My Story

I was 19 years old and had just recently moved to the D.C. area. Filled with excitement over the big city and anticipation of all the new adventures, I took a job at a mortgage funding company as a receptionist.

Although already three years into college, I just didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Getting an MRS degree was really what I wanted – to get married and have three children. Caring for the children, cooking, decorating and party-throwing was my aim in life! However, there were bills to be paid, especially in the Arlington, Virginia rental market where I lived. The job didn’t pay much but it was a start.

The job was one I enjoyed. The people were good to me, and knowing that I was a newbie was easy for the whole building since I had such a lively Southern accent. People welcomed me heartily. I tried my best to do a great job, so I was proud one day when I was invited to a dinner by the head of a department I had helped in a special way. I was going to be rewarded for a job well done.

The people who I thought were also attending didn’t come, so it was just me and the department head. It was one of the very best places in Washington DC, and the small-town girl inside me was still brimming with excitement.

When he told me that I should wash my hands before dinner came, I thought it odd but I complied. He was over 20 years my senior. When I came back to the table and began to eat and drink, I felt sick. I went back to the restroom and threw up. I remember a kind lady in the restroom asking me if I was ok and I told her I was. Returning to the table, he said he would take me home and I could get my car the next day. We didn’t make it home. He had something else planned.

I won’t go into details about the event itself, but I will share how it felt afterward. When I did get home, I began sobbing – loud and guttural. My housemates came to check on me and I shared what happened. Eventually, I was able to sleep and woke up the next morning to call in sick to work. How would I ever go back to that office to work with him again? I needed the money for my bills, and although I knew my parents would help, I was too ashamed to call and ask.

My sister Trish also lived in the area, so I reached out to her. She was compassionate and caring. Her boyfriend was on the DC police force, so she encouraged me to talk with him. I did, and he told me what many others are told: it will be your word against his. Could I endure the emotional toll of pressing charges? All I wanted to do was escape and never think about it again. I did not press charges.

My job would not pay for limitless time off, so I went back in and avoided the department head in all possible ways. Those in his department knew something had gone wrong and they bridged necessary work communications between me and him. During my lunch break, I met with a job search company (called headhunters back then) and shared what had happened. The representative I talked to was compassionate and began searching for jobs I could take despite my limited job experience.

Coworkers outside of his department knew that something had happened. Many of them reached out – one even invited me to go to church with him and his family. Even though they cared about me, I just couldn’t bring myself to tell them what had happened.

I finally found a new job. Before I left, I agreed to meet with the woman vice president of the old company over lunch to share what happened. The complexity of her body language was strong and I couldn’t get a read on whether she believed that this man had intentionally harmed me. It’s never easy to think that someone you work with could cause so much pain in another person’s life. I don’t know how or if she ever followed up with him. All I knew was that I had found a new job and never had to see him again.

One new friend I had made said that if I told people they would just think I deserved it because I was so pretty. What my friend said to me hurt more than the event itself. She was someone I loved and trusted. From that point on, I didn’t want to share what happened with others because I was scared they would hurt me the same way she did.

I am now 57 years old. Even as I am writing this today, an acrid smell fills my senses…the smell of Kool cigarettes which he smoked that night combined with his cologne. Our bodies hold imprints of events like this.

Trauma-informed care helps people cope with the triggers that still remain long after a traumatic event has happened. Almost 40 years have now passed since that moment in time and maybe it has served as a catalyst in my life to help others who’ve suffered under the oppression of another.

As I bring this event to the Light, I know that hope still remains. This isn’t always the case. When I’ve seen the Cosby, Trump, and Weinstein accusations go dismissed by people who don’t believe the accusers, something inside me hurts deeply again. But God’s purpose in my life will be fulfilled regardless of the bad things that happen. My spirit is still alive and well. With God’s help and the help that comes through others, I shall continue to overcome.

My prayer is that no woman has to suffer rape. My actionable prayer for myself is to help women who have suffered know that they’re not alone and that life can be good again. May it be so.

Read about Triumph Over Trauma – a program I began with the Center for Innovation in Health Policy and Practice – to bring support to survivors of trauma.

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Ask Why!

Dedicated to Mrs. Patricia Craig, who dared to ask me a question as to why my writing couldn’t be on the New York Times bestseller list. Her audacity to love and see beyond what I can see gave me the courage to keep writing.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Grace who asked, “Why?”

She asked, “Why are some people hungry when there’s so much food at the grocery store?” She had Ding Dongs, Twinkies, and Pepsi (when her brother hadn’t drunk it all) in her home. “Why do I have to clean my plate because there are starving children in Africa? Do their bellies full if I eat a lot?”

Once when she went to 2nd grade her friend, Chris, had a hole in his jacket. She asked, “Why?” He said he had to get dressed by candlelight because the lights were cut off.

She asked, “Why do some kids at school not have underwear? Why don’t they have socks? Why are their shoes way too tight?” My mom and dad help me get a new pair when that happens to me, she thought. Dad even let me get a pair of violet shoes that laced up my legs once. He wasn’t too happy, but she was.

Some grew weary of her asking so many questions. Once, Grace saw Santa’s sleigh in the sky, but everyone else was asleep and didn’t want to wake up from a long winter’s nap to see! She wondered why.

As she grew older, she gave people food. She raised money to help neighbors have electricity, She and her friends helped people have transportation to their jobs, dialysis, church, or even to use their cars as a safe place to sleep when they had no home. She sent things to people across the world to help them have things they needed. She traveled to other places in the world where bad things happen to women and children.

Still, she asked, “Why?”

She learned that working two jobs (even three!) didn’t pay the bills when there were children to feed and that the government charges extra taxes to eat. That sometimes landlords charge too much rent for those who are sick or working just one job. There were too many bills to juggle, and people have to balance everything. She remembered seeing a juggler with lots of balls to toss AND a plate full of things on his head! Sometimes it’s like this for people in life.

She learned that some people are so stuck in the pain of the past that simply waking up and getting through another day is all they can do, and they need hope, love, and community more than just things.

Grace asked herself, “Why?” Why can’t I help people inwardly and outwardly? Why can’t I change things at the head of the stream so future generations have new ways of living? Where people can have the dignity and hope and love that helps us all live our best lives?

The best thing Grace did was find other friends who asked why too. Together, they created a team called “the QUESTioners” who were able to do amazing things and none of them felt so alone! Their quest was to ask why, and keep asking (alongside God) to make the world as good as it could be!

They went out to the streets and invited people who were living on the streets to come in with them to church for a meal and to share the love and hope they found through intentional community. They offered their church property to build a special place so people wouldn’t have to sleep on the streets after getting out of the hospital. They taught people not to reject others who are different from them…to take them into their hearts and love them.

They started to teach people how to deal with their pasts so that their futures could be better. To teach people how to care for their health and the health of others. To grow food and share with others. To share storebought food rather than throw it away.

To share is the best way to meet God in human clothing. And when the people started doing these things, others did too! They created a new way of life that transformed the world.

To question, “Why?” is the very best thing you can do. Because when you ask, God fills your imagination with ways to help that are lasting, not just quick fixes. You will find others who ask why, and you should stick close to them so you don’t feel lonely, and because you can do far more together than you ever can alone.

Remember, the biggest One in the world lives within you. The light of God is there. Stay warm by that fire.

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Triumph Over Trauma!

 Have you heard “This Joy” by the Resistance Revival Chorus? “This joy that I have…the world didn’t give it to me…the world didn’t give it and the world can’t take it away.”

It sure can feel like the world steals our joy, right? But deep down inside, it’s there. It just gets buried sometimes.

In 2016, I heard that the United Methodist Church in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo was taking a stand. They were taking a stand against the stigma that women felt among their families and communities after they had been sexually assaulted. The church said, “No more!” The church was going to set right the culture around them. They were going to take a stand with the women and let everyone know that they should be loved by one another just as they are loved by God who loves us every last one of us. 

When I heard this, I decided to volunteer to help raise the money to build a women’s center there. Named after my bishop’s wife, Lynn McAlilly. the Mama Lynn Center has become a beacon of light not only in DR Congo, but in so many places throughout the world. As I wrote about my experience of helping them help others my in other locations reached out to say that they needed a Center like that too. They were experiencing the similar trauma all around them. I knew that I did not have it in me to build buildings for the rest of my life. I began praying. I began having a vision. 

We don’t necessarily need more buildings. We need people inside the buildings we already have to be be healed and share that healing with others. What if every house of prayer throughout the world was turned inside out? What if every house of prayer became a beacon of light to the communities around them? I began praying for a mental health model that could be used by people of faith so we can stand in the gap created by a lack of mental health services. We can stand in the gap and let people know they are loved deeply just as much as anyone of us is loved by God. 

The Need

These last five years have uncovered a lot of scabs in society, right? Festering wounds lying beneath the surface. The wounds caused by white supremacy. The wounds of violence against women. The wounds of homophobia. We are not yet transformed. In a country that often touts its Christianity, where can we see Christ?

Praying for Help to Come

In my two years of praying for a mental health model that could be used by non-professionals, I almost gave up. At the end of last year, I thought that since nothing had come my way even though I had reached out, I thought maybe I should just let it go. Maybe I wasn’t the one to help people help others.

But then Monday came. The first Monday in January and I finally had a reply from someone who has a program that can be used in houses of prayer everywhere. All it takes is one committed person in each house to lead a peer support group or a 15-week program that could be free to those in the community. All it takes is one person infused with the Spirit of God knowing that we aren’t meant to lead half-lives and that life can be better for all.

Triumph Over Trauma Training

Through Harper Hill Global, I’m offering this training on October 14 – 16. It’s online and you can either come as an individual, or meet with a group of others in your church, mosque, synagogue or temple.

I’m tired of seeing people live half lives. I’m tired of people thinking that they are superior than others. I’m tired of not seeing the church live its fullest expression of God‘s love in the world. I’m tired and I know you are too. We can do this together. The people who will be training us are using these models in prisons. Why do people have to wait until they get to prison to experience healing?

God’s love does some powerful things. And we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. That strength rise up from the ashes left behind by life’s traumas. We can shine from our deepest light. The light of God within us! 

“The world can’t give it and the world can’t take it away.” Amen.

To learn more, go to

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Grace died on March 13th. She had been digging in the ground for moles and running around the yard with her best friend Ranger. Cassie the cat was always nearby and the three of them would come when I would call their names and clap my hands five times. When I called and the three of them didn’t come running, I checked the front porch. Sometimes she and Ranger would climb the chain link fence – a feat I never got to witness but can only imagine her determination in stretching and climbing to get to something more than what she could find within the large expanse she already had to explore. 

Somehow, that wasn’t enough. 

By the time I noticed she wasn’t there, she may already have been dead. I spent the afternoon posting on a lost and found pets group in the area and also on the NextDoor app. Driving around, yelling, “Grace!” out the window as if bestowing a blessing on all those within earshot, she didn’t come. I imagined that she might be exploring in the woods and digging and chasing squirrels. I imagined that someone found her and wanted to keep her – just as I did when she came to me and Robby one day over four years ago. 

I went out again that night with my dear friend Karen and when we had no luck we turned to go back to the house. Karen spotted her and my heart leapt with joy. I threw the car into park and opened the door without even checking to see if cars were coming. Then I heard her voice, “She may be dead.” She had been hit and killed by a car and was not so far from the house on this side of the street. Perhaps she spotted something across the road and as her nature was to focus and run, she may have never seen the car coming that threw her into a ditch.

Grace was a companion – always ready to go in the car wherever I went. She loved it when we went to McDonalds or Sonic and got ice cream. She would lick the dish clean! In fact, doing dishes was one of her favorite chores. She would do the hard work and I would finish the job. She loved playing hard – getting Ranger down on the ground with her mouth around his neck. He would lay there and let her win every time. She had just met a new friend Connor – a little Yorkie – and she didn’t know quite what to think about this 16-year old creature. Once, Grace had something horrible in her mouth (maybe a mouse) when Connor approached her. She stood still as a statue with her mouth closed until he passed by, as if to hide her trophy, scared he might want it. She looked at me as if to say, “Please don’t make me share.” She was good to the little guy, sharing the holes she dug but then digging again and carelessly tossing dirt and leaves onto him. 

A Black Mouth Mountain Cur is what one person told me she was. A Boxer Hound mix was another label she had been given. Another dear friend had told me the weekend before that I needed to get her DNA. Having a dog like Grace for the rest of my life may have been the incentive for the DNA desire. When I lost my dog Barkley decades before, I thought that if I got another Cocker Spaniel I could repeat the gift of his life. Twinkie was altogether different and not in a good way! I loved her till she died nonetheless.

Grace was named Grace because she just showed up. She was love in the flesh. Love comes to us every day in many forms, reminding us that we are not alone. It may be a bird chirping, a cat rubbing against our legs or a dog eager to lick our faces. It may be a person. But love comes. This is life in the world that God created. 

The loss hurts so much. Time dulls the pain and prayer can make us attentive to the beauty still around us. The person who hit and killed her missed an opportunity by not having the courage or compassion to call. I would’ve forgiven. 

We live in the in-between world – in between the Garden of Eden and the perfected universe where all shall be made right. I always worried this would be Grace’s fate. Keeping her indoors with me so much wasn’t what she was made for. If I could’ve prevented this from happening, I would have a thousand times over. It’s easy to let our minds try to rewind time, isn’t it? Or even fool ourselves into believing that it’s not real. But death and life are intertwined and perhaps our biggest mistake is not being present in the moment to appreciate what is, right now, for it can never be again. Each moment is unique and irreplaceable.

While I lead Grace so many times on walks, I find comfort in the last line of Amazing Grace, “And Grace will lead me home.” She is now boundless energy – not confined by fences and leashes. She knows something far better than this world can offer. And one day, she may just lead me.

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Artists of Pretend

At the time, I was vice president of interactive media at GodwinGroup in Jackson, Mississippi. I had a beautiful office. I was beginning to ponder how what I was doing to help corporate clients mattered in the whole scheme of the universe.

I had one of my vivid dreams – which I’ve had throughout my life. This one I’ve not thought of in quite a while.

In the dream, I was looking out my office window and noticed that someone had erected a beautiful scenic facade all around the building that those within the building could see. It had a painted sky and would give us a perpetually sunshiny day. I remember thinking, but I don’t want to see what’s not real. I want to see what’s real. In the dream, there was a breaking through of the screen where the sun was and it was brighter and more beautiful than what the artist had drawn.

When I awoke, I thought about all of the poverty surrounding that building at One Jackson Place. Just down the street were the shotgun shacks rented out to people who could never afford owning a home. Theirs were the dwelling places of pain and lost hope in whether they could even survive the nightly gunshots, drugs and generational poverty passed down to them as other ancestors pass down family wealth. In my awakening, I realized that I really did want to see what was real instead of surrounding myself with a facade to keep me numb to the difficulties of this world.

What does this dream teach me today? As I read the news yesterday and saw that Tennessee state legislators are prohibiting players of state universities from kneeling during the national anthem, I see some wanting to build the sunshiny facade even still, preventing them and others from seeing the pain of the oppressed people in our society. 

Seeing what’s real can help us all break through to the true beauty of light. Light that reveals what is and what can be. That what we should be working towards is not hiding pain but getting to the root cause of it and having faith enough to change that which causes it. Then we would be working towards protests becoming unnecessary. All would be living in dignity and equality. Instead of being artists of pretend and erecting those facades, leaders would become true leaders – showing what can be if we only have the courage to look into the light and let it shine through us – radiant and bright.

It’s not a dream to be dreamt at night. It’s one that must be lived in the light.

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In the late 1990s I felt God calling me into becoming something new.

The way this new stage of my life unfolded was through becoming a faith leader in the United Methodist Church. At the time, I was married with a young daughter – only in the 1st grade. I was also a vice president and director of interactive media at an amazing advertising agency (GodwinGroup!) in Jackson, Mississippi.

Following this prompting wasn’t without difficulties.

I was the breadwinner in our home. Financial security at the time meant that I could pay our mortgage, provide health insurance – the basics in life. To follow a new way of living meant that I had to give up certain things to do new things.

I went back to college to complete the degree that I began in my teens before I could go on to get a masters of divinity degree – what would be required within the church for ordination. Going to night classes and working fulltime proved to be too taxing on the role I prized the most – being a mom to my daughter Marissa. The church hired me as a mission intern so I could find more balance, still being able to provide the basics financially.

Nearing the completion of that degree, we began planning the move to Nashville, Tennessee so I could attend Vanderbilt Divinity School. My husband was struggling with treatment for bipolar disorder and I began to question my path. Should I get on another path that would be easier on him and our family? Should I take divinity school off my list?

The night before I met with the director of a local program that would allow us to stay in Mississippi, I had a deep dream – one that remains with me today.

In the dream, a woman had been murdered – stabbed to death with words written in her blood on the walls. This woman was sooo loved. She was a free spirit who people loved dearly. Somehow, I was invited to rewind her life to see who murdered her. To identify the killer.

I remember that it wasn’t just me following her – I was with a group of people. A gray room with a door facing me to the left revealed a hallway and when I heard someone coming, I said, “Everybody get down!” I knew that this was the moment of the attack. When I got down, I saw the knife and thought if I got rid of it, I could save her life. I picked it up and threw it over my shoulder only to realize that she was behind me and I had struck her with the knife. In an effort to protect her, I killed her.

This dream was strong in my spirit as I sat listening to Rev. Bert Gary describe what I would need to do to stay in Mississippi and become what was to me a smaller form of what God was really calling me to be. At the end of our session, I embarrassingly shared that I had a dream I wanted to tell him about.

After describing the dream to him, he looked at me pensively. He asked, “So, do you want to give me back all that (the info he had given me) before you kill her?”

My whole body sank into the chair. Yes, in an effort to protect myself from the hardship of following my call, I was about to kill who I really am and who I’m meant to be.

Today, I remember this dream and the hard path I recommitted to following that meeting.

What are you avoiding today? Going through it rather than around it may bring the greatest joy to you and the world. Be courageous and brave. The real you awaits.

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An Open Letter to Tennessee Legislators

While some states in our nation are seeking racial equality and justice for all, Tennessee is demonstrably stuck in reverse. Today’s vote to keep the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue in the Tennessee State capitol building illustrates this tragic reality which is morally unconscionable.

As a faith leader, I cannot step aside or be silent.

For far too long, symbols of hate have continued to be heralded as historic treasures within the southern states. The truth is, they are vapid symbols of a lost cause – a cause that should have never been and a cause which should bring shame instead of pride. Would anyone even consider erecting a monument to Timothy McVeigh within the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City? He is inextricably a part of their history. Yet, just as surely, Nathan Bedford Forrest and other Confederate “heroes” sought to tear apart our nation, bringing death and despair to masses. 

Racism continues to bring death and despair to masses – generation to generation. It is a threat to the constitution of the United States. It should not be allowed in any of our political parties, nor should it be catered to. Elected officials are meant to lead us towards the ideals espoused in our founding documents. 

Additionally, legislators are elected to represent all people, yet today’s vote skews towards voters who are unwilling to accept complicity in the racism that has diminished, threatened and obliterated black lives since the founding of our nation. Your vote represents not the democracy that our beloved state deserves, but an ethic of personal bias and protection.

Our Creator made all persons with the Divine Image. As a clergy person, I am not exempt from the sins of racism, but by God’s grace, I can repent – turning away from that which is wrong and move towards a future of light and love for all.

I call upon you to do the same – through your job. The systems you create – or keep – will either move us beyond racism or keep us bound to it. One day, history will reflect your choice. 

Rev. N. Neelley Hicks
United Methodist Clergy
Tennessee/Western Kentucky UMC

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Give a Gift, Get a Gift

If you’re like me, you enjoy selecting gifts for others and along the way, a few for yourself! This Christmas, I’ve got a really special gift for someone I dearly love. Let me tell you about her. 

My daughter-in-law, Mallory Hicks, is always easy to buy for because she likes anything that’s shiny, glittery or sentimental. She does have just about anything – including a pig in a tutu! Mallory has Cystic Fibrosis – a “progressive, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time.” Two years ago, she got into a drug trial for Trikafta that literally changed her life. It’s opened up possibilities that until recently she never allowed herself to dream of.

Trikafta has prevented her from countless hospital stays, and increased her wellbeing enough to participate in the Mrs. Tennessee pageant where she launched her role as an advocate for children living with the disease. One thing this drug won’t do? Prevent the flu. In fact, those with Cystic Fibrosis who contract the flu often get very serious infections in their already compromised lungs. Some even die.

The gift I’ll give is going to bring joy, health and love that she can really feel. So, what is it? It’s the flu shot!

I planned to get it earlier this Fall and especially before seeing her on Thanksgiving. I didn’t know that the shot has a two-week incubation period before I am 100% protected, so unfortunately this means that I can’t spend Thanksgiving with her. But Christmas? Absolutely!

There are some groups of people who are at a much higher risk for complications from the flu. One of those groups is CF patients. Others include the elderly, children under 6 years of age, those with asthma and other chronic illnesses.

Here are some flu facts that I didn’t know:

  1. Even if you do not have active symptoms, you can be a carrier of the illness and transmit it to others from even “6 feet away.” 
  2. It can take up to 4 days before some people have symptoms, even when they are already infected.
  3. Although some people may get a low-grade fever and other symptoms, you cannot contract the flu itself from the shot.

Find out where you can get a flu shot near you:

I got my flu shot today, so now I can look forward to the rest of the holidays with Mallory! It’s the best gift I could give her…and myself!

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Heartfelt Gratitude

On Friday, April 5, United Methodist Women of Brentwood UMC hosted their 11th Singer/Songwriter Night. Harper Hill Global (HHG) was the recipient of this year’s proceeds which will benefit our premier initiative – the Women Arise Network –  who focuses on communicating for peace, dignity and health in DRCongo, Uganda, and Nigeria. From this work, we are developing a model of communications that can be implemented anywhere in the world.

As the founder of HHG, I am overwhelmed by the support shown to us. The venue was packed, the music was superb and desserts…well…my personal favorite was the carrot cake! Can I please have the recipe? I want to personally thank Pat Fleming, who coordinated this year’s event, and the team of unseen angels who cooked, cleaned, decorated, promoted, and sold tickets. Your efforts make it possible for other women (whom you may never meet) to arise from the societal problems they face and live their best lives. Their families and communities are all positively affected.

“Women Arise” was released at the event as the anthem for the Network, and was written and performed by Sherry Cothran and Kim McLean. The verse-stories offer snapshots of the ways that human spirit is diminished by oppression. I hope you all will listen to the song and share it!

Robby Hicks (my sweet husband) brought his great wit, touching lyrics (let’s not think about booger man, lol)  and music. Please be sure to check out all of the artists and follow them on social media!

Thank you, Jason’s Deli (Franklin Road), for giving 15% of proceeds last night to HHG and helping women arise! You modeled how businesses can partner with faith-based groups to support concerns that affect everyone. We need more of you!

The HHG team – here in Nashville and in Africa – is giving their time because they believe in the power of communications to create a better world. HHG – what it is and what it is becoming – is the product of our energies coming together to inform and co-create with God. I thank God for you each day.

Communication affects all we do and become. What we share can help others find peace, health and dignity. How we share in this age is unparalleled with any other point in time. We can reach tens, hundreds, thousands and millions with information that can change their lives. Watch HHG for updates and please share our resources with others.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook to see video and pics from the event.

More love! Neelley

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Scope the Power

I have traveled to many countries over the years, and sometimes had frightening mishaps. Like the time a tire blew on a three-wheel passenger plane while landing in a village in Africa.

Shooting 1
But yesterday, I was in my hometown when gunshots rang out. A beautiful blue sky, taking my time at the Kroger gas pump while getting the last few cents out of each remaining gift card I’d been given. Enjoying life and not feeling rushed. Then, the shots. A gunfight in a public shopping center, and looking straight at one of the vehicles from which the shots came. I hid, best I knew how, behind a brick column. I wondered if I would know if I got shot, after just reading about Bobby Kennedy’s assassination on the 50th anniversary of his death the day before.

Shooting 2I was witness to something that has become a norm in the United States: gun violence. I don’t believe that God put me there for a reason, because I have a hard time believing that God orchestrates our lives like that. Nevertheless, I’ve had something on my mind for quite a while that I must now write about – not taking for granted another moment.

Pathways to Peace

Churches, mosques, temples can all be found easily throughout the U.S. A common core of religious beliefs is the attainability of peace, yet how do we promote peace in practice?

What if every house of prayer in the US became a place for turning swords into plowshares (Isaiah 2:4)? What could that look like? How might religious practices become deepened and integrated into daily life?

Three visions.

Mental illness would be destigmatized. Depression recognized. We would accept our human condition as fragile, and the condition of the soul as filled with hope – not despair. We would become links within our communities for getting the help that is needed. When mental health access isn’t available to those living in poverty, we would pull our resources together, community by community to ensure help is attained. We would advocate and also practice the fine art of compassion and understanding.


Anger management would be integral to preaching and teaching, so anger is not seen as a sin but instead a sign that something is not right. We would help the young and old understand restorative justice in all manners – large and small. People would not become throwaways when they have acted wrong from anger. We would work to turn even our prisons into places of transformation – where peace and reconciliation become more than lofty dreams.


Our houses of prayer would become places for gun amnesty – where weapons could literally be  turned into plowshares. Where those who have done wrong and want to live changed lives can learn skills that take them above minimum wage jobs that will always tempt them to lives of crime. People of faith would divest from gun manufacturers and instead invest in the gift of life, here and now – not just the afterlife.

None of this would be effective without a communications campaign to build unity and offer interfaith public service announcements that help reform society to live peaceably with one another.

We are not helpless. We must scope the power we do have and use it wisely. Legislation will never be the only solution to violence within the United States.

Human beings have more in common with one another than we think. We are all capable of love, and when we turn towards that together, miracles happen. It can start today.



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