Saturday, November 22, 2008

Preparing for Peace

I've been in London this week working on a proposal for a formation program which is intended for the brothers and sisters who will be working with our novices. It has been a great experience to work on this proposal: engaging in conversation with my colleague Sister Joyce, the Minister General of the Sisters of the Community of St. Francis, thinking, praying, and dreaming about the best way to empower our communities. I spent a happy day trolling the internet reading websites and seeing how what we hope to do might interface with what people are doing in the New York area. I came across a website with a program title: "Formators as transformative agents" by Don Bisson: this is exactly what we hope to be about! Not only do I hope the formators--the people who teach the novices--should be transformative agents, but all of us.

The other thing going on this week has been the increasingly intense preparations for my trip to Iran next Wednesday. I go as an agent of transformation, working for peace. In a way it is a chance to do the kind of thing Joyce and I have been talking about in terms of preparing the novices to do.

Sturggling to get over my jet lag I have had several weird hours of wakefulness, which I have used to read about Iran. My current late night primer is about the President of Iran: "Ahmadinejad: The Secret History of Iran's Radical Leader" by Kasra Naji. If ever there was a need to hear two sides of a story and to create bridges of friendship and understanding between two peoples, i think Iran is the perfect place to go. The language is so hyperbolic. So I have had to do some preparatory work thinking and praying about the best way to meet and relate with people in a culture and context very different from mine.

I am reminded of St. Francis and how he went among the Muslims. He went, refusing to preach much with words, but to live in such a way as to invite people to approach him with questions. I like this model of approachability, and hope I can present myself in that way.

I am in a hurry to get to Heathrow to catch a flight to New York. But as i go, i feel that it is all about peace, all about friendship, all about deeper understanding.

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