Picturing Peace


Picturing Peace

I took this photo and wrote the tanka imposed on it, if I remember correctly, over eight years ago. The energy bound up in the tension of this photo is trying to balance two sets of paradox. In a peace studies sense I was trying to balance the individual’s need to contribute and offer a perspective of life and the need for the individual to give itself away into a larger whole so there can be harmony. On a personal level I was struggling with the tension of holding on to the sense of community and meaning I was finding in the human relationships among my fellow students and the reality that I was not willing to admit, that the course of life would take that particular togetherness and scatter it.

“A thousand grasses” among the fields of people that cover the earth. There are individual blades but grass is never properly understood as a single blade, its part of a larger patch at least and in this case a field. The field of human “being” is always in this bundled tension where boundaries blur amid the winds of life.

“Waving, spitting out the earth.” We all consume something from earth and give something back. Something like the circle of life. But as we each participate in life’s energies our contribution, our respiration, our reciprocity is markedly unique among sentient beings. How we do this and whether it is constructive and life giving or not lies within our boundaries. The person who understands wholeness understands that we are kings under our own umbrella. Within these boundaries we are called to contribute to the creation from the unique position we occupy in the world.

“They will all stand together.” This is a human hope. It is a prayer. We don’t stand together now and we will subject ourselves to various kinds of unjust and dehumanizing systems in order to stay together in false harmony. We are driven by insecurity; unless we have found the only satisfying security. “As we have heard, so we have seen in the city of the Lord Almighty, in the city of our God: God makes her secure forever.” (Psalm 48:8, NIV). True harmony is in conformity with the truth and such a reality may demand us to suffer in dying to our old paradigms and ways of gaining security but it will bring deliverance from violence. Where I was once afraid, and continue to be so amidst the impermanence of life, I recognize that God alone is the remedy for all of my inconstancy.

“In the midst, together.” In the midst of what? In the midst of that hope of resurrection and a new heavens and new earth. “The Church . . . will receive her perfection only in the glory of heaven, when will come the time of the renewal of all things. At that time, together with the human race, the universe itself, which is so closely related to man and which attains its destiny through him, will be perfectly re-established in Christ” (LG 48).

The ache of impermanence suggests we live for a better country and a city, a kingdom that will endure and hold us all in love. A city in which God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. Predicated on such a hope I can firmly declare amidst the winds of life there is a greater, divine wind that is gathering people from among the fields of the earth and establishing secretly in their hearts such a kingdom that cannot be shaken and in which “‘love one another” is the rule.  The incarnation of hope or the future reality of our hope stands in comes to us in the form of joy.  Of the many responses to joy in life I think dancing together is among one of the more authentic responses we can have.  Dance away.

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