mandela moments

I saw Invictus today with some of my housemates. An excellent film, even if it is about a sport I don't pretend to understand (rugby). It's also about Nelson Mandela and creative nonviolent peacemaking off the field, even if it uses a somewhat violent sport (on the field) as part of the creative nonviolence.

I was reminded of my "mandela moment" which I've written about before, but not for a long time. It's worthy of a repost I think:

"If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then your enemy becomes your partner." (Nelson Mandela)

I remember clearly the day Nelson Mandela was released from prison. I was a Senior in High School working as a checkout cashier at my local K-Mart. Back in the smoky break room the TV was on as usual with some inane fare. Suddenly they broke in with the news – Mandela was being released!!!. I was mesmerized. My coworkers wanted to change the channel, but I prevailed. I sat there well beyond my allotted break time, watching history happen. Watching freedom happen. Watching peacemaking happen.

I finally went back to work, a changed woman, only to realize that most of my coworkers didn’t know who Nelson Mandela was. They probably didn’t know what apartheid was for that matter.

The quote from Mandela is profound, especially considering all he went through. I’m feeling more and more called to be a peacemaker in my life. To work for peace in the world, church, and my own circle. And yet I’m the first to admit how far I fall from that ideal. I think petty thoughts. I grumble. I sometimes lash out or focus on the differences rather than build on the common ground.

But the desire is there. A line from the groovy sister’s Constitutions has been very present to me the last few weeks: "Our founding spirit calls us to further the work of peace. Responding to this call we experience our own need for continuing conversion to gospel values which engender peace."

Jesus calls us to continuing conversion. He knows we’re not perfect. "I did not come to call the righteous but sinners," he says in today’s gospel.

Those are my Sunday evening thoughts. Busy week ahead with plenty of opportunity to practice peacemaking I'm sure. But for now it's time for bed.

Ironically, 4 years later, it is also Sunday (evening not afternoon). I'm still on the path to nonviolence, often more aware of my own violent thoughts and words than I am any creative nonviolence on my part. But the desire is still there, and that definitely counts for something!

Invictus starts with the scenes of Mandela's release, which made me think back to that extended break in the K-Mart employee lounge. How much has happened since then, in my life, in our world. And yet, nonviolence is still, I believe, the way. May we all learn how to embrace the way of nonviolence. That peace, love, understanding and compassion may stop being cliches, and become a way of life. Amen.

1 comment:

Pachyderm said...

Sounds good - and as a NZer with one of the world's best rugby teams (the All Blacks) and a fan of the game, I'd get that bit too! Nelson Mandela is an amazing inspiration - I remember that moment when he was released too. Can't remember where I was, but remember the event.

Glad you had a great Christmas, Sister. I had my vesture into the Community of Solitude on Advent 4 and got a new name!

Sr Therese