The bright sun streamed through the windows of Jean’s House of Prayer today as roughly fifty people crowded together in prayer, song, faith, hope and community. We came together in honor of our dear friend and co-conspirator in the struggle, Bill “Bix” Bichsel before he reported to SeaTac Federal Detention Center to begin serving his sentence for the Y-12 resistane action.
Joe Power-Drutis began our time together by bringing out his old and well-worn Bible, the pages of which, when he opened it this morning, opened somewhat prophetically to Isaiah. He handed the Bible to Bix who read those prophetic words about turning swords in plowshares, and nations not lifting swords against other nations, and people not learning war any more.
Diane Whalen, the first female priest in Washington ordained by Roman Catholic Womenpriests, was invited to lead the remainder of the service. She began by inviting everyone to call out the names of those who were present in that space with us. The already crowded house overflowed as a litany of names rang out: Jackie Hudson, Chief Leschi, Dorothy Day, Susan Crane, Anne Montgomery, Mother Teresa, Liz McAlister, Martin Luther King, Rachel Corrie, Phil and Daniel Berrigan, Chief Seattle, Steve Kelly… The spirit of both the living and the dead were fully present with us.
Then Dianne asked us to pray today not only for Bix, but also for ourselves, for the oppressors, for the world so desparately in need of healing. And then the people called out another litany, this one of things for which we need healing:
fear, anguish, judgement, sadness, idolatry, racism, self-rightousness, all forms of violence, apathy, nuclearism, US domestic and foreign policy, the 1%, homophobia, addiction, confusion, sexual violence, separation, despair, ignorance, mental illness, our prison system, denial, abuse, hunger, aggression, classism, childhood trauma, poverty, domination, selfishness, passivity, torture, dishonesty, slavery, damage to Mother Earth, war, sexism, homelessness, weapons…
Dianne then asked us to take all of these “illnesses” and imagine the healing oil of God’s love and peace, that we may act to heal them.
Lynne Greenwald shared the final passage from Jim Douglass’s book Lightening East to West. In this passage Jim tells of the valley in the mountains of British Columbia where he lived at the time, and where he wrote this. He spoke of the rock sculptures that were built over months or perhaps years, and which created a vision “so that the person, or community of persons who had sensed it could live in truth and peace.” Jim then finishes with an invitation to each of us.
In our nuclear end-time, a vision of the kingdom demands concrete expression in the world if we are to live in truth and peace. We need the patience and single-mindedness to form that vision of a global community out of the rocks of our own lives and communities, and to build up a vision of the kingdom of God on earth, from life to life, from community to community. In our own valley of division and darkness, there is an invitation into Oneness, a transforming way to follow.
I believe that you and I are invited. We are invited over the fences and into the heart of the Trident base. We are invited down through tunnels and through vaulted doors into the War Room of the Pentagon. We are invited into acts of ultimate perfect emptiness and compassion in the places of total destruction of life on earth. We are invited into these places because they are ours. In the nuclear age we live in darkness, in the absence of God, and the darkness is not separate from ourselves. Going to the heart of Bangor or the Pentagon will bring no revelation of destruction. We’ve been there every day of our lives. In a time of total violence, our love has grown cold.
In walking into the darkness of these places which we know already in ourselves, we may eventually discover a tiny ray of light. As we go more deeply with more faith and love into our own responsibility for darkness, that ray of light could intensify and fan out into the brilliance of a billion suns. The Light in our darkness is real. The transforming unity we seek is here.
After more prayers, song and a Blessing Bix shared some thoughts with us. He spoke of what an incredible community this is and how at times when he wanted to flee how different people in the community pulled him back into community. “I am no more than who you are, or what you are, or who we are together. And… I kind of have to blame you for the hope… that I could not do any of this without any of you. But what I am called to, you, probably in greater ways are called to.”
Bix said that the strength of this community is marvelous, and that although the task ahead of us is daunting, the grace is abundant and we can walk in that, and that we should trust our hearts and continue walking and working together. “To what much is given, much is expected.”
Bix gave thanks for not only coming together today, but for who we are as a community, for the coming together, and for the strength, the power and the grace, the wisdom and the good, and that it is humbling for him to be a part of that.
Bix finished by saying that “the graces you pray for today, I think they come to us as a community. And I very humbly walk at this particular time, but we are all called and we all have strength beyond imagining, and it all comes from our community.”
After a blessing by Senji Kanaeda from the Bainbridge Island Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Temple and a rousing chorus of The Ballad of Disarm Now Plowshares (No, Nay, Never) , Bix said many goodbyes before walking out to the waiting car. He was smiling all the way.
Although Bix will be in prison for three months his spirit, just like all those spirits present with us today, will be with us both individually and collectively. I can already hear him calling to us through those thick SeaTac Prison walls – calling us, in Jackie Hudson’s immortal words, to take a step (or even a half step) outside our comforts zones.
We are called. Can you hear it?
With Peace and Gratitude ,
P.S. – I wanted to get this posted right away, so stay tuned for photos tomorrow, and hopefully a video as well.