Why Wait for Peace?

for peace, forgive

Great wisdom from The Doctor: “The only way that anyone can live in peace is if they’re prepared to forgive.”

Someone needs to be first. And there are no guarantees that forgiveness will be reciprocal. But if I do not forgive, I can guarantee that I will not know peace.

So, is it worth the risk? Absolutely.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you . . . do not be afraid.” John 14:27

btw, for those of you who are DrWho fans, the quote comes from the brilliant two-part episodes 907-908.

What’s In a Name? Part Two: Protector of Children

eirenic greer

The Latin, Diana, is of unknown origin and thought to mean “godly” or “divine.” In Roman mythology, Diana is the goddess of the hunt or wilderness and is the twin sister of Apollo. Her Greek counterpart is Artemis. She is the fierce protector of children, and as such is also associated with life-giving fertility and childbirth. While at first it may seem that such a god would be perhaps weaker than say, a god of war, it would befit the reader to consider the mother bear, or lion, or any mother whose child is vulnerable.

In the interview mentioned in my previous post, Major Mary Jennings Hegar responds to the question about whether motherhood has changed her warrior self. She says, “I think of myself as a bit of a mother bear, and if anybody poses a threat to my kids they’ll see both my mother’s heart and my warrior spirit. I think that they’re compatible.” Indeed, mid-interview, her husband brought their infant in so that Jennings Hegar could breast feed the baby. She did not miss a beat and continued sharing her systematic cogent case for including anyone who is qualified to protect peace and promote justice in the military – regardless of gender.

I continue to write about these things because individuals are still barred from occupations or living out their strengths and gifts because of societal norms that ascribe arbitrary characteristics to people based on equally indiscriminate indices. Change in perspective necessitates a paradigm shift on the scale of society. And societal shifts are not easy to accomplish. It takes individuals who able to allow a perspectival change, to actually see an issue from a different angle, and to speak from that vantage. The way in which we use language is enormously important, and this includes the jokes we tell.

The other day, our family saw the Wonder Woman movie. The hero’s given name is Diana, and the zeal that fuels her actions is worthy of that name. In the story, she is freed to entirely be herself in full strength because a man (Steve Trevor) permitted himself to shift his perspective of a woman’s role so he could see Diana as she is. He had to veer farther and farther around the facets that comprise her, but he chose to do so – and led others to do the same. They made room for her, supported her when she needed it, and accepted her as part of the team (likely understanding that it is Diana who makes the team what it is).

In the movie’s telling, Diana learned from Steve, too. Her quest is just and righteous, and she is absolutely qualified to fulfill the mission, but she did not have all of the information. And she lacked a motivation that is paramount to the protection of peace and promotion of justice in the context of a community: Love. This is the work of God: that you believe; this is the object of belief: that God so loved (Jn6:29;3:16). Steve showed Diana that in order to aim at peace, promote peace, one must first believe Love. Not a fleeting romantic love, but one of substance that is derived from commitment and sacrifice – lasting, stalwart love.

So, perhaps this is where we begin. We help to shift society’s perspective, perception, to view from a different facet and see that love is not a weakness. It is not a changeable feeling directed by an amalgamation of hormones and fantasies. Love is work. And this, the work of God. And to believe – and to love – only happens in the context of community. Will you believe with me?

Words That Heal – Day Twelve

choose goodness harry potter

The most popular books published in 1967 list included a French children’s book, Frédéric, by Leo Lionni. It won the Caldecott Honor award, and Lionni was awarded the Graphic Arts Gold Medal in 1984. It is about a little mouse who is repeatedly reprimanded for not contributing to the work of gathering food for the winter, but holds his ground with retorts such as, “I gather colors, for winter is grey.” Despite all of their work, the food eventually depletes and in their cold and despair, Frederick paints word pictures – poetry – that ultimately gives them hope. In essence, he gives of his supply, “now I send you the rays of the sun . . . do you feel how their golden glow . . .” and, slowly, they do.

waterfall

The number one bestselling book published in 1997 was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling. It’s about . . . well, I imagine nearly everyone knows what the book is about. For the alien that does not, the book centers on an orphaned boy abused and neglected by his aunt and uncle, and sent to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The seven-book series sees Harry and his friends come of age, discover whom they are, their purpose, and that ultimately to successfully live out this reality, they must do it together.

So far, the most popular book published in 2017 is Leading Together: Mindfulness and the . . . just kidding! That one ranked #145,222 April 1st. . . Rather, the bestseller – and on the Notable Children’s Books 2017 list – Pax, by Sarah Pennypacker is a book about a boy and his fox. A war separates them for a time, but Pax is home for Peter. And while they are each changed during the separation, the sense they must be together remains. I love what one character tells Peter, “I am exactly where I should be, doing exactly what I should be doing. That is peace.”

A consistent element in books we love the last (nearly) 50 years is a character that doesn’t belong—is different, misunderstood—and judged. They don’t go-with-the-flow, but stick to (or try) who they are, and in it, (eventually) find peace. The cover image above is a picture I took at the Singapore Botanic Garden’s Bonsai Garden because the featured tree reminded me of a screaming Mandrake from Harry Potter. The quote is good, but I might add: and how (or whether) we choose to use our abilities.

It can feel very lonely when I feel as if no one understands me. I am grateful to authors who employ their imaginations and expert use of words to help me share in worlds in which someone else is much like me—and makes magic by just being herself. The prophet Deborah, Mary Magdalene, Hermione, and Chrisjen Avasarala (from The Expanse, for those who don’t know), encourage and inspire, along with the countless others who choose to make me their home (God bless Howie – who reminds me of Frédéric 🙂 a little bit)

My prayer is that my words, with Albus Dumbledore make the kind of magic that is a remedy:

“Words are our most

Inexhaustible source of magic,

Capable of both inflicting injury

And remedying it.”

Lenten Prayer Practice – Day Twenty-Nine

breath of heaven

#Breath of Heaven quench these dry bones, today.

Holy Trinity, center me now that I may notice Your creative intention, nest in the broad, safe space of Your presence, and intentionally nurture another with the same.

What word or phrase do I notice on which I may center:

Ezekiel 37:11-14  Then he said to me, “Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.” [NRSV]

Line the nest of God’s presence with this prayer for _______ and myself:

Holy God, thank you, for constantly breathing into me fresh life. Holy Spirit, thank you, for making space and a place for _______. Help me to fully live who I am most truly today. Jesus, give ________ clearer understanding of identity in the context of the community. Help ________ see you act in a specific way today. Amen.

How will I intentionally nurture ________ today:

REMEMBER (3Ns)noticenestnurture

PRACTICE (Lectio Divina)

lectiodivina

Lenten Prayer Practice – Day Twenty-Seven

with so that love is known

Journey #with each other so Love is known. Jn17:21-23 #tobeknownistobelovedandtobelovedistobeknown #makelovenotwar

Holy Trinity, center me now that I may notice Your creative intention, nest in the broad, safe space of Your presence, and intentionally nurture another with the same.

What word or phrase do I notice on which I may center:

Eph 5:8-14 For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. Carefully determine what pleases the Lord and then do it. Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ. This is why it is said, “Wake up from your sleep, climb out of your coffins, and Christ will give you light.” [NLT/MSG]

Line the nest of God’s presence with this prayer for _______ and myself:

Jesus, thank you, for the energizing life of your light. Holy Spirit, thank you, for the light you shine on who_______ is most truly. Help me to pull down the façade of what I think others want me to do. Help ________have the strength to climb out of the coffin of other’s intimidations. Give ________ the courage to be exposed by your light and energized by that life. Amen.

How will I intentionally nurture ________ today:

REMEMBER (3Ns)noticenestnurture

PRACTICE (Lectio Divina)

lectiodivina

Lenten Prayer Practice – Day Eleven

Kindred Spirits Ireland

University College Cork

Today’s reading and that it is my father’s birthday calls to mind heritage, legacy, and adoption. In the Iroquois tradition a peace feather represents the family who, in turn, adopts another as family. These beautiful women pictured here have come from different places and live together in a foreign land – and they have adopted one another as sisters of and in peace. My daughter faithfully lives out her heritage and would make her grandfather proud!

Holy Trinity, center me now that I may notice Your creative intention, nest in the broad, safe space of Your presence, and intentionally nurture another with the same.

What word or phrase do I notice on which I may center:

Gen 12:1-4a God told Abram: “Leave your country, your family, and your father’s home for a land that I will show you. I’ll make you a great nation and bless you. I’ll make you famous; you’ll be a blessing. I’ll bless those who bless you; those who curse you I’ll curse. All the families of the Earth will be blessed through you.” So Abram left just as God said, and Lot left with him. [MSG]

Line the nest of God’s presence with this prayer for _______ and myself:

Holy God, thank you, for always choosing us. Thank you, for making ________ a unique image of You. Open my eyes to see where You are directing me. Give ________ and me the courage to go where You lead and are already. Help ________ notice Your blessing and to bless others today. Amen.

How will I intentionally nurture ________ today:

REMEMBER (3Ns)

noticenestnurture

PRACTICE (Lection Divina)

lectiodivina

Love, the High Road of Justice

love-is-the-key-ccu-door

#Love is the key. #mlk #opendoors #rethingreality #ccu PC: Greer Snyder

As I consider the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., I am reminded that prophets throughout history stand outside of time because they stand in a reality that is timeless: love. A love that is concerned for the well-being of all peoples. A love that yearns for justice and righteousness—making things right in the world. A love that notices. A love that is not afraid. A love that doesn’t stand by, but takes action.

MLK preached some powerful words, but I especially appreciate these from Strength to Love:

“One of the great tragedies of life is that men seldom bridge the gulf between practice and profession, between doing and saying. A persistent schizophrenia leaves so many of us tragically divided against ourselves. On the one had, we proudly profess certain sublime and noble principles, but on the other hand, we sadly practice the very antithesis of these principles. How often are our lives characterized by a high blood pressure of creeds and an anemia of deeds! We talk eloquently about our commitment to the principles of Christianity, and yet our lives are saturated with the practices of paganism. We proclaim our devotion to democracy, but we sadly practice the very opposite of the democratic creed. We talk passionately about peace, and at the same time we assiduously prepare for war. We make our fervent pleas for the high road of justice, and then we tread unflinchingly the low road of injustice. This is strange dichotomy, this agonizing gulf between the ought and the is, represents the tragic theme of man’s earthly pilgrimage.”

Just finished the book of Malachi who repeats the God’s incessant complaint against those God created to love:

“I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me,” says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3:5b [NLT])

Honoring the legacy of MLK and what I profess to believe, how can I feed iron to my deeds, do justice, love mercy, while walking humbly – to live an undivided life this week? I am especially mindful of these things with the inauguration at week’s end. I cannot do it alone. We are not meant to. What practical deed will you act on to take this high road of justice with me?

Words and Creation

iroquois-creation-story-and-words

At present I am reading in the book of Zechariah. It is a bit more hopeful than the wrath prophecies of the preceding Zephaniah and Haggai. What strikes me most is the frequency with which grace and peace occur, as well as, the focus on the concepts of mercy and truth (Zech 8:19). And when the prophet speaks of truth, the sense is one of justice and righteousness—making things right.

Much of the criticism that is made in Zechariah (and the reason for Israel’s demise) surrounds the unfair treatment of the underrepresented such as the use of manipulated weights for measuring the worth of merchandise, or taking advantage of another’s setback. The oracle understood that if a few possessed a great deal of wealth while others in the community were destitute, there was something very wrong with the manner in which the society functioned.

Eugene Peterson understands that quietness and mindful reflection in the presence of God is a far more powerful leadership tool than reciting platitudes and dogma, evidenced in the quote above. Too, he modeled a style of leadership that was collaborative, cooperative, giving space to others so that God’s voice might be heard through each member of the group—each who bear God’s image uniquely.

I drew the picture above for Samantha to bless her graduation. It depicts a version of the creation story told by the Iroquois (from which one of our ancestors may have originated). I love it because it helped me see the Genesis narrative in a beautiful and new way, and with a greater appreciation for the life that God breathes into all of God’s creation. A good account is found here.

My point? A lot of words are flying around the stratosphere, many vitriolic (and I would argue much of it is). But, I wonder if more of us would shut up and take time to sit in quiet, spirit to Spirit, and in the company of others to listen—just. listen. to hear stories of God’s graces and to promote peace, we might be more likely to possess a disposition of reasoned reflection, and maybe even make things right in this world. Is anyone willing to take some time with me or with a group of others willing to do the same? It is important that others hear accounts of a people who gather to listen, tell stories, promote peace and grace. I want to hear about it!

How Rogue?

humility-and-fam

Yesterday, our family went to see Rogue One. We found it to be great storytelling and very well done. Perhaps better than last year’s major production. Generally, though, [spoiler alert!] I do not enjoy movies in which every character dies—especially, when I am not prepared for this outcome. Of course, I understood it to be the ancillary story to the in-between space (so to speak) of Episodes III and IV, and it is to be expected that everyone who has ever lived will eventually die. Still, when going to the theatre to be entertained, my preference is to see at least some of the characters go on to experience more life, and not to leave bummed out!

Yet, I was struck by how determined each person ultimately was to fulfill the mission to ensure that the potential for great evil be thwarted eventually. While most were reluctant to put themselves in such mortal danger, each chose to do so in order to pass on this vital information—fully knowing that after the hand-off they would die. And this got me thinking: how willing am I, really, to even be uncomfortable so that things can be made right in this world, to be that piece (peace) that is necessary for heaven to reach creation’s fulfillment on earth?

Because, I have to believe that there is something more than my solitary existence.

I have to believe that following my aberrant, aka rogue, actions (and possible death) good will be promoted and that an essence of my having existed remains therein. I have to believe that there is a More-Than of whom I am a part. I have to truly believe that my unique character is made in the image of that More-Than, and as unique, lives that image in a way no one else does. I have to believe that by trying to be something I am not—or just not living me to my fullest—goodness and love is not promoted to its fullest potential. I have to believe it matters.

So how rogue am I willing to be? And what does that look like in my space and time? Who is willing to go rogue with me? Or even to see into each other how each of us is particularly skilled and gifted to help make things right, be goodness in this world?

Standing Still – Advent Peace

tzuquote

Peace occurs when time and space are suspended. I do not mean an escape from reality. Rather, peace comes when what looks and feels like reality—the unrelenting rush of time transporting me, helpless to obey—is revealed for what it is: an illusion. The thunder in the wind that rushes past as I wonder at the loss of time is trickery. I believe in a God that stands outside time, yet chooses to penetrate it with Presence. Emmanuel. And, it is the glance, just that moment of recognition that, indeed, makes the universe surrender.

Today’s meditation in the Celtic Daily Prayer begins with:

“Deserts, silence, solitude.

For a soul that realizes the tremendous need of all three, opportunities present themselves in the midst of the congested trappings of all the world’s immense cities. But how, really, can one achieve such solitude?

By standing still.”

It was Brother Lawrence who knew this reality when he practiced the presence of God within the dailiness, the demands on his time. And it is just that: a practice. It does not come easily—the rush of time is quite persistent. To step outside time and space welcomes the presence of God within it, and then—there is peace.

This second week of Advent with its theme of peace is a beautiful time to engage such a practice. The end of today’s meditation, a lovely way to begin:

Stand still, and lifting your hearts and hands to God pray that the mighty wind of the holy Spirit may clear all the cobwebs of fears, selfishness, greed, narrow-heartedness away from the soul: that God’s tongues of flame may descend to give courage to begin again.”

Amen.