Thursday, September 15, 2005

Train my hands

Psalm 144
Journal entry dated September 15, 2005

"A blessing for the Lord, who trains my arms for war, my hands for battle"

This psalm begins as the song of the well-trained warrior. Yet it ends with a vision of a world beyond war and the threat of war, a world where children grow up to take their places in society, where there is plenty of food and animals are well-cared for, where there is no breach in the wall, no terror in the streets, no captives being led away to exile.

The great lure of war has always been the false promise of building a better world through violence. But if it is true that we cannot build a new world through war, which seems more apparent every day, it is equally true that we will not build it through inactivity, by sitting in our homes and watching television or by talking about it. We have to build it with our hands.

Thich Nhat Hanh writes that if you look into your hands, you will see all the past and all the future of the world. It's a shock for someone like me, a wordsmith by trade, to realize that the New City will be built, not with words, but with our two good hands. I say to the she-guerilla from time to time that I am jealous of her. She works with her hands, produces something real, tangible. She makes handmade soap, artisan breads, delicious meals from organic ingredients. At the end of the day, I am left with nothing but words on paper.

"A blessing for the Lord, who trains my hands for..." what? It's not enough to say "peace;" this is far too abstract.

Train my hands for art, for music, for cooking, for kneading bread. Train my hands for building homes for those who have none; shape my fingers to the hammer and the nail. Train my hands for gardening, to feel the richness of the soil. Train my hands to plant, to build, to create, to heal.

If ever we beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks, it will not be with our words, but with our own hands.

The future of the world is literally in our hands.

At noon on one day coming,
Human strength will fill the streets
Of every city on our planet,
Hear the sound of angry feet
With business freezed up in the harbor,
The kings will pull upon their hair
And the banks will shudder to a halt,
And the artists will be there

'Cause it won't take long,
It won't take too long at all,
It won't take long, and you may say,
"I don't think I can be a part of that,"
And it makes me want to say,
"Don't you want to see yourself that strong?"

"It Won't Take Long," by Ferron
as performed by the Indigo Girls

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