I just spent a week in one of the most fascinating and austere landscapes in the U.S.: northern New Mexico. The land there rises in layers of rusty dirt and sandy yellow soil, with canyons and arroyos, and crumbling ancient spires. The hills are dotted with rabbit brush and juniper bushes; teeming with lizards and beetles, and the horizons are as big as an ocean. It is a silent, and heart-arrestingly expansive landscape. My only regret is that I didn’t sleep under the stars one night. It was truly spectacular.
But it was nothing compared to the company I kept.
I was at Ghost Ranch to help out with a conference on peace and justice in an inclusive, peace-seeking faith community. And now, I am filled over the brim. I mean running down the table leg, spilling all over the floor over-filled. Somebody get a mop.
It’s sort of ironic, really … my being in a state of excess when most of us who work for peace and justice often consider ourselves on a journey to less. Each pursues this in the way they feel most called to, and this inevitably means we have to give some things up along the way. Especially if we are following Jesus Christ as our model.
This “call”, if you will, opens our eyes to injustice and pain; and sooner or later we make intentional choices to live into our values, often with idealism and varied degrees of success. We may spend our spare money advocating for just laws, or choose “volunteer” professions with street people. Or perhaps we refuse to eat animals because of its impact on the planet, consume less so we can give more, choose lower paying professions like teaching, preaching, and social work, quit buying hair products, or refuse to let ourselves feel justified and self-righteous if we react violently in words or actions toward others. At least these are a few ways my peacemaking friends have chosen. And that is just getting started. These things change us – and through us, they change the world.
I began this conference with a “heart blockage”. I have been waiting, praying, attempting various ways to reconnect my heart and head, but to no avail. Sometimes the movement from numb is like a knife cut – and sometimes it is more of a 23 mile walk. In the words of Jennifer Knapp, who I had the pleasure of spending some time with last month,
Careful what you say; careful what you hear; someone else inside the universe could write it down and you’d be hearing it for years
don’t feel, don’t fall, just turn and face the wall; I’m like a convict with my hands locked over my head I’m a dead man walking.
I’m so tired of living on the edge of myself, you know I’m longing for it … dive in, dive in;
you know it well, your voice would push me over the edge; you know I’m longing for it – dive in, dive in
i’m tired of choking in the shallow waters I’ve been in; I’m ready to be baptized by water and blood; come on, push me under http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lc2dAiNlxLs –
I don’t know what did it, really. But, somewhere along the way, mercy and truth met together; righteousness and peace kissed each other. Sometimes we need to let our hearts be broken to remember who we are and who we are called to be. Then, we can dive in to our lives.with special thanks to those whose passion, prophetic voices, love, and companionship were my guide without knowing: nancy, carl, mark, kris, angelica, claudio, maggie, bruce, margaret, rachel, luba, david, ivy, sarah, judi, emily, kurt, gloria, and all the beautiful Presbyterian peacemakers