Last fall our colleague and wonderful priest, Nora Minassian, wrote a short article on the war in Syria. Having grown up there, her questions regarding the war have powerful overtones of the heart separate from all abstraction or journalistic inquiry: “How does a war start? How does it grow to last for years? How is it that in our lifetime, we, the citizens of the earth, have not yet found a way to extend a hand to stop it, to transform it?”
Through the media it becomes hard for us to remember or realize that war is actually a human experience. It hits closer to home when we take a moment to contemplate how children are affected, especially by it. UNICEF now counts over 1.3 million children driven from their homes living as refugees and over 4 million living in “dire” situations within the country itself, all while suffering through their worst drought in 50 years causing a major crisis in the sheer availability of drinking water.
Struck by the tragedy and suffering caused by this war, an open heart can feel called to send prayers and loving thoughts to the families and children who must face such terrible circumstances.
But what of Nora’s questions? How do we pray with our hands and feet towards peace?
It is here that we wish to share with you the voice of Cpt. Paul Chappell.
As a graduate of West Point and a veteran of the Iraq war he emerged in 2009 to the public as an active, original, clear thinker and tireless worker towards peace with his first book, Will War Ever End?: a soldier’s vision of peace for the 21st Century. He followed this book with The End of War, Peaceful Revolution, and The Art of Waging Peace, published in 2013.
He writes there:
The art of waging peace allows us to create not just societal change, but also spiritual change. When we understand the secrets of this art, we become empowered to not only reduce the suffering in our society, but to heal the suffering within us.
My colleague, Carol Kelly, brought him to my awareness and I am struck by his clear mind, focus and dedication to his cause of fully transforming the way we think about war and peace. His perspective is deeply researched and thought through and is born of his military training. His is a voice worth sharing and hearing.
Captain Chappell will be coming to our congregation to hold a workshop in September. For information and a chance to register, click here.
On Fridays in this blog we turn our attention to other people working, living and creating in ways that speak to our true humanity.