Peace to you…

She was back this morning- with both of the kids.

I know they are eating my plants (although, as you can see, the grass is overdue for cutting) but they are such beautiful creatures.

I am reminded of one of Justin’s lovely poems- circulated as part of our Aoradh daily meditations-

Peace to you. Peace with you.

You that sleep without resting

Wake without rising, Peace to you.

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Peace with you.

You that have grown distant

From the sparrow, Peace to you.

.

Peace with you.

You that wait in some deep

Valley and know it not yet

.

As the beginning of a mountain.

May you be wholly and holy

Peaceful and makers thereof.

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And while we are on the subject of peace- here is a picture of Michaela and our youngest guest- little Laurie whose parents are staying in the Annexe at the moment.


Charter for compassion

Following on from this post, here is another video relating to an attempt to put together a universal Charter for Compassion.

It attempts to comb together some of the common themes of compassion present in the major religions.

I can hear the cries of horror from certain Christian circles… the fear will be that such a thing might lead somehow to impurity, dilution or syncretism. But I think we have nothing to fear, and so much to gain, through meeting and sharing with people from other faiths.

Particularly in these times…

Remembrance Sunday- and our capacity to destroy…

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Today is Remembrance Sunday.

Old men will cry

Women will open up old cupboards of loss and let the sepia light leak out a little

Young kids will be distracted by brass bands for a while then fidget through silence that seems much longer than a minute

Politicians will assume a pose of media-appropriate sombre dignity

Most of us will feel a familiar ambivalence-

War is terrible, but we continue to make war. Peace is a blessing, but we are stirred by stories of gallantry and self sacrifice that only seem possible in the context of brutality and slaughter.

Our inherited memories of the last war are of a nation forged together in terrible adversity in heroic struggle against the rise of pure evil. The fact that we triumphed at terrible cost is for ever something that makes us proud. Those that died so that we might have escaped the fate of so many other countries deserve our deep respect.

But we also know that the story of war is rarely one of good and evil. It is about evil and still more evil.

And evil has a history- it has the big scale history of previous armistice and forced accommodation and compromise. The sort of history that we can read about in books- Empires rising and falling.

But there is also small history that tells the story of how we as humans seem to have such a propensity to breed hate for one another.

How we look at difference and see danger. How we segregate so easily into ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’. How we demonise those people whose prominence threatens our own.

Most of us will have little influence on big histories- and my generation have been blessed to see few of ours names on war memorials. But if we are honest, those same engines for hate and war work within is all.

So this Remembrance Day, let us remember those who fought and died.

But let us also stand in examination of our own failures to follow the way of peace.

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A time to hate

There is a time for all things under heaven…

One summer evening I lay on my back as the light leached from the passing day
And watched the stars slowly flicker into the frame of the darkening sky
At first one here, another there
Then all of a sudden the sky was infinite
Full of fragile tender points of ancient light
Some of which started its journey towards us before there was an ‘us’
And I wonder
Is there someone up there
Raising his tentacles to the night sky
And using one of his brains
To wonder about me?

And should this unseen and oddly shaped brother across the huge expanses
Seek contact
What would he make of us?

I heard an astronomer speak once about the possibility of life elsewhere
In this beautiful ever expanding universe
He had come to believe that intelligent life will always
Find ever more ingenious ways
To destroy itself

And I fear the truth of this
That somewhere in the messy beauty of humanity
We nurture an evil seed -
Grow it in an industrial compost of scientific creativity
Water it with greed and avarice
And hot house it in a mad competition for the first fruits
Lest our neighbours get to market first
And once we work up production
There is no going back
No squeezing back the genie into the oil can
There is only the need for bigger, better

And the defending and defeating
And the ranging of rockets
Exploit whoever
Denude wherever
And if anyone should get in the way
Dehumanise
Overcome
Or destroy
Set up barb wire borders
Teach one another
To hate

So for the sake of green men
And Scottish men
May we yet stand before the eternal night
And decide that truth and beauty and grace will be our legacy
In this fragile passing place that God gave us

May we decide that now is not
The time
To hate

From ‘Listing’- here.

how you respond to violence depends on how you choose to understand it…

A quote from some bloke interviewed on radio 4 in relation to the latest terror attacks in India…

Inevitably, the media have been calling this awful event ‘India’s 911′.

The awful thing is that India is not unused to terror attacks- they seem to have been a constant throughout the post-Raj history. Most of these terrible things pass almost unnoticed in the west. Who remembers this from 2006 for example-

A series of seven explosions killed at least 174 people on crowded commuter trains and stations Tuesday evening in the Indian financial capital of Mumbai, police said.

Officials said at least 464 people were injured in the blasts in the city’s western suburbs as commuters made their way home. All seven blasts came within an 11-minute span, between 6:24 and 6:35 p.m. (12:54 and 1:05 p.m. GMT).

Analysts are comparing the attack with the mass transit bombings in Madrid in 2004 and London last year, saying they all involved a series of mutiple blasts and were well-coordinated.

Check out the details here…

These attacks are a little different, as they strike at the heart of India’s elite- the seat of financial power in Mumbai.

Who was responsible? No-one is sure. Al Qaeda has been suggested, although they always are. Religion and it’s power to convince people that the ends are justified by the terrible means always seems to have a part to play (check out earlier post about religious fundamentalism.)

India will blame Pakistan. They always do. And the whole world watches them looking at each other down a nuclear barrel…

Which brings me to my point. What should our response be to such dreadful violence- our personal response, and our collective response?

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Britain too has had it’s share of terrorism. For the past 40 years or so, it was related to Ireland. Now we seem to be a breeding ground for a new generation of terrorists who grow up as part of a disaffected  ethnic underclass.

When terrible things happen, there seems that governments have to be seen to ACT. This is one of the ways that democracy works. We want our governments to be active and decisive in the protection of our way of life- or at least governments think we want them to do this.

The debate becomes simple. We are under attack, we must fight back. We must not let them get away with this.

The outcome of this seems to be that Governments in turn are able to justify terrible acts in REACTION.

Almost like revenge. Payback.

A whole language set evolves- that ludicrous term ‘the war on terror’ is but part of this.

America had it’s own dreadful day of terror-

911

It was a day when the whole world held its breath, and in that instant, history found a fulcrum.

What happened next? Wars in Afghanistan, which once started will now go on, and on.

A war in Iraq, which was sold to members of the public on a set of fears that have now been found to have no basis in truth.

And a suspension of human rights, in the name of international security. State sponsored torture and detention without trial.

Shortly after 911, Brian McLaren wrote an open letter to President Bush. I remember reading it, and feeling proud that Christians-followers in the way of the King of peace- could raise their voices for justice and love and understanding, even in such a time as this. I think that this is our calling.

Never to condone, but always seek to understand. Never to accept that violence is the answer to violence. And that healing is possible, even for the most broken.

I have searched for a copy of Brian McLaren’s letter, to see how what is to be made of it with hindsight, but can’t find it (anyone out there know where I can find it?)

I think that we can already guess what history will remember most about Bush and Blair, and the stain of Guantanamo in a time when imperialism was resurgent.

Against such there is no law…

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A continuation of some stuff based around the list of the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians chapter 5.

This poem kind of nods at all the fruit Paul mentions.

You can see the others by clicking on the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ category on the left.

Love is not against the law
Although in judicial circles
It is not encouraged

But where the Spirit of the Lord falls
Love is between us like oil on bearings

Joy is not forbidden
But wherever it breaks out
It is fragile
Like a bubble
In a pine forest

But where the Spirit of the Lord rests
Joy beats like a dancing drum in the middle of us
Calling us to dance

Peace is never prohibited
But like a dove above a shooting range
Its flight is fraught with danger

But where the Spirit of the Lord lives
The boundaries we keep are soft
And we are learning how
To forgive

Patience is permitted in most places
But only if you use it quickly

But where the Spirit of the Lord lingers
Patience is like the summer sun
Drawing out the sugars in the ripening fruit
Sweetening the harvest

Kindness is condoned even in the most unlikely places
But it will win you few contracts
And is not conducive to
Promotion

But where the Spirit of the Lord comes close
Kindness kind of follows after

Goodness will not result in a jail sentence
But neither will it pay its way
In the global village superstore

But when the Spirit of the Lord smiles
Goodness becomes the common currency
Gentleness is no crime
And in many places it is a clinical necessity
But it is easily overlooked
In the shadow of another conquest

But where the Spirit of the Lord draws near
Then hands all rough from hard works
Become softened to hold
And to heal

Faithfulness is never a traitor
Yet we live like weathervanes
Spun by the seasons
To face the prevailing winds

But when the Spirit of the Lord moves
Promises no longer require the threat
Of legal recourse

pulpit

Self control is thundered from the pulpit
But just in case the message falls on deaf ears
We deploy the secret pew police
Rule books at the ready
Swinging their
Truncheons of truth
To crunch the knuckles
Of the apostate

But when the Spirit of the Lord comes amongst us
There is a perfect law called…

Freedom

Emily and Will, somewhere in Wester Ross, 2003

Emily and Will, somewhere in Wester Ross, 2003

The fruit of the Spirit is peace…

After the rain squalling
And the bombs falling
After the back stabbing
And the tongue lashing
After love is betrayed
And dreams disarrayed
When the knife cuts and slashes
After sackcloth and ashes
Comes the peace

After the tumours
And cruel vicious rumours
After bodies broken
And evil words spoken
After guns cease their shooting
Troops no longer jack-booting
With the grave trodden down
And the trees now turned brown
Comes peace

Even after the failure
Of life-long labour
And after deadlines missed
After the getting pissed
When the pressure’s done mounting
And it’s all over-even the shouting
When the race has been run
In the setting of sun
Comes the peace

When anger burns out
After faith turns to doubt
When we give up on walking
And wolf packs are stalking
When the money is spent
Safety curtains are rent
At the end of all coping
Even Polyanna’s done hoping

Even then
Will fall
My peace

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Blessed are the peace makers…

An excerpt from ‘The Beatitudes’. The rest can be found here;

http://www.aoradh.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=123&Itemid=62

Blessed are the peace makers…

Blessed are those whose find themselves
No longer vindicated

By the failure of others

Blessed are those whose borders lie open

And whose cartographers no longer

Conspire

Blessed are those who put off
Their badge of office
peace.jpg
And reveal who they are

Not who they want to be

And blessed are those

Who lie down like a bridge
For others to walk upon

Whose sinews take the strain

Of two way traffic

And blessed are those who seek peace
In an age of war

And speak of love
In a time of revenge

Blessed are you

Sons and Daughters

Of the Most High God

Agents of

My Kingdom