Friday, December 16, 2016

Spiritual Warrior

Years ago, I read Dan Millman's Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book that Changes Lives. Ever since, I have pondered -- at least now and then -- what it is to be a peaceful warrior, or a spiritual warrior.

 In these times, especially, I find myself wondering what it means to be a spiritual warrior. What is a spiritual warrior called to do, today?

After the election, Naomi Klein said that those who would be in resistance need to "warrior up". I am sure she meant "peacefully warrior up", or "spiritually warrior up". At least, that's the way I interpreted her words. And I take this very seriously.

I have a sabbatical coming up, from January 1 - April 30. One of the quests that will shape my time is just that: figuring out what it looks like to be a spiritual warrior, and what steps I should take to move in that direction.

To me, at a minimum, it requires being spiritually centered. It requires a kind of spiritual grounding that enables one to act on love and not fear. It requires a kind of grounding and centering that lets one be courageous in resisting evil. It requires the knowledge and felt sense that you are part of something greater, and the willingness to put that greater good ahead of your personal good. I don't think it's easy.

--------------   --------------   --------------

Thinking beyond the personal realm and even beyond what is happening in the USA, I have been alarmed by what is happening in Aleppo. What should we do? What should we have done? Certainly the USA should take in more Syrian refugees; that seems like an obvious step, now. But what about the use of force? I was one of those people who, several years back, was against the US having military involvement. I posted about it here and here. But now, with hindsight, it is clear that whatever we did wasn't enough. I still agree that "war is not the answer" in the general sense. But what are the exceptions? Are there any? Every situation needs to be contextualized.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Interfaith Vigil in Solidarity with Standing Rock

Yesterday, there was an interfaith prayer vigil in solidarity with Standing Rock. The vigil was planned by clergy from Andover and North Andover, with many different congregations participating. (See the press release, below, which is also cross-posted on the Merrimack Valley People for Peace website. MVPP also held a vigil at the same time in Andover.)

The interfaith vigil was held outside of North Parish, right next to the North Andover Commons. Rev. Lee Bluemel of North Parish made a "live video" on Facebook of the vigil, which you can watch below. I am the first speaker in the video, and I shared a little about my experience at Standing Rock in early November. Other vigil speakers and song leaders included Rev. Will Green of Ballard Vale United; Laura Howell of the Great Pond Sangha; Aldebran Longabaugh-Burg, Assistant Director of the Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations and member of Havurat Shalom; Pat Scanlon of Veterans For Peace, and more. Rev. Bluemel also spoke.

Press Release 2/12/2016 

Interfaith Prayer Vigil to Be Held in Solidarity with Standing Rock

Clergy from Andover and North Andover have planned an Interfaith Vigil in Solidarity with Standing Rock. The prayer vigil is meant as a show of solidarity in the ongoing struggle to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline from endangering the water of the Standing Rock Sioux. The Dakota Access Pipeline is a $3.7 billion project to deliver crude oil from the Bakken field in western North Dakota southward to Illinois. In recent months, there has been a militarized police response to the water protectors who are protesting the placement of the pipeline through Standing Rock Sioux heritage lands. 
Chief Arvol Looking Horse, Keeper of the White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle, has called for an Interfaith Day of Prayer in solidarity with the nonviolent water protectors of Standing Rock on December 4. “Many clergy and lay leaders will travel to Standing Rock for the day, but for those of who can’t make the trip to North Dakota, we can be in solidarity closer to home,” Said Rev. M. Lara Hoke of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover. “That’s why Andover and North Andover clergy decided to hold a local vigil.” The interfaith vigil will take place on Sunday, December 4 at noon outside North Parish in North Andover (190 Academy Road).
Merrimack Valley People for Peace (MVPP) will hold a vigil at the same time at Shawsheen Square in Andover. “It is past the time the US and big companies stop their aggression against Native Americans,” says MVPP President Brian Quirk. “The Standing Rock people are protecting, not only their own sovereignty, but white people's water downstream. Besides being fair, it is in our interest to stand with them. I wish the Federal government would do the right thing,” said Quirk.

Rev. Will Green of Ballard Vale United Church in Andover said, “Psalm 24 teaches us that ‘The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.’ Therefore, our covenant with God calls on us to protect water, to defend land and to be respectful stewards of all creation. But in addition to the witness of sacred scripture, like the Psalms, we also learn what to do and how to act from the witness of people like the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. We have been invited to participate in this vigil of solidarity by people whose leadership we follow and whose example we respect. All who are able to respond to this call are welcome to join us.”


Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover
Rev. M. Lara Hoke

North Parish, North Andover
Rev. Lee Bluemel

Merrimack Valley People for Peace
Brian Quirk