ministry Update

Wordsworth writes that, "The world is too much with us; late and soon, getting and spending, we lay waste our powers: little we see in nature that is ours; we have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!" and sometimes an experience, a person, an idea, a landscape is so overwhelming that we are silenced. All cliches fall away as well as the urge to take a picture or text an emoji. This humbling can be transformative.

It seems appropriate during Holy Week to think about what cannot be spoken but that can somehow be experienced. Could Lent be a season to leave off getting and spending and to take back our hearts? Perhaps this desire was part of the motivation for a few St. Andrew's, Seguin, parishioners who visited the Navajo Reservation during spring break.

This was the third visit of the Owen Project to Navajoland, now the official focus of the project formerly centered in Honduras and Guatemala. The small intrepid group comprising Sally and Mark Keddal, along with Father Stephen, Abigail and James Shortess of St. Andrew’s, visited the three regions of the Episcopal Church in Navajoland in New Mexico, Arizona and Utah and added 31 new HP Chromebooks to those brought earlier.

The principal logistical challenge remains physical isolation and lack of Wi-Fi infrastructure. This is being addressed through Starlink Wi-Fi hotspots that connect to satellites in earth orbit that are accessible almost anywhere on the planet. We saw these devices in action in a particularly remote and wonderfully-named church, St. Mary's of the Moonlight, near Monument Valley in Arizona. The signal was instantaneous and powerful. The world had been brought to St. Mary's without ugly transformers or power lines. These invisible connections, vast and mysterious, seemed to reflect the landscape - itself equally vast and mysterious.

If we had witnessed a technological miracle, this too was matched by our welcome at the churches in the various regions. The entire Four Corners area is haunted by history, a quite dark and distressing history that can be read on the faces of the people who live there. The challenge of reconciliation and redemption are palpable here, the moral challenge just as clear as in Honduras or Guatemala.

Each time we have returned the anger and suspicions of this burdensome history have been lifted. With a remarkable generosity of spirit, we have been welcomed as fellow human beings, as fellow Episcopalians. A key theme of the Legacy Campaign has been the beauty of a shared future. This is exactly what we experienced in Navajoland- the beautiful dream of a shared future.

A final word about the landscape there. Remembering that Christ went into a desert wilderness to find truth, I wonder if the spell cast by these incredible rock formations and open skies is not somehow spiritual in nature. In St. Paul's Letter to the Philippians, he writes, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who.....emptied himself, taking the form of a servant..... humbled himself and became

obedient...” Is there a paradox here that emptiness can somehow be full? This is a paradox in the landscape there as well- physically empty but spiritually full. In addition to the sadness mentioned before written on the faces of those sharing a painful history history, there is also some mark, some influence of being surrounded by overwhelming and austere beauty. They call it Hozho.

Respectfully submitted,

Mark Keddal

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