Weil was a woman who had to learn and to know through experience. She lived with the poor. At one time in her life, she worked on the assembly line in a car factory. Later, in a solidarity with members of the French Resistance, she lived on a diet so meager that it cost her her life.
"What have you to say to me," I wondered as I turned those pages. "What have you to say to me, a woman who likes her comfort as I do?" Then I read these words Weil wrote describing the effect of her time in the car factory,
"What I went through there marked me in so lasting a manner that still today when any human being, whoever he may be and in whatever circumstances, speaks to me without brutality, I cannot help having the impression that there must be some mistake...."
Faces flashed before my eyes: the quiet students that sat in the back of classes I had taught, women at the shelter--their heads down, their eyes half closed, shop clerks I thought were rather surly. Could it be that they, like Simone Weil, had grown accustomed to a measure of brutality in their lives? I wondered to myself, "Had they learned to steal themselves against brutality?"
Then I remembered a prayer I once read. Here it is: Our Father, we pray for the qualities which can help build thy kingdom on Earth. We ask that we may be given the wisdom to see Thy will, courage to do it, strength to resist our own desires which might cause us to put our will before Thy will, humor that we may be acceptable to others and not foolishly pious, and kindness because we know that Thy will must be done through love.
Faces again moved before my eyes: the gentle woman who once said, "I never use that word 'hate'"; the kind-eyed man who stands in the back of the church on Sunday mornings and quietly cheers the altar party on; the people at Live at Five receiving one another with a tender kindness and a warm embrace.
There is so much brutality in our world. We have only to open the morning paper or turn on the TV or check our browser screen to catch a glimpse of the news on our browser page to get a sense of the rawness of many people's days. And yet there is a different way to live in this raw world of ours. The Kingdom Way.
This Sunday we will have a chance to hear how one group of people is living from and sometimes in this Kingdom Way Christ calls us to. Justin Remer-Thamert will be with us at worship and the potluck supper. Justin is Program Director of the New Mexico Faith Coalition for Immigrant Justice. He will talk about his organization and the work they are doing with the New Mexico Conference of Churches in response to immigrant children arriving from Central America - and how we can be involved in offering them moments of and avenues to tenderness and peace.
This Sunday we'll also be starting a new custom for Live at Five's Fourth Sundays--we'll be celebrating birthdays and anniversaries with a prayer, a blessing and a song. This Sunday we'll be celebrating all August and September birthdays. On the fourth Sunday in September, we'll be celebrating October birthdays.
In gratitude for all of you whenever your birthday falls.