Photo taken at Shakori Hills Community Arts Center in Pittsboro, NC in 2010.
While my dissertation concerns the satire of war and the irony of 16th-century Catholics & Protestants killing each other in the name of Jesus, when September 11, 2001, arrived, academic discourse seemed far less crucial than active engagement. Then living Central Jersey, my husband and I were blessed to know religious leaders of a variety of faiths. An Imam came with us to a peace rally in NYC soon after the towers fell. He had to leave early to meet a member of his congregation at the airport who was returning in a coffin—the victim of a retaliatory murder for no reason other than that he wore a turban.
Our Hindu friends and Sikhs organized marches for peace. Israeli friends denounced the persecution of Palestinians. The United Methodists brought together people of all racial backgrounds and nations. Our Baptist friends reached out to other denominations and our Cuban friends embraced us as family. In the midst of insanity and grief, there was hope, healing and transcendent love in relationships with people of many faiths, races and nationalities. In the microcosm of our local community, we found the macrocosm of the world coming together as one.
In our family, we had been through hospice with my husband's mother in July of 2001. Then, my husband's health began to deteriorate and he was diagnosed Parkinsonism. Subsequently, with siblings from Alaska, to Arizona, to Vermont we went through hospice for my father in Florida (2003), my husband's father in Connecticut (2005) and my mother in Florida (2006). We moved up and down the east coast from Florida to Upstate New York to Connecticut, and homeschooled our two sons as we went.
My husband made the best of his increasing disability as we continued to engage spiritually with higher love in the midst of grief. Our inward cultivation of peace of soul led me to build a labyrinth when we moved to Carrboro, North Carolina. We opened it to the public on the International Day of Peace, September 21, 2008. In December of the following year, we closed the labyrinth, donated the bricks to a fellow building a sustainable house of recycled material, and we moved for the ninth time in as many years to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. As our spiritual odyssey continues, bridging the physical and spiritual realms, we continue to meet great souls on the path. To all, we are grateful for the difference your unique heart, mind and hands make for our human family and we wish you peace.
Peacebuilding is different from "peacemaking" and "peacekeeping" in that it focuses on creating a long-term culture of peace, rather than solving existing conflicts or preventing old ones from re-occurring. Peacebuilding activities aim at building understanding and tolerance between individuals, communities and societies and establishing new structures of cooperation. Peacebuilding activities range in scale from personal acts of kindness toward others to global inter-governmental programs.