A Peaceful El Papa

He’s a man of his generation to be sure. And there are a lot of things about him that I could wish he was budging on, and yet, and yet.

He’s papal, this pope, or so it seems from here.

He cares about the people. He cares about the land. He takes the notion of a Creator and a Creation seriously.

It’s time that Christianity had Wisdom at its head. And he’s leading, make no mistake. But he seems to laugh and notice that people are alive. There’s that wonderful picture of him laughing with one of his guardsmen. And now this one of him laughing with Obama.

But for all the joy and laughter there is the insistence on the poor and their needs. He sees the world. May he call more of us to account. It’s time. It’s time.

I’m not Christian, but those are my roots, although I was never Catholic. But a good man is a good man and it seems that Pope Francis is that most elusive of things. Peace be with him. Peace be with us all.


Peace Day is Every Day

Yesterday was International Peace Day. It is widely celebrated in much of the world, yet barely rates a mention here in the US.

Here’s The UN Call for Peace. The slogan for the year, this wildly warring year, is “Partnerships for Peace — Dignity for All.”

And of course the dances of peace and the celebrations are held on the 21st. But the question of questions is what are we doing today and all the rest of the days of the year to promote Peace. Here’s what a young high-school friend of mine, Reese, already a strong advocate for Peace wrote yesterday:

“On the 25th of September at the United Nations, 193 world leaders will adopt the Global Goals. They’re a series of 17 ambitious goals to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change for everyone by 2030. The campaign aims to make the goals famous and push for their full implementation. If the goals become famous, and if people really care about what has been promised by politicians, then it gives them a much greater chance of being put into action. So today, on International Day of Peace, along with the UN and many others, I would really like you all to help make the goals famous and ensure they become a reality. Out of the 17 goals, pick the one that means the most to you and share it with everyone! I chose 2: Zero Hunger. This is how I’m sharing, what are you doing? Here’s a link to the 17 goals!”

In my life, right now, I’m working on ending hunger, gender equality, and reduced inequalities… What are you working on? I’m working locally because I’ve found that’s where I’m most effective. I’m pairing with people and groups like ThinkPeace Workshop for Girls, which has inspired young Reese, because they’re working and thinking globally as well and with Undoing Racism because they’re doing right here on-the-ground difference making.

So I invite us to consider the goals and to choose one to hold in our hearts and to work on with all our being.

Peace is the gift we can give the world in celebration of its astonishing abundance. Why wouldn’t we do that?


What Speed Is Your Peace?

I’ve always been a speedy person. I have, as a friend points out, a busy brain.

When I was in my 20s. New York was perfect for me. A whole world moving at warp speed. So many new things to explore, to do.

And then… after seminary, it seemed like California was on my agenda. It probably would have been anyway… I’d been dreaming about working for Apple. It almost gives you whip lash doesn’t it, to think about the roads you might have taken and how different your road is now.

And it was slower. Until of course it wasn’t. I guess I’m blessed with being complicated as well as speedy.

And then there was Pennsylvania. As my parents were aging and dying, my life had to be slow enough to accommodate them. It was a hard, joyful, sad and marvelous journey lived at the pace of my elders.

Now the pace is different; in some cases, it’s not yet known. Death discombobulates… you tumble heart over head over tin cups. I’ve been a bit dazed for a while, so it’s been good to meander.

So, as I sit here this morning thinking about taking life slowly, there’s now a flurry about whether or not we’re not going to try and get a grant proposal in by tomorrow. Luckily, I can still move at New York speed when I have to!

Slow Peace is great. And when it concerns whether or not there is money for backpack food for children, I’ll take any kind of Peace i can get, including money from strangers!


Peace and Justice in My Back Yard

In my little town, we’ve been shaking our heads recently over a particularly nasty case of NIMBYism. And people, who seem to have forgotten how to think before they speak, are saying awful things. Thoughtless in word and deed.

Across town, one of the professors on campus received a hateful racist note on his white board. This is a new song for a different NIMBY chorale. Let our voices swell in outrage and despair. Let us tear our clothes and wail. This may not happen hear. We will not, may not stand for it.

Not in my back yard. No.

Peace demands better of us. Peace demands Change. Peace demands justice.


Preparing the Ground for Peace

It’s amazing how hard this work is to hear. Incredibly sobering to think I am called to help teach it.

Because they’re making no mistake about this. If I’m here, they’re clear, I’m here to do the work.

Yesterday was a challenging day for all of us. I knew going in, of course I did, that I was going to be confronting my privilege. I don’t know if my Black colleagues understood how very challenged they and their work would be.

At the end of the day there were a lot of headaches and and heartaches.

Tell, us, you say…

The  broth isn’t cooked yet, I can tell you that. It hasn’t clarified. I believe that what will result will be health-giving. For me. For the social service directors I’m in class with. For our communities. And I believe it will set up a fire in our bellies to do the work.

But in the meantime the chopping, slicing and dicing is laborious. Yesterday my Black colleagues had to deal with the fact that the in addition to the pain they felt as they’re disregarded in their work is only part of the picture. They also sat through hearing that the work they’re doing may be, by its very nature, damaging rather than helpful to the constituents they work with. The trainers’ argument was compelling enough that no one was really thinking the trainers were wrong… It just makes you tired… and sad.

There was lunch eating with kind, but confrontational women. Even with the best of intentions, we often miss the point. Or at least I do.

And after lunch the work was about White folk… You couldn’t have listened to the morning’s talks and not known this was coming.  It was about the privilege we have at every moment of the day conferred upon us by a system built upon people’s being one down.

My work this weekend, so far, has just been to stay open, to try and hear what’s being said. To hear the critical analysis. To hear the way the world impacts people of color. To hear the pain of these highly educated, well-paid, very talented executives.

And then to allow myself to feel my own sorrow, to see my unconscious acceptance, and to not let any of that stop me from being part of a group who does things to make a difference.

To recognize that I’m only a Peacemaker when I’m making Peace for everyone. I’m only a Peacemaker when I’m waking up, stepping up to the hard work of social action. When I’m creating not only the beloved community, but the just one. No Justice, no Peace, Bob Marley told us. I’ve sung it… have I ever really listened to the words? or listened to my heart after the words? we need to… the world needs us.