From Bruce Baumgartner’s Oblate Day presentation:
When the invitation to speak on peace came I immediately thought of my
first spiritual teacher, Peace Pilgrim. She has been a profound influence on
my life. Next I remembered the times I worked for justice, stood for peace.
You can’t have peace without justice, the two go together. I also learned
something new when I entered into a period of listening. However this week I
became a little torn as to what to speak about with economic injustice all
But I must say a few words about the remarkable Peace Pilgrim. Peace Pilgrim
was a penniless pilgrim who walked over 25,000 miles on foot for peace. What
she had on her back was all she owned. She walked until given shelter,
fasted until given food. She spoke before the United Nations and at the
White House where she proposed a Department for Peace. Peace Pilgrim spoke
to all kinds of people on the way of peace. She said the way to world peace
was through inner peace and inner peace comes about through a transformation
of heart and mind, like found in the bible and monasticism.
In recalling Peace Pilgrim’s 28 year journey I became puzzled about
I remembered people like Gandhi, M.L. King and the many people murdered or
martyred in Central and South America and through out the world. I wondered
if after all of this effort and sacrifice if we failed because the world
does not seem any more peaceful. So I listened, and eventually I gathered
that whenever anyone works for justice, stand for peace, they put a crack in
the wall of oppression. Eventually with enough cracks the wall comes down
like the Berlin wall and the Peace of God reigns or shines brighter in the
world. I realized I had been looking at the situation with human eyes, eyes
of success and reward and that isn’t God’s way. God looks for change and
this brought me right back to Peace Pilgrim and the transformation of the
heart and mind.
When I heard about our bailout of AIG and their $440k retreat with $1,000. a
night rooms and spa treatment, I wondered how will we respond to this
economic injustice?! What will it take for peace lovers to get off the couch
and become peace makers?! Peace lovers don’t do anything. They stay hidden,
they stay silent. Peace makers roll up their sleeves and are willing to work
Our European friends and our Latino brothers and sisters are a little ahead
of us in voting with their feet. They have peacefully mobilized 250k, 500k.
750k or even more people to oppose injustice. They have camped out for weeks
until oppression crumbled and justice was restored. We are beginning to see
it with our current economic situation. Some Senators have reported
receiving in one week 20k email, phone calls or letters regarding the
bailout. Each person must listen to see how they are being called to respond
to injustice, how to be peace makers, how to fulfill our call to be children
of God. I invite everyone to engage in a period of listening.
Good job, Bruce. Keep up the good work. How about coming to the Jan 18 directed retreat? Catherine
I enjoyed your presentation at the Oblate gathering, and today one thing still stands out boldly in my mind. Your thought that even small things/actions we are able to do/take as indivicuals can put a small crack in the wall of oppression, and that in time those small cracks together will create a fissure that can bring down the wall. I had not thought about how something so small could create such an inbalance, or how that the inbalance could create balance in itself. Great words of encouragement for all of us to think about and react to.
I too was was drawn to this same point, from my period of listening. Since you also picked up on it perhaps you are one who listens receptively or intuitively as well. I am reminded of two aramaic words that encourage listening. The word for kingdom, malkutha, means to advise or counsel, which is different from our usual understanding of kingdom. The aramaic understanding of kingdom can open one to a new experience of the Our Father/Lord’s Prayer.
Slotha, the aramaic word for prayer, has the intention of ‘setting the mind as a trap to catch the thoughts of God.’ The aramaic speaking people were silent and receptive or contemplative in their way of praying. In our time we might say that prayer is our wifi on high or the ultimate wireless connection!
During this election cycle I had many opportunities to speak justly and to work for a greater peace among my friends and family who were bound by their fears. In daily life I have found injustice to be subtle and common. Just yesterday a long time friend told a joke that was insensitive. I remembered the tenth step of humility in the Rule and Joan Chittister’s commentary on it. I believe my lack of laughter and gently speaking up stopped my friend from passing the joke around. For me this is what it means to be companions on the journey and how to be supportive of mutual growth.