My word for today is Shalom. This past weekend I encountered this word in various guises during the plenary talks and in the home group sessions at the Friends World Committee for Consultation Section of the Americas meeting. It means so much more than the English equivalent, peace. It can be used to mean wholeness, completeness, well-being, or, as Cornelius Plantinga puts it, “The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight.” In his talk during the weekend, Carl Magruder likened the state of Shalom to “God’s will on earth as it is in heaven.”
What does this concept mean for me today? I feel affirmed in my call to work for eco-justice, to work for Shalom. This concept lifts me up from the despair I sometimes feel these days when I listen to or read the news. Are we experiencing a “great unraveling,” as some writer claim (e.g.,Paul Krugman)? If so, does it precede the “Great Turning” that Joanna Macy writes about? On a personal level, I can relate to the idea that the egg must be cracked, the bread must be broken, the seed must burst, before transformation and growth can happen. I’m not so sure about the global level, but I think that positive change may be preceded by destruction. I don’t think it means that we should sit back and watch the destruction happen, nor should we spend our energy fighting each new onslaught. Rather, we should work toward that greater goal, hold out the vision of Shalom.