Rosa was in a pensive mood as we walked along the bike path to a friend's birthday party yesterday. She'd been re-reading the journal she had written in each day of second grade at the start of the school day. "I noticed something," she told me. "Last year I wrote a lot about the world. You know, helping it out, making it a better place."
"Hmm..." I said. "Why do you think you were doing that?"
"Well, if you are actually going to make the world better, you have to imagine it better. Don't you think, Mama? Otherwise you just complain all the time. And then you end up noticing all the bad things and you end up complaining even more."
As usual, she had a good point. We talked the rest of the way about how once you start imagining a better world, you can notice parts of that better world already happening in our not-so-perfect world here and now.
Today, I'm getting ready to notice the way in which people are working now to make peace with each other, even in the midst of nations and leaders who conspire to make war. Our congregation has invited about 15 Iranian-American muslim women and men to join 15 of our for a conversation over cookies and tea this afternoon. Our conversation will be led as a "World Cafe", a process that is both simple and ingenious. It releases the collective wisdom of a group like nothing else I've experienced.
This is a conversation that has been several months in the making, and when we first considered it, there was so much talk of war with Iran coming from our President and other national figures that I was becoming convinced that another juggernaut had started to roll. War would soon be unpreventable. Things have calmed down a bit since then thanks to the bravery of some members of the "intelligence community", but the situation is far from resolved as recent events have reminded us.
Even Rosa knows that when you expect to see hostility every where, you'll be likely to notice it. So today I am getting ready to notice something different in my interactions with Iranian muslims. I am getting ready to build a relationship that might be one of thousands which will--just maybe--change the expectations of our leaders.