Last summer I visited the Motherhouse in Adrian, Michigan for the first time. I was there again last month for the annual Justice & Peace Promoters meeting, and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and sharing with the other promoters whom I had only seen or heard through our web-ex meetings. I arrived Saturday afternoon just in time for supper. Afterwards I went on one of the nature trails and saw a Blue Heron, a family of ducks and their four little ducklings, and two doe who gracefully pranced by me as I picked some wildflowers. They were about 20 feet away and just about the most peaceful creatures I had ever seen! With the conflicts, wars, violence, and overall un-peacefulness of the world these days, I felt a little guilty at being blessed enough to be in this place. It was a great opportunity to be at rest and at peace with my thoughts in such a beautiful place. I rarely get to relax at home once school starts, so I welcomed the tranquility.
Still, my thoughts in that God-kissed place turned to those who are displaced in Iraq because of their faith or religious sect. Those who are persecuted for their faith by ISIS or oppressive dictators or regimes. I think of them, and I think of the Palestinians, the people of Ukraine, Syria, Immigrants in the US facing uncertainty & deportation, and those suffering with the fear and loss that comes with Ebola. Where is their opportunity for retreat, peace, and sanctuary? When will they get relief from fear, anxiety, suffering, and death?
On the first day of our meeting we talked a lot about Immigration Reform in the US. We watched the movie “Who Is Dayani Cristal?” This powerful film “tells the story of a migrant who found himself in the deadly stretch of desert known as ‘the corridor of death’ and shows how one life becomes testimony to the tragic results of the U.S. war on immigration. As the real-life drama unfolds we see this John Doe, denied an identity at his point of death, become a living and breathing human being with an important life story.” I recommend this film to anyone who works with Immigrants, supports Immigration Reform, and to anyone who thinks of these people as anything less than our brothers and sisters. There was one man in the film who said basically, “What number of dead is the ‘magic number’ that will make us sit up and take notice? What number of dead will make us care?”
Day two of our meeting focused on Environmental Justice, War & Peace, and Conflict Zones (specifically Iraq, Gaza, and Ukraine). Yep. We crammed a lot in! So often I get overwhelmed by all the devastation in our world and I’m left feeling numb. Meetings like this can make me feel hopeless, except it didn’t. In such a place of peace & hope, I left feeling energized and full of promise. We made some decisions on actions to take, projects to share, and avenues to pursue in our ongoing work for peace and justice. I can’t change the world alone, but (cliche as it sounds) together we can make a difference.
With International Day of Peace coming up next Sunday, September 21st, there are lots of opportunities to make a difference and bring a bit of peace & justice into your corner of the world. Peace One Day is a site full of ideas, resources, and inspiration! Started in 1999 by Jeremy Gilley Peace One Day strives to raise awareness of International Day of Peace through coalitions, the arts, and education. If you can, join the thousands of people who will be in NYC for the People’s Climate March. Oh, how I wish I could be there! Some Adrian Dominican Sisters will be there with the LCWR. I will be sending my ribbon along to be part of the “Tree of Life” installation. You might want to do this; there’s still time to mail it! Just write what you don’t want to lose to climate chaos on a two-foot length of ribbon & include your name, age, & where you’re from. Of course, one of my favorite Peace Day activities is the Pinwheels for Peace! I’ll be planting pinwheels in my yard while praying for peace and the success of those marching in NYC.
And in the coming year, when I’m feeling overwhelmed and a bit hopeless, my peace a bit shaken, I’ll reflect again on my mini-retreat in Adrian, and the good we do working for peace and justice.
Peace to everyone!