Walking by the sea

March 2017

Here we are on the road to Easter, the feast of rebirth. It is also springtime here, though of course in the southern hemisphere, winter is coming. At my home in Trosly, what joy it is to see the first daisies and primroses appearing, the leaves on the trees a green so tender and soft, and the birds beginning to sing!

ln our world, where is there spring? With so many difficult situations, in Syria and Iraq, the continued growth of Israeli settlements, the fears of terrorism, the turmoil around the presidential elections, the economic difficulties, and the poor who become poorer. In all that, where is America and what will the future be for Europe? So many, many questions! Where is the springtime of a new world?

Watch, watch closely, those who are rising up and walking in the footsteps of greatness, the greatness of Nelson Mandela (28 years in prison and yet he never doubted that justice triumph over injustice), Martin Luther King and Dorothy Day in the U.S., Sophie School, Pope Francis with Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and so many other great ones who work towards ending the separation between rich and poor. There are so many people today who work towards uniting the human family, searching to do works of peace, meeting people wounded by abandonment, rejection and anguish, struggling to make our beautiful earth a place of life, freed from abuse and avarice. So many wonderful organizations support local projects in countries where great misery exists and come to the aid of refugees and immigrants.

Many are searching for universal brotherhood and for true meeting between people of different religious faiths. Small communities are being born, some centered on a life of faith and a thirst for justice and peace. For example, the communities like l’Association pour l’Amitié (the Friendship Association) and l’Association Lazare (the Lazarus Association), where volunteers and men and women from the streets live together in little communities which liberate, heal and give hope to all.

There are also many people in the health field or from industry who strive to make their organizations and businesses people centered. Yes, a springtime is coming, perhaps very tentatively thus far, and often obscured by the bleakness of the international news. God is there at the heart of our earth and at the heart of our world. He is waiting for us to open our hearts so that He can reveal Himself more and more, through each of us, as instruments of Goodness and Peace.

Certainly, peace is in the hands of politicians and generals, as well as others who carry responsibilities and work towards there being more justice and truth. Isn’t it also in the hands of each one of us, personally? Each of us is responsible for creating relationships with people who are different than ourselves, for bypassing the boundaries which separate human beings of different cultures, religions, capacities and even ideas.

Tina Bovermann, leader of the L’Arche communities in the U.S., wrote after the divisive election there: “If we truly believe in our mission of creating relationships, of living in hope across differences, ought we not today, more than ever reach, out to those who are marginalized? Are we truly listening to the other, and if so, what are we in the process of learning?”

In our world which is so divided, are we not called, each of us, to work for unity in our communities of L’Arche, Faith and Light, and others, and to move towards those people with whom we feel less comfortable, to listen to them and to respect them? To work for unity and for the respect of each person demands concerted work on oneself and a true interiority.

At the moment I am very touched by two people, very different, who both work for peace. One is Vera Baboun, a Palestinian woman who is Mayor of the town of Bethlehem, and whose motto is “Grace is born from the womb of suffering”. She has written a magnificent book entitled Pour l’amour de Bethlehem, ma ville emmurée (For love of Bethlehem, my walled city). The other is Yakir Englander, born a Hassidic Jew in Jerusalem, who tries to help young Jews and Palestinians meet each other so that they can work together with those living in poverty. On both sides of the wall separating Israel and Palestine, these young people are working for peace.

How can each of us become an artisan of peace? I love the text where God says to Noah, as he and his family are leaving the Ark: “This is the sign of the alliance which I am instituting between you and me and all living beings, for generations to come: I will put a rainbow in the sky and it will become a sign of the alliance between me and the earth.” Each time that I see a rainbow I remember this promise of God’s. There is an alliance between each living being and God, and He is watching over us. A new surge of love springs forth, through the love God gives us. Let us open our hearts to Him.

I am happy to tell you that despite my age, I am getting along pretty well. My head is OK, though the legs are a bit heavy, so I do everything I can to help them stay vital. I continue to give retreats at the Farm. One of my recent joys was to give a retreat to members of Faith and Light from Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Another will take place with friends from Scandinavia, and thereafter will follow one with members of Faith and Light from Russia and the Ukraine, together. Through these retreats, I love to repeat over and over that Jesus, the Word made flesh, vulnerable and weak, came to reveal love to us. He came to teach us to love our enemies, to pardon and to discover that we are healed by those who are the most excluded and rejected, if we live with them in a relationship of friendship.

Pray that I live an inner springtime as I pray with you. May our hearts be filled with springtime!

Jean

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