At this time of the year I recall the explosion of the atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. From 6 August 1945 as a human race we entered into a new stage of human development. Far from the kindness and warmth of a peat fire in County Clare the sounds and smells of charred bodies took the shape of a mushroom and we were never the same again. Not the exclamation mark to silence and define destruction’s tipping point, this cloud continues in the atmospherics around us. The great pilgrim and pacifist, Brother David Steindl-Rast writes in Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer: “Since August 6, 1945, no one can deny that all of us belong together in this spaceship Earth.”
When you are in the same boat with your worst enemy, will you drill a hole into his side of the boat?’ Elissa Melamed
I rise this morning to join my breath and silence with others participating in Cease – an innocent, harmless action of doing nothing. (Cease comes from the French word to yield.)
I yield to peace and seek from the silence to yield, indeed harvest out of the stillness, more stillness to share. An antidote to the frenzied fear manifesting itself in the conflicts around our planet. While we have been free of a nuclear attack, the wars, acts of terrorism and hate ripping us apart embodied in the blood of those on the front lines – their bodies deposited in the bank of inhumanity. Militarism is only a part of the story, poverty and fear are in the mix. Cease is one response. I am sure Biddy, you too had times when you did nothing to do something.
Studying the psychology of terrorism urges us to find the hope in the fear – and right now with our world on the brink once again, fear seems to have inoculated itself against hope. Paralysis sets in as the images of masked men marching in and out of towns as maps are marked in yellow and red and children fall to the ground in front of the people who love them the most.
Being still and sending all the love I can muster to others in the boat might be the best I can do. The pervading nationalism that unfolds with every step towards the centenary of ANZAC seem to be creating a pathway leading to shores where young lives are sacrificed by the old men in suits and combat fatigues. A long bow does not have to be drawn to see where this can lead, surely we have been there, done that?
This week I heard Andrew Bovell, one of Australia’s greatest playwright’s and screenwriters launch a young man’s first book. The book: Here Come The Dogs. The man: Omar Musa. Using his book to hit his hand to claim the space of the artist to reflect back to the rest of us what is going on was like a clap of thunder. Thor had spoken. The thunder clap had been preceded by rain in Bovell’s speech, preparing the ground for and opening us all up for what was ahead. It was an exquisite essay. Omar is generous and demanding, he is inviting us into his world of an Australia that is invisible to me. I know that the single clap was a call to cease fire too. A call to action to name and claim, shame and share what actions we all need to take to get closer to wholeness and further away from the disintegration and fallout of the mushroom cloud that separates us from one another.
The simple reality that we are all in the same boat is central to me. First introduced to oikumene when working with church leaders in the 1980s it remains a touchstone for me – this common household we inhabit called planet Earth. We are the housekeepers and right now we aren’t doing a great job.
Oikumene term derives from the Greek οἰκουμένη (oikouménē, the feminine present middle participle of the verbοἰκέω, oikéō, “to inhabit”), short for οἰκουμένη γῆ “inhabited world”.
Andrew Bovell and Omar Musa reminded me once again of the vitality of the artist to help us keep house. Cease is reminding me there are times to sit still, times to be mindful. This is the time to connect to our most sacred responsibility as housekeeper. Lest we forget: The clouds are reflected in still waters.
By a lake in Sweden