2024 AAPI Leadership Retreat

By Vinh Do | April 2024

At the AAPI Leadership Gathering in Portland, I learned a different way to think about identities and emotions that I would like to adopt in my church life and in life outside its walls. All of this, I learned from Rev. KJ Oh.

Identities: In-between 

Nature has a place where two bodies come together. It’s a phenomenon called confluence and it’s a place in Brazil where the Amazon and Rio Negre rivers meet: a darker body of water meets a sandy-colored body of water. Two rich bodies of water meet with their distinct properties to eventually become one. Scientists look at what’s underneath the waters and see numerous things happening. They have characterized these into zones: stagnation, flow detection, flow separation, maximum velocity, flow recovery, and shear layers. This phenomenon can serve as a kind metaphor for humans who have or who live with different identities—for example, those who are bi-racial or bi-cultural or those who live “in-between” spaces. The description of the zones can be descriptions of what is happening within me, I believe:  Am I on the side in stagnation zone as depicted in the schematic of confluence found on the web? Am I in the maximum velocity zone, churning in multiple realities? Am I in the recovery zone? Where am I when I feel in-between?

Emotions: Lament

Merriam-Webster dictionary on the web defines lament as an expression of sorrow, mourning, or regret that is expressed or demonstrated:  some people wail, some complain, others do this in quiet ways. It’s a kind of place people can arrive at after something negative happens to them. What I’ve come to understand is that lament has a kind of necessity, even a sacredness to it—beyond mere expression of sorrow. Lament is a way for us to allow expressions of sadness to happen:  to feel. When this can happen, what can follow is a relief, a consolation, a resolution, or something else. If I’m a person who follows God, God is in this conversation with me. Here are elements of laments I learned from Rev. KJ Oh:

Lament’s 7 parts:

  • An address to God
  • A review of God’s faithfulness in the past
  • The complaint
  • A confession of sin or of innocence
  • A request for help
  • God’s response (often not stated)
  • A vow of praise or statement of trust in God

I ask myself: What are areas in my life where I feel a need to lament?

After writing our own laments on water dissolving paper, Rev. KJ blessed the water, poured it over. We then buried our sacred tears / holy sludge.

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