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Tag Archives: human-rights

I pastori (The Shepherds)

I might have posted this lovely poem by Gabrielle D’Annunzio in September as I began school, but it speaks to me. Perhaps, I am better off to read it at other times than the beginning.

I recalled the poem, when I heard of the election of the Pope, Francis I. I thought it was a fitting name for the person who would be a shepherd. I hope he fulfills his Jesuit tradition of social justice and teaching.

When I heard the name he chose, it reminded of St. Francis of Assisi. Kathy and I used the Prayer of St. Francis as part of our wedding ceremony and hangs on our bedroom wall.

September, let’s go. It’s time to migrate.

Now in the land of Abruzzi my shepherds

leave the folds and go towards the sea:

they go down to the wild Adriatic

that is green like mountain pastures.

They’ve drunk deeply from the Alpine fonts,

so that the taste of their native water

may stay in their exiled hearts for comfort

to deceive their thirst along the way.

They’ve renewed their hazelnut sticks.

And they go along the ancient bridleway,

that is almost like a silent grassy river

in the traces of the ancient ancestors.

Oh voice of the one who first

discerns the shimmering of the sea!

Now along this coast moves the flock.

Without movement is the air.

The sun bleaches the living wool so that

it almost blends into the sand.

Swishing, stamping, sweet sounds.

Ah why am I not with my shepherds?

A Path for Warriors

I commented I finished Margaret Wheatley‘s book, So Far From Home. She concluded with a beautiful poem. It reminded how importance quiet and mindful moments are. I was less rushed these last couple of days and it was like a digital sabbath.

Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk, wrote: “The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence. The frenzy of the activist…destroys his own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of his own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”

My mother used to teach us about being Soldiers of Christ. We walk in the “same steps as Christ” (2 Corinthians 12:18, 1 Peter 2:21). We “[pray] always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18), and “open your mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:19). Soldiers, in this context, seek peace from within and quiet the mind so their actions and words parallel each other.

We are grateful to discover our right work and happy to be engaged in it.

We embody values and practices that offer us meaningful lives now.

We let go of needing to impact the future.

We refrain from adding to the aggression, fear and confusion of this time.

We welcome every opportunity to practice our skills of compassion and insight, even very challenging ones.

We resist seeking the illusory comfort of certainty and stability.

We delight when our work achieves good results yet let go of needing others to adopt our successes.

We know that all problems have complex causes. We do not place blame on any one person or cause, including ourselves and colleagues.

 We are vigilant with our relationships, mindful to counteract the polarizing dynamics of this time.

Our actions embody our confidence that humans can get through anything as long as we’re together.

We stay present to the world as it is with open minds and hearts, knowing this nourishes our gentleness, decency and bravery.

We care for ourselves as tenderly as we care for others, taking time for rest, reflection and renewal.

We are richly blessed with moments of delight, humor, grace and joy.

We are grateful for these.

A Child Sits

Several years ago, during a lively family discussion about war, I was asked where I stood. Peace is simple, yet apparently unachievable. I am opposed to war on the grounds there is a Commandment: “Thou shall not kill!” This underpins all Abrahamic traditions which guide Judeo-Christian and Islamic faiths. Furthermore, this premise is central to the Golden Rule which is universal.  Who suffers? Inevitably, it is the weakest, the most vulnerable.

A child sits–

Shivers

Is it the cold?

Hunger

Loneliness, fear

So fragile and weak

In desperate need.

Amidst war’s carnage–

No refuge

Only chaos

Military heroes wreak havoc

Who is the toughest?

The biggest bully?

Kick sand in a child’s eyes.

There is no right side

Real courage

Begs and pleads?

Stop

Wanton, senseless

Violence and death!

Who gains?

It does not take a hero to order bombs lobbed into civilian areas of cities. Nor does it take a hero to hide behind women and children when bombs are lobbed. Last night, I heard a talking head on TV ask who has the moral high ground. Is there really one when the objective of both sides is to punish the most vulnerable. What a silly question. There is no moral high ground in war only criminality.

The Violence of Modern Life

Thomas Merton is one of my favourite authors and spiritual thinkers. He offered a radical definition of violence. This sounds like the opposite of multi-tasking, single-tasking. I hope I can do better as I move forward and take time to listen to the inner teacher and its wisdom.

Parker Palmer shared this with those of us who follow him on Facebook.

True Transformation

This posting is not an original. Yesterday, I read a chapter in Jesus the Radical by Father John Dear SJ. I thought the list of ways easing human suffering, in some ways updated, was worth repeating.

“If we take time for daily prayer and sit quietly listening, our hearts will be disarmed of our inner violence” (p. 107).

The disarming of inner violence can happen and be heard in

  • in the silence of the ashes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as we call and act for an end for nuclear proliferation;
  • in the voices of the Hibakushka, the atomic bomb survivors who call for total nuclear disarmament and the abolition of war;
  • in the laughter, longings, and cries of the world’s children, who look to us for peace;
  • in the poor and the marginalized, who suffer the fallout of our six-hundred-billion dollar budget for war. This is now understated. What good could be done with a mere fraction of that money?;
  • in the cry of liberation from the wrongly and unjustly imprisoned, the tortured, the homeless, the hungry, the ill, and the dying;
  • in the dead of Rwanda, Bosnia, Palestine, Iraq, Sudan, Central America, South America, Libya, Syria, China, and our own city streets, who cry out, “Stop the killing, stop the bombings, stop the violence;”
  • in all those who are different from us, who call us beyond the blindness of racism to the vision of a reconciled humanity, the beloved community;
  • in the faithful women of the world, who remain wide awake, announcing a paradigmatic shift, the fall of patriarchy and its hierarchy;
  • in the solitude of creation, from the mountaintops to the oceans; in the gentle rain and the silent breeze that call us to praise a God of peace, a God of Life;
  • in our own hearts, in our breath, in our prayer so we can go down the mountain to our cross or suffering in a spirit of love.

Adapted from Dear, J.  (2000). Jesus the rebel: Bearer of God’s peace and justice. Lanham, MD: Sheed & Ward.

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