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.



Peace Waits in the Undoing of Racism

I’ve come to New York to take a workshop entitled Undoing Racism. I came on a whim and a conviction. My niece did it in NOLA. I saw her post, checked with my board, and signed up.

All (all!) we did yesterday evening was be introduced to the program and talk who we are and why we need to undo racism. It was eye-opening, stunning, and you began to get an inkling, through these precious stories why it’s all so important… and the leaders are clear that what has been done can be undone. May it be so. and may I work to stay open during what’s going to be a wonderful, grueling process. It’s time to step up. Time for social action.

Peace be with you and may we all bring Peace to the world.


Signs of Peace in the Berry Moon

Lots of other things happening, so it’s hard to give the Moon her due right now… But things just keep happening.

Yesterday was a busy day. There was lots going on, some work, some pleasure, some personal business — but it all meant no pauses.

When I don’t pause, it’s sometimes hard for a musing to take shape. And there’s been a lot stirring about how to make Peace in unPeaceful times… Social action is a stop and start activity…

So I had a blank for the day. And a bit of the grumps. I hate heading toward the evening without a musing, let alone an idea.

But it was Jazz night, my husband was playing my friends and my dance partner were waiting. Out I went. The group hadn’t had a gig in town for a bit, so it was nice to hear them and even nicer to be with everyone… Summer time and the living is easy.

Except that time when someone bumped a table which bumped the wall which knocked a sign off the wall which fell on my head which read: It’s never too late to start again.

So Peace, what am I complaining about? There you are — waiting for me to find my way to you. We can’t let the hating get you down. Let’s look for the possibilities. Let’s Peace!


Whoa! A Little Peace, Over Here, Stat!

As I’m running around bewailing the lack of attention paid to the needs of our living soldiers, my local paper was printing a letter to the editor that incites insurrection and the public execution of our president.

Well, that’s one way to observe Memorial Day.

Goodness gracious me.  I think perhaps public civics lessons would be a good thing.

Even though I often think of myself as a religious rather than a political animal, it’s pretty easy to understand that this man’s writings were lunatic and the paper’s decision to print wrong-headed. This man’s letter goes, I believe, well beyond free speech to threat and insurrection.

I believe in local newspapers. Most of the time, I believe in this one. Knowing what goes on in your community is important. Local newspapers give us that. We need to know about each other. But salacious reporting and warmongering letters don’t seem to me to fill a needed niche.

But it gave me a chance to act on the premise of my new facebook page The Responsible Citizen Pledge. So I wrote my letter to the editor, and it got published. Reviewing it, i wish I’d sat on it a little longer and I wouldn’t have used the word disgusted… because even though I am, it doesn’t invite the paper to change…

But let us attend to the living. And let us apply no small measure of Peace. It is needed.



United for Sabbath Peace

The other day I posted an article on FB which was somewhat more pointed than those I usually post. So, yes, mea culpa. And I believed it. It was a harsh review of a man who had tweeted smack about a well known little girl. He played base ball for a local university and got lost his spot on the team as a result. The lovely little girl, wrote forgiving the player and asked that he be reinstated, saying she was sure he didn’t mean it. The University president, bless his heart, stood firm. Some people felt the president was mean. Many of us did not. This article spoke about why the guy deserved his penalty. He’s a grown up whose tweet unintended or not savaged this little girl. He’s not the point in this — she is. He created the problem. He’s not a victim.

What followed was a storm of incivility. It started out well. Someone posted and explained why they were happy to see the post. A person who must follow them, because he’s unknown to me, wrote to complain that this was an isolated incident of stupidity and hatred. And that it was time for people to get over complaining about racism and sexism. I disagreed. He called me names. (He didn’t particularly hurt my feelings, since it was a very childish reaction. He didn’t quite call me a poopoohead, but the response was at that level.)

The original responder took exception not only to his response but to his style of response and very civilly but pointedly addressed what he had to say. And so it escalated. Eventually, more civil responses pushed him to remove his posts.

This exemplar showed everything good and bad about social media. Too many people are not paying attention to what’s happening in the world and are willfully ignorant of the problems people face. Too many people think that one responds to things they disagree with by dismissing another’s opinion or name calling. But, some people are willing to look in the mirror at themselves and at society’s unwillingness to face its problems. And they speak up in sane and respectful language.

This is wonderfully reassuring. So on this Pink Moon Sabbath, let us call for a cessation of the petty interactions and a deepening of understanding of the divides that limit our movement forward as a society. Let us be present to what’s going on. Let us be Peace-makers and Community-builders. Peace needs us. And we could stand a sabbath break to reflect and relax. Hope your day is lovely…



The Lunacy of Peace Bridges

A friend said after watching Selma she thought we needed to strengthen our bravery muscles. As I thought about it, I realized I thought it was our conviction muscles we really needed to strengthen. And our community muscles because in the long run, I think it was those two things that got people across that bridge.

Bravery sometimes makes us run into the fire without planning. But conviction and community help not only give us the courage to walk but also the strategies that make success markers most attainable.

You think “I don’t know what makes you walk into dogs and batons with barbed wire on them”… But the questions are more complex…

How do we experience the world’s taking away our humanity? When are we willing to say enough? How many children have to be killed for people to rise up?

And are today’s communities supporting that response to injustice? And if not why not?

And do people understand why and how communities can help? Because people belong to fewer and fewer communities. And we don’t know the benefits of being part of them. World change being one. Even at high cost. world change.

Do we understand we’re the ones who hold world change? That social action depends on us?

Peace is in our hands, just across that bridge. Do we have the determination and the strategy to get there?

These are the questions for the consolidation time of the Moon… not just what would be wonderful to do, but what do we need to do to get those things done? And thinking about the era of Selma, what songs do we need to be singing together to lend our hearts courage? A lot of questions… a lot of work to be stepped up to… Peace.