Circle the Cities With Love


Yesterday was a profoundly inspiring day for me.

At the end of our Morning mass I found myself quite moved, tearing up even, as we joined hands and sang “We Shall Overcome.”  My bones carry a deep memory of our struggles of the ‘60’s.

Early in the afternoon I was in a gathering of people who came and stood together for a half hour of silence along the north curb of Ogden Avenue (Rt. 34) in our village of La Grange Park.  Several of us along the line held signs which said:  “Circle Our Cities with Love.” “STAND FOR LOVE.”  We were standing for peace and justice and love in our cities, our nation, and our world.  Many of the cars passing by slowed, many honked, and someone stopped and stood with us.  Some who were less able sat in silence indoors.  Those who came to stand with us (The Congregation of St. Joseph), and afterward to sing a blessing for our world, expressed great gratitude for being able to do this.  “It is so good, so empowering, to be able to stand together with others for what is so important to us at this time.”  This event was inspired by our sisters in Cleveland who, before the republican convention in July, had circled the city of Cleveland with love.  (see it here)

Circle the Cities

After standing for love, I joined a group next door at Nazareth Academy to watch the film “Martin Luther King, Jr: An Historical Perspective” being shown by leaders of the black community of La Grange in celebration of MLK’s birthday.  To relive the life of that brilliant and courageous man, to experience his belief in the ideals of our Nation, and his belief that we Americans would be capable of living the values upon which we were founded, was very moving.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men(women) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness….“

What follows the words above in our beloved Declaration of Independence is very instructive.  I would still like to believe, as Dr. King did, that all human beings are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with rights and responsibilities to one another, (and to our planet). As one who was held “unfree” himself, discounted, inferior by the cultural laws of a social order built on the blindness of prejudice, Dr. King believed that if America was to be a great nation, faithful to our values, we must become engaged in making it so. Inspired by Jesus and Gandhi, he taught how to bring non-violent resistance to unjust laws, by “non-violent non-cooperation.” We remember the horrific violence of police/people in power then, who did not know what to do with non-violent, peaceful actions, marches, boycotts, sit-ins. And yet our nation’s laws did change, at such great cost. And many Americans–both black and white–woke up to their own prejudice and came together in those non-violent actions, believing that “We shall overcome.”  Justice, peace, goodness and love SHALL overcome!

This belief was strengthened in me once again yesterday by all the comings-together I was a part of. I pray that yesterday’s events bring me to a place of readiness to engage with others in such contemplative nonviolence and sacred activism in this critical moment of choice for our Nation, our world, our planet.

Mary Southard CSJ