Two things...I'm back from camp! I was Camp Pastor at Twinlow United Methodist Camp in Idaho. It was a hoot. And while I was away, we finalized our sister publication, The Bezine. It releases on the 15th of each month. This issue focused on Restorative Justice and Prison Culture. An issue near and dear to this chaplain's heart. I was the guest editor while the publication duties belonged to Jamie Dedes. Over the next week, I'll be sharing a few items the BeZine.
Justice the New-Old Way
by Terri Stewart
Today, we sat in the King County Youth Service Center lobby that had been turned into a courtroom for the sentencing of one of the youth we have been working with. I am a member of the King County Peacemaking Coordinating Team (PCT). We apply the principles of Peacemaking Circles, an ancient process taught to us by the Tagish and Tlingit First Nation people to modern court cases. A new-old way.
Today, we heard from the judge, the prosecution, the defense, the PCT…and then the respondent (person who did harm) spoke. And then the victim’s mother spoke.
We were all blubbering and sniffling by the end of it. But not because it was hurtful. The tears were because of the witness of transformation and hope. To see a genuinely healed person extend their hand to honor the victim. To see the victim’s family stand up and say, “Do more of this.”
There are some flaws to work out but that is because we are human. And this process is all about becoming more completely human.
In this particular case, the respondent had committed felony harassment. This charge on a juvenile record could irrevocably alter his future. It would limit his housing, loans, educational opportunities and more. I don’t know if we really understand what we do to juveniles when we hang felonies around their neck during a time in their life when their brain is not fully formed. But I digress.
I remember the mother of the victim looking at the respondent and saying (paraphrase), “It is so good to see you this way. Before, all I had as an image of you was the threat on social media where you had a gun and were threatening my boy’s life. You were scary. Now you are human.”
During the Peacemaking Circle process that took about 8 months, we discovered how similar the respondent and victim were. They were both from homes going through divorce. They both loved photography. They were both kids being sunk by the social systems around them. One responded by acting out. The other by withdrawing. In this case, working towards healing the family systems healed the crime. It helped everyone remember that they were human. And that we are all human.
How will you heal today?
Let my heart rise up to meet mercy, my voice to meet compassion, my hands to meet action.
BIBOLOVE: Breath In, Breath Out--sigh
Jewish Daily Reading: Daily Study from Chabad
Christian Daily Reading: Revised Common Lectionary Daily Reading
Muslim Daily Reading: Daily Verse from The Only Quran
Buddhist Daily Reading: Daily Zen
Please bring your own sacred readings to the daily pattern. If there is something else you'd like to see, please share!
"It is clear that the way to heal society of its violence . . . and lack of love is to replace the pyramid of domination with the circle of equality and respect," Manitonquat, Elder of the Assonet Band of the Wampanoag Nation
Weekly prayer focus comes from the World Council of Churches prayer cycle. We know the world needs to be surrounded with prayer and positive thought. This allows us to work through the world country by country. We focus on one set of countries per week with the same prayer, lifting them up. I encourage you to fill this in however you see it.
Let us pray.
We know that we fail to live up to being makers of peace. Let us bring in rather than push out, be invitational rather than confrontational--seeing signs of life while decrying the desecration of hope.
For the countries of Djibouti and Somalia. For the countries of ________________________
For signs of hope and peace, we pray for ________________________
For the oppressed and weary, we pray for ________________________
For those we love, those we hate and those we are indifferent to
For the transformation from ME to WE
Let peace prevail on earth.
So may it be.
Translation by Neil Douglas Klotz, Sufi
O Birther! Creator of the Cosmos,
Focus your light within us— make it useful:
Create your reign of unity now-
Your one desire then acts with ours,
as in all light, so in all forms.
Grant what we need each day in bread and insight.
Loose the cords of mistakes binding us,
as we release the strands we hold of others’ guilt.
Don’t let surface things delude us,
But free us from what holds us back.
From you is born all ruling will,
the power and the life to do,
the song that beautifies all,
from age to age it renews.
Truly— power to these statements—
may they be the ground from which all
my actions grow: Amen.
May Peace Prevail on Earth. Amen. So mote it be.
Image from Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/178877416425216201/