I was pondering this reflection as I was watching one of those embarrassing to admit I was watching TV show. It’s a show full of monsters and evil and fighting. Fighting to saves one’s life and house and home. Fighting to protect loved ones and fighting to make the world a peaceful place. And you’re on the “side” of these fighters. These warriors. These are the, well, they’re “good guys”.
But in the middle of this show is this group of people who refuse to take up arms.
The leader is asked by one of these (reluctant heroes):
–But how do you defend yourself and loved ones and homes when the monsters come?
-Without taking up weapons.
-But…but, you’ll be killed.
-Sometimes. But does fighting make the world a peaceful place?
Does fighting make a world, or an individual soul, a peaceful place?
There is more than one response. There is more than one answer. Perhaps this is a much needed anchor of peace in that violent world. Peace and Hope:
The leader goes on to say:
–If I can change but two people to stop taking up arms, and then those two people change but two more people…it ripples out and out and out…and grows
-There is bewilderment by the hero: But it will never happen in your lifetime. You’ll never see it.
-It’s not about my lifetime. One day if the ripples continue…there will be Peace.
One Day, there will be peace.
This is also the weekend we reflect on John the Baptist. He, who steps out of the world and chooses to walk a different way. He refuses to be a part, or even live in, a society that is not living up to his expectations. John goes to the wild places. He uses the wild things to share a new message and a new way of being present with the world.
He steps into the unknown, into the wild, wilderness. If you’re wondering what that might mean, this is a great time of year to step out into the trees at about 7pm (even 6pm) and stand and turn off whatever light you brought with you. Be in darkness, with all those strange noises you can’t see, and wait. We might gain some better insight into the “wilderness” and the “darkness” the “unknown” of this period of Holy Waiting.
Even this last year (or so), has this feel of waiting in the darkness, the unknown, the wild. We can make it horrible or we can make it Holy.
John uses the wild things to clear the way. John is part of the waiting in the darkness, but still he has work to do. He waiting. But he’s not stopping. He’s not stagnant. He is still doing good work, even in the uncertainty of what is to come. His work is to help on the path that guides us to the way of peace. Hundreds of years later!! He doesn’t live to see his message Become. We, none of us, will see our legacy.
We can choose how to walk in this world. There is more than one response. There is so much we can not control…but we can choose our response.
Elizabeth, cries out in Joy at Mary’s visit and the child within her womb. Elizabeth chooses a response of Hope and Joy and Love.
Mary, ponders and quietly responds: Yes. Whatever you ask of me, I will do it. Mary chooses a response of Pondering, of Faith, Trust, of Yes.
These stories remind us that in so many ways, we are not in control. We must walk paths that we don’t understand. Paths that we do not want! We must trust the journey and often it is one of wildness and the unknown. Each of us respond differently to the stimulus. We can clear the way or create more messiness and discord. We can hide away and escape or we can choose joy, love, peace, contemplation, Yes. We can choose Yes. Yes, used wisely, is a powerful way.
We may not be on control, but we have choices to make. Do we take up arms to defend those and that which we love? Do we step away from a society that is not what we would like it to be? Maybe we too have the gift of creating a new way? Do we confront the world with firmness but weaponless? Do we reflect and ponder? Are we doing what is asked of us?
Do we know what is asked of us?
Whatever choice we make, it’s important that it is a choice, not a blind crashing through the brush in the wrong direction for fear of listening to the call…the call of what is being asked of us. Even, especially, when it’s scary and unknown. Wild and obscured by darkness.
There is more than one path.
Mary doesn’t walk Elizabeth’s journey. Elizabeth doesn’t walk Joseph’s. John doesn’t walk Jesus’s.
John doesn’t walk the path of the temple priests. But, although it is easy to cast blame over an entire group, not all the temple priests were bad. Just as all current priests are not bad because of the actions of a few.
What is asked of us in creating a world of peace? Perhaps, it starts in our own hearts. But we must slow down to hear the beating. We must slow down to hear the call. Slow down…then choose…
Choose Peace. Peace in your heart. Peace in your mind. Peace in your home. Peace in your village. Peace in your world.
In Mary’s Words, Peace: Yes, Whatever you ask of me, I will do.
What is asked of us? Maybe we do not know. Perhaps the words of Saint Francis will help:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace: where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
Peace on Earth, Good Will to All, Great news of Joy.