Peace Begins With Me!

Doves have long been a symbol of peace.  A dove was sent out by Noah to survey the waters of the great flood in search of dry land, returning first with an olive branch and on its second journey never returning which proved to be a source of great joy for Noah and his family.  The Holy Spirit assumed the form of the dove at the baptism of Jesus, signifying the joy of the Father at his mission of bringing peace to the world.

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of joining Dennise Burgess and Ana Long in leading the First Grade through the Eight Grade classes at St. John the Baptist Catholic school in San Lorenzo in a lesson on peace.  The students  identified famous peacemakers and we discussed what they did to promote peace.  Most often mentioned was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela.  Mother Teresa, Gandhi, and of course Jesus also made the list.  Each student received a peace dove (see photos at left and below) and was asked to write a sentence on what they believed peace to mean.  The responses were quite remarkable and too numerous to mention here.  A few examples include: " no fighting and everyone being kind," "not wanting to be in control," "a calm that is inside a person" and "being loving, no violence.".

After the doves were completed, we took the class on a short walk from the school to the front of the Maryknoll Mission House where we recently "planted" a peace pole.  We gathered in a circle around the pole and talked about what it represents and what the neighbors might think about as they walk by and see the pole.  We then prayed a prayer for peace and sang a song, accompanied by Dennise on the guitar and Susan Schaeffer keeping us all on key!  Children can be inspiring promoters of peace when given the chance to step up to the challenge and I am often amazed at their wisdom. 

The next week, Dennise returned to the school to collect the doves and post them on two bulletin boards in the hallway where the students can look at them every day.  They are quite impressive when hung together and bring to mind the picture of Pope Francis taken with the doves in St. Peter's Square that has gotten so much press lately. 

If you work at a school in the San Francisco Bay Area, or know of one that would like this type of lesson for their students, just give us a call at (510) 276-5021 or email me at keast@Maryknoll.org
 




















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