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Trans-Europe

Outdoor Poetry School Connects Church with Maruševac Community

Annual event, organized by the local Adventist school, helps participants connect, not just literarily, but spiritually

Croatia | Đurđica Garvanović-Porobija, with tedNEWS

If ever an institution has the ability to be a shining center of influence in a community, it is a well-run Seventh-day Adventist school. In the heart of Croatia, 56 miles northwest of Zagreb, the Maruševac Adventist Secondary School (Srednja škola u Maruševcu s pravom javnosti), with over 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,” says Đurđica Garvanović-Porobija, project manager and former Maruševac School principle. Following its launch in 2018, the aim is to create a festival of poetry that invites participants to research motifs from nature in biblical and other poetic texts and 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, said Garvanović-Porobija, “and 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 convincingly, powerfully testified that salvation and eternal life can be received only from God. This made a strong impression on those present, and everyone was encouraged.

Garvanović-Porobija presented two rivers in the Bible: the one at the beginning of earth’s creation (see Genesis 2:10–14) and the one at the beginning of earth’s new creation (see Revelation 22:1–5). In vivid contrast, Garvanović-Porobija 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.”

With minds energized and expanded, participants separated into four working groups, each 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,” reflected Garvanović-Porobija. “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 website.

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