War Is Not The Answer

June 8, 2013

There is a woman in my community who is a member of the local Quaker Meeting. She is at least in her 70’s and maybe in her 80’s. Her body is slowly becoming shorter, and there is a slight hunch in her back. She walks with purpose, but a little slower than she used to. Her hair is all gray and it looks like she may snip at it herself.

At Meeting she is usually fairly quiet, sometimes her head is tucked down and I find myself wondering if she is asleep. She is very social before and after. Her eyes light up when she greets people and she is always happy, smiling and seemingly internally at peace with herself and her God.

Every Thursday afternoon she stands alone, rain or shine, sleet or snow, at one of our town’s busiest intersections holding the blue and white sign with the dove that says “WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER”.

War not answer

What is the answer? What’s the question?

On the way home from work yesterday I listened to an interview that had been originally aired a year ago.


Brian Castner spoke eloquently and thoughtfully. He has lost parts of his memory due to traumatic brain injury from serving in the war. He had an unimaginable job. He described something he saw often: “the pink mist of blood that hovered over everything”.  It made me cry. It made me angry. Angry because those of us who sit here in our homes have no idea what war means. We have no way of understanding the way war changes people. Hurts people. Even Brian didn’t understand for a long time.  Having a name for his “illness” helps he says. But, not really.

War IS NOT the answer. But, I wonder,  are we asking the right question?

The Peace Of Wild Things

November 23, 2012

The Peace of Wild Things

Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
I think of this poem when I feel overwhelmed by some thing……it encompasses so many images that have the ability to bring me calmly to the last line:
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
I find myself wondering how I can do this more often through each and every day. How do I remember to “simply” rest in the grace of the world?
The world we live in today is rife with stories of pain, suffering, war, anger, despair, fear. Daily life often includes deadlines, clocks, appointments, responsibility, worry,  juggling, compromising……there is a cloud that sometimes seems to prevent us from seeing the good, the magical, the mystical, the beauty, the hope and the possibilities that also surrounds us.
We escape into the world of movies, computers, video games, cell phones…….
Out “there”, out the door, down the path, near the lake, on a mountain, under a waterfall….that’s where our healing can take place: come into the peace of wild things.
Don’t forget the “wild things”. Don’t ignore the still waters. Seek them out. Remind yourself what it is to feel free and rest in the grace of the world.