Starting Point
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Issue Date:  February 3, 2006

Starting Point


We’ve had rainy, dark weather for the last two weeks. The sunless days make everyone feel a little depressed. The only ones who don’t seem discouraged are a small group of protesters who gather each week during the noon hour in front of the old courthouse in downtown Adrian, Mich. Calling themselves Peacemakers, they carry signs condemning the war in Iraq. Sometimes they sing “Give Peace a Chance.” At other times they simply stand and wave at passing cars. The demonstrations began when the United States first considered a preemptive strike against Iraq.

The Peacemakers have been at the street corner for so long that they are becoming invisible. Drivers no longer blow their horns in support or disagreement. Pedestrians pass by as if there were no one there. The local newspaper no longer sends a reporter to cover the story. Yet they persevere, adding a spiritual dimension to their protests: a Tuesday ecumenical evensong for peace.

I asked Sr. Dusty Farnan, one of the group’s founders, why they continued the demonstrations. “We have family in Iraq,” she said, referring to the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine who live in Mosul, “and we believe there is a peaceful way to settle disputes. The demonstrations will continue until we withdraw from Iraq.”

As we move from the joyful cycle of Christmas, through Ordinary Time to the quiet season of Lent, it is good to reflect on these weekly demonstrations that make faith visible. The Peacemakers have this ridiculous yet sublime belief that they can bring peace to the world. They seem naive, hopelessly out of touch with the world.

Yet, isn’t this the impossible teaching of Jesus who said, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to [this] mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea’ and it would obey you” (Luke 17:6)?

The dark winter season is a time to nourish our faith so that it grows from a tiny seedling into a tree. Help us believe that, in God’s good time, our great tree of faith will spread beyond us, encircling the world in peace.

Lois Spear is a retired Dominican sister who lives in Adrian, Mich.

National Catholic Reporter, February 3, 2006

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