by Charles Busch
Fields of Peace is a response to what is happening in today’s Global Village: the awareness of people throughout the world that they are part of an immense, intimate whole; and that to injure a neighbor is to injure oneself. Governments can’t respond to this; their understanding is subject to borders. It is our religions that know about oneness and the power of love; and it is out of the smallness of local congregations that this world change will happen.
A unique initiative in peace education, Fields of Peace was inaugurated last month in Oregon. Its purpose is the formation of a national network of faith communities committed to emphasizing the message of peace and nonviolence found in each religious tradition.
An Extension of Peace Village for Children
Fields of Peace is the creation of Peace Village Inc., an Oregon nonprofit with 14 years experience in teaching nonviolence to children in inter-faith settings.
Our vision is one we hold in common with other peace organizations. We work to awaken more and more people to the practical wisdom of nonviolence-solving conflicts by choosing the means of mutual respect and patient negotiation.
The focus of Fields of Peace is on local faith communities. Participating communities will receive, without cost, an ongoing supply of educational materials to help in the preaching, teaching and daily practice of nonviolence.
Spiritual leaders live with many demands on their time and attention. I know, I spent 20 years as a parish minister. This means that the message of peace, central in each religion, gets preached once or twice a year and taught even less frequently. Leaders need materials which are ready to use, multifaceted and interesting.
Places of Spacious Welcome and Sanctuary
The title “Fields of Peace” describes faith communities: places of spacious welcome and sanctuary. It was inspired by the ancient Sufi poet Rumi:
Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing
There is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
Doesn’t make sense.
The invitation to participate in Fields of Peace is inclusive: all communities of faith, as they define the term, are welcome. The only requirement is a recommitment to the message of peace proclaimed in one’s own tradition.
The structures for reaching a significant population with the message of nonviolence are already in place: neighborhood synagogues, mosques, churches and shaghas. They are the places we go each week, open ourselves and ask to be transformed by love. I believe that it is by nonviolence the word “love” is to be lived today.
Faith communities interested in participating may go to the website www.fieldsofpeacepv.org, or email Charles Busch at firstname.lastname@example.org. The mailing address is 1845 NE 16th Street, Lincoln City OR 97367.
“It all depends on how big you think your family is.” –Nadeem AslamΦ
Charles Busch, the founder and President of Peace Village, Inc. and a United Church of Christ minister, lives on the Oregon Coast.