Moment of Love Wednesday: August 2010

Hello there, friends. This post is reaching you a couple days later than planned. My apologies! Hopefully you'll forgive my tardiness once you hear about my find for this month's Moment of Love Monday. It's simply amazing.

But before I share it, I want to say how much I love the way you responded last month to the idea of using this monthly feature to showcase others putting love into action in the world, especially when their doing so reflects two of the core values of our tribe:

  1. A commitment to offering creative, life-giving love in response to any degree of violence or hatred, and
  2. An unwavering belief in the power of love to overcome violence.

I'm looking forward to the things we'll learn together as we explore what others are doing to bring greater light and love into our world in creative ways. (And if you come across any great stories that ought to be featured, feel free to send them my way! My e-mail address is christianne at journeytowardnonviolence dot com.)


And now for this month's feature.

Meet Karen Walrond.

Karen writes one of my favorite blogs on the internet, Chookooloonks. It's an incredible photography blog infused with a whole lot of soul. I'm constantly in awe of what Karen can do with a macro lens (for example, see this), and I love the way she translates her careful attention to detail and beauty behind the lens into making the world a more caring, human place.

For example, this fall Karen is publishing a book called The Beauty of Different. It's a book that combines photography and words to celebrate what is unique and different in each one of us, based on the idea that these unique little gems -- even those parts we deem imperfections -- are what make us so heart-achingly beautiful.

Don't you just love that idea?

Another example: Karen has been running full-steam-ahead on a pretty fantastic life list, and one item on her list includes the audacious goal to photograph 1000 beautifully different faces. Yes, you read that right: one thousand different faces.

That is just incredible. And perhaps even more incredible is how big a dent she's already made in that goal in a matter of months.

This woman is a warrior!


So, speaking of Karen as warrior, let me tell you about a campaign she's running this month on her blog that we can be a part of.

She calls it Photobomb.

Here is the story of how I learned about it. Two weekends ago, I logged onto Twitter and noticed three consecutive tweets from Karen resting near the top of my Twitter feed:

I'll be honest. When I first saw these tweets, I didn't think much of them and just kept scrolling through the rest of my feed. But then a few moments later I saw this update from Karen:

Okay, how could I not sit up and take notice when I read that?!

So I went back and read the link in her initial tweet. It leads to a CNN article about a church in Gainesville, Florida that is staging a Quran-burning event on September 11. The church believes Islam is "of the devil" and is promoting the event on a Facebook page that had (as of the article's printing) 1,600 fans.

When Karen put out the request on Twitter for constructive ideas to counteract the Quran-burning event, someone suggested sending cards and images of peace to the church as a reminder of love. It reminded Karen of a photo drive she ran on her blog last Christmas (one that had been wildly successful), and suddenly it made complete sense to do just that.

In that moment, Photobomb was born.

Now through August 25, Karen is collecting photos from people around the world who want to send the church in Gainesville a different message -- a message of peace -- in the hopes of counteracting their violent affront against Islam, its followers, and their holy book.


I'm sure it's easy to tell why this Photobomb project would inspire me. My own journey toward nonviolence began when I encountered the idea that love was the only force powerful enough to overcome violence. Nearly two years have elapsed since that moment, and every day I still live each day with the question Is it true? ringing in the back of my mind.

I want to see what -- if anything -- sending images and messages of peace to that church in Gainesville can do to make a difference.

But even if it doesn't make any kind of difference, I guess the truth is that I want to do it anyway. So much of this nonviolent path is really about who we will choose to be in any given moment or when faced with any situation.

When faced with this particular situation, then, I want to choose peace and love.


So, here is the image of peace I am sending to Karen in this coming week. It's a picture of my little girl kitty, Diva, looking up with the same eyes of great trust and vulnerability she turns on me each day. It's a look that breaks my heart every time because it fills my heart with more love and care for her than I hardly know how to hold inside myself. And truthfully, it's a look that teaches me more about God's love for me and my love for him than reading the Bible does most days.

Perhaps this picture will provoke similar feelings of tenderness and love in the hearts of those who receive it in Gainesville.


So, what about you? Will you be a part of the Photobomb project? If so, click here to learn how to participate.

And if you do participate, share a link in the comments below to the photo you will send! It would be fun to see the ways in which our community participates in this counter-campaign of peace.

Moment of Love Monday: July 2010

Hi there, friends. I've got an adjustment to Moment of Love Mondays that I'd like to share with you, and I hope you will find it a helpful improvement.

Early in the life of this blog, I asked what topics you, the tribe, would like to see featured here, and a couple of you said you'd like to see examples of love lived out. It was a confirmation to me that Moment of Love Mondays would be a helpful feature for us to learn from concrete examples what this nonviolent path can look like.

In the beginning, I imagined these monthly observances would simply be an open forum for us to share stories from our own lives with one another -- ways that we had personally chosen love in difficult moments each month -- and that's how I ran the feature from the start.

But lately I've begun to think it could encompass more. Specifically, I've begun to think it would be helpful to use these monthly Mondays to highlight stories of others who are putting love into action in inspiring ways or difficult places so that we can, collectively, learn from what they have done.

What if Moment of Love Monday became a place to feature stories and learn from them together? What if those stories became mini-object lessons for us as we learn our way along this path? I know that I, for one, would love to discover stories like this and discuss them with you.

What say you? Are you up for this adjustment to the plan?


In the spirit of this new approach to Moment of Love Monday, then, I've got a remarkable story to share with you.

It's the story of a gentleman named Nathan who enacted a version of "protesting for love" when he and his friends at the Marin Foundation showed up at the Chicago gay pride parade two weekends ago wearing shirts that said "I'm sorry." They held signs that said things like "I'm sorry for the way churches have treated you" and "I'm sorry that Christians judge you."

Collectively, they demonstrated confession and contrition for the hatred and judgment and rejection the church has traditionally offered the gay community, and they sought to offer love instead. It was, for them, a beginning attempt at reconciliation, especially because the Marin Foundation exists to build bridges between the Christian community and the gay community.

They never expected the response they received.

Not only were there hugs and kisses and "thank yous" and "I forgive yous" offered continuously to them by the paraders marching by throughout the day, but one young man named Tristan, dressed in nothing but his skivvies, jumped from a float and threw his arms around Nathan once he realized what the group was doing. The media immediately descended on this unlikely photo op, propelling the group's demonstration into the public eye.

You can read the full story -- along with the 400+ comments it inspired -- here.


I find several things remarkable about this story.

The first is the almost unanimous response of tears. When I first read the story, I tweeted that it brought tears to my eyes. Later, when I went back to read the extensive comment thread, I learned I was not alone. It seemed as though every other comment said about the same thing. Here's a sampling from just the first handful or so comments:

Your post brought me to tears.

I wept when I read your posting.

I read your post to a few of my friends last night. We were all shedding a few tears.

I really wasn't expecting to cry while reading this.

I am crying as I type this.

I'm in tears.

Much of the comment thread goes like this.

There's just something to be said for a simple act of love bringing people around the world to tears almost unanimously, isn't there? Perhaps one thing it says is just how needed love is in that particular context: the relationship between the Christian community and the gay community.


Which touches on the next thing I find quite remarkable about this story: how many people came out of the woodwork to share their stories of having turned their backs on religion because of the way Christians had treated them or their friends for being gay -- but then saying that this act of love by Nathan and his friends had given them new hope that not all Christians represent hate.

See a few examples here (emphases mine):

I lost my faith a decade ago, due in part to the homophobia I was surrounded by in church, but it was enormously healing to read this, and it reminded me of all the things I used to like about Jesus :)

It has been a long time since I have attended church, yet this article has touched my heart in a way that the multitudes of angry protesters never could.

I am not a Christian, but your story has deep, meaningful impact to me.

For the majority of the past two decades I have attended gay pride parades as a proud participant, marching in many. I can vividly recall one of the early ones, a protester carried a huge sign that read "Thank GOD for AIDS." That sign, as horrific as it was, impacted the way I viewed Christians, and even changed the way I physically reacted when I heard the word "God" for years to come.

I feigned tolerance toward the religious, not wanting to do the same to you as was done to me, but all the while secretly hating, being guilty of grouping the religious all into the camp that sponsored that sign, so many years ago. I can say with happiness and relief that your actions and story have brought about the first relief from that hate.

Thank you.

I find that last comment particularly impactful, hearing that a person was brought to have a physical reaction to the word "God" because of the message sent to them on a protest sign years ago. Wow. It makes my heart hurt to know humans -- especially in the name of God -- can injure one another to such a degree.


Finally, I was perhaps most especially moved by a few commenters who reciprocated the apology.

Take a look at one example:

I'm not going to lie. Only a few months ago, I had a conversation where I expressed the idea that all of Christianity was a loss. That there just weren't any good Christians and that anyone who said they were a Christian should instantly be suspect as hate driven.

After reading about you and your mission, I have to tell you, "I'm sorry."

I was wrong for dismissing all of you without knowing there are people who actually understand the message I read in your gospels. While I don't hold your beliefs. I have always admired the man described in the New Testament. Jesus was clearly and completely about love. I do believe in love.

I regret that I made a judgement without knowing all the facts. And a judgement made in hate. It seems there is reaching out to be done from both sides of the barricade. Thank you for making the first move.

If what you believe is true, then I know that the Jesus I read about must be very impressed by you and your group. I am.

Again, wow. I'm amazed that people were not only moved to tears -- and some to places of healing -- by the demonstration of Nathan and his friends at the pride parade, but that some of those who had come to hate Christians would be moved to apologize for that hatred, too, because of the love demonstrated by Nathan's group that day.


The journey toward nonviolence, for me, began when I encountered the idea that love is the only force in the universe powerful enough to overcome and transform violence. This was a notion that would not let me go, and I set out on this journey toward nonviolence to discover if it was true.

This story about Nathan and his friends and what happened in the aftermath shows me that there really is something to this idea. People are not only moved by love, but they are moved toward one another. This makes me keen to keep following the path and learning what more love can do.

So, what about you?

What do you make of this story?

Does it teach you anything about love?

Does it teach you anything about hate?

Does it have a personal impact on you in some way?

Moment of Love Monday: June 2010

[youtube=] [An example for us on this Moment of Love Monday of what it looks like to offer love in the face of -- and in place of our own -- judgment, anger, or hatred.]


Hi there, friends.

Just as we recently began a monthly tradition called Repentance Thursday, we also began a monthly tradition called Moment of Love Monday.

It happens every month on the Monday following Repentance Thursday.

Which means it happens today.

You can read the background on this monthly exercise here.


At its core, Moment of Love Monday is an opportunity to share how we practiced love -- particularly in a difficult situation -- in the previous month.

This exercise is rooted in our belief that love is more powerful than violence and has the power to transform it.

It is also rooted in our commitment to offer love in response to any degree of violence or hatred in our lives.


This will not always be easy, and we will not always have stories to share.

But it is a chance to learn from each other.

To get creative.

To see what is truly possible.

And to be putting into practice these things we say we believe.


To start us off this month, I've shared a video at the top of this post that I discovered on Donald Miller's blog several weeks ago.

It's the story of someone who encountered hate and offered love.

I find it truly inspiring.

It embodies, for me, what the nonviolent ethic is really like.

I'd like to live this way more often.


So, as you look back over this past month, consider the following:

  • How did you choose to practice love in a difficult moment?
  • How did the injection of love into that moment affect the circumstances?
  • How did the choice of love in that moment affect you in the aftermath?

I look forward to hearing your stories. You are such an inspiring tribe. I'm so privileged to be on this journey with you.

Moment of Love Monday: May 2010

[youtube=] [A video for inspiration on this first Moment of Love Monday, submitted by one of our fellow tribemembers, Gigi.]


Hello, friends.

Can I take a moment to say how honored I am to share this space with you?

Your response to our first Repentance Thursday amazed me, and I was deeply moved by your willingness to practice confession with each other in this space.

Thank you.

Thank you for being here.

Thank you for being a part of this community.

Thank you for being a community worthy of each other's trust.


As we take the first Thursday of every month to practice our personal need for repentance, we will take the following Monday of each month to celebrate moments of love.

This second monthly ritual will be known as Moment of Love Monday.

Our first experience of it is today.


As many of you already know, one foundational pillar of this website is our belief in the prevailing power of love.

We explored this idea as part of the JTN manifesto series when we acknowledged two things:

At the core, we are a community of people about the work of love.

As we go about our work together here, we are seeking to grow in our capacity to embody and express that love.


Moment of Love Monday will keep us mindful of this core belief and give us regular opportunities to share stories and learn from each other in this process.

It is a place to:

  • Share how we practiced love in a difficult moment the previous month.
  • Share how an injection of love into that moment affected the circumstances (if at all).
  • Share how the choice of love in that moment affected us in the aftermath (if at all).

In some ways, I view Moment of Love Mondays as a bit of a laboratory. Together, we are testing for ourselves this idea that love has the power to transform.

In other ways, I view Moment of Love Mondays as a place of true inspiration and testimony. We will see ourselves grow in love over time, and we will teach each other how love, in all its varied and creative  forms, can look.


Since this is our first Moment of Love Monday, I don't expect you to have stories at the ready for sharing.

(Though if you do, feel free to share away!)

So perhaps instead . . .

Be mindful today of an opportunity to practice love.

And then, when you find that opportunity, come back here to share the story.

I'll be joining in with my story later today.

Will you join us?