Listening to the Young...

Soon, some young people will be visiting me in the River House to share in prayer , work and conversation. I am very much looking forward to being with them . One thing is clear to me: many young people today are learning a great deal about peace and working very hard to create a more peaceful world. At the same time many are rejecting official Church and Christianity . As I listen to them I hear one young man say;" I don't believe in Christianity anymore. It has lost its credibility." Another young woman says;" I can't go to Church anymore. It is so negative and moralistic." All the young people I meet are searching for meaning, purpose and a way of living that is full of goodness and joy. Some find it very difficult to distinguish between happiness and joy; between superficial good feelings and a deep and lasting joy of life.

What are we learning from them? What do they need from us?

Just yesterday I heard a young Christian man speak of his desire to become friends with a Muslim man . It was a matter of honest human connection and not an issue of shared religious belief. The old categories are falling away. In their place are emerging mutual respect and understanding. Along the way, a greater awareness and a new sensitivity to people and language is growing. This is beyond political correctness. It is a burning desire to communicate in fresh , new language, the realities of faith. The old language is in need of transformation in order to facilitate a deeper human communion and to release the wellsprings of the spirit.

On Thanksgiving Eve Wednesday, November 25 I'll be in Long Island, New York to lead an inter-faith gathering. The chanting then will include new language such as" May All People Live in Peace; Live in Justice, Live in Peace." " May All People Live in Truth; Live in Wisdom, Live in Truth." And this: " Deep Within a Song is Heard; Deep Within My Soul." " Sing the Day and Sing the Night; Sing the Darkness , Sing the Light." "Oh...Ghra Ma Chree" ( Irish for " Love of My Heart").

Many are struggling to find and create new ways of expressing the beauty and goodness of the tradition . That is surely the task of every generation. When we clear away the dust and cobwebs( read negativity and moralism) we see the essential. Music can do that. So can prayer.

For those of us who seek to follow Christ there is much to learn and un-learn. Perhaps the best way to move forward is by listening. Take the time to listen more deeply within to our own inner life. Take the time to listen without to the things and persons in every moment of our lives.
No judgement. No rash reactions. Only deep , calm, awareness. For out of this pool of contemplation comes the wisdom of response.

Your Little Brother,
Stefan Andre


Let's Build a Community of Peace...

From August 7- September 7 , 2009 we held a Pilgrimage of Peace at Rolling Ridge Retreat Center in West Virginia. About 300 people came through. Some stayed a day or two, others a week or more. Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox and those who are seekers came to sing, pray, share in conversation and meals, and work together. Many states in the U.S. were represented and even a delegation from Russia arrived to visit. As a result many things have emerged. Over the past three weeks I've been invited to speak and share music at various places including the National Cathedral in D.C., Georgetown University, Contemplative Outreach in N. Virginia, Camp Pecometh in Maryland, and a meeting of Sojourners' interns. At times some young people have accompanied me in these visits. Delightful all...

When asked what they need from the church many students at Georgetown University responded by saying that they need community and a new way of being church that welcomes, affirms, and includes everyone. We need to listen to such voices more deeply.

In the upcoming weeks we'll hold meetings in different churches, retreat centers, and colleges. All of this is to seriously/playfully work toward the creation of a new ecumenical community - a Community of Peace. I want to invite you to join with us in this joyful work: to create a new community that will be similar to the community of Taize in these ways: first, it will be deeply ecumenical - both Catholic and Protestant; second, it will be a community of reconciliation with a special heart for young people and the poor.; third, it will live a daily common life with a beautiful sung prayer of original music that all can participate in. It will be different in this way: it will be a community of men and women; a community of equality. Little by little, day by day, we will build ...

Some have expressed an interest in exploring life in such a monastic community . Others want to support the community in various ways. There is a growing ground swell of interest and support. It's an exciting time...

I cherish your prayers and thoughts.

In Peace,
Your little brother,