by Rev. John Dear, S.J.
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace
This week, I’m traveling through Scotland and England on a national speaking tour about Jesus and peacemaking. Here is a little journal account of the first half of my journey. Next week, I’ll post the second half.
Wednesday, Aug. 22, Edinburgh, Scotland
I arrived this morning from Amsterdam after a long journey and rested for a while at the Jesuit house on Lauriston Street near the Grassmarket plaza at the foot of the famous Edinburgh Castle. I know the Jesuits here from previous visits and feel at home in this beautiful city. It claims to be a city of peace, and because it hosts the world’s largest arts, drama and literature festival every August, I think it just might be worthy of the name. Thousands of people come from all over the world to attend this monthlong festival, which features more than a thousand programs.
In the midst of it all, little St. John’s church at the foot of the castle offers its own monthlong Spirituality of Peace program, featuring music, prayers and speakers on every aspect of peace. They invited me to speak this evening.
The weather is perfect — sunny, warm, breezy. I walked through the city streets and enjoyed a cup of coffee in one of the cafes before my evening event at St. John’s. It was billed as “a conversation on the spirituality of peace and nonviolence” with Kathy Galloway, the former director of the Iona Community and current director of Christian Aid of Scotland, one of the world’s largest Christian charity organizations, and me. Activist Brian Larkin, director of the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre, hosted us and moderated the conversation.
We had a lovely evening, talking to a good crowd about our life journeys and the Christian life of peace. I spoke of the Beatitudes and the call to be peacemakers. Kathy talked about love as the basis for our work, and gave us concrete examples about how she maintains her peace — baking bread, tending to the garden, taking time for prayer. Kathy is a lifelong peacemaker, a respected church leader and a great writer, the author of many well-known books on spirituality. Afterward, we both enjoyed the reception at the peace and justice center. A wonderful evening and a good start to my British pilgrimage…