Prophetic and poetic: International Day of Peace

There’s plenty of snark to go around. Not today. Today is International Day of Peace and I am celebrating those of you who create some space for your inner prophet to be developed, inspired, and shared. I think this is a characteristic and a way of living available to all of us.

Prophet is sort of a big word, but in my communities, it is a respected position. So hey,  if this is your first time reading my blog, I should come out of the closet. (I have two of them.) in order to do so, I may have to devolve into a bunch of labels. Here goes.

To those of you who know me as a peace-builder, justice-seeking songwriter and performing musician: I am a Christian who grounds her work, personal life, and music in the faith that made me who I am. No, I’m not a “Christian musician.” That is something different and also a different conversation. There. That’s over.

For those of you who know me as a Christian: I am a liberal-progressive-whatever you want to call it – peace-seeking advocate who  follows the nonviolent Christ. OK. There you have it.

I AM sort of a “niche market”. So continue at your own risk.

Back to the prophet piece. In both of these communities, we hope prophetic will define a piece of our work in the world. We want to be tuned into ourselves, our “source”, and the world in such a way that we that we are energized and focused, and drawing others into a wider web of peace and justice. We want to use our gifts and talents to support this goal. And for me, at least, a prophet is not so much a “seer into the future”, as someone who calls us to our shared humanity.

But this can make some of us a bit snarky and edgy sometimes (even moi!) And not always in a good way. I hope you will be patient with us as we make our way through. Come to find out, being peace and justice is much more difficult than telling you all about it. We are all on a long hike to the summit. There is more than one path and not all of them lead to the peak. We sometimes have some backtracking to do and this can make us a bit impatient. Although it may come across as directed at you, most of the time, it is because of our own impatience at the bends and turns in our own path.

As for me, those I admire the most are both prophetic and poetic. These people speak my language. They touch deeper than words or actions alone. They call us to our better selves in images and feelings that create a space  for something new to emerge. That new thing becomes a relationship of word, action, the holy, and my gifts. If we do not create space for the spirit to engage and be honed in community, little new can come to be. And heaven knows, we need new paradigms, new images, new goals and new ways of being in the world to make things work for all of us.

Archbishop Oscar Romero was a Catholic Priest who is this for me. He was killed in El Salvador on March 24, 1980. He was a moderate during a bloody civil war until his close friend was assassinated by a government-sponsored death squad. He was transformed following that brutal loss. When he called upon the church, the government, and the world to come to the aid of the poor, they killed him.

In addition to being a prophet in his time, and someone who lived what he preached, he was poet.

We must not seek the child Jesus in the pretty figures of our Christmas cribs. We must seek him among the undernourished children who have gone to bed at night with nothing to eat, among the poor newsboys who will sleep covered with newspapers in doorways.   —Archbishop Oscar Romero, December 24, 1979

As a Catholic priest, his language is about the “kingdom of God” or as I like to call it, the “commonwealth of God”, but these timeless words are words of perspective, comfort, and encouragement to all who work on big picture transformation. May they be that for all you who labor in your good work. Thank you.

It helps, now and then, to step back
and take the long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of
the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete,
which is another way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No programme accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about:
We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders,
ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

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