Thursday, March 18, 2010

Peace Day

On Wednesday I led, for the first time, one of our Peace Days for Women - a monthly gathering that has been taking place at St. Mary-on-the-Lake since the 1980s. It was a great group of women - some I know, most I didn't at the beginning. The topic was "Friends and Strangers," and since this was St. Patrick's Day, I began by focusing on his history of being kidnapped and enslaved - and then choosing to return to the place of his captivity, to befriend those enemy strangers.

The part of the day I enjoyed most, probably because it was mostly wordless, was an exercise adapted from Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown's Coming Back to Life - it involved walking through a big room, first fast and frantically with little attention to others. Gradually the group is asked to slow down, begin to notice the others in the room, and then to take someone by the hand. The movement continues through a number of handclasps with different people. We all noticed our sense of connection with each other growing strongly, our pace slowing, our peacefulness increasing. It struck me that there are many ways I can continue this exercise in my daily life, walking slowly and deliberately when I'm feeling a bit frantic, paying attention to who and what is surrounding me.

I'm a bit sad, though, that I didn't have Sister Susan Francois' meditation on friendship in front of me when I led the Peace Day. This is a beautiful reflection by the other blogging CSJP Susan, and I recommend it to you. I'm a bit sad, too, in preparing to return to El Salvador when there are still so many friends I haven't had time to visit with. That's definitely the shadow side of living 3000 miles away and in another country

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