Practicing Peace is all about Hope. Hope is the flame that keeps each one of us going. It’s something we need to carry around and to hand out to others to keep it going. It’s what I have to offer – to those who are in unfortunate circumstances: poverty, immigration struggles, trying to learn English or manage to keep up in school, dealing with family members in prison; – to those who are working to change “The System”: to make it more fair and equitable for every individual (“the American Dream”), saying “no” to the war machine, “yes” to First Amendment rights, “yes” to human dignity; – and to others who are practicing peace and need encouragement.
Last week I spent an afternoon volunteering to help with Ruth Pelham’s “Planting Flowers, Planting Hope” project. Ruth, known as “the Music Mobile lady”, organized this amazing project in response to the shooting death of 10-year-old Kathina Thomas. For three days, Ruth and her volunteers provided an opportunity for children of West Hill neighborhood of Albany to gather and use music, art, and words to talk about Kathina and what their hopes and dreams for themselves and their neighborhood are. Each child picked out 8 colorful little plants which they planted in a 10 inch pot of rich moist soil, thanks to the City of Albany and sponsors. Judy Stacey, Albany City Gardener, wearing a big sunhat and big smile, helped guide the children as they planted, and reminded them to water daily.
As I watched the children proudly carrying home their pots of flowers, I was struck by what an amazing act of practicing peace this was. It planted seeds of hope. If nurtured, like the flowers, that hope can grow.
Ruth Pelham is like a fountain of hope. She exudes good energy – it bubbles out of her, just like her music. She has that knack of making everyone feel invited and included. She is trusted. She knows how to listen deeply. She also knows how to organize a big idea and make it happen – because she has hope.
She gave me a big shot of hope and energy; now I want to pass it on.
Peace and hope,