not the absence of conflict. Conflict seems always to exist as
tension between any two things, persons, or systems. Two views,
two beliefs, two ways of doing things -- is a common experience,
even within oneself.
the willingness to reside in the midst of conflict with equanimity.
Seeing both sides, acknowledging different beliefs, accepting
there are two ways of doing any one thing. Where peace has a
possibility of entering these constants of twoness is by the
inner realization that two seems to be the way of all existence.
all the while, one is part of two – something resides in the
middle of ‘two.’ Each side of an argument, or, each side of a
proposed way of doing things, is itself one point of view, one
approach, looking through a ‘between,’ a middle place, as it
looks to the other. We realize we have to consider what is one
and what is the other –- and what is it we look through?
something profound for us to ponder if it is true that ‘No one
has ever seen God.’ One doesn’t see ‘Spirit’ as something to
look at. Spirit is seen through. Spirit is what is within and
between one and the other.
willingness to state one's preference -- there's no need for
diplomatic vagueness. Peace is willingness to accept differences
of thought and behavior while working to diminish the attachments
to thought and behavior. These attachments might be angry, harmful
acts that seek to eliminate or subjugate the other -- or even
oneself. Zealous intent to eliminate or conquer, possess or secure
beyond doubt, are signs that attachment is at work. Peace seeks
equanimity-dwelling one with the other.
In the phrases
ending the last two paragraphs, ‘and’ and ‘with’ reside between ‘one’ and ‘the
other.’ These two words, ‘and’ and ‘with,’ might be words mostly
invisible, as is the word and reality ‘Spirit.’ God, says John,
is love, is Spirit – “and he who abides in love abides in God,
and God in him.”(1John4)
in God and love dwells in her with God. Is this peace? Is this
what is being seen through? Is this what is between us? Is this
middle way where God is not-one, not-two? Where does one end?
Where does other reach? Is Spirit and peace what is dwelling
between us? Finally, are we willing to dwell in that holy peace
between, and with, ‘whole’ and ‘no?’
took mono as a characterizing description of our way of
life -- monastics of no other. It, like most of our life,
is a koan, a riddle containing within itself the answer. We are
taken with Isaiah's words, even with applying some poetic license, "I
am the Lord, there is no other."(Is.45: 6)(or Dt.4:
39) Even if God were to be considered, in Karl Barth's words, “ganz Anderen” or, "wholly
Other," still, mono applies. We can be monastics
of no other. Of course there is the inquiry – might God be wholly
other and no other?
Driven back to the
New Testament, Barth recognized within its pages the centrality
and sufficiency of "the Word made flesh." He saw
that the basis of the Church’s proclamation and pastoral care
was not the world’s self-understanding, but rather the very
Godness of the God who is "wholly other" than his
creation and is therefore "wholly free" to give himself
to us and for us.
(-- from the writings
and sermons of Victor Shepherd, on Karl Barth)
We are not
God. God is be-ing us. God no-others us. God might be called "wholly
other" and we might be called "monastics of no other." What relation has wholly other with no other?
He will be remembered
as one who recalled the Church to its foundation: Jesus Christ
is given to us as Judge, Saviour and Lord inasmuch as the world’s
sin renders it both ignorant of its condition and impotent
to do anything about it.
It had all been anticipated
decades before in a remark of the young pastor in Safenwil: "The
little phrase ‘God is’ amounts to a revolution."
on Barth, http://www.victorshepherd.on.ca/Heritage/Barth.htm)
in the midst of mystery and contradiction. Conflict is the tension,
perhaps creative tension, between one and the other.
accept and honor this tension between one and the other is cause
for war, murder, and destruction. Human history is rife with
What is peace
but the willingness to dwell creatively and prayerfully in the
midst of contradiction and dilemma? All life is replete with
contradiction and dilemma. By acting to rid one or the other,
by entertaining thoughts that suggest one or the other is good
or bad and therefore one or the other must be solely remaining
or solely eliminated -- is the cause of much suffering in the
We need to
try to dwell peacefully in the world. The koan of Jesus -- "I
did not come to bring peace, but a sword"(Mt.10: 34) --
has to be engaged. Awareness of the split that severs our consciousness
from one to two, one from the other -- is the beginning.
a profound reality. It is not the absence of war, or the absence
of conflict. Rather, I suspect, the riddle of sword and split
contains within itself the answer. If you were the Prince of
Peace, where would you dwell?
not the absence of anything. Peace is the between of everything.
Peace is dwelling between ‘each and every’ in existence.
unveiling the mystery and practicing caring loving presence between
one and the other, between ways of seeing, living, and dwelling
in the world.
brings itself to transformation into ploughshare. The ground
is split for seed to be planted, seed split into growing food,
which is torn from ground to nourish hungry bodies, which themselves
are transformed into energy engaging the world, itself split
by ideology, resources, and religion.
brought into the world. Peace, I submit, is the very reality
of the world.
But it is
the reality we mistakenly look for, and not through. It is the
reality we ignore and are impotent to bring about. We erringly
try to create existence from two pieces of wood, missing the
foundational fact that two pieces of wood, themselves, exemplify
A.J. Muste said it, ''There
is no way to peace. Peace is the way.''
It is our
task, our work, and our practice to dwell in the very reality
of the world -- acknowledging, accepting, and engaging the transformation
of one and the other -- living centered in and seeing through
is peace. This mystery is God.
is all that is.
, Sando ,
Cesco , Mu-ge ,
and all who grace Meetingbrook