During this month, the tenth anniversary of 911 our media is full of stories of courage, bravery, resilience, stories of hatred and bitterness.
I’m compelled to understand more – to understand the responses of those who have searched the truth, who have fasted and prayed and who have sought wisdom.
In reading ‘Peace Be With You, Monastic Wisdom for a Terror-Filled World’ I joined David Carlson on a pilgrimage to understand peace and gain deeper understanding of the monastic response.
‘Peace Be With You’ journeys to monastic communities to gain the thoughts and wisdom of more than 30 monks, nuns, abbots, artists and a Mennonite pastor searching for a ‘word of life’ in this age. He clearly paints a picture of the various characters and also the monasteries, the buildings, and the environment in varying locations from, St. Michael’s Skete, New Mexico to Gethsemani, Kentucky with many in between. He describes that rather than a disconnection with the world, these are a group of people who are called to fast, pray and take their calling seriously. I find it inspiring that these monasteries exist in this age and have a voice in the big picture.
The ‘words of life’ were varied and diverse – confusion, forgiveness, resolve and obstinate hope with views on hatred, radical forgiveness, a broken world and extremism, with the thread of Christ’s response throughout.
Also woven throughout was the epiphany of Trappist monk Thomas Merton and his vision of radical unity, of Christ in all, this vision helping Carlson through his own dark time in the midst of writing. I am challenged by this epiphany as I go around my busy life in Kelowna, that I respond to all who cross my path seeing ‘Christ in all’ – this makes sense in this world.
Carlson says ‘I began this journey with a sense of a divided works, the “them” whom we wish to annihilate on one side, and the “us” whom we wish to protect on the other. By the end of the journey, my own divided heart was beginning to heal. The process was painful, but I eventually and gradually found myself waking to a new reality, where the divided worlds of enemy and friend have been replaced by only one category – the neighbor who has sacred value ‘
The ‘contemplation tanks’ of the monastic communities offered challenge after challenge, leaving me to question, contemplate and no doubt revisit the book.
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