Mary E. Latela September 20, 2015
WHAT IS A PEACEMAKER?
I have wanted to talk about this question for a long time.
I automatically did a google search to see what the virtual world
was collecting about the peacemaker.
I discovered several pages of links to peacemakers,
which are guns, so named because of the illusion
that they can bring people peace. Not a good resource.
James 3:13 – 4:3, 7-8a 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom…. 3:17 But the wisdom from above is first pure,
then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits,
without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. 3:18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.
We might think that we have to be special,
even famous people to call ourselves peacemakers.
We may turn, for example, to those great people
who have won the Nobel Peace Prize,
But these are people, too.
In the fall of 2004 I was in NYC to give a workshop
for the US Institute of Peace.
The subject was the vocabulary of peace in the classroom.
It was very exciting to be there, and I met some fabulous people.
At the official beginning of the conference,
the president of Pace College announced
that the Winner for the Novel Peace Prize had just been named,
and the choice was quite auspicious,
as the Nobel people were shifting from peace among nations
and big, important people, to making peace with the earth.
The Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2004 was Wangari Maathal of Kenya
Wangari Muta Maathai, Born: 1 April 1940, Nyeri, Kenya, Died: 25 September 2011, Nairobi, Kenya
Residence at the time of the award: Kenya
Prize motivation: “for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace”
Field: humanitarian work
You see, when Wangari returned to Kenya after her studies, she was devastated to see her homeland devoid of green life. She started a movement with women…
Plant a tree.
Now the green vegetation provides good, is good for the soil, and …………
In 2010 she co-founded the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies (WMI). The WMI will bring together academic research—e.g. in land use, forestry, agriculture, resource-based conflicts, and peace studies—with the Green Belt Movement approach and members of the organisation.
Professor Maathai died on 25 September 2011 at the age of 71, and I don’t think anyone would contest that she represents peacemaking. And how is Kenya doing?
How is this peace movement working out? Well, the 2011 annual report indicated that almost 4 million trees were planted, bringing the total number planted to over 51 million! GBM also participated in the United Nation’s annual climate change conference, COP17, in Durban, South Africa, and, launched the ‘Enough is Enough’ campaign against land-grabbing in Kenya. More details on these and other achievements in the report.
How to be a peacemaker from my book.
I am more and more convinced that a peacemaker is a friend –
To other people and to this wonderful world God created for us to tend.
[When I have an opportunity to talk with children about life, I like to tell the story of my family and the peach tree.
We had enjoyed some juicy, large free-stone peaches one summer. They were from the market. When we asked Mom if we could grow our own peaches from the pit of one of these luscious samples of fruit, she asked, “Why not?”
So Mom showed us – my brother, sister, and me – how to plant the peach pit. We did it ourselves so as to be given full credit, covering the deeply set pit with rich soil in our backyard. We watered the spot, carefully marked, all that year.
I always ask children how long do they imagine we had to wait before we ate our peach. Not after the first year, when we saw only a little green bud coming through the soil. Not the next, when the green stem grew a few inches. Three years? Four?
After four or five years, we had a few little blossoms on the tree, and Mom said when the plant was strong enough, we would have a gift. The plant was taller, slender, with a thick stem and little branches shooting off.
During the sixth summer, we excitedly watched the blossoms open, then fall off, leaving baby peaches, which grew into medium-size peaches, and finally, a few fairly large, fuzzy-skinned orange-yellow fruits! Finally, we were able to pick the peaches and share them after supper. They were delicious, sweet, and like the pit we had planted, also free-stone, which meant that the pit easily fell out of the middle.
For quite a few years after that, the tree grew and produced fruit. I learned that planting the seed is only the first step in growing a tree, or growing a person. So these days when I still “plant seeds” I do not expect an immediate return. I just move on, and expect that the fruit will come in its own good time.
I recently watched the film, The Bishop’s Wife (Cary Grant, David Niven, Loretta Young). At the time, I was reflecting on how to talk about compassion and our response to the invitation to be Peacemakers.
And I found so many down-earth answers and suggestions.
In the film, a nervous bishop, played by David Niven, is trying to get a new cathedral built; he prays for guidance. An angel (Cary Grant) arrives, but his guidance isn’t about fundraising.
The Bishop, Henry Brougham, has been working for months on the plans for an elaborate new cathedral which he hopes will be paid for primarily by a wealthy church woman who wants things her way.
Dudley, the angel sent to guide him, helps everyone he meets,
but not necessarily in the way they would have preferred.
With the exception of Henry, everyone loves Dudley.
Henry begins to believe that Dudley is there to replace him,
both at work and in his family’s affections, as Christmas approaches.
What is the problem?
Dudley greets the maid, remembers the name of the secretary,
Teaches little Debby to throw a mean snowball,
Takes the Bishop’s wife to lunch and invites the busybody churchwomen – who stare in disapproval – To join them at the table.
An old Professor renews his acquaintance with Dudley.
This man of no particular religion, who could write a brilliant history, is stuck,
but he has a Christmas tree with an angel on top to “preserve the illusion of peace on earth.”
Little acts of friendliness cause people to understand that the angel’s message is very simple. People appreciate kindness, and they do “pass it on.”
The Bishop is the last to “get it.”
As the household help say, “But he’s a Bishop. He’s different from the rest of us.”
So a peacemaker is kind; he or she listens, cares, thinks about what might be helpful.
Beside kindness or lovingkindness, many people like to use the word “friendliness”
Really, the main way to keep peace is to behave in a way that is kind and that keeps your own heart from getting upset.
It looks like it is good for other people but actually, it is good for you as well.
Finally, in practicing peacemaking, what gift can we give to each other
And to the Lord?
In the words of the film:
“Warm hearts, Loving kindness,
The outstretched arm of tolerance,
All the shining things that make for peace on earth.”
God bless each of you.
Thank you for all the kindness you have shown to me and to my loved ones, who regularly come up on the prayer list,
as well as the two ambassadors who check out ASLC
when they come to visit me, the grandchildren.
Dear friends, let’s pass it on.