November, 2014

It is a great blessing to go forward each day, one step at a time, walking in peace, living in peace, and working for peace. Together, we follow the peacemaking Jesus, loving everyone as best we can, teaching nonviolence, despite the world’s mad violence and despair. With each step on the road to peace, we deepen our lives in the God of peace and God’s reign of peace.

I’ve been traveling practically this whole year. At the end of October, I spoke, along with Jim Forest and Tom Cornell, at the conference commemorating the 50th anniversary of Thomas Merton’s retreat for peacemakers, held at the Abbey of Gethsemani in November, 1964. The next day, I attended Sunday mass at the monastery, visited with Br. Patrick Hart and had lunch with Br. Paul. Later, my friends Ken Butigan, Jim Forest, and I sat on the green lawn down the hill below Merton’s hermitage, taking in the sun, talking for hours about Merton, our lives and the journey to peace. It was one of those epiphany days I will never forget.

In March, my new book, Thomas Merton Peacemaker, will be published by Orbis Books, and I will speak at the International Merton Society’s conference in June, to mark the centenary of Merton’s birth. I also contributed an essay to the massive new book of tributes to Merton in the forthcoming Merton Annual.

Then I was at the Earlham School of Religion, in Richmond, Indiana, to speak at their annual “writing as ministry” conference. They asked me to reflect on writing and my book The Nonviolent Life. I enjoyed being with other Christian writers and urged them to speak out against war, nuclear weapons and violence, and advocate Gospel peacemaking, through their writing. The pen is indeed mightier than the sword, I reminded them.

Then on to Western Pennsylvania to lead a weekend retreat on the Sermon on the Mount. It’s so heartening to spend quality time with friends taking in the Word of God, especially these profound teachings: “Blessed are the peacemakers. Offer no violent resistance to one who does evil. Love your enemies. Be as compassionate as God. Seek first God’s kingdom and God’s justice and everything else will be given you.”

Later this month, I’ll host a weekend retreat for the staff of Pace e Bene and Campaign Nonviolence in Santa Fe. We’re hard at work planning next year’s week of action (Sept. 20-27, 2015), and our National Campaign Nonviolence Conference in Santa Fe (Aug. 6-9, 2015).

All these trips and encounters remind me that life is a beautiful journey to peace, and that every step of the way can be a step in peace. To those who read this, I send every blessing of peace, that you may always know you are greatly loved by the God of peace, and that you might always share that compassionate love with all those you meet, as you work for a new world of peace, love, and compassion.

—Fr. John