Thursday, September 28, 2006

Live Justly

Give Justice a Chance

What does it mean to Live Justly? Wow.

Some people live their entire lives learning how to do that.

Others could care less. Others are clueless.

Perhaps my mother has a clue to this.

She is 91 years old now.

Sometimes she wonders why she has lived so long.

Sometimes we respond "because you are needed"

Sometimes we tell her "because you have not run out of love"

Now and then we tell her "because God still has work for her here."

That is the one she seems to believe.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~~~~~~
Recently I ran into Psalm 71 and I see what she sees now.
If you have a Bible handy look at verses 17 through 20.

'Dear God, do not forsake me even with my old age and gray hair.
Let me continue to proclaim your truth to this new generation, there is much
I can teach and much they can learn.'

Perhaps this is living justly.

Or maybe it is Just Living.

I am grateful to have such a strong and wise woman in my life.
And for so long, too.

And I continue to learn from her every day. . . and sometimes she learns from me.

That seems to be a lot more than Just or only living...
it is blessed living for sure.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Cultivating Peace

It seems to me that to cultivate peace we need to nurture caring activities among all people.

We need to seek common ground rather than seek out miniscule doctrinal differences.

Focus on the things we have in common. The need for food, water, clean air, shelter and decent spaces to live in. From that comes health concerns. After that come social concerns and education.

Let us learn to live justly and avoid "knee-jerk" reactions to surprise viewpoints.

A long time ago, a friend told me " Please tell me if something I say offends you by accident." I was so startled by the concept we engaged in further conversation.

You see, if no offense is intended, it is neither fair nor reasonable take offense or to react from a position of defensive posturing.

This was a simple method of reminding us to be mindful of our words and their intent. We both spoke more carefully and actually less often out of consideration for the quiet spaces we both needed in our lives.

So, for me, that is one way to cultivate peace.
Another is to click on the title and freely give food daily to a hungry person. Live justly and peace can follow.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Remembering 9/11

Most Americans remember precisely where they were when they heard about the World Trade Center. They will never forget. Me too.

A friend of mine lives in NY and serves with the Red Cross disaster team. She shared her reflections of this year's 5 year memorial and said I could post it if I wanted to. It feels like the "right" thing to do. So, with gratitude for grace and compassion under duress, I introduce you to my colleague, Pat Berliner, SJ, PhD.

SABAT MATER: 9/11 Five Years Later

Once again, I was privileged to be present at a World Trade Center Memorial service. This, the fifth year, seemed especially significant, probably because the number 5 sounds different than four or six.

As always, those of us representing Red Cross gathered off-site at about 5 AM and went together as a group to the site, where we set up our tables of tissues, cookies and water…meager sustenance, but signs of manna in a desert of loss and sorrow, anger and pain.

This year, I was the Mental Health Leadership person at the “Family Viewing Area.” This is a long walkway area between the stage and the ramp to the “footprints.” From early morning, people lined the area, many with pictures of their lost loved ones, many with tee shirts with pictures and poems and other forms of remembrance for them, introduction to their loved ones for us. Overall, the entire site is filled with quiet sadness.

All day, I walked the area, carrying with me a box filled with our tissues, cookies and water, sustenance in the desert. As the first sets of names were being read, a young Marine asked me to speak with a woman who seemed very upset. As I started to walk towards her, the first bell tolled, calling to our attention the first plane crashing into the building. I, with everyone, stopped, standing in my aloneness and in my connectedness to all those around me.

Then, I walked over to the woman, a mother held in her grief. We hugged and spoke with our eyes. I, never a linguist, spoke with her in my terrible Spanish, saying (I hope) “the pain is always there, isn’t it?” She nodded, sobbed, held me tightly, as I held her. For several minutes, we were one in the grief…and in the recognition that it would be part of us forever.

When I went back to my “line of command,” the young Marine and I shared a look of gratitude to each other. I was impressed at the sensitivity of this young man and of his understanding that it was best for him to reach out; he, glad to have had someone to reach to.

Throughout the rest of the day, I extended the kindnesses which make us the human community…a bottle of water, a pack of tissues, a fig Newton bar or pack of Oreos, reminding us of younger and better days. Throughout the rest of the day, I felt deeply the power of the reciprocity of compassion. All of us were hurting; all of us were part of the healing.

At three o’clock (how significant) the site of Ground Zero, the place of the footprints, was closed. I had just before that made my last visit to this sacred ground. We do not know if or where our lost sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, relatives, coworkers and friends will be commemorated next year.

For the grieving mother there is, now and forever, even within her heart, no final resting place.

Thank you Sister Pat.

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 reflections

Five years ago the world stood still in shock as the World Trade Center Towers were destroyed.

Perhaps the worst terrorist attack since Pearl Harbor, this event has touched the lives of most Americans and many peoples around the world.

REVENGE seemed foremost on the minds of most people.


Not likely. Not for generations.

Now we wage war in Iraq. Is it an improvement? I think not.

Change comes from within each of us.

World Leaders are humans too. We work with the best we have. Or try to.

Let us learn a better and more peaceful way to live.


Loving God, help us to realize that true peacemaking can only become a reality in our world today if it is first a matter in our hearts.

9/11 reminded us that our country has been blessed with tremendous resources that we must use wisely in the service of others, both within our own borders and around our world.

We ask for the gifts of civility and charity so that we can treat others with
respect and love.

We ask for the gifts of faith and hope to strengthen our spirits by placing
our trust in you.

We ask for the gifts of courage and compassion that will move us to action
to help those in need.

We ask for the gifts of humility and kindness so that we may put
the needs and interests of others first.

We ask for the gifts of patience and perseverance to endure the
long struggle for justice.

Hear our prayer, O God, in the name of Jesus. Amen

Shared by a friend.

Let us learn ways of non-violence.