June 16, 2006

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

All of us can speak for peace in some way

On the back cover of a book, titled Speaking for Peace, is the following poem at right by playwright/poet Eve Merriam, who died in 1992, a year before the book was published.

How simple! Yet the poet’s title tells us that she knows the poem’s basic premise is unlikely. When I share this with others, some people ask why the poet spaced the poem this way. I sense it is to slow the reader so the question can be better internalized.

Through the years, I have prayed, hoped, written about and spoken for peace. In fact, I have a poem, “Blessed Are the Peacemakers,” in the same book and have shared it with readers before, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the clarity of Merriam’s poem.

We Speak for Peace is an anthology edited by Ruth Harriet Jacobs, Ph.D., who received 3,000 submissions for it. The publisher is KIT: Knowledge, Ideas & Trends, Inc.

Eliminating war so future generations can live in peace without even memory of war seems a daunting goal. Do we start by carefully studying then slowing eliminating reasons for war? Or do we start by diligently identifying and spreading the reasons for peace? How do we extricate ourselves from current conflicts? Can we start by teaching the concepts of peace to children in our nation and beyond? Who has such a plan?

To people of faith trying to emulate Jesus, peace should come naturally, beginning in the heart of hearts and spreading to our loved ones, neighbors and colleagues through everything we do and say. At the one-on-one level, this should be simple, but because human nature is what it is, this often is difficult or forgotten.

In another poem in the KIT Peace book, Barbara Bostian writes: “Peace is more than an end to war/Its roots spread wide and far/furrowing deep into the earth/in search of nourishment… .”—and she asks for the oneness of mankind, global sanity, every soul nurtured and set free, the poor fed and seen as friends, children reared in happiness and recognizing their gifts without prejudice or hate … again, lofty goals. Are they attainable?

All of this seems simplistic in light of the challenges facing our personal and extended worlds today. I wish I had the knowledge and wherewithal to facilitate peace better. Perhaps readers do. If so, please feel free to share ideas (and contact information) with me, and I will later share the ideas with other readers. Send comments to me in care of The Criterion, P.O. Box 1400, Indianapolis, IN 46206-1400, or by e-mail at meister@iei.net.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)


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