Carnival Testimony

Sarah Thompson was part of our powerhouse Carnival team. Now, she has taken the position as director of Christian Peacemaker Teams, a radical and faithful group of folks doing non-violent resistance and solidarity work in active conflict zones. Here is some of her experience of the Carnival…

“As a theologian and scholar-activist, I loved sharing circus theology and inviting the curious and the apathetic, the annoyed and the skeptic, into our whirling-twirling experiment of life together under the shelter of God’s big tent. I reveled for the month in the space; a space that by God’s grace and Earth’s sustenance held all manner of creatures, odd connections, swirling energies, and hard questions.  Even though we as individuals did not have the answers to many of the questions that arose from our troupe and the local audience-participants, we COULD gain collective wisdom or flashes of insight by putting them into holy PLAY and embodied conversation through the performance of old stories and the community practices of returning to ancient pathways.

The organizers had great ideas and powerful convictions. The group benefited from their expert facilitation and passion for being invitational rather than coercive. I was clear that the Carnival de Resistance in Virginia was what we later dubbed a ‘white folks recovery project’, and that clarified my expectations. I was able to bring my experience as a traveled young woman of color to bear, and the space that was created for mourning loss of indigeneity and dignity was wide enough that I could also participate in my personal process of grief and reconnection.  The organizers endeavored to make our art together on stage and off stage both clear and flexible. I felt I knew what my various tasks/roles/foci in community life and performances were; I felt very appreciated; and I knew that I was balancing what I was doing there with the demands of simultaneous outreach work for Christian Peacemaker Teams…one of the sponsors of the Carnival de Resistance. In the hospitable and watching land of the Sinibo (Harrisonburg) an the Monacan (Charlottesville) I got to preach, perform, consult, play, laugh, learn, compost everything, re-wild, sing. This is a month I will never forget for the rest of my life.”