Akido is sometimes described as a nonviolent martial art. At the Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute in Hiroshima, Japan, I had the privilege of learning a bit from a Japanese Mennonite professor and akido practitioner. I remember a few key points that seemed a fitting metaphor for following Jesus' nonviolent way.
Cheryl Woelk's blog
It's hard to hear the stories. The images are sickening. My imagination cannot grasp the kind of suffering the people of Hiroshima endured and even survived. My faith in humanity shakes when thinking of what humans did to each other and to creation.
Mountaintop removal. Tar sands. Mass destruction of earth and creation for sake of getting at the coal and oil underground. While there are inevitably complexities for each community facing companies that look for energy sources in their neighbourhoods, and there are no simple stories, on an instinctive level I know it's wrong.
"The Wounded Heart of God: The Asian Concept of Han and the Christian Doctrine of Sin" by Andrew Sung Park is not light bedtime reading. Yet, I think this is one of the most influential theological books that I have read. The thorough articulation of the concept of "han" fills the gap of what I have noticed in trauma studies and trauma healing resources.
Now that I've finished my master's in Education and a certificate in Peacebuilding from a Mennonite university, I suppose I should know something about Anabaptist education. In truth, though, from my experience, studying, and research, Anabaptist education seems very similar to just "good" education.
He poured the bowl full of water, then held it out, balanced on his palm, fingers angled down and away from the thick bronze base. Slowly, he moved the wooden mallet around the edge. Expecting the resonance of the singing bowl, I was shocked to see sparkles of water emerge from the rim. As he continued, water suddenly splashed up, bursting into the space above the bowl, and drenching his face and front. Laughing, he pointed out the obvious: with water in the bowl, the energy of resonance became visible.
Two women, working as "maids" in 1960's segregated southern United States, cross racial lines to take a risk in telling their stories to an eager young writer.
Watching "The Help" in Virginia, I couldn't help but wonder about the impact of such a film in what was the historic "south."
During our trip to Canada for the Christmas break, I was surprised how many times I heard the same story. It goes something like this: They are trying to get us not to say "Merry Christmas" and to say "Happy Holidays" instead because someone might get offended. If they are offended by Christmas, they can go back to their own country. After all, if we were in their country, we would have to follow their traditions.
A highlight of the worship on the fourth Sunday of Advent for me was the children's story. Well, actually, after the children's story when the storyteller asked four of the children to ask someone in the congregation to light one of the Advent candles. Children calling adults' attention to the Advent candles? How appropriate. Really, it is the children that see more than adults do, pointing out the unexpected, speaking the unspoken, asking the unasked questions. When is it that we stop being children to unconditionally follow the norms of society at all kinds of costs?
Sitting with the sadness. The third advent's theme was "Sadness Changes to Gladness." The part that is so hard to swallow, though, is that "changing to gladness" doesn't necessarily mean the sadness goes away. In fact, there are so many reasons to lament and be sad. Broken relationships, war, poverty, destruction of creation, unhealthy patterns of consumption, greed, and violence invade every aspect of our lives in one way or another.
With the first Sunday of advent come the simple little changes that I have come to make to mark this season as set apart. Placing candles on the table, shifting devotionals from regular materials to special advent resources, getting out Christmas music and decorations, and planning special worship with our faith community all happen year after year during this season.
Today during a field trip with the Intensive English Program at Eastern Mennonite University, the staff had some miscommunication. The resulting disorganization didn't cause any major problems, but was a bit frustrating and confusing for both students and staff. At our staff meeting when we got back, we discussed what went well and what we could have done differently to improve. We thought of past trips and how we could use ideas from there, how we could create times to meet and communicate before departure, and what unique situations had happened today that may or may not happen again.