This caught my eye as we left a meeting last week. I have been thinking since how I might describe myself. My O level (GCSE for anyone a bit younger than me!) Greek tells me that I can say messenger rather than angel – I am not sure I see myself as terribly angelic, certainly in the colloquial sense the term is often used. However, I am aware that I inhabit a number of roles where I might be perceived to be a messenger or bring a message. It is hard to think of something more important than this currently, I might want to add reconciliation or I might be thinking of trying to help people find a sense of inner peace but if we all attempted to, at least sometimes, be an angel of peace then the world may be a bit different one day.
I am reading and writing this week and came across this quotation which the author of a books aid he had posted on his wall – I might copy him!
Peace is a deep disposition of the heart. It is humility, an ability to let go of the need to be right in our own eyes, or the eyes of others, an ability based on the knowledge that our rightness or wrongness in any issue is totally irrelevant to God’s love for us or for our neighbor. The peace that comes with claiming our self in God is the foundation of our ability to carry God’s reconciling love to others in the most humble places and humble everyday ways.
Roberta Bondi from Becoming bearers of reconciliation Weavings 5 (1) p9-10.
A good place to get to…
I am metaphorically laying these flowers in the places where people have been slain over the past week, Orlando and Birstall in particular. There is no background to this picture because the day was so misty that you could not see the sea beyond nor feel the sun that was above. That is how it feels at the moment… a deep sadness looking out into I know not what…
I am laying the flowers in hope, hope that the outcry in each of these cases will instigate change, change in attitude, in practice, in legislation… that peace may begin to prevail…
My daily readings book says this today – seemed very apt:
Everybody hurts. When I don’t have words to articulate my pain or frustration I get crude. But crude is probably better than repressed. So I let ’em rip. Damn it. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn it. This is my psalm of lament: ‘God, damn it’. Is it too much or is it prayer? The danger is that we’ll ignore a simple truth: we actually feel this way. Lament is a healthy and essential form of prayer in peacemaking. In lament we tell God exactly how we feel, what we want…and we leave it for God to decide how to restore us to justice. Brian Busse SJ Psalm 94:2-3.
From Ignatian Book of Days Jim Manney Chicago Loyola Press 2014
Most of us I guess would not disagree with this statement. It was made by the lead character on the television show Madam Secretary (USA Secretary of State). The rest of the quote was much more interesting:
Peace is a beautiful thing, Blake, making peace, not so much. (Series 2 episode 11)
It was said in the context of the sacrifices and compromises that it had taken to achieve peace in their story line . Their peace had been achieved at a great cost in lives and personal virtue. The wholistic physical, mental and spiritual weIIbeing of our personhood, communities and countries is not passively achieved .
I was going to blog about this anyway but I also rewatched Selma this week. This film recounts the story of a protest march which was part of the civil rights movement in the USA, in particular the struggle the black community had to register to vote. It was one of the key events in the life story of Martin Luther King.
Peace and justice are both indeed beautiful things and even when non- violence is used, outcomes are not always achieved in ways which could be described as beautiful!
Bringing about peace is sometimes hard, messy work. It cannot always been done in a passive manner. It might mean being firm, resolute, non-compromising, but it can be done with grace and mercy and is always worth it.
On the Radio 4 Sunday programme this morning the speaker was talking about the different interpretations of the Hebrew word for the bird referred to in the Noah flood story (Genesis 6.9-9.17). Apparently it is the same word used, yonah and it means either dove or pigeon according to its context. For today this could mean a dove for peace and a pigeon to carry messages, to communicate.
It was helpful to reflect upon the realisation that we need both a spirit of peace and a desire to communicate. I may have one or the other for different situations I find myself in, but in the spirit of honest Christianity I need to confess that I do not always want to be bothered to do both. Having a desire to bring about peace without seeking to communicate, or vice versa, is rarely successful. Perhaps this is a helpful lens to look at not only our personal issues but also our societal and community ones.
Open churches are one of the things I treasure while on holiday. Yesterday we came across this amazing cross dedicated to the unknown builders and lovers of St Petroc’s Lydford. We also went into the church and enjoyed the cool tranquility for a while. What I particularly appreciate is the way that resources are provided for those who perhaps don’t often frequent church and may like a bit of help with how and what to pray – this church had a free leaflet with plenty of ideas, this is one I particularly liked – a prayer for someone in trouble:
God our Father, who in Jesus Christ turned not his back on anyone but in love and compassion stretched out his hands, look ternderly and carefully on XXXXXX
In your life may they find life, in your peace may they find peace, in your joy may they find joy, in your hope may they find hope.
Uphold them now and always through Jesus Christ we pray.
Words which are helpful when we struggle to find our own for those we love and know who need an encounter with God.
I drive past this building every time I go to Queen’s where I trained for ordination – far too many times to count over the last three years or so, but I never noticed this building. Well I am always driving and need to keep my eyes on the road and it is on the other side! As I walked past it on Wednesday, quite by accident – I needed something from a supermarket – my heart wept a little. It wept for the vision of those who set up such a project who had a vision for a place of peace in the city centre – this is 10 minutes walk at most from New Street Station – who may have seen their vision die. It wept too for the paradox of a peace garden you are banned from that is a dangerous place to be. I so wanted to go in and explore and experience the peace that would still be there but I couldn’t. I wondered if sometimes we too easily turn away from seeking peace and give up and start again somewhere new or demolish and rebuild – sometimes something nowhere near as beautiful as what was pulled down. My heart wept too for all the places around the world where there is no peace, where lives are torn apart and shattered as violence almost seems to reign. Wishing for world peace sometimes sounds like a cliché but the Kingdom which is to come is a peaceful Kingdom and to see glimpses today of what tomorrow brings engenders hope.