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Dear Friends,

As we honor the Muslim holy fast of Ramadan, we draw our inspiration from the Muslim Sufi mystic poet Hafiz celebrating the preciousness of life and eternal life:

God's Bucket

If this world
Was not held in God's bucket
How could an ocean stand upside down
On it's head and never lose a drop?
If your life was not contained in God's cup
How could you be so brave and laugh,
Dance in the face of death?
There is a private chamber in the soul
That knows a great secret
Of which no tongue can speak.
Your existence, O love my dear
Has been sealed and marked
"Too sacred," "too sacred" by the Beloved -
To ever end!
Indeed God
Has written a thousand promises
All over your heart
That say,
Life, life, life
Is far too sacred to
Ever end.

- Hafiz (Sufi poet)

You may be familiar with the ministry of Fr. Roy Bourgeois to close the School of the Americas which has long been engaged in training assassins in Latin America and elsewhere. We ask your help in calling and adding your voice to this crusade:

The Deadline has Arrived, and We Need Your Help Once More!

Click here to activate your family and friends for the White House Call-In Day on Tuesday, August 16.

The deadline for the congressional sign-on letter asking Obama to close the SOA/WHINSEC is here! Thanks to all your support, we managed to get 69 Representatives on board. A great accomplishment! Now is time for the essential task of delivering the letter to President Obama, and once again we need your help. The letter will have the most impact if it is accompanied by calls from interested people from all over the country telling the President to "Shut It Down". So we are asking you to call the White House this Tuesday, August 16th and let him know that you support the closure and investigation of the SOA/WHINSEC.

Please spread the word about the SOA and the upcoming White House Call-in Day. Click here to tell your friends about it!

This is an important time in the search for justice for victims of massacres committed by SOA graduates. On Monday, August 8, 2011, nine former soldiers and government officials from El Salvador were arrested for their role in the 1989 the massacre of 14-year-old Celina Ramos, her mother Elba Ramos and six Jesuit priests at the University of Central America in El Salvador. More information is available here. SOA violence continues today in Colombia, Honduras and other places. In order to prevent atrocities in the future, it is imperative that we take advantage of this push to close the school and to end U.S. militarization in the Americas. Accountability for the perpetrators of the 1989 Jesuit massacre, while a long time coming, appears to be within sight. However no such accountability has been applied to the institution in the US that trained them.

We have provided a petition that succinctly defines some of the key problems with the SOA, and why it needs to be closed. If you have not signed the petition, please do. We will also be sending you an email on Tuesday, reminding you to call the President's office. In the meantime, let your friends and family know about this call to action. This would be a perfect time to talk with someone who might not know much or anything about the School of Americas, and encourage them to call in next Tuesday.

In order to help you get this message out to as many people as possible, we have created a Tell-a-Friend page with some information about the School of Americas and the current legislative campaign to shut it down. Please take contact up to 20 of your friends and family with this crucial call-in action. Click here to start notifying people!

Thanks,
The Folks at SOA Watch

May your monastery of the heart be abundantly graced and well-lived in....

Ron & Jean

Dear Friends,

In our most recent letter, we quoted from Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, and invited you to reflect on what your personal "I Have A Dream" speech might contain. As we approach the anniversary tomorrow of our country's tragic experience on 9/11 ten years ago, it seems appropriate to continue considering the question of our dreams. I think it safe to assume that all of us yearn for peace, and profoundly lament the tragic loss of life ten years ago. It seems inconceivable that over 3,000 Americans began their day as any other, only to lose their lives in the senseless act perpetrated by extremist fanatics. In the ensuing years, our country's engagement in its "war on terrorism" and "Operation Enduring Freedom" with the end result of the deaths of an additional 6,236 Americans serving in the military, and over 10,000 Iraqi ISF, and 50,152 Iraqi civilians. I can't seem to locate a count of Afghani civilian causalities....but we can imagine.

The question for me is: Can we imagine a different kind of response rather than meeting aggression with aggression; violence with violence? I have been so moved by the story of two widows from this area (Patti Quigley of Wellesley and Susan Retik of Needham) whose husbands died in the attacks on 9/11. These women were each pregnant during their time of loss and in their time of great need were amazed by the support, emotional, financial and otherwise which sustained them and helped them to cope. In the midst of their grief, they had the heart to imagine what it must be like for widows in Afghanistan, and they appreciated that these women would be in far more dire circumstances than they, and from their imaginings founded a non-profit, traveled to Afghanistan, which has made an enormous difference in the lives of a number of Afghani widows and their children. Their story is one among many who share how they began to live differently after this tragic event in their lives. All because people allowed themselves to imagine a different road to peace! The way to peace in our world begins with each of us....with our hearts being opened to 'being' in a new way.

The search for a peaceful way of being is as old as humankind. Conflict has always been a part of the human condition. One thing is clear. The path to peace has to begin with each of us "imagining" and living out of our dream for peace. Joan Chittister's writing this week on "Spiritual Imagination" offers a reflection on Benedict's dream of world peace. It provides us with a 'recipe' for nurturing and feeding our imagination.

Spiritual Imagination

Joan Chittister

Over the archway of every medieval monastery were carved the words, Pax Intrantibus, "Peace to those enter here."

The words were both a hope and a promise. In a culture struggling with social chaos, Benedict sketched out a blueprint for world peace. He laid a foundation for a new way of life, the ripples of which stretched far beyond the first monastery arch, to every culture and continent from one generation to another, from that era to this one, from his time and now to ours. To us.

That is our legacy, our mandate, our mission—as alive today as ever, more in need in today's nuclear world than ever before.

Benedictine peace, however, is not simply a commitment to the absence of war. It is, as well, the presence of a lifestyle that makes war unacceptable and violence unnecessary. Even if we dismantled all the war machines of the world tomorrow, it would be no guarantee that we would have peace. The armies of the world simply demonstrate the war that is going on in our souls, the restlessness of the enemy within us, the agitation of the human condition gone awry.

To all these things we need to bring our own world—new spiritual imagination. Imagine a world where people choose their work according to the good it will do for the poorest of the poor—because they saw it in us.

Imagine a world where holy leisure, spiritual reflection rather than political expedience began to determine everything we do as a nation—because they saw it in us.

Imagine a world where the care of the earth became a living, breathing, determining goal in every family, every company, every life we touch—because they saw it in us.

Imagine a world devoted to becoming a community of strangers that crosses every age level, every race, every tradition, every difference on the globe—because they saw it in us.

Imagine a world where humble listening to the other became more important than controlling them—because people saw it in us.

Imagine a world where what makes for peace becomes the foundation of every personal, corporate, national decision—because they were called to it by us.

Let us resolve again to follow the fiery-eyed radical Benedict of Nursia whose one life illuminated the western world. Let us, in other words, live Benedictine spirituality and illuminate our own darkening but beautiful world.

– from Radical Christian Life: A Year with Benedict by Joan Chittister

As we re-member the events of September 11, 2001, let us re-commit to finding ways of being peace in our personal and communal lives. We can make a difference, and if we don't we can imagine the consequences. We've experienced the horror of terrorism, our world is desperate for a new model. Let us imagine together the difference we can be as we deepen our personal experience of 'being peace'!

Loving blessings,

Jean & Ron