Outdoor Poetry School Connects Church with Community

Water motif becomes a source of inspiration, reflection, and creativity.

Outdoor Poetry School Connects Church with Community
An Adventist-sponsored outdoor poetry school in Croatia is helping participants to find inspiration and reflection as they develop literary and spiritual skills. [Photo: tedNEWS]

If ever an Adventist institution can be a shining outreach center in the community, it is a well-run Adventist school. In the heart of Croatia, 56 miles (90 km) northwest of Zagreb, the Maruševac Secondary School, with more than 200 students, creates many opportunities each year to connect with parents and community life.

“A new and innovative mission project in recent years is the annual Outdoor Poetry School,” project manager Đurđica Garvanović-Porobija said. Following its launch in 2018, the aim has been to create a festival of poetry that invites participants to research motifs from nature in biblical and other poetic texts and to write new poems about them from a contemporary point of view, seeking to profile them thoughtfully and spiritually.

For the 2023 event, held in mid-autumn, the motif was water, Garvanović-Porobija said. “We looked at it from the perspectives of precipitation, drinking water, stagnant water, and stream water.”

Poet and Literary Critic Shares the Joy of Salvation

To help stimulate the creative atmosphere, distinguished literary scientists and poets were invited to give presentations about the water motif. For example, a university professor and member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts was among those who presented. Another, a very well known poet and literary critic, spoke about drinking water and Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. His literary analysis was transformed into a sermon, and he testified that salvation and life eternal can be received only from God. This made a strong impression on those present, and everyone was encouraged, organizers said.

Garvanović-Porobija, who is the former school principal, presented on two rivers in literature — the biblical river of life at the beginning of creation (Gen. 2:10-14) and the river at the beginning of the earth’s new creation (Rev. 22:1-5). In vivid contrast, she shared a story from classical mythology and literature about the River Styx. Whereas the water motif from Scripture gives tremendous hope about the goodness of God, the Styx is to be loathed and feared — literally meaning a loathing of death and its hopelessness, she said.

Organizers shared that with minds energized and expanded, participants separated into four working groups, creating together a team poem about a particular water motif.

“We thank God for the continuing biblical impact that the Outdoor Poetry School leaves on individuals,” Garvanović-Porobija said. “As each annual event takes place, there is a growing spiritual impact. This year, some of the poets asked us to pray for them, and we are planning to stay connected through social media networks. Our aim is to build community.”

The original version of this story was posted on the Trans-European Division news site.