Yesterday there was no post due to some difficulty with an internet connection. But it was an important day. Today I have so many thoughts swimming across the landscape of my mind that I’m having difficulty placing them on the page.
Yesterday I was reading a lot. Listening a lot. I was reading the words of Gandhi (“The active part of nonviolence is love”), Mother Teresa (“If you want a love message to be heard it has got to be sent out”), and Martin Luther King, Jr. (“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear”). Each of their lives was committed to a vision of a nonviolent world. A world of love, not fear or hatred. Love, in their vision, was not some emotional nonsense – it was an action of highest consequence.
Yesterday my university hosted an evening with Dr. Dapo Sobomehin, founder of the organization Operation EASY (a tutoring, counseling, and mentoring program for Portland’s at-risk youth). I had seen the event announcement on the university website and had wanted to attend, but I was scheduled to work and knew I couldn’t make it.
But, when I arrived to campus for my note-taking job, the classroom was dark and empty. There was no note on the door about a room change and I began to wonder if I had made a mistake. Did I have the wrong night? Had class been cancelled? I walked up and down the hall a few times trying to figure out where I was supposed to be or what I ought to do when I finally recognized one of the students from the class. She said, “Oh! I forgot! They moved the room for a guest speaker.” It took us a few minutes to find where we were supposed to be, but once we found the rest of the class I realized that we were attending Dr. Dapo’s lecture.
When God wants you to hear a message, the message gets sent.
Dr. Dapo began his lecture by telling the attendees, “If you are here it is because you are meant to be here. There is a purpose for each person being present here tonight.”
His talk stemmed from Martin Luther King’s book Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? and focused on a message of love, nonviolence, and community-building. He asked, “How do we break the attitude of fear toward other human beings?” He said, “I am a spiritual person because I am a human being.” He said, “We cannot let anyone deprive us of our freedom. Our freedom to work together across racial, cultural, and economic lines for the good of all.” He said the only way to change the chaos of our currently troubled world is through community-building. He said, “I will not tolerate anything that dehumanizes our life together. I will recognize and reject negativity and though it takes bravery to do that, I would like more people to join me. Do not take this work lightly, let this work become part of you.”
All of this, in one day.
I had spent the entire morning and afternoon reading John Dear’s A Persistent Peace, his memoir about committing to a life of active nonviolence. Within its pages are quotes by Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, and Thomas Merton. All religious leaders who devoted their lives to love. My day ended with the teachings of Dr. King through the heart and voice of a local and living man, Dr. Dapo, whose message stands equally beside those already mentioned. And while, Dr. Dapo is an educator of the highest caliber he might also be a preacher for the Holy heart that he so courageously shows.
All of this Holy love in one day. It confirmed for me the decision I have made to become a chaplain. It is the work of love that calls me toward a life of service.