July, 2018

The other day someone asked me, “How do we sustain ourselves in these bad times?” It’s an important question. Instead of giving up, we want to go deeper, to dig deeper roots, to redouble our openness to God and our public work for peace. And we want to help each other go the distance, to fulfill our lifelong vocations as peacemakers.

I don’t watch TV any more and rarely listen to the news. I glance at the headlines, but generally, try to get as little of the bad news as possible. This doesn’t mean I’m out of touch. I read CommonDreams.org and a few other sites to study the latest thinking on current issues, crises, and movement organizing. I find the bad news depressing and demoralizing.

But I work at staying with the good news. I’m a firm believer in daily quiet meditation or contemplative prayer, and recommend thirty minutes of formal check in time with God every day. And I recommend reading from the Gospels every day, no matter what, so that we are constantly thinking about the life of the nonviolent Jesus. Gandhi read from the Sermon on the Mount every day for decades; that’s an excellent daily practice.

I also urge people to read from the lives of the saints ever day. I’m constantly reading Gandhi, King, Merton, Dorothy Day, Dan Berrigan, Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chodron and others like that. I’ve been reading them every day now for nearly forty years.

A daily mindfulness walk in nature helps to restore one’s peacefulness. That’s what Gandhi did. So are friends, particularly like-minded movement friends. It’s best to join or form a little peace community that meets regularly, so that you are not alone, so you have others to share the journey with.
And periodic public actions always spark new energy, new hope, new heart.

That’s why I continue to organize and demonstrate, not only for the sake of the public witness, but because it sustains and heartens me.
Next month, on August 4th, I’ll be back at Los Alamos, at Ashley Pond Park, where they built the original Hiroshima Bomb. Friends and I will process through town toward the nuclear labs, sit
in sackcloth and ashes, then gather back at the park for reflections. This is our fifteenth year of doing this! It has become a way of life for us. Join us!

Campaign Nonviolence will hold its fifth national week of action from Sept. 15-23, and this year, we expect over 2000 actions, marches and events across the nation. Please check out the website, www.campaignnonviolence.org, join a group near you, or better, organize your own event. Our motto is: speaking out against war, poverty, racism, nuclear weapons and environmental destruction, and for the coming of a new culture of justice, peace and nonviolence.

On September 22, we will gather at 9 a.m. at the Dr. King statue in Washington, D.C. for speeches and song, and then march in silence toward the White House, where some of us will engage in nonviolent direct action. Please join us!

However you work for justice and peace, the trick is to deepen its spiritual dimension, to do our public work in a spirit of peace, love and compassion, so that we practice meticulous nonviolence, and our work and witness becomes, in effect, a living prayer to the God of peace for a new world of peace.

I invite us all to continue to follow the nonviolent Jesus now more than ever, to take new steps to deepen our commitment, our inner nonviolence, and our public work, so that our lives may bear the good fruit of peace and justice, and be pleasing to the God of peace.

Blessings of peace to one and all during this summer!

—Fr. John