Advent 2022 newsletter
Hang Tran, Cambodia
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.
Recently we lay missioners in Cambodia had our annual retreat on the topic of nonviolence at the Jesuit Reflection Center in Siem Reap province. The center was built initially to respond to the victims of land mines and refugees from the wars in 1960s-1990s.
There are several sculptures on the ground of the center. One sculpture in particular is rich in symbols and meanings. It has the shape of a wall with three dimensional figures of Cambodian children, women, men and Buddhist monks walking in a procession.
The middle section came into focus first. It depicted differently abled people with wheelchair, crutch and cane, etc. Some brought bouquets of flowers as prayer offerings. Most were huddling, touching the shoulders of others in solidarity and encouragement. This section appears to represent the aftermath of wars.
The far left section of the sculpture showed people holding their two hands together in a gesture of gratitude and reverence. The monks and people at the front of the procession were rolling the wheel of transformation. This section might signify openness to faith in action for a brighter future, collectively.
The far right section of the sculpture displayed people carrying sheaves of rice and other goods on their shoulders and their heads, children running carefree, flying kites or flags, and a tree with full foliage. This section would be a vision of abundance, joy and good living.
Scanning the entire sculpture, one can see the ever presence of the doves of peace hovering over the people at every juncture, and the countenance of folks exuding hope. Though the retreat has ended, I continue to reflect on the various facets of transformation — from suffering to healing through the path of compassion.
Back at the Home of Hope, we are making a few ramps to allow wheelchairs to access older buildings. It is a small peace-making step for the kids who can roll their own wheelchairs, and hopefully also for the kids who could roll the wheelchairs of their friends.
Peace making seems to be in the ordinary realities and a daily practice that requires compassion for self and others.
Please consider making a special gift to Maryknoll Lay Missioners’ “Walk With Us” campaign, which raises money for the recruitment, training and ongoing support of all of us lay missioners. We can only “walk with” the people here because you are “walking with” us. Thanks to matching gifts, every $100 given to the campaign in effect becomes $150. To donate ONLINE, click the “Walk With Us” button below. Thank you so much for your generosity!