As I prepared for my Sabbath time, it came to my mind that one year ago, Jan. 19, 2020, our first Pax Christi West Michigan (PCWM) meeting of the year, to be held at Dominican Center, was cancelled because of a snow storm. Our speaker that day was to be psychologist Dr. Mark Kane, who was going share with us how activists can sustain their resolve to be nonviolent in their work for peace and justice when racism, materialism, militarism, violence, poverty, corporate greed and climate injustice and all those other “isms” and injustices “out there” seem like a tsunami.
Now, one year later, how can we reflect with intention on all of those -isms, when our lives have been so dramatically impacted by new crisis: a pandemic, closures, political and civil unrest? It was a question that gave us pause.
We want to offer some ideas, thoughts, and good news that may resonate with you in the days ahead, especially as we try to respond to all of the “happenings around the world” with a spirit of nonviolence: the goal of any serious peacekeeper/activist. I must admit, I often find myself reacting rather than responding!
So, here are my offerings for a little inspiration, advice, resources on nonviolence and some GOOD news. The first is a quote from Pace e Bene. It challenged me to think about my reactions versus my responses to conflict, chaos, unrest and the unknown.
“Conflicts exist at all levels, within and between individuals, communities, countries and cultures. Conflicts are natural. They are experienced by people of every background, culture, class, nationality, age and gender every single day. What is important, is not whether conflicts themselves are good or bad, but how we deal with them.” ~ Kai Frithjof Brand-Jacobsen
Kai’s message brought to my mind some good advice I heard recently from Rev. Amanda H. Ashcroft, of Middle Collegiate Church in NYC, specifically regarding the events on Jan. 6, 2021 at the Capitol in D.C. I find her advice could apply to our feelings about many events or interactions in our lives.
• First of all, name the feelings you experienced while watching or reading about events that cause you conflict or strong emotions. If it helps, write down the words that describe your feelings; sick, shocked, angry, ashamed, disgusted, anxious, afraid, etc. Feel the feelings… Breathe through the feelings… experience them. Consider a personal resolution to feel intentionally during this 2021. Don’t deny them. And then, determine to take care of your mind, body, and soul.
• Dream and imagine God’s Kingdom or kindom on Earth. Ask yourself who do we/I want to be? as individuals, a church, a community, a nation. We are being called to Radical Love in these times; how will I/we answer that call?
• A recent Psalm Response was “Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.” Using “Psalms for Praying; An Invitation to Wholeness” by Nan C. Merrill, I read Psalm 40; it was beautiful and spoke of God’s promise to guide us as we answer God’s call to be nonviolent radical lovers and peacekeepers. May I suggest you read it. It is long, so I will share just the last few verses: “And may all who seek Love, rejoice and be glad. May all who would live truth and justice continually call upon Love! As for me, though often broken and weak, I know that Love dwells within. For now, where injustice or illusion make their home, I witness to your Peace and Love, O Teacher and Friend to All!”
Finally, we must celebrate when we can. This week, we celebrate the work of Srs. Ardeth Platte and Carol Gilbert and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons ICAN. To celebrate this event and to help spread the word I wrote a Letter to the Editor to our one and only weekly newspaper in this very small, rural, conservative Newaygo County where I live. It is published every Tuesday and rarely has any state news, let alone national or international news; but I felt excited, proud and hopeful about this treaty and how it came about. If you want, click here to read.
Would you like to learn about about Pax Christi West Michigan? Don’t hesitate to ask one of us.
Peace and Radical Love to you today and always,