Some years ago, walking down a crowded and fast moving street in Munich, Germany, a lone monk walked among us. Perhaps Buddhist, perhaps some other denomination or no denomination at all. But it was clear that he was a monk, someone a bit removed from the hustle bustle that enveloped the rest of us. He walked very slowly, one step at a time, and rang a little bell every now and then.
No one really noticed him, we all hurried around him. But I never forgot him.
Just this week I read about The Prophets of Oak Ridge
. An 82 year old nun, a drifter, a painter. In the dead of night, these three people penetrated the exterior of Y-12 in Tennessee, supposedly one of the most secure nuclear-weapons facilities in the United States. By exposing what they believe to be the fallacy of national security, by smuggling their anti-war message into the judicial system through the back door, they believe they are putting the country on trial.
Definitely odd people. Outside the norm.
This is what Father Delp says about the man crying in the wilderness, one of his 3 figures who carry the Advent message:
“We live in an age that has every right to consider itself no wilderness. But woe to any age in which the voice crying in the wilderness can no longer be heard because the noises of everyday life drown it - or restrictions forbid it -- or it is lost in the hurry and turmoil of ‘progress” - simply stifled by authority, misled by fear and cowardice ...”
“... There should never be any lack of prophets like John the Baptist in the kaleidoscope of life at any period; brave men [sic] inspired by the dynamic compulsion of the mission to whch they are dedicated, true witnesses following the lead of their hearts and endowed with clear vision and unerring judgement. Such men [sic] do not cry out for the sake of making a noise or the pleasure of hearing their own voices, or because they envy other men the good things which have not come their way on account of their singular attitude towards life. They are above envy and have a solace known only to those who have crossed both the inner and outer border of existence.
“Such men [sic] proclaim the message of healing and salvation. They warn man of his chance, because they can already feel the ground heaving beneath their feet, feel the beams cracking and the great mountains shuddering inwardly and the stars swinging in space ...
“May the Advent figure of St. John the Baptist, the incorruptible herald and teacher in God’s name, be no longer a stranger in our own wilderness. Much depends on such symbolic figures in our lives. For how shall we hear if there are none to cry out, none whose voice can rise above the tumult of violence and destruction, the false clamour that deafens us to reality?"
- Fr. Alfred Delp SJ, “The Prison Meditations of Father Alfred Delp”, p.22. 1963 Herder and Herder New York
Indeed. The false clamor.
There used to be the Berrigans, powerful stories of those faith-driven people who went to jail for actions that were meant to wake us up.