The focus of this year's "Festival of Faiths" is Sacred Wisdom: Pathways to Nonviolence. Arriving in Louisville this morning, I discovered that the Festival will share Louisville this week--with the National Rifle Association (NRA) which gathers for its 2016 national conference/gun show almost literally across the street. As if we needed the choice to be drawn so clearly.
|Matthew Black Eagle Man|
Watching this man's grace, in a huge cathedral, and watching the feathers bounce a bit in his headdress...and I'm sadly but powerfully moved. And that's a good thing. Somehow, this evening, I'm encumbered by this man's prayer, by his dignity, by his pain. "Let us cry together." The purpose of his being here is not to absolve me (or my country or our history) of colonization and genocide. Instead, his purpose has something to do with grief and attention, redemption and justice. It has to. He's reaching deep into the Spirit world to find ancient wisdom with the power to imagine a new future. Not erasing the past, but transfiguring the future. "I would rather hurt and cry," he says again (do you hear him too?), "than be angry and strike out." I hear this as an invitation to solidarity, a plea for collaboration, an offering of friendship. The gift of redemption is not free. Not in this case. There is work to be done, atonement to make.
|Gardening Tool made from Weapons|
It probably goes without saying that what the young man's doing here, with his forge, is the truly fearless, truly prophetic thing. He's bearing witness, almost literally in the shadow of the NRA, to what freedom means and what it looks like. And there's a kind of holy power in that. Truth! Living Word! Ahimsa!