Searching Among Swords and Plowshares, Spears and Pruning Hooks


"'Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob.  He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.'  The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.  He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples.  They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore [Isaiah 2: 2-4  NIV]."

From India to Israel, Italy to Hungary, over the last 15 years I've enjoyed, and cherished, the opportunity experiencing the richness of diverse ethnic, and religious, traditions.  A learning process to be sure.  People living thousands-of-kilometers away from one another share a multitude of differences …. significant differences. History — Language — Cultural Traditions. Climate — Environment — Landscape.  And with such diversity — so much distinct diversity — immersion in any one of these countries [ .. or in any one of hundreds of other unfamiliar locations … from Africa, to Asia, to South America, to Australia] — whether as a stranger, visitor, or 'foreign national' …. requires adjustment … and education.  A learning process …. again, and again, and again:  discovering where we share commonality and where we share differences, where we find understanding and where we encounter disagreement (and sometimes confusion), where we uncover despair, or suffering …. and where we seek solutions — that heal.  Where we speak as one voice - in harmony and agreement:  and where we listen, and hear, with open minds — seeking dialogue and relationship.

Relationship, dialogue — so central  …. to so much of our daily life.  Whether family or community, institutions or governments, our success in 'interacting with others' — in meaningful, constructive, and caring ways — requires building, and opening, an inclusive, trusting, caring relationship where our intent is on creating understanding, and deepening communication ….and not on manipulation, control, possession, or dominance. 

Anyone who has experienced a caring hand during a time of suffering or tragedy in their life knows the tremendous gift of a compassionate relationship — a relationship that seeks to bring comfort, and healing, to a person (or group or family) … living in loneliness or despair, fear or isolation, pain or suffering.  In this 'embracing environment', where "we can see beyond the narrow confines of cultural differences", we find the example, the model, the pattern for compassionate relationships.  From this healing space we can meet the stranger, the broken, the wounded, 'the other'.  In this caring, 'holistic' environment — where we speak as one voice, sharing our 'wounded togetherness' — we can "help people to recognize the work of God in themselves."1

What does it mean to be a healer in the modern world?  How do we cultivate a relationship that responds completely — unrestrained — with care, compassion, concern …. for one another?