Rev. John Dear, S.J.by Rev. John Dear, S.J.
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace

A hundred and fifty of us gathered on Sunday night, Aug. 5, at Ashley Pond in Los Alamos, New Mexico, at the exact spot where long ago the Hiroshima Bomb was built. Right at 5:15 p.m — 8:15 a.m. Monday morning, Aug. 6 in Japan — we heard live, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, the ringing of the Peace Bell in Hiroshima.

It was deeply moving. Each year, thousands gather in Hiroshima in Peace Park to commemorate the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing with a ceremony and the ringing of the giant Peace Bell. But here we were, standing in Los Alamos where the bomb was made, listening live over our sound system to the deep sound of the bell in Hiroshima. For once, people in Hiroshima and Los Alamos were connected in commemorating the U.S. bombing. It was a holy moment.

After we heard the solemn bell several times, all hundred and fifty of us processed in silence two by two up Trinity Boulevard toward Oppenheimer Way and the main entrance of LANL, the Nuclear Weapons Laboratories.

At 5:45 p.m. precisely, we each donned sackcloth and poured ashes on the sidewalk and sat down in strict silence, using this ancient biblical symbol of “sackcloth and ashes” to “repent of the mortal sin of nuclear weapons and beg the God of peace for the gift of disarmament.”

We sat in contemplative prayer for thirty minutes. Cars passed by. Clouds hung overhead. And you could hear a pin drop….

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