We are at the “Peace Oasis” now and I have stolen someone else's pen to write this because I cannot find my own. The PO is a large lovely home in the woods that was built primarily as a retreat place to acquaint city children with natural spaces. It is offered to WAT for a day and night of rest, reflection, and planning. It's a beautiful place and I am looking forward to a walk amidst the trees this afternoon.
Yesterday was very full with many of us being away from the home base for a good twelve hours. Mass was how the day began at a church about a block away. Bishop Gumbleton presided. I loved the songs but found the homily lackluster, hence the sketching of tangential ideas—I hope to explore them more later—during that time.
From there we joined with other groups on a march to the White House in commemoration both of MLK weekend and of the 20th anniversary of the war on Iraq. At the WH there was a service of songs, speakers, and prayers. I had a part, calling out a liturgy with the group response “we will not comply.” It was an empowering experience for me, proclaiming this to and along with such a large gathering. This was followed by an arduous teach-in (4 ½ hours of speakers, interspersed with songs) that had many informative and and tremendously moving speeches. I took a lot of notes and will try to compile them in the not too distant future.
Back at St. Stephens. I was feeling good energy earlier but feel like I'm crashing now. Some folks are talking about going to a bar which sounds fun, but I'm afraid I lack the stamina...I want to write in a way that is exploring thoughts and ideas but am finding it difficult to focus. The following tangential pieces are based on the notes I took during and after mass:
> “Tax collector and sinners” – I don't think that we “peace activists” (for lack of a better term) have the ownership of this categorization that I often see assumed. I think it reveals Jesus' ministry to and relationship with a spectrum. He met with all and spoke to all with the same candor.
Lumping ourselves into the broad category of sinners is reasonable enough, but tax collectors? This representation is more appropriately pointed toward those we oppose, those we ridicule, those we dismiss as soulless oppressors of the people, just as Jesus' followers did with the tax collectors of their time.
The movement I feel in response to these readings is not toward congratulating myself for being among the crew Jesus called friend. The call I hear is toward transparency and an invitational spirit toward all—including authorities, including those with whom we disagree—even those who do evil.
> This afternoon we came across three horses. Without a second thought, I called to them, fed them, coaxed them to come near so that I could stroke and caress them. These animals had done nothing to win my affection. I knew nothing about them except that they were beautiful creatures.
> During Saturday morning's reflection I shared some thoughts about simultaneously holding feelings of hope and despair, of sorrow and joy—the fullness of that, the full humanness, the way it binds me to what diverse people are experiencing—that's a good feeling, though it is heavy.
>For some reason this line keeps coming to mind as something important to remember: “Jesus Christ did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped...” It's from Paul's letter to the Philippians.
> During the liturgy on Sunday morning a conversation developed around sin/forgiveness/redemption. It began when Joe, a self-proclaimed skeptic, asked why we would need a God who forgave sin or for Jesus to take on the role of redeemer. Are we not responsible for ourselves? Is that just a way to shirk personal responsibility? Many interesting responses were sparked. I started thinking about KY, as I often do. I remember the sharpening awareness of the weight of history and how the interconnectedness of life which is so beautiful is also treacherous. That is, that everything we say and do has both direct effect and a rippling influence; these build, creating habits, processes, systems, to the point that we don't even see or understand or remember anymore how it began. These things can't be undone. They can only be redeemed.