Last year on August 26, my hubs, Robert, was flying to NC to be with his mother during her dying days. The year prior, it was his dad's death. This year, I was scheduled to conduct a funeral. The funeral got moved to Thursday. And also, August 26 is Robert's birthday. When I asked him what he'd like for his birthday, I believe his basic sentiment was, "Please, nobody should die."
And so we are moving his birthday celebration off of August 26 to August 27 just so we can all have some breathing room because I am also working this evening.
Tonight, is a peacemaking circle that will focus on altering the course of justice for one youth. We heard his story at our last circle. And we began to hear the story of his parents. Tonight we continue into our community and relationship building. Relationship building is at the heart of Peacemaking Circles.
My family on my grandma's side has been in North America for about 365 years or so. They came to Massachusetts in the 1600's and settled in Maine, NY, in the early 1800's. Now that word "settle" is problematic. Because to settle in Maine, there had to be a removal of the Native American indigenous peoples. Maine was part of the Boston Purchase. The Curtis family (that's how I attach to Maine) figures somewhat prominently in this tiny town's history.
Over time, Maine, NY, has grown from a population in 1848 of 1,800 people to 5,244. This is not astounding growth. It is primarily farming land which is what the settlers created there in the 1700s.
All this is to say, I can walk through the cemetery in Maine and see the relationships that developed over time in this small town. I can trace the intertwining of families and I can find pictures of how they cooperated together. They had relationships with one another, for good and for ill. This is something so many of us have lost today.
Do we know our neighbors? Do we know our local businesses? Can we see the intertwining of lives together?
Unfortunately, many of the youth in detention only know the relationship rooted in friends that would lead them astray. It almost always starts there. Because the social relationships of neighbor, family, and faith communities have broken down or been non-existent for many at-risk youth, it is their peers they turn to. And when they do, sometimes disaster awaits. Hardly ever do I hear, "I thought of it all by myself." It is almost always, "My friends were doing it." or "My big homie told me to." or "My friend was in need." or "My bro needed money."
And so peacemaking begins by storytelling and relationship building. Sounds like any church growth program I have ever been to!
So imagine a world where faith communities did what they've been told to do all along?
Go, live among the people who hurt, creating relationships and teaching people to be followers of the way of peace.
This week's practice brings a song from C.A.S.H., a Gaelic blessing, wisdom is a series of quotes from PeaceAlliance.com, and a photo from dafongman. Along with readings from the Jewish and Christian lectionaries, the Qur'an, and the Buddhist tradition. And as always, we have our BIBOLOVE practice from Soyinka Rahim. (BIBO = Breathe In, Breathe Out). Our prayers for this week focus on Oceania: American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia (Maohi Nui), Kanaky, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.
Reminder: the Synchroblog event, 100 Thousand Poets for Change, will be occurring on September 24 at The Bardo Group Beguines. Along with live events and a Peacemakers for Change event in Tukwila, WA. Put it on your calendars! The coordination & communication hub is on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/100TPCHub/.
Let my heart rise up to meet mercy, my voice to meet compassion, my hands to meet action.
BIBOLOVE: Breath In, Breath Out--yum
Peace by C.A.S.H. (Cassidy)
Warning: Explicit lyrics
Why is it war, why is it hatred,
We need it, that's the reason why Satan was created.
Moses was a murderer but he was God's favorite,
My gun goes straight off but prayers still pay off
Imagine if Adolf never discriminated,
And Martin Luther King was never assassinated,
Imagine if Malcolm X would have made it,
And Nelson Mandela was never incarcerated,
America was never segregated,
And crooks like George W. Bush never graduated.
Some kids look at gangsta movies and their fascinated,
And try to do the same shit or some lame shit.
Note: There are many versions of this blessing.
Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the infinite peace to you.
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, let me know!
“Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.”
~ John F. Kennedy
“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy South Africa, 1966
“Peace comes from being able to contribute the best that we have, and all that we are, toward creating a world that supports everyone. But it is also securing the space for others to contribute the best that they have and all that they are.” ~ Hafsat Abiola
“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” ~ Nelson Mandela
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.
Focus countries: Oceania: American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia (Maohi Nui), Kanaky, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu
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 signs of hope and peace, we pray for
- The amazing diversity of these islands in the Pacific.
- Fish, oysters, deep blue waters, and those who know how to live in harmony with the sea.
- The strong presence of faith communities in these nations.
- Welcoming smiles.
- Communities that take care of one another.
For the oppressed and weary, we pray for
- The preservation of these island nations in the midst of global warming and rising sea levels.
- Those affected by earthquakes, volcanic activity and cyclones.
- The rights of indigenous peoples throughout these islands.
- An end to political unrest, violence and ethnic tensions.
- An end to political corruption and crime.
- Those who have been affected by nuclear weapons testing by France in French Polynesia and the United States in the Marshall Islands.
- Those who are impoverished and hungry, those who are unable to find employment or to make a living, and those who are unable to attend school.
For those who suffer, are homeless, or are sick
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.