Random Thoughts on the Death of Heather Heyer

In the Shadow of #Charlottesville: Blessed are the Peacemakers – Ginny Bouvier

This morning, I delivered the homily at the memorial service for Ginny Bouvier. Before I speak, I like to spend time in prayer. This morning, before my prayer time, I glanced at the news on Facebook. The wife of a friend of mine was gathering with clergy in Charlottesville, VA in response to the Unite the Right march planed there. I watched a live stream from Charlottesville of clergy praying and singing this little light of mine before I shutdown the computer, prayed, and headed over to the service.

I mentioned Charlottesville and the importance of peacemakers in our country, here today before I delivered the following homily. Please continue to pray for peace, for peacemakers, as well as for those who mourn the passing of a great peacemaker.

Today, we gather to remember Ginny Bouvier. Mingled with the grief and sadness of her passing, I suspect many of us will also feel a sense of awe and wish we had known Ginny better. You see, today we are remembering an important peacemaker. Jesus spoke about peacemakers in the Beatitudes. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God”. Sometimes we may think of ourselves as peacemakers - like when we get to friends to make up after a silly argument. That’s an important form of peacemaking. Yet Ginny’s peacemaking was on a very different level. In her position as chief of operations in Colombia for the U.S. Institute of Peace, she played a vital role in reaching the peace treaty which resulted in Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.

I’ve always been interested in those who work behind the scenes, the way Ginny did. I remember when I first learned about the life of St. Francis of Assisi and wondered who were those nuns that prayed over him. St. Francis asked God to make him an instrument of God’s peace, and I think those nuns played an important, though often overlooked role.

Perhaps this tells us something about some of Ginny’s success. You see, Ginny included the overlooked in her work. The United States Institute of Peace noted that the peace accord was “unprecedented in its inclusion of victims, women and minorities, due in no small part to Ginny’s unrelenting support and advice to so many of those involved”.

An obituary in the Wellesley Underground, an alternative alumnae magazine, speaks of Ginny as a “secret Wellesley” an important person whom others find out later, went to Wellesley. Ginny “had been the first ever Latin American Studies major at Wellesley”. The author goes on to say, “though she hasn’t been part of the pantheon of Wellesley heroes, many of us who work on gender, peacebuilding, or Latin America policy would agree she deserves to be.”

Another aspect of Ginny, which is very important to many of us here, was her love of poetry. Her mother Jane told me that while Ginny was in the hospital, a young Dominican brother came and read her poetry, almost every day. It is part of why the adapted version of John Donne’s No Man is an Island is so meaningful. It was adapted to be more inclusive, the way Ginny worked on making the peace process in Colombia more inclusive. It was adapted to reference Colombia because of her work for peace there and how Colombia is the less as a result of her passing. The bell tolls for Colombia. It tolls for all of us.

Her love of literature went beyond just poetry. In 2014, when Gabriel García Márquez died, she wrote a blog post in memory of him. “The entire world mourns with Colombia as we also celebrate his life and legacy.” We can say the same about her life and legacy.

Later on in the blog post, she writes, “It is ultimately our capacity for imagination and faith that allows hope to triumph over despair, life to conquer death, love to conquer hate, and forgiveness to win out over vengeance. In the end, it is our exercise of imagination that allows peace to claim victory over war.”

These are important words for us to consider today. Our imagination and faith will sustain us as we mourn. It fits nicely with the reading from Revelation. The Faith Study Group here at Grace and St. Peter’s has been studying this book and this week we discussed the passage read today.

“God will wipe away every tear from their eyes”. It is the promise to those “who have come safely through the terrible persecution”. It is also God’s promise to us today.

As Jane and I talked about the music for the service we tried to find some way of working “Julian of Norwich”, sometimes called “Loud are the bells of Norwich” by Sydney Carter into the program.

“All shall be well, I'm telling you, let the winter come and go. All shall be well again, I know. “

So, as we mourn the passing of Ginny Bouvier, let us all aspire to be peacemakers, to include those too often overlooked, to rely on our faith and imagination, and to trust that God will wipe away every tear and all shall be well again. Amen

Daily Examen, August 9-10, 2017

Daily Examen Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Another day
of struggling to keep up.
At the end of the day
we gather to study.
The study is important
but we must remember
the additional importance
of simply gathering.

Daily Examen, Thursday, August 10, 2017

Slowly, surely,
the task gets completed
as the day, and the week
wind towards an end
and we think about the weekend tasks,
and the importance
of Sabbath.

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Daily Examen, August 8, 2017

Another busy day
of saying goodbyes
dealing with glitches
and overdue projects.

On my way to an evening meeting
a hawk swoops across the highway
and the hills stand firm
against the onslaught of the day.

I am told I don’t do enough
perhaps because I try to do too much
yet God alone
is enough.

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Falcon Ridge Reflections, Part 1

So, I’m back from the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, with lots of reflections to write about. Some of my reflections may take other forms, and knowing how way leads on to way, I recognize that Part 2 may never get written, but I’ve chosen this title to reflect the incompleteness of the reflections and the expectation that further reflections will come in other forms.

As I prepare to start seminary in the fall, I’m reading various books on the recommended list and the book I am currently reading is Radical Welcome: Embracing God, The Other, and the Spirit of Transformation by Stephanie Spellers. It is a wonderful book aimed primarily at churches. In my mind, it illustrates how Falcon Ridge is a community that churches should think about.

I must admit, I was a little surprised that this year, as I arrived at Falcon Ridge, I didn’t have numerous people greet me saying, “Welcome Home”. It is a common greeting at Falcon Ridge, because for many of us, Falcon Ridge feels like a larger version of that loving, radically welcoming home we all long for, no matter how loving and wonderful our familial homes are.

Yet that sense of Radical Welcome was there throughout the festival. A great example of this was when Ethan Baird welcomed Abbie Gardner to the Lounge Stage. He spoke about how she welcomed and encouraged him years ago. Abbie extended that welcome to all of us, encouraging us to join the late night song swaps even if we feel like misfits, because we are all misfits. Welcome home.

Back at my familial home after Falcon Ridge, I’m catching up on various bits of news. At the American Psychological Association Convention this weekend, there was a plenary session, http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/08/lonely-die.aspx >“Loneliness: A Growing Public Health Threat. The theme was echoed in a 2012 New York Times article Friends of a Certain Age which is making the rounds again because, as the editors noted, “we’re running it again because the topic is timeless”.

This sense of loneliness and need for welcome can be especially challenging during times of turmoil, like we are seeing in our nation right now. For me, it is also particularly important as I gather with those who are in mourning.

I started this post on Monday and didn’t get a chance to finish it. I’m wrapping it up, for now on Tuesday morning. There is much more to say, but there are also many more opportunities for blog posts.

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