Peacable kingdom

Peaceable kingdom
Peaceable kingdom

What a preposterous notion; wild beasts, carnivores sitting with their natural prey without devouring them and a baby petting a leopard who seems to like it. Edward Hicks, the man who found his spiritual home among Quakers who are known for advocating peace not war, portrays just such a preposterous concept in his collection of paintings.
I loved these paintings long before I learned about the artist. I wondered what inspired Edward Hicks. A devout Quaker, his inspiration came from the Scriptures, “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.” Isaiah 11 unfolds the Peaceable Kingdom.
Edward Hicks' rendition of Isaiah 11:6
Edward Hicks’ rendition of Isaiah 11:6

I remember learning about Quaker attitudes toward violence from the movie, Friendly Persuasion I watch it every time it is shown on TMC. The acting performance of Antony Hopkins adds to the movie’s appeal.
Today, we are surrounded by pictures of violence. You cannot avoid seeing violence committed against men women and children shown in every media. We may have become jaded or perhaps we tune it out. Yet, we long for a peaceful world. How can we bring it about? Is there anything we as individuals can do to stop the tidal wave of violence in far off place in our communities and in our homes? In 1661, George Fox, made his declaration against wars and strife to Charles II. His declaration is known as the Peace Testimony. He is reported to have been inspired by the Holy Spirit. Quakers and people holding to non-violence look to Jesus at the time of his arrest when one of his companions cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest, He said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Quakers and many Christians do not believe in taking up the “sword”. Read more about it here: See more about Quakers and peace
I am awed by one woman’s effort to stop violence in her community. She saw children captured and forced to become soldiers, her neighbors raped, violence and brutality destroying her community and she acted to change the course of history in her Liberia. That woman is Leymah Gbowee a social worker, she began a movement with other women by praying and signing in a fish market. Leymah Gbowee was able to bring about a change in her community. I am captivated by these brave courageous women. Surely they were lead by Spirit to Pray the Devil Back to Hell Learn more about this movement here Pray the Devil Back to Hell
I am inspired by all the men and women of peace. But I am confused by the events a few Sundays ago when Pope Francis delivered a message from his window The fate of the Doves of Peace is in doubt. In the company of two children, he urged a peaceful resolution to the violent clashes between protesters and police in the Ukraine. He released two doves, long held as symbols of peace, above the crowds. The two doves were attacked by a seagull and large black crow. The shocking incident recorded by many, went viral. It is not natural for human beings to live in peace and harmony.
Peace must be chosen over violence over and over again. Lions and leopards cannot stop hunting smaller animals. It is how they survive. We human beings do not have to devour each other. Killing, brutalizing, raping terrorizing another human being or condoning and supporting such behavior is a choice for evil. Perhaps the women in Liberia have the answer; praying the devil back to hell. Praying for peace, living peacefully begins with me, with my words and my actions with the choices I make every day. What do you say?

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Gabriella was born in Budapest Hungary. Some of her family still resides in Hungary. After escaping the Communist regime in the aftermath of the 1956 Revolution, Gabriella's family settled in Cleveland OH. She graduated from Cleveland Heights High School and attended college but did not earn a degree. She met her husband in Devon PA, and soon they were married and began family life in PA. Only a few years married, John and Gabriella moved to FL to be with Gabriella's aging parents. Two o their three children were born Florida. After the children began school, Gabriella volunteered in schools and libraries. Her love for swimming drew her into the world of aquatics. Part time coaching jobs evolved into career aquatic management. Her children out of the home, Gabriella worked full time as an aquatic manger, coach and swim instructor. In 2001, John and Gabriella's plans to ease into retirement in Tucson changed drastically when John suffered a heart attack in 2002. John’s amazing recovery after bypass surgery allowed Gabriella to seek a new career. It was a life changing experience for both of them. Gabriella returned to school at the University of AZ and John took over household responsibilities. A shift occurred in their lives. Gabriella felt called to become a spiritual care provider. Preparing for seminary, she chose interdisciplinary program, combining Psychology, Family and Religious Studies. She graduated with honors in 2006. Gabriella and John moved to Berkeley for her to begin seminary at the Pacific School of Religion. Gabriella was accepted on the ordination track in the Swedenborgian Church of North America. Her goal was to becoming a chaplain. John's health crisis necessitated a move from Berkeley back to Tucson in 2008. Gabriella transferred to Earlham School of Religion to complete the Master’s program. In her senior year, working in required Supervised Ministry, Gabriella created a dual ministry; Circle Community, a sharing, praying and studying support group and worked as a crisis advocate in Tucson area hospitals. Most of her family was present in Cincinnati OH when Gabriella was ordained in July 2012. In July of 2011 she was ordained in the Swedeborgian Church and accepted a call to be the pastor of the New Church of Southwest FL. Soon after her ordination Gabriella accepted a call to become the pastor to the New Church of Southwest FL in 2011. John, a VA patient needed comprehensive medical care unavailable in Fort Myers. For Gabriella ministry begins at home. Once again new a health crisis changed their life. They moved back to Tucson AZ. Back in Tucson, Gabriella found ministry opportunities with Circle Community, did workshops and conducted weekly Prayer Meditations at Rincon U.C.C. She completed a course in Spiritual Direction at the Hesychia School for Spiritual Direction. In mid October 2012, Gabriella began to work as a Chaplain for Harmony Hospice. The job all she had expected. She found great satisfaction working with patients and their families. Gabriella left the per diem position with Harmony for a full time job with Valor HospiceCare. Here too, she worked with grieving families, conducted grief support groups and lead Community Memorial services during the same time that her husband's health was spiraling downwards. Gabriella resigned her job to care for John in the last months of his life. John died in April 2014. Life became chaotic. An intense search a chaplain position in Tucson and other parts of the country was unsuccessful. Peers suggested Gabriella look into open churches with the Swedenborgian Church. She candidated in Kansas with two churches. She was called to pastor the Pretty Prairie and Pawnee Rock churches in July 2014. A new life began with the move to rural Kansas. In August 2014, Gabriella began to serve as the Pastor of the two churches.

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