Recently, I marched alongside thousands of people who wanted to bring peace and justice into the world at the November 2010 vigil to shut down the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia. I attended Mass with activists from all walks of life, from those who had been fighting for years to those who were just beginning their fight; those from the Midwest to the west coast. It was easy, at times, to feel a little lost in the crowd. I found myself asking, “Where do I fit into all of this?”
Then I started to think about St. Therese of Lisieux, who in her autobiography, wrote: “Our Lord has deigned to explain this mystery to me. He showed me the book of nature, and I understood that every flower created by Him is beautiful, that the brilliance of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not lessen the perfume of the violet or the sweet simplicity of the daisy.”
Some flowers are easy to spot; they shine brightly, and their voice carries through the crowd. Others are meant to make sacrifices on the front lines, climbing over boundaries in the hopes of tearing them down. Still others are meant to sing and dance, to make an impact with the beauty of their presence. I wondered how I fit into it all. I have not been blessed with the gift of public speaking. I have never had the talent to sing or dance with any sort of distinctness. And though I didn’t feel uncomfortable joining in the festivities, I still found myself longing for my own space in the garden.
This experience was a great one. It was amazing to see the beauty of God’s creation, with its diversity amongst the solidarity. It feels to me like each one is striving for peace and justice in his or her own way and though sometimes, some ways may seem to be conflicting, we are all connected through the common thread of God’s love. It is easy to feel lost in the crowds sometimes. It is also easy to be a little turned off by the ways that others express themselves. However, I’d like to believe that each way is important in its own way. Each way moves us all closer to that peaceful world of which we all dream. And vigils like this bring diverse groups together so we can take those steps towards peace side by side.
Rosa Lee is a volunteer with the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach in Washington, D.C.