The last book I started on this particular vacation was The Killing Moon, by N. K. Jemisin, a novel set in an alternate/fantasy version of ancient Egypt, where peace is considered the highest good and where a caste of priests maintains that peace by manipulating magic drawn from dreams. The book’s action revolves around the concept of “gathering”, in which people who are either dying anyway or who are deemed to be corrupted by violence are ushered into the afterlife by these priests in a kind of dream-magical assisted dying process.
Friday was a heck of a day.In the morning (Vancouver time) the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada heard a profoundly moving apology, read by Primate Fred Hiltz on behalf of the whole church, to the Indigenous peoples of this land for the spiritual abuse that was perpetrated on them over the course of the church’s history. The vote to establish a fully autonomous national indigenous church within the Anglican Church then passed with overwhelming majorities, and Indigenous Bishop Mark MacDonald, now raised to the status of Archbishop, was presented with a beautiful ceremonial cross in recognition of his leadership.
When you think about it, this seems rather an odd way to describe peace, as though it were a tangible, distinguishable thing that can be visibly transmitted from person to person. This passage about Jesus sending the 70 disciples out to preach the good news and heal people is a remarkable combination of practical advice and spiritual teaching, and all of it converges on the question of what it means to have, and share, God’s peace.
As you probably know, I spent the week before last in Winnipeg at the Canadian School of Peacebuilding at Canadian Mennonite University, auditing a course called “Indigenous Perspectives on Salvation, Repentance, Peace, and Justice.”
In 2005, I had just started a summer job as a community forester with the Urban Resources Initiative in New Haven, an organization that worked with neighborhood people to create greenspaces and plant trees in the city. One day, as we were selecting trees in the nursery, my boss told us that one should generally avoid planting trees in pairs.