I’m on my way to Rome, the first stop on my September peace quest. I’ll spend the night in a monastery, then the next two nights in Assisi, to centre myself for the rest of the trip.
Walls are the metaphor for this trip. I’ve been fascinated by walls since my trip to Israel and Palestine last November. The separation wall made a big impact on me, and I’ve been dreaming of ways to digitally erase it, scale it, write on it, and project it - symbols of a united future, plus creative advocacy to get there. After my sojourn in Assisi, I’ll go to Geneva to seek partners to make these dreams a reality.
Spiritually, I’m fascinated by walls as well. Walls of separation, doubt, hitting the wall; Jesus bridging the walls between Jew and Gentile, male and female, religious and lay people. The walls of Jericho tumbling down; the spies, and later Paul, being let down over city walls. I’m not sure what other Biblical references there are for walls, but I'll be looking for them this month.
What walls are there in Rome? The Vatican – are the walls meant to delimit the state, keep God in, or people out? You need quiet and solitude to pray, but Jesus also said, “Let the children come to me, and don’t prevent them.”
Always curious, I ask my seatmate where he’s going. He shares that he is going home to Montenegro for the first time in seventeen years. He just got landed immigrant status in Canada, so can fly now.
“What does peace mean to you?,” I ask.
“I’m a Christian.”
“That gives you peace?”
“Inner peace or outer peace?”
“Is Montenegro a religious country?”
“Yes; the Muslims especially demonstrate their faith.”
Then he turns the conversation to me.
“Are you peaceful?,” he asks.
“Actually, not at the moment. I’m a peacebuilder seeking peace. My work is not peaceful, it’s stressful, and I’m having a hard time finding inner peace right now. I’m very much looking forward to this month to rediscover it.”
I reflect, in the solitude of an overnight flight, why I find peace so elusive lately. Notably, it’s because I’ve neglected my after-work prayer and bike rides. Life is just too busy lately, especially preparing for this trip. My evening prayers are rushed; I am too tired to pray that late. This trip, I want to protect one hour to pray and one hour to write each day. I won’t be working, plus no cooking - that’s an instant two hours a day, plus more peace!
I pray for the fruitfulness of my journey.
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