We meet the 1st and 3rd Thursdays at St. Gertrude's Ministry Center
(6214 N. Glenwood), beginning at 8:00 p.m. Folks are welcome to join us at anytime.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Brick walls are coming down.

At the recent "Cost of War" Catholic Worker Retreat, I heard numbers, figures, and estimates of the cost of war. Frida Berrigan's talk contained endless amounts of numbers and explanations- which were helpful in grasping the big financial picture- but I found myself most struck by the title of her speech. The Cost of War. Or, maybe, the costs of war. What are the real costs of war? Loss of human dignity, compassion, love- my mind swirled.

Chris Hedges's presentation was also striking, and contained more information than I could ever process in one evening.
And again, I sat wrapped in the idea of what war means for us. Not us-Americans, or us- 'Global Citizens', but us- the living, breathing, even gasping- Body of Christ.

And for a while, all I could think of was my friend Paul and the costs of war for him. At the center of Paul is a beautiful, devoted desire to follow the will of God in his life. And now Paul is in Iraq. Even as I type this, I struggle to really grasp what that means. What war is costing Paul. This war is not an act of love, or the will of God-- yet Paul is there, and Paul is struggling- living, breathing, gasping.

When I sit with the idea of war, and when I pray and converse with Christ about war, I can sense how deeply war has seeped in and affected me. I can feel the walls of fear war has built around my heart, and I can see those walls of fear in the eyes and actions of others. I can see those walls in the Body, how we've segmented ourselves from each other. The white picket fences that keep well-intentioned neighbors at an arm's length, the privacy that rarely invites others in, and the literal walls America has built to blockade the world.

Christ's love has not always been apparent to me through others. My mother has an exclusive love that I'm in or out of and my father has a harshly conditional love. My extended family does not operate as a whole; it looks out for the good of the individual members. However, love through community has torn down the brick walls of fear in my heart. However we separate ourselves in the Body, we remain united in love. The love of Christ in community creates a tangible beauty that overcomes fear. This love enables us to reach our arms out towards each other instead of wrapping them in a barrier around ourselves. This love seeks to heal wounds, to breath new life into the broken, gasping Body.

In this love, Christ challenges me to continue to reach my arms out. I am challenged to have faith that another set of arms will reach back and catch me, or I will learn something valuable in falling.

"This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. It is so to speak His name written in us, as our poverty, as our indigence, as our dependence, as our sonship. It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely." -Thomas Merton

Our work is to unite Merton's points of light, to build the Kingdom through love of each other. War has cost us a great deal, and continues to... but we know a unity and love through community that evaporates the walls of fear war has built. My hope in Christ, in the Body, in community sustains me amidst all that strips humanity of dignity. Amidst all the costs of war.


  1. Claire, thank you so much for this beautiful reflection. I too have been thinking of the costs of war. Every time I have mentioned that retreat it's a catalyst for reflection. The cost goes far beyond monetary effects and monetary effects themselves extend beyond finances. It's a lot to think about.

  2. Claire, this was beautiful and echoed so much of what I'm trying to come to terms with, having a family member who will be deployed to Afghanistan this summer. I so appreciate this, and you.