A Prayer for Peace: Reflections from President Molly Martins

In response to the events that took place on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, January 6, Penguin Hall gathered together to reflect, process and respond as a community on Thursday Morning, January 7. President Molly Martins addressed the student body, faculty and staff with this reflection and prayer for peace:

“Good Morning to our Students, Faculty and Staff, and Families,

It has been an unprecedented night. I am sure you were like me and my family watching these events unfold in our Nation’s Capital last night. I can imagine that each of you is experiencing these events in very different ways.

Our country is in the midst of two pandemics. One has taken hold of us for over a year. And the other pandemic has had its roots in our nation for far longer than it should: racism. As I searched for words to share with you this morning, I was reminded of a sermon of Peace and Hope given by the Late Honorable John Lewis of Georgia on January 17, 1999 at the National Cathedral in Washington DC.

As you know, John Lewis was – a representative, a statesman, and, in early days, an extraordinarily courageous young leader standing on the front lines against bigotry and hate.

His speech at the National Cathedral was given on a Sunday, the day before MLK day 1999. I think you will note that Congressman Lewis’s words of 22 years ago are especially relevant in light of yesterday’s events and the upcoming observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

I would like to share some excerpts from his sermon now.

He writes in part:

‘The past few years have been one of the most dramatic, moving periods in human history.

We have seen men and women sacrifice truth, deny truth, hide truth for a false and negative peace. All of this bears out the teachings of ancient Greek philosophers and modern day scientists who share the view that everything in the universe is in constant change. As we gather here this morning, the spirit of history is upon us and the future of our great nation is before us. We are the keepers of a new world for our children and for unborn generations. We are a nation troubled by scandal and the politics of personal destruction. We as a nation are not at peace with ourselves. Our national community is sick and her heart is very heavy. Her soul is aching and her spirit is low. The cry for peace is as old as the dawn of civilization and as fresh as the rising sun.

Our divine duty in this society has tracked us down—we must right wrong, do justice and love mercy.

If we turn the pages of history, we will see that no physical warfare has ever guaranteed us peace, that violence has never assured us of nonviolence, that paying the terrible price of hatred has never bought us one ounce of love.

The struggle as we see it in our world today is not simply between physical forces, but it is one between ideas and ideologies.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke to the heart and the conscience of all of us who believed peace and love offered a more excellent way. This good man, this God-fearing man gave us hope in a time of hopelessness. This good man, this man of God, this son of America, this citizen of the world produced light in dark places. Dr. King, more than any other American of the twentieth century, had the power to bring more people together to do good—black and white, Protestant, Catholics and Jews, young and old, rich and poor. Martin Luther King, Jr., knew the power of love. His weapon was truth. His method was creative non-violence. His goal was the Beloved Community—a community of justice—a community at peace with itself.

So we were walking with the wind. Friends, the storms may come. The wind may blow. The thunder may roll. The lightning may flash. And rain may beat down on this old house we call America. But we must never, ever leave the house. All of us must stay together and walk hand in hand. Let us walk with the spirit and let the Great Teacher be our guide. Peace be with you.’

Before we take a moment of silence I’d like to think about our chat as a virtual book of intentions. Therefore I invite anyone to write the name of someone you are thinking about or your hope of peace for our world in our chat window.

A Prayer for Peace

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;

Where there is hatred, let me sow charity;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is error, the truth;

Where there is doubt, the faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light; and

Where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master,

Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love;

For it is in giving that we receive;

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

And it is in dying to ourselves that we are born to eternal life.

May we put our trust in the power of good to overcome evil and the power of love to overcome hatred.

I wish you peace in your day.”