It was a joyful group that gathered today at Ground Zero and processed over to the main gate of Bangor Naval Base. We numbered about fifty, all decked out in rain gear and boots and umbrellas, though by the end of the vigil we had the sun come out to join us.
We read together. Steve Kelly read for us the words from Isaiah, about “setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke.” And the world’s liberation, Isaiah tells us, is ours as well: “Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed.”
Next, Lynne Greenwald read for us Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen’s exhortation to “take up the cross in the nuclear age,” to be followers of Jesus’ nonviolence, to “dismantle our weapons of terror and place our reliance on God.”
Thomas and Louise read for us from letters sent by sixth graders to Judge Settle. The schoolchildren asked for “a clean, safe, and peaceful future for me and my family,” and for the “miracle” of peace and and a life-giving economy in our country.
Besides listening to words of hope, we SANG! James Morgan’s guitar was more than a match for the little bit of rain it was subjected to, and we were given the opportunity to lift our voices in celebration of courage and truth, singing “Have You Been to Jail for Justice,” and “The Ballad of the Disarm Now Plowshares.”
We prayed for deliverance from and forgiveness for racism, sexism, war, and torture; wastefulness, arrogance, impatience, and silence. We asked that our hearts be converted to compassion, nonviolence, justice, and hope.
Finally, we ended by receiving together the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “We must challenge war as a means to achieve justice, and end the insanity of spending a trillion dollars on war, little on social welfare and the common good.”
The sun shone on our procession back from the Bangor Naval Base gate to the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action. People were smiling, talking, kids were skipping, and our banners shone brightly. We went forward united by the drumming and chanting of the Nipponzan Myohoji monks and friends.
What did our vigil accomplish? We lived life, felt joy, and shared the warmth of friendship. We shared with each other the sources of our hope. And we did all this in a place where evil is silently assented to every day. For a moment at least, we broke the shell of apathy.