On Saturday I had the privilege of participating in the March For Our Lives in Washington, DC. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in our nation's capital along with thousands of others in sister marches across the country and around the world. In a peaceful non-violent way, we were led by students ranging from elementary school to high school in calling for an end to gun violence through stricter gun control. The day was full of both love and suffering as stories were shared by children who experienced the trauma of losing friends and/or family members to gun violence. I was reminded of the following quote by Father Richard Rohr:
"Only love and suffering are strong enough to break down our usual ego defenses, crush our dual thinking, and open us up to Mystery. In my experience, they like nothing else exert the mysterious chemistry that can transmute us from a fear-based life into a love-based life...No surprise that the Christian icon of redemption is a man offering love from a crucified position." (from p. 122 or The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See)
Our lives individually and nationally are in deep need of transformation from being fear-based to love-based. The student leaders of this new movement are following in the foot steps of students in the civil rights movement whose witness also combined great love and great suffering. They helped to transform parts of our society that seemed unchangeable. The deeply embedded gun culture of our time seems just as resistant to change. Yet the events of this past Saturday and the witness of Jesus' suffering, death, and resurrection that we commemorate this Holy Week show us that love and suffering are the way that transforms our lives, our nation, and the world.