Greetings from Nanjing

December 2, 2015

by Sarah Harrington

Greetings from Nanjing, the capital of the Jiangsu province! Today, the delegation enjoyed an afternoon of sightseeing – first to the Sun Yat Sen Memorial and then to the Confucius Temple.

Each day, I am struck by the thought that goes into so many elements of the Chinese culture and infrastructure. Our guide for the afternoon Rev. SHI Li, Vice-Chairman/General Secretary of the Jiangsu TSPM & Christian Council, pointed out the trees lining the streets, which the Chinese refer to as the “French trees”. According to Rev Shi, China tries to maintain 3 branches per tree to honour Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s 3 principles of the people: Nationalism, Democracy and Livelihood.  Dr. Sun is considered instrumental in creating the vision for the modern Chinese nation,  so it was fitting that the delegation visited his memorial and mausoleum. At the Sun Yat Sen Memorial, we climbed 392 steps to the Mausoleum – representing the 392 million citizens of China at the time that it was built. After our descent, the delegation returned to the city centre to tour the Confucius Temple.

Dr. Sun Yat Sen Mausoleum.jpg
Dr. Sun Yat Sen Mausoleum – photo by Alan Lai

As our bus manoeuvred the busy city streets, I was struck by the familiar and unfamiliar: crosswalks in China look like crosswalks at home, pedestrian signals appear the same, as do traffic lights and intersections. In practice however, they are all unfamiliar. Traffic weaves in, out, around and through, seemingly in chaos. To the traveler, it is a frenzy of unorganized activity.

When using a crosswalk, the delegation places full trust in the guide, and the old adage: there is safety in numbers. Thankfully and through travelling mercies, our current number remains the same as when we embarked on our trip! We have yet to decode and familiarize the patterns within which we are navigating.

What about our own United Church pattern? Are we able to focus on the individual strands we carry with us on this delegation, and weave them together, creating a cohesive pattern to present to our Chinese brothers & sisters? If so, what will it look like when we are able to appreciate, respect and interweave one another’s patterns; recognizing windows of opportunity to intentionally create new patterns of mutual visions, grounded in deepened relationship?

With faith that God is guiding our hands as we weave our patterns, and guiding our feet to safely navigate the crosswalks, the delegation looks forward to enter our joint consultation in the morning.

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