Years ago during a tumultuous time in our country and the world, thousands of people joined together to sing 9 words over and over: “All we are saying, is give peace a chance.” The words express belief that we have within us the ability to solve differences in non-violent ways. The words further express the basic understanding that all of us are made in the image and likeness of God (however we name God) and our commonalities are love, compassion, peace, goodness. We may use different words or prayers to express our belief in God and goodness of all people, yet the differences make up the beauty of who we are as seekers on the earth.
Last week the unthinkable happened–again–this time in an area near where I live. Families gathering for prayer at a Sikh temple were killed, injured and traumatized. Those affected by this tragedy are not just the families of those killed or injured or the Sikh community we are all affected by this tragedy. Not only is the Sikh community mourning, we all mourn the loss of their loved ones, as we mourn dreams shattered and a world seemingly gone a stray fed by hate, jealousy and greed. Why is it that often we look at how we are different, rather to how we are the same? Why is the stance often over and against and not relationship?
Today in the Catholic church we celebrate the Feast of Clare of Assisi who chose the enclosure of the monastery (a life of prayer) to live in imitation of Jesus Christ: having nothing of her own, total reliance on God, and care for all people. She lived in imitation of Jesus Christ who saw the heart of each person not based on race, color or creed, rather focused on the fact that each person is made in the image and likeness of God. Jesus showed compassion and love for all.
Kamal Saini, the older son of Paramjit Kaur, the woman killed while she prayed at the Sikh temple said, “Thank you, all of you, who are here to support my mother. As I look around, I don’t just see Punjabis or Hindus or Christian or Jews. I see we are all one.” Oneness has been a dream for many. Martin Luther King, Jr. said many years ago, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skins, but by the content of their character.” Our dream is to be loved and cherished for who we are as women and men made in the image and likeness of God.
Yes, we all mourn the loss of those killed in the Sikh Temple as we continue to pray for the injured. We mourn for us in our sorrow and we mourn a world where seemingly nothing is sacred and no where is safe. Yet as we go forward together the words of Gandhi come to mind, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Every action counts, every act of love and compassion brings hope, every act of kindness helps, every effort to understand brings us closer to peace, every ounce of energy to do our own work to eradicate hurt and discord in our lives gets us closer to peace and love for all people.
All we are saying, is give peace a chance by embracing peace in our own lives.
Our invitation is to embrace peace.
Blessings and peace